Surprises are fun, but as we settle into routines, our lives tend to become monotonous and boring. And the same goes for our romantic relationships. Partners often start out full of curiosity towards each other, releasing dopamine and influencing them towards reward-seeking behaviours. But as familiarity becomes dominant and surprises fade, the energy in a relationship can ebb down.

Fortunately, research shows that even a little surprise can inject energy and vitality into our relationships. Pulling off a creative surprise for your partner while keeping things under wraps will prove more meaningful and bring more joy to your relationship than anything you could buy in a store. Whether you’re planning a simple yet intimate date or a birthday party with friends and family, here are some tips to get you started.

Planning

The essential element is to plan things in advance. Businesses and organisations map out their event logistics well ahead of time; you’ll be doing most of this in your spare time, and on the sly. Trying to pull off a surprise with little time to spare is a recipe for disaster. Stretch out your preparations months in advance, so you can iron out the details in snatches of time day by day.

Getting help

Even if your surprise is basically just spending the night out with your partner, you could use some help from a trusted friend or two. After all, why just phone a restaurant and make dinner reservations, when you can have the table set with their favourite flowers and a handwritten note, or decorated with a photo collage?

You’ll want to take things a step further and make it personal, but in an effective surprise, you’ll often have to play the role of decoy. That means delegating a fair bit of work to reliable friends and family members who know you both well enough to carry out a large chunk of your vision to perfection.

Information control

One common worry when it comes to throwing any surprise is that your partner will find out somehow, and spoil everything. And as more people get involved, things get harder to coordinate, and chances of the secret leaking out increase. People talk and let things slip; they leave phones lying around where anyone can see group messages and emails.

Limiting information and involvement is important. If it’s a birthday party, for example, make sure that the guest list is limited only to people whose presence your partner will really enjoy. Get their RSVP, and remind them as the date approaches – but leave it at that. Try to only discuss more details with the few people you trust to keep things secret.

Manage logistics

calling on the phone

If you’re keeping things simple, reserving your venue and booking flowers and champagne delivery will be great. Sometimes, though, planning can be more elaborate. You’ll need to take time to scope your venue and make sure there’s a place for guests to hide, stow away props and gifts, and make sure other telltale signs are kept out of sight – don’t forget parking!

And whether it’s an intimate occasion or a big birthday party, capturing the moment can bring rewards worth a lifetime. Capturing a great shot of the event is something that can get lost in all the preparation, but it shouldn’t be a last-minute thing. Designate someone to capture the best moments, and you’ll enjoy them through the years.

More than anything, pulling off a personalised surprise for your loved one is about embracing the challenge. That moment of amazement will express all the intimacy, time, and effort you invested in making it special and lifting the occasion above the ordinary, better than any words could.