There is the general perception that a surprise is a beautiful thing, a positive thing that everyone should long for and appreciate. Perhaps it is much more fun when the surprise is a party. It certainly is a marvelous and memorable thing having your loved one walk into a room to see that everyone is there just for them. Perhaps this is why surprise parties – from birthdays to retirement parties, baby showers, bridal showers and even weddings- are now a thing.
While it is great to think that surprises parties are great for everyone, in reality, it is not. When it comes to surprise parties, people either love it and secretly wish they would be thrown a surprise party every day; or they live in a constant state of fear that someone will try spring a dreaded surprise party on them.
Imagine you are heavy with your third child but your EDD is still 3 weeks away, and you still have to go still go to work. You wish you could have a baby shower, but it is your third child. Besides the fact that your husband, family, and friends are over the whole baby shower drama, saving the extra cash you would have spent on the shower could buy extra clothes for the kids. Then you open the door one evening, after a long day at work, and everyone screams “SURPRISE!” It’ll probably be the best feeling in the world.
On the other hand, imagine you are a guy who has been chatting up a girl for the last 2 months. Finally, you both meet up at your place, and you start to make out. Next thing, you reach down and feel a ‘surprise’ phallus between the girl’s legs. She clearly failed to mention that her ‘sentence’ ends in a ‘dangling’ participle. Maybe she is playing a prank or maybe she used to be a dude, you don’t care… you are legitimately perplexed, scared and nervous… so much that you even throw up. Of course, this is a far-fetched scenario, but it is a good picture of how it could feel when you do not like surprise parties and you end up being a victim. Sometimes surprise parties turn out not to be so great.
There are pros as there are cons to surprise parties. A lot of people prefer surprise parties to regular parties, as they get to save money. They don’t know anything about the surprise; others are donating money, running errands on their own time and going all out, while the celebrant is oblivious to all the planning and spending. They end up having a good party, even getting gifts at the expense of others, saving their own money. The people who are part of the party planning committee have fun in the end, but they do not benefit all that much. Some may not even be too excited about the party in the end. Imagine that you planned to spend N2000 on a birthday gift for a friend but you get a call from one of their other friends demanding that you donate N5000 instead for a surprise party, then you end up paying N3000 more than you bargained to. It can be frustrating.
There is also the fact that surprise parties come with stress for both parties. There is a reason why people look so shocked when they encounter a surprise party. Sometimes, the look of shock is not to herald a feeling of joy but the stress caused by the entire moment. A really old person could die from a huge surprise (although, that would be great if you didn’t like that particular wrinkled devil). What if you are all excited to go you daughter’s baby shower because you were looking forward to bathing a fake baby and changing chocolate stained nappies, but it turns out to be your retirement party? Everyone is trying to get your attention, you get tons of presents, your favorite foods, and a performance by your favorite celebrity instead. What an overwhelming letdown, right? So inconvenient and stressful.
Perhaps when it comes to surprise parties, the best kinds are surprise weddings where the celebrant themselves surprise their guests with a wedding. They lead their friends and family to believe they’re attending another celebration like a birthday party or graduation, just for them to do the most unexpected thing possible: get married. Both the people getting married and the people invited do not get to spend too much money – depending on what event they make their guests think it is instead. There is a balance. There is no argument over who was invited or not invited, what kind of food was served or not or who is in charge. Peace abides and fun is achieved on the maximum.
Have you ever planned or experienced a surprise party? What do you think are some of the pros and cons besides the ones highlighted above?
Photo Credit: Andrii Kobryn | Dreamstime