How to Create a Private Facebook Event | Secret Events & Surprise Parties
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Creating a Secret, Private Event on Facebook

Posted in Search & Social — January 3, 2013


About two years ago, I wrote a post which posed the question: How can I create a public event that blocks certain users? I wanted to create a public event that everyone could see *except* the person whose surprise party it was.

I still don’t have the answer!

In the meantime, however, that post continues to be of the most-viewed articles on our entire site. It attracts visits from people asking questions like:

– How to block someone from seeing an event on facebook
– How to make a surprise party event on facebook
– How to make a facebook event secret
– Surprise party facebook event
– And more…

Even though the post attracted a ton of traffic, it also had a fairly high bounce rate and low amount of time on the page. This caused myself to ask: What can I do to improve this page?

Well, by looking at the average searches that lead users to this page, it was obvious: my post doesn’t answer questions about creating a basic private event. Most people are looking for a simple way to just create a private Facebook event or surprise party; the issue of blocking only one person is less of a concern.

So without further ado, here are screenshot instructions for how to create a Private Facebook Event, whether it’s a surprise party or otherwise. Um, and sorry it took me two years to do this:

1. Go to your Facebook Homepage. Click “Home” on the upper right-hand corner of the screen:

Facebook Home

2. Click on your “Events” from the left-hand column:

Facebook Events

3. Click “Create Event” from the top right-hand side of the screen:

Facebook Create Event

4. Choose “Invite Only” for the Event Privacy. The next screen is where you can add the event name, time, location, details, and privacy settings. If you want the event to be totally secret and private to only those who you invite, select “Invite Only”:

Facebook Invite Only

5. Decide whether you want guests to invite friends or not. If the party truly needs to be as secure and private as possible, you’ll probably want to leave this unchecked.

Facebook Guests Invite Friends

6. Customize your event with photos, invite friends, message guests and more. See the upper right-hand corner of the screen for full controls over your event. And by the way Facebook – how come we can’t use larger featured images for events?!

Facebook Add Photo Facebook Customize Event

7. That’s it! Hope this additional information helps you create your top-secret, invite-only Facebook event.

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  1. Hey, just to make sure if I create an event on FB and click on “Invite Only” no one except invited people will see it, right? Also, sometimes you can see people RSVP on timeline but since it’s for my husbands surprise bday party will he see their rsvp’s ?


    Posted by Aga, July 4, 2014 |

    • Hi Aga,

      Yes – I promise that if you click “Invite Only’, no one except invited people will see it. Also, only people invited to the event can see RSVPs in their timeline / on the event page. Your husband won’t see RSVPs.

      Hope this helps!

      Posted by Sarah Mackenzie, July 8, 2014 |

      • We are having a surprise party for someone. If we post a picture of them on the private event wall/cover photo, and someone accidentally tags them using Facebook’s facial recognition feature, will the person tagged be able to see it, even if they haven’t been invited? We don’t want the surprise to be blown, so maybe it’s best we just pull down the picture to avoid that accident.

        Posted by Mike, August 27, 2014 |

        • Hi Mike,

          I tested this out for you! I created an invite-only event. I uploaded a photo of a friend and tagged him in the photo. He never got ANY notification at all that I tagged him. Then, I asked him if he got a notification that I tagged him. He never did – he has no idea the photo or event exists, he can’t see this anywhere. So you should be okay. The main idea if you create an invite-only event, and you don’t invite a certain person, they will never be able to see anything that is going on with that event. Even if someone “tags” them.

          Posted by Sarah Mackenzie, August 28, 2014 |

      • this is not true? Still shows on your timeline.

        Posted by aishs, September 22, 2014 |

        • You can see it – no one else can unless they are also invited to the event. It’s normal to show up on your timeline, this doesn’t meant there is a problem or others can see the event.

          Posted by Sarah Mackenzie, September 22, 2014 |

        • Anyway to not show on my timeline?

          Posted by hollyp, November 30, 2014 |

          • Hi Holly – You can easily remove individual items from your timeline. Click on the arrow in the right-hand corner of the post, and select “Hide From Timeline”.

            Remember that, in general, if your private event is showing on your timeline or in your feed, only you and people who are invited to the event can see it. No one else can.

            Posted by Sarah Mackenzie, December 1, 2014 |

  2. What about having it show up in the news feed as mine seems to have done? Any way to stop that?

    Posted by R, September 16, 2014 |

    • Hello – It’s normal to have your own events show up in your news feed! It’s just that – YOUR personal news feed, full of things tailored specifically to you only. Don’t worry – only invited people will see the event in their news feed. No one else will.

      Posted by Sarah Mackenzie, September 16, 2014 |

  3. Thanks for this post. What about inviting faceboook friends of the person whose being surprised – when they are your friends also? Is there any way to “grab” their fb friends to invite only?

    Posted by judy, October 6, 2014 |

    • Hi Judy,

      So: I what I *think* you are asking is how you can invite friends of your friend, or see a list of your friend’s friends? (That’s a lot of friends in one sentence.)

      You can only invite people you are personally friends with – and the only list of people you’ll be able to invite is the list of your own personal friends. There is no way to get “access” to a friends list of friends, and then invite them. (Note: that’s a good thing. If Facebook allowed just anyone to create events and invite whomever – even people they weren’t friends with – this could result in a lot of event spam.)

      One way around this is to add other people as event hosts: they might be able to invite other people that you you personally aren’t able to. If you’re organizing the surprise party with a a few other people, make them all hosts so the invite list can best be rounded out. Another workaround is to also simply send new friend requests to other people you’d like to invite – and then invite them once you are actually friends.

      Posted by Sarah Mackenzie, October 6, 2014 |

      • My problem is I am throwing a surprise party for my uncle and want to create an event for these people. But, a lot of them are old friends of his that only he has on his friends list. If I were to add them, he would see that we are no friends and know something is up. I tried creating a secret group but it too is not working. Is there no way to send a link? I tried sending a link to my secret group but hen you click it, it doesn’t how any content. Do you think making a privet facebook page would work? This is very frustrating, it should at least allow you to send a link.

        Posted by Rachel, October 9, 2014 |

        • Unfortunately, there is no way to invite people to your personal event unless you are friends with them. If I were you, I would try to get help from other friends and family. They might be friends with your uncle’s friends, even if you aren’t. Add them as event “HOSTS”, so they’re able to invite other people that you can’t.

          Posted by Sarah Mackenzie, October 10, 2014 |

  4. hello, I’d like to create a Fb Jewelry trunk show. I don’t want to have it announced immediately that I’ve created it. It will take me some time to get all of the information uploaded. How can I keep it unpublished while I work on it?
    Please & Thank you, Leah

    Posted by Leah Williams, October 19, 2014 |

    • Hi Leah,

      I would just create the event but not invite anyone until you’ve uploaded all the info. Once it’s “ready”, then you can invite people. No one will be able to see anything (that is, if you’ve made it a private event) until you invite them.

      Posted by Sarah Mackenzie, October 20, 2014 |

  5. This info is very helpful! The fb QA page states “People who aren’t invited cannot view the event description, photos, Wall posts and videos.” But it doesn’t mention whether they can see the event title. Thank you for answering that question! They could save a lot of confusion by clarifying that there!

    Posted by rachel, November 11, 2014 |

  6. Sarah, I just created an event, made it an “Invite Only”, but needed to come back to it later to add some further details and photos. I only want to invite some people, but immediately, it showed up in the news feed that I had “created this event”. So, does everyone on my friends list see this or not? I looked on my homepage and it wasn’t there. Please advise. Thanks!

    Posted by Donna, November 17, 2014 |

    • Donna, it only shows up in YOUR news feed, or the news feed of someone that you invited. People who are not invited can’t see anything in their feed. No worries, you’re safe! Remember, each person’s feed is customized to them and no one else.

      Posted by Sarah Mackenzie, November 18, 2014 |

  7. Just wanted to say Thank You for making this very informative post! I’ve doubled checked and as of December 1st, 2014 this workflow still works for a secret/surprise party.

    The event updates (people who are going, new posts to it and such) will appear in your news feed/timeline, but only if you have been invited/are going.

    There’s no need to worry about the person who you’re trying to surprise seeing it, as long as they don’t look at your facebook account’s personal news feed when you are logged in, in person (over your shoulder, etc).

    Posted by David, December 1, 2014 |

    • Thanks for the feedback David – so glad the post was helpful! 🙂

      Posted by Sarah Mackenzie, December 2, 2014 |

  8. Hi there. So, I have an invite-only event. If I were to post a link to it on facebook… would only the invited folks see it? Or would non-invited folks see the link, but just not be able to view the event page? Thanks!

    Posted by Gary Reckard, December 21, 2014 |

    • Hi Gary,

      I don’t have time to test this out for you, but I would recommend commenting within the event or creating a new post on the event itself (people will get an update when you do so), not sharing the link on your public page. If you want to issue a reminder about the event, for example – post ON the event page. That will ensure things are kept private.

      Posted by Sarah Mackenzie, December 22, 2014 |

  9. thank you for this! i had created an event about a couple hours ago and my heart almost jumped out of my mouth because i thought that everybody could see the event when it’s suppose to be private! thank you again. All of my worries all gone!

    Posted by k, December 29, 2014 |

  10. Hi! Is the guests and friends option still private I need to invite ppl and allow them to invite whoever they want but still keep it a private event only visible to guests? I’m confused lol hope you can help!

    Posted by Sonia, January 12, 2015 |

    • Hi Sonia,

      If you want guests to be able to invite people, then you will want to select “Guests and Friends” instead of “Invite Only”. This will by default make the event a little less secure: once you allow anyone to be able invite others, it’s possible they may invite someone you didn’t want to know about the event or attend. You can learn more here: Here is how Facebook describes the “Guests and Friends” option: Only people who are invited can join the event. They may invite others without host approval. People who aren’t invited cannot view the event description, photos, Wall posts and videos.

      Posted by Sarah Mackenzie, January 13, 2015 |

  11. Hi, I’ve set an event up as invite only for a surprise party but need to add another host so they can invite their friends. The hosting button is greyed out and I can’t see where I add more hosts, I’ve looked in edit too, could you help?

    Posted by Sharon, January 24, 2015 |

    • Hi Sharon – On the event page, click the little “EDIT” button (it has a pencil next to it). This will bring up a pop-up window. This is where you go in to add the event name, detail, locations, time – and where you can also add hosts.

      Posted by Sarah Mackenzie, January 26, 2015 |

  12. Sorry if this is repetitive…but I’m arranging a surprise party for my boyfriend and I want to create an event. When our mutual friends click to say they are attending…it definitely won’t show up on my boyfriends timeline will it??

    Posted by Chloe, March 25, 2015 |

    • Hi Chloe,

      Nope – your boyfriend will NOT be able to see any of that as long as he’s not invited to the private event. Even if you see it in your own feed, don’t worry – his feed won’t show any of it. 🙂

      Posted by Sarah Mackenzie, March 25, 2015 |

  13. Hi! Thank you so much for this information, Sarah. I just wished I would have read it before I deleted the event I created for my husband’s surprise party! I got nervous when I saw someone’s RSVP, who is mutual friends with my husband and I, show up on my timeline after I set the event to “invite only”. Not only was I able to like and comment on that RSVP, I was also able to share it! After reading your posts, I am a little more confident that my husband hasn’t seen the event. However the fact that I had the option to “share” that RSVP still has me nervous! If I would have shared that RSVP, who would have been able to see it?

    Posted by Robyn, March 31, 2015 |

    • Hi Robyn! I haven’t had time to test “shares” in particular, but it should not matter at all. Facebook settings make sure that if an event is private, then the only people who can see activity about the event in their feed are those who are also on the invite list. If you see something in your feed about the event, doesn’t automatically mean everyone else can. Just those on invite.

      Posted by Sarah Mackenzie, April 1, 2015 |

  14. Thanks so much for this info! After you create the event as invite only can you change it to public later?

    Posted by Hadley, April 21, 2015 |

    • Yup, you can easily change to public!

      Posted by Sarah Mackenzie, May 2, 2015 |

  15. Hello Sarah! Thank you so much for your helpful information it does put my mind at ease. I did find a way to send invite’s to the surprise person FB friends list that I am not friends with. I took a screen shot of the event invite and messenger it to them. So far it has worked great. Only one problem with the event invite that we both were friends with was the event time. On the event it showed the correct time if 2-4 but when you opened for more information it showed 1-3. Its aa mystery. :O

    Posted by Donna I Witt, April 26, 2015 |

  16. I accidentally made an event private and I want it Public. How do I change it?

    Posted by Tina McDonough, April 29, 2015 |

    • Hi Tina,

      Unfortunately you need to recreate the event as a public one – it appears that this feature can only be stipulated when you first create the event.

      Posted by Sarah Mackenzie, May 28, 2015 |

  17. We have a Community FB group and I’m throwing a baby shower for one of the gals where we live. I dont want to invite all 900 homes – I just want to invite specific members of the group but when I tried creating a private event….it never gave me the option to pick specific people so it went on the group page for everyone to see. After it was created – I tried Inviting people but the only people that showed up on the list are the people on my own friends list. Please help!!

    Posted by Teresa, May 20, 2015 |

    • Hi Teresa,

      Group events (that you create inside a group) work a bit differently than personal events (that you create from your own profile). When you create an event for a group it automatically notifies *anyone* and *everyone* in the community of the event, although they may not be on the “invite” list yet. In fact, you’ll notice that no one is invited to group events by default. They must be invited individually – but YOU personally still only have the ability to invite people you are friends with, even if there are lots of other people in the group. Other users can invite their own friends, if you give them that ability.

      My advice is to individually friend any group members you want to come to the shower – otherwise, you can’t invite them. Then, create your own private event, and invite everyone. In this instance, since you only want to invite certain people, don’t create the event inside the group.

      Posted by Sarah Mackenzie, May 28, 2015 |

  18. Sarah – thank you for taking the time to write this in the first place and to respond to all the questions. Really helpful.

    Posted by Jonathan, July 3, 2015 |

    • Thanks Jonathan – happy to help!

      Posted by Sarah Mackenzie, July 13, 2015 |

  19. I didn’t see this in the questions so hopefully I’m not repeating a question.

    I’m throwing my husband a surprise party but we share a computer and an ipad and I’m afraid he’ll see the notifications on MY profile if I forget to log out. Is there any way to stop notifications from an event that you’re hosting altogether? I don’t want to have to be on guard about him not seeing my FB for 4 months!! Thanks!

    Posted by Katie, July 6, 2015 |

    • Hi Katie,

      If you don’t log out, your husband could definitely see the notifications when logged into your account. So I’d be careful of that!

      Posted by Sarah Mackenzie, July 13, 2015 |

  20. Sarah, I’m having trouble getting people to rsvp to my private event. I need some way to get these ding-dongs to REPLY! If I post a reminder on the event page will all invitees be able to see it…or only the folks who have already rsvp’d? Sorry…this may be a very simple question and I’m the real ding-dong. 🙂

    Posted by Janie Balena, July 23, 2015 |

    • Hi Janie,

      Just write a post on the event page and people will get a notification! It’s a weird thing about Facebook etiquette, but people can be very cavalier about confirming attendance, even if they do plan to attend. Personally, if I’m planning a private event that requires major attention to head count (think: place settings), I don’t *only* rely on Facebook for the RSVPs. You’re not being ding-dong at all, it’s just Facebook events don’t always translate to an accurate head count.

      Posted by Sarah Mackenzie, July 24, 2015 |

  21. Hi, I see other posts about not being able to send invites to people not in my friends, but I’m wondering if that has changed as it appears that I can search for them. Just being hesitant not to spoil a surprise using Facebook.

    Posted by Dan, August 21, 2015 |

  22. Hello! So my question is, once you have created the private invite and sent it out to the friends you have personally invited, are they able to share it on their timeline? I am hosting a Surprise birthday party for my husband and since I am the one who is creating the invite, I wasn’t sure if after the friend accepted it if they could sshare it to let their friends know about the party!

    Posted by Lynda Elaine, September 3, 2015 |

    • Hi Lynda,

      People might be able to share the event to their timeline – but don’t forget that what people can see on timelines varies. If the event is private, only people invited to the event will see that on her timeline. So you might see it, and she might see it – but 99% of everyone else – including anyone else that isn’t invited – won’t be able to see that post on her timeline.

      Posted by Sarah Mackenzie, September 3, 2015 |

  23. Hi I’m having problem creating a private event.
    What does work is if i create it via my home page. the setting are there…
    What don’t work is if i create it via a Page. the option isn’t there!

    This is really doing my head in, as all my events are private. I can’t even change a setting on the page to make the page private let alone the actual Event.

    i use the “create a page” and not a “group” option because it has useful info reports.

    Any help you can give would be extremely appreciated.. i can sent screenshots if required

    Posted by peter, September 10, 2015 |

    • Hi Dr. Pete,

      Everything about Pages is public on Facebook by default:

      Unfortunately, there’s no way to create a private event for a page, because pages themselves can’t even be private. SO: If you need the event to be private, unfortunately, your only options are to either create it personally from your homepage, or via a Facebook Group.

      Posted by Sarah Mackenzie, September 10, 2015 |

      • Thank you very much. is it me or is it hard to find somethings in help. lol

        Posted by peter, September 10, 2015 |

  24. Is it possible for someone to share that they are going to a private event? I had a response show up and when I tried to hide it I couldn’t. Does this mean that the other person shared and only they can remove it?

    Posted by Andrea, September 20, 2015 |

    • Uninvited users will never be able to see any time of activity around an event, whether it’s a share, a comment, or otherwise. Yes, people can “share” that they are going to a private event – but remember that timelines are customized to your own personal privacy view settings, so what you can see is different from what other people can see. Only people who are invited to the event will be able to see that someone shared something about the event.

      Posted by Sarah Mackenzie, September 21, 2015 |

  25. Hi,

    Thanks for this!

    Just a check-double-check question:
    I think the Facebook system might have changed a little since your article and the accompanying screenshots. While I’m creating my (secret surprise party) event I am able to choose if it is Private or Public (so I chose Private), and then at the end after the Date and Description I am able to uncheck ‘Guest can invite friends’ (which I did) but there is no Privacy setting like there is in your example: I can’t choose ‘Invite Only’ like you did. But will it work this way? Is it secret & safe?

    Thanks a lot!

    Posted by Sanne, November 4, 2015 |

    • Hi Sanne,

      Yes- the settings have changed, but as long as you select PRIVATE you will be just fine, and your event is secret and safe. 🙂

      Posted by Sarah Mackenzie, November 4, 2015 |

      • Great, thanks again!

        Posted by Sanne, November 4, 2015 |

  26. Hi so I have just created a private Facebook event for my boyfriend’s surprise party, and kept the box checked for allowing others to invite their guests. You mentioned above that by doing that, it increases the chance of risk. How so? I would like to not remake the event if I don’t have to. Will this event be safe?

    Posted by Emily, December 3, 2015 |

    • Hi Emily,

      It increases risk because if anyone is allowed to invite anyone, someone could, theoretically, invite your boyfriend. Or the entire town! Hehe. Obviously that would be a silly thing to do, but it just takes control of people who are invited out of your hands. Probably not a huge deal since I’m sure your friends wouldn’t do that, but just something to be aware of. 😉

      Posted by Sarah Mackenzie, December 4, 2015 |

  27. Hi! I’m just double checking but as someone commented the fb QA page states “People who aren’t invited cannot view the event description, photos, Wall posts and videos.” But it doesn’t mention whether they can see the event title. So, they cant right? haha

    Posted by Nic, December 9, 2015 |

    • Nope. 🙂

      Posted by Sarah Mackenzie, December 9, 2015 |

  28. I’m accessing FB on an iPad. I am an Admin for a Group. Nowhere can I see a function for creating an event for the Group. I can see past events and, it seems, I could have edited them (I can find an option to edit or delete them), but not to create a new event. Where do I need to look, please?

    Posted by Geoff Hetherington, March 16, 2016 |

  29. Hi Sarah…thanks for all this info!! I have a different kind of a question. I am wondering if you know how to create an event where only I can see the guest list and who is or isn’t coming? I created an event in the past and two people were saying oh she’s coming? and you invited him? lol…petty I know but I am thinking you either want to come or not…shouldn’t be decided according to the guest list. So I would like to post an event where no one invited can see you else is invited and who is or isn’t coming. Do you know if that is possible? If not it’s all good, all your other info was very helpful 🙂

    Posted by Kim, March 16, 2016 |

    • Hi Kim,

      If you create an private event, go to the settings. There is a checkbox where you can opt to show the guest list or not. This is only for private events – it your event is public, the guest list is always public by default. Hope this helps!

      Posted by Sarah Mackenzie, March 17, 2016 |

  30. The privacy tab no longer shows up, so how am I supposed to make it invite only now in 2016?

    Posted by Derek, March 17, 2016 |

    • Hi Derek,

      You must choose to make an event public or private when you create it. Once the event is created, there is no option to switch – so this is something that has to be done when the event is created. If you accidentally created the wrong type of event, you need to recreate it all over again in order to switch from public to private, or vice-versa.

      Posted by Sarah Mackenzie, March 17, 2016 |

  31. Hi Sarah, When you add/tag a location/company for your private event, would the event show on the company’s page?

    Posted by Mich, May 26, 2016 |

    • Hi Mich,

      As long as you created the private event under a private group or your own personal profile, the private event should not show anywhere, to anyone, who is not also invited. It won’t matter what location or company you add for where the event is taking place.

      You may notice the event appearing in feeds and “showing up” places, but that’s only because you created it or you are invited. Others won’t see what you do, unless they also are invited. Feeds are totally customized for each user.

      Posted by Sarah Mackenzie, May 27, 2016 |

      • Thanks a lot Sarah…Just needed to make sure. I read through all the questions above and didn’t see anyone asking about tagging the place for the event so I needed to get that clarify before creating my surprise event. Thanks again!

        Posted by Mich, May 27, 2016 |

  32. Hello. I want to make an event (preferably public), but to hide it from one person… who has of course many friends in common with me. If I’ve blocked him, and I’m the host of the event, how many chances he can see the event?
    I’ve tried to create fake profile and play with making an event, inviting, then blocking, and the blocked “me” couln’t get to the page of an event. Though after got notification that “event was cancelled”.
    Is it so possible?

    Posted by mar, May 31, 2016 |

    • If you blocked the other profile and the blocked profile could not see the event, then that’s a pretty good indicator that they wouldn’t be able to see the event. Generally, if you have someone blocked, they can’t access anything you have created. However, I have not personally tested this out.

      Posted by Sarah Mackenzie, May 31, 2016 |

  33. I know how to create an event and invite friends only. My issue is I am throwing my boyfriend a surprise party and want to create a facebook event because it is just easy. Yet, my issue is I do not want the event showing up on my news feed because he grabs my phone and looks at facebook sometimes (he doesn’t have facebook) which normally isn’t an issue but if I am trying to surprise him I don’t want him to see it on my newsfeed. Can I change this in the settings so it doesn’t come up on my newsfeed. He doesn’t look and my notifications so if there is a setting where notifications show up and I can see them but it wont show on my newsfeed?

    Posted by nikki, August 30, 2016 |

    • Hi Nikki – I haven’t personally run a test to see if this works with events you create vs ones you are attending that others create, but you could try unsubscribing from event notifications, see:

      Posted by Sarah Mackenzie, August 30, 2016 |

  34. Thank you so much!! Someone I invited shared my private event (surprise party) & I was freaking out that everyone could see it! Glad to know only those in the group could see it (phew)

    Posted by Debbie, October 7, 2016 |

  35. Hello I am not sure if this has been asked or not, I created a private event and invited people and someone said they were going and then got mad and clicked the can’t go button and unfriended me, can they still see what is going on in the page if so how do I remove them?

    Posted by Ashley, October 9, 2016 |