That's Tina in the middle. Grace has known her since college, and I met Tina when I moved to California a few years ago. Tina is also our neighbor in West Hollywood! We go over to her apartment at least once a week (to watch the Bachelor), and sometimes twice a week if Drag Race is on. She's one of the most loyal people around and we just love her! A couple of months ago we were talking about Tina's birthday (Grace and I get REALLY excited about friends' birthdays and often discuss them months in advance, haha), and for some reason, the idea to throw a surprise party popped into our head. We've always wanted to throw one because they're so fun. But it's really hard to keep the person from suspecting something. We realized Tina would probably not expect us to throw her a surprise party, so it was the perfect cover.
With that in mind, my first tip for throwing a surprise party is to pick a time, occasion, or person that is low key/unassuming. I feel like surprise parties can be stressful when they're on the person's actual birthday, and you have to convince them that no one could hang out or that everyone forgot their birthday. To me, that kind of ruins the fun and celebration. So in this case, we actually had Tina's surprise party a week before her actual birthday to throw her off. I also think a surprise party could be really fun for a non-birthday occasion, like a bridal shower, congrats party, going away party, etc. I think it's a lot less suspicious for those types of occasions.
My next tip is to keep it simple. Our plan was to take Tina out to dinner at La Boheme in West Hollywood (SO good!), and at dinner casually mention that I had baked a dessert back at our house (we all live really close together so it makes sense to just stop by our house on the way home to drop her off). Key to all of this was to pick Tina up, so at that point we had her captive until we brought her to the party, haha! Again, it made sense because we told Tina we wanted to drive so she could kick back and have some drinks at dinner. We tried to keep everything within the realm of what seemed logical, so we didn't tip her off that something was going on.
Also in terms of keeping it simple, we went really basic with the decorations, food, and drinks. Planning a surprise party has enough complicated elements as it is! Because we were taking Tina out to dinner ahead of time, we just had a few store-bought snacks at our house for the party. We also got a cake decorated with a RuPaul phrase (Tina, Grace and I watch a lot of RuPaul together).