In a couple of weeks we’re throwing a surprise birthday bash for a very special lady. I’m keeping it very vague in case she somehow stumbles across the post so I’ll just say the party is in honour of a big birthday.

We’ve reserved a couple of tables in a posh bistro style restaurant so rather than a private area we’ll be amongst the action and atmosphere of other diners. I’m sorting out a few decorations for the occasion and would love your opinion on stylishly setting the scene. As we’ll be in the middle of the restaurant adorning the walls with paraphernalia is out so no embarrassing pics strewn across the walls. Here are my thoughts so far.

Personalised Menus

I’m going to ask the restaurant to confirm the menu and then print off the dinner choices on fancy high quality paper. We hired a private dining room in a fab restaurant in Islington for James’ birthday several years ago. The top of the menu was emblazoned with personalised well wishes for the birthday boy which was a really sweet touch and made the occasion seem very special.


I’ve got my hands on four low level vases and plan to fill them with spring flowers dotting them about the tables. I figure small vessels will be fairly easy to transport and the arrangements will add a splash of colour. Plus we’ll only be able to get into the restaurant ten minutes or so before the birthday girl arrives so I figure this will be a quick way to make an impact. I’m sure the restaurant wouldn’t be particularly happy if we started dancing on the table but I love the idea of adding a little sign in to the florals too like the image above.


About five years ago I bought a bulk of the Tolsby double sided Ikea frames and I’ve whipped them out for countless hen parties and birthday celebrations. At just a quid they are great for adding to a table because you can display two pictures as there’s no back frame. I’ll probably fill them with black and white photos or maybe a happy birthday message or maybe even trivia from the year she was born.

Chair Back Sign

I’m undecided about balloons but I do have a soft spot for the metallic number balloons. I’ll always remember my friend carrying a ‘3’ and an ‘0’ through the streets of Peckham last year only to accidentally let go. We watched the zero fly above the rooftops of London. I’m sure she was happier to be celebrating her 3rd birthday though.
So it’ll either be a set of balloons tied to the chair back or maybe a bespoke sign. I still have a pile of mini blackboards from my wedding in the loft which would be perfect for personalising the birthday girl’s seat.


I can’t help feeling I’m missing something here. How shall we mark the surprise?! I’m wondering about getting all the guests some form of prop like you’d use in a photo booth for us all to wear when the birthday girl arrives. Friends and family are coming from far and wide to celebrate so it would be great to add another dimension to the surprise. Tips on this aspect would be particularly welcomed!


Because what’s a party without a cake?! And lots of fancy candles.

Anything glaringly obvious you think I’m missing? How do you decorate for a restaurant-based birthday bash? Any fab tips for helping the surprise go off with a bang?