Repeating...I hate surprise parties....although I don't think Liz looks at the opera topic.
A friend who is slightly older than I am has a landmark birthday coming up next month. HER daughters decided summer (two are teachers) was the best time to celebrate, and let her select the guest list for the luncheon they threw for her at a favorite restaurant. (Her favorite...not mine necessarily)
She even helped plan some of the celebration and everybody greatly enjoyed it...the "right" people got invited (although she did worry that she might have overlooked somebody)...This is so much better that SURPRISE!