20 Food Ideas for a Surprise Birthday Party



Last Updated: Nov 2, 2021

Throwing someone a surprise birthday party is one of the nicest gifts you can give them. Remember to keep it simple so that the secret doesn’t get out beforehand. These surprise party food ideas will help make the party a success.

How to select surprise party food ideas

When planning the surprise party food menu, select items that you can prepare ahead of time. This way you’ll be able to visit with guests and won’t be in the kitchen all day. Decide how much party space you’ll have to set out food. Consider making lots of finger foods so that guests can walk and talk easier. This also applies to handheld desserts, so forgo a huge birthday cake.

Finger foods for a surprise party

Finger foods are the easiest items to serve at a surprise birthday party. It allows the guests to nibble on their food while mingling around the party. There is no need to set up as many tables and chairs this way either.

1. Vegetables and dip

Raw Refreshing Vegetable Crudites Plate with Ranch Dip.

Vegetables and dip party platters are a must-have on your surprise birthday food menu. It’s a healthy snack that your guests will appreciate.

2. Bacon cheese balls

For a fun take on cheese and crackers, serve these bacon cheese balls. These individual cheese balls are prepared with cream cheese, shredded cheddar, and crumbled bacon. Serve them with crackers or mini pretzel rods.

3. Deviled eggs

Deviled eggs are always an affordable appetizer but adding some spice to your deviled eggs mixture will please your guests’ palate. Try adding some dill, paprika, and pickled jalapenos to the mixture.

4. Cheese stuffed mushrooms

Try a different take on stuffed mushrooms by stuffing white mushroom caps with sliced artichoke hearts and asiago cheese.

5. Mozzarella sticks

Mozzarella sticks are the ultimate party food. You can prepare them yourself with string cheese and panko bread crumbs or purchase them in the frozen section from Instacart.

6. Party meatballs

deep fried meatballs in plate on black wooden table background.

Meatballs are always a hit at large parties. Throw a bag of frozen meatballs and a bottle of barbecue sauce in the crockpot. Serve on toothpicks.

7. BBQ chicken sliders

Serve some bbq chicken sliders. If you don’t have time to cook the chicken ahead of time, pick up a rotisserie chicken. Shred the chicken, cover it with barbecue sauce, and keep it warm in the crockpot.

Main dishes for a surprise party

Make sure to offer a few heartier dishes on the surprise party food menu. Keep them simple so guests can mingle while they eat.

1. Taco bar

A taco bar is a fun way to keep guests fed at an affordable cost. All you need is taco meat and the fixings like shredded cheese, guacamole, sour cream, salsa, and chips. You can even make it a walking taco by providing individual bags of corn chips.

2. Baked potato Bar

Add a baked potato bar. Guests can top their potatoes with their favorite fixings, ranging from broccoli and ham to cheese, bacon, and sour cream.

3. Artisanal sandwiches

Beautifully multicolored decorated catering banquet table with sandwiches.

To save some time, purchase some artisanal sandwiches and cut them into quarters if preferred. Guests can sample a few different types. Add some wraps as well.

Dessert ideas for a surprise party

These simple but tasty desserts taste so delectable that no one will miss the elaborate cake. Keep the options handheld so they’re portable for both adults and kids.

1. Cannoli dip

Cannoli Dip is simple to make and you can pair it with broken sugar cones, graham crackers, and fresh strawberries. The mini chocolate chips add that extra flavor.

2. Birthday cupcakes

Instead of serving a huge sheet cake, grab a box of cake mix and serve fun birthday cupcakes with sprinkles right in the batter. To make it more festive, use colored frosting and decorate with more sprinkles.

3. Ice cream bar

For a fun addition to go with the cupcakes, prepare an ice cream sundae bar. Set out different types of ice cream, chocolate and caramel syrup, crushed candy, nuts, and whipped cream.

4. Brownie pops

For a convenient dessert on a stick, whip up a batch of your favorite brownies, and let them cool completely. Place a lollipop stick in each one and drizzle with chocolate ganache.

5. S’mores

S'mores Bar

If you own a fire pit, making s’mores is a fun and delicious dessert and activity. Supply different kinds of chocolate bars, such as milk, dark, and milk chocolate with nuts.

Signature drinks for a surprise party

Prepare a combination of non-alcoholic and alcoholic drinks to pair with the surprise party food ideas. Versatility is key.

1. Peach mocktails

This fruity drink combines frozen peaches, sugar, basil, water, and club soda. It’s simple to prepare, and all of your party guests will love it.

2. Champagne punch

This champagne punch is a citrus delight with orange, ruby red grapefruit, lemon, and lime juices mixed with champagne. It’s like a mimosa with bolder flavors.

3. Lime slush

Lime slush is versatile since it can be served alcoholic or non-alcoholic. The base is frozen limeade concentrate, Sprite, and green tea bags.

4. Strawberry lemonade

Strawberry Tea on the table.

There’s nothing sweeter than freshly prepared strawberry lemonade with ripe strawberries, lemon juice, lots of sugar, and chilled tonic water.

5. Birthday cupcake jello shots

Jello shots make birthday parties more fun, and this one is like a cupcake in a glass, combining two types of juice, flavored vodka, unflavored gelatin, and whipped cream and sprinkles.

Final thoughts when hosting a surprise party

When hosting a surprise party, remember to start planning the event as early as possible. That way, you can decide how many guests are coming and how much food you need to order via Instacart. Opt for finger food and handheld items versus a sit-down dinner to promote better conversations.



Instacart is the leading online grocery platform in North America, partnering with more than 700 beloved national, regional and local retailers, including unique brand names, to deliver from more than 65,000 stores across more than 5,500 cities in North America. To read more Instacart posts, you can browse the company blog or search by keyword using the search bar at the top of the page.

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