How to Plan a Surprise Event on Facebook
By David Nield
There's nothing more important to a successful surprise party than the "surprise" part. Making sure everyone on your guest list can keep a secret is difficult enough, and in today's thoroughly modern, e-connected world, your e-vites are potentially public information. But if you use Facebook to communicate your plans for your to-be-surprised pal, you might just make it to the party with your secret surprise intact.
Event Privacy Options
A Facebook event can be set as public (anyone can see it and join), friends of guests (those invited and their friends can see it and join) or invite only (only those specifically invited can see it and join). To maintain the "surprise" element of your event, set your event to "invite only" on the event creation page so that you have full control over who can see the info on Facebook.
Creating an Event
Follow the "Events" link from the news feed on Facebook then click the "Create event" button to get started. On the pop-up window that appears you can configure the event title, description, date and time, and add a location. Make sure to use the Privacy drop-down menu to set the event as "Invite Only" and disable the option for guests to invite others. You can then invite everyone in on the surprise safe in the knowledge that news of your event won't inadvertently end up on anyone's Facebook news feed.
Click on the "Create" button and to create a page for your event. From here you can adjust any of the event settings (such as the date and time), add an event photo, and post messages or images on the event page wall -- it's your event page, so use it how you wish, remembering that only those users specifically invited are able to see any of this information. From the cog icon drop-down menu you can add other hosts to the event, giving them the power to invite others and change the event settings, but you should only make people hosts for the event if you trust them to keep a secret. It's worth emphasizing the fact that the event is a surprise for certain people in the description part of the page, otherwise someone may accidentally let the cat out of the bag.
Messages and Updates
Whenever you make changes to the event, the current guests receive notifications, saving you the trouble of alerting everyone individually. You can also send a group message to all attendees by choosing "Send guests a message" from the drop-down menu under the cog icon on the event page. If you'd like to enlarge your party, use the "Invite friends" button to invite more people along -- current guests (those able to see the event and its details) are displayed in a list down the left side of the event page. Click the "Going" link to see all of the Facebook users currently attending.
An information technology journalist since 2002, David Nield writes about the Web, technology, hardware and software. He is an experienced editor, proofreader and copywriter for online publications such as CNET, TechRadar and Gizmodo. Nield holds a Bachelor of Arts in English literature and lives in Manchester, England.