Friday, August 27, 2010

20 tips on how to keep your spouse's birthday party a surprise

  1. Have not-yet-articulating offspring.
  2. Create a secret symbol to use for all references to the upcoming event in all instances; notes in the diary corresponding to pick-ups / purchases / calls should bear this symbol, and initials in place of any words that would give away actual party-planning content. E.g. "Call Mike (of Fever Club) re. food for Haki's birthday" would look something like this:
  3. All folders created on the lappy should be spelled backwards (e.g. "yadhtrib") and buried deep in the C drive.
  4. Files used, such as the spreadsheet tracking tasks, RSVPs, and "In Absentia" requests and submissions should be given a completely bogus name, and should have dummy content pasted into the top page of every sheet (which would correspond to the bogus name), so that if it were mistakenly opened, this would be all that was seen. Scroll down to see the actual content.
  5. Create a folder in Outlook (/your mail programme) with a coded name, (mine was "Happy Business") and create a rule in Outlook that any messages containing the words "Haki" [INSERTYOURSPOUSE'SNAMEHERE] "birthday" "photo" "RSVP" "party" and the like in their subject are automatically placed in the folder (and so are not on display in the Inbox).
  6. Always ensure all windows are closed each time you get off the lappy. Clear any preparation-related browser history.
  7. Encourage other participants to develop codes. Praise your mother-in-law for drawing a (secret) squirrel on an envelope containing some of her contribution towards the catering.
  8. Keep printing (such as photos, A3 posters, invitations etc.) under the carpet lining the back of the car, with your daughter's buggy back in place on top.
  9. Nominate a "secret spot" inside the house into which all works in progress may easily be put away and concealed on short notice. Mine was a suitcase I could open, throw things into, and then place things on top.
  10. Plan sufficient morning, day, and early evening festivities so as to counter any suspicion that the day has not been celebrated; kick the day off with multiple gifts.
  11. When your spouse loads your daughter's buggy into the car and spies a Scholastic box containing two books you've ordered as gifts, say nothing.
  12. When you get out of the car soon thereafter, deliberately leave your contact lens solution in the car (even though you routinely scan the car before getting out to see if anything needs to be taken inside).
  13. Later that evening, slap your forehead and say, "Ah, my lens solution is still up in the car." Slip on your "errand shoes" from the outside laundry, trot up to the car (parked in a shed some 100 metres away), and fetch the lens solution...and box. Place the books from the box in the laundry behind the pile of folded rags, and place miscellaneous laundry items in the Scholastic box. Enter the house and place the box, flaps open, onto the table with misc. items on display. Conceal a smile as husband sits up higher in his seat at the table (where he is still finishing dinner), looks in the box, and then slouches again to continue eating.
  14. Make preparations slowly - over the course of a month or so - with an errand here and an errand there, so that each errand is coupled with another errand that may be spoken of.
  15. An obvious one: Never communicate with guests or "In Absentia" contributors on their Facebook wall.
  16. Keep larger decorations and supplies in other people's homes until you can safely transport them to the basement at home without detection the night before you must load the car with them.
  17. Regularly withdraw cash when making routine purchases on eftpos so that a small fund may accumulate which may be used without appearing on the online statement.
  18. Regularly delete your message history on your cellphone in case your spouse, being "helpful," reads out a recently received message and spies an older one in conversation view.
  19. Do your best to keep your phone close to you at all times so that 16. never happens.
  20. Move the basement key from its place and hide it so that if your spouse does need to go to the basement, he will not find the key on its hook, and you will be alerted to his intentions so that you may a) offer to go and get whatever is required, or b) encourage him to procrastinate going, or c) pretend it is lost for 24 hours.

Read about Haki's Surprise 30th Birthday here.

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