Does your roommate have a birthday coming up soon? Skip the bars and opt for a surprise party in your own apartment! Planning a surprise party for your roomie can be a bit challenging, but it’s possible to put it together seamlessly without letting the cat out of the bag. Follow these surprise party tips, and you’ll be able to capture a true look of shock on your roommate’s face as he or she walks through the door.

Plan Early

If you are planning a surprise party with 25 guests or more, give everyone a six-week heads-up about the event. Whether you’re going to go the traditional route with paper invitations, send out a Facebook event invite or email invitations, you’ve got to make sure you’re giving friends and family enough time to clear their schedules and plan accordingly. Ask everyone to RSVP to the party so you know how many people to expect–it will also decrease the chance of lingerers who may show up to ruin the surprise.

Enlist a Co-conspirator

You can’t plan a surprise party all on your own, so get your roommate’s close friend or significant other to go in on it. First, you will need somewhere to store any party favors or decorations so that your roomie won’t find them. You’ll also need to have a secondary contact for people to get a hold of for information when you are by your roommate’s side. Last, but not least, you’ll need someone to take your roommate out while you prepare your apartment. Whether it’s dinner, a movie, concert or play, it’s mandatory that your roommate leaves your pad for a couple of hours.

Make Sure Everyone Knows the Details

After all your hard work, it would be a shame if someone texted or called your roommate before he or she gets to the party. Tell your guests when the birthday guy or gal is set to arrive, and ask them to arrive an hour ahead of time. Let them know where they should park their cars or store their bikes before the date of the party so everything is away from the door that your roommate will walk through. As obvious as it sounds, make sure everyone is well aware that the party is a surprise!

Be Meticulous

Planning a surprise party takes a lot of effort, especially if it’s taking place in your own apartment. Have a set schedule in place with your co-conspirator so that you have enough time to decorate after your roommate leaves and he or she has enough planned to last until the surprise. You’ll need to get all the decorations into your apartment, food set out, drinks ready and have everything in place before your roommate comes back. Make sure to stay in contact with the friend who is out with your roommate throughout the night as well, so that you receive updates on their estimated time of arrival.

Have you ever thrown a surprise party? Share your tips in the comments!