For my husband's upcoming 30th birthday, I am renting a beach house on Pismo for a weekend party. It's not more expensive than two hotel rooms. I'm sending the guys down a day before the girls to have a poker competition and Xbox tournament. The day after, the women will join up and we're all going ATV'ing on Pismo. That night, we're having a bonfire and a night-surf contest. The next day after a big breakfast, we're heading back home to a relaxed family barbeque. It's good because some of it is planned out of the ordinary activities but most of the time isn't and we're in a great spot so everyone can hang out and really enjoy the party.
Other ideas: send your man away with a few close buddies to somewhere fun like camping, Vegas, motorcross, or in a rented RV for a big bash. I get tired of hearing about the family barbeque or the poker night with themed decor from stores. It's a little cliche. Let the man do something wild for once, like go sky diving. Something he will remember as being out of the ordinary. Take something cool and make it an adventure, like a barn dance could include a "cattle" roping competition with funny animal substitutes, or a poker night could be staged at a local pub with live music.
You have to think about not what you would like to happen but what they would love to be surprised (or not surprised in my case) as possible. Some people want the big shabang and some don't. Listen to your man or woman closely as they talk about things they like and don't like throughout the year. When it comes time to giving them a real party, you'll know what they'd really like. But, when in doubt: ask them what they want. Sometimes the surprise can be something extra you add to something they already know about; like a party at a regular spot could be more fun if you rented a fun car to take you and friends there, or an evening dinner made better by a show after as a surprise.
By Scallywaginc from CA