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I organized a surprise celebration for my husband, but as he entered, the room went completely quiet.

When Maria planned a surprise party for her husband’s 40th birthday, she never imagined strangers would walk through the door instead of him. A mix-up involving an unexpected Airbnb booking turned the evening into an unforgettable night filled with laughter and unexpected guests.

I had been planning my husband Tom’s 40th birthday surprise for weeks. To keep the surprise intact, I told him I would be out of town on his birthday, and we agreed to celebrate on another day.

The night before the big day, I pretended to pack my bags and leave for the airport. Instead, I stayed overnight at my friend Karen’s house.

“Are you sure this will work?” Karen asked, raising an eyebrow as I stuffed clothes into my suitcase.


“Absolutely,” I replied. “Tom thinks I’m going to visit my sister.”

Karen chuckled. “You’re a sneaky one, Maria.”

The next day, I got up early to make sure everything was perfect. Tom always came home from work around 6 pm, so I invited all his friends and family over at 5. This way, we’d have time to decorate before he arrived.

By 4:45, people started arriving. His brother, Jim, was first.

“Hey, Maria! Need any help?” Jim asked, carrying a box of decorations.

“Sure, Jim. Can you start hanging these streamers?” I handed him a bundle of blue and gold streamers.

Next came Tom’s best friend, Dave, with his wife, Lisa.

“Wow, you’ve really outdone yourself, Maria,” Lisa said, admiring the decorations.

“Thanks, Lisa! Can you guys help with the balloons?” I handed them a bag of balloons.

Everyone pitched in. By 5:30, the living room looked amazing. Blue and gold streamers hung from the ceiling, and balloons were everywhere. A big banner that read “Happy 40th, Tom!” stretched across the wall.

At 5:45 p.m., I gathered everyone in the kitchen.

“Okay, everyone, Tom will be here soon. Let’s turn off the lights and hide,” I said, feeling the excitement build.

We all found spots behind the kitchen counter and other hiding places. My heart was racing as we waited in the dark. I held my breath when I heard the key turn in the lock.

The door opened, and I heard footsteps. But then I heard a woman’s voice.

“Do you think he’ll like it?” the voice said.

My heart dropped. Who was she? For a moment, I thought Tom was cheating on me.

The lights flicked on, and the whole room gasped.

Standing in the doorway was a young couple, looking just as shocked as we were. The woman had a suitcase in her hand, and the man was holding a set of keys.

“Who are you?” I blurted out, stepping forward.

The woman’s eyes widened. “Who are we? Who are you?” she exclaimed.

Jim stepped out from behind the counter. “We’re here for a surprise party. Who are you guys?”

The man looked around, bewildered. “We rented this house on Airbnb. We were supposed to stay here for a few days.”

I felt the color drain from my face. “Airbnb? This is our house!”

Dave scratched his head. “Tom must have listed it after Maria said she was going out of town.”

The woman looked at me sympathetically. “Oh my gosh, we had no idea. We’re so sorry. We’ll leave right away.”

“No, no, it’s okay,” I said quickly, trying to keep the situation calm. “Let’s just figure this out.”

The young couple, still looking confused, stepped inside and closed the door. Everyone was murmuring, trying to piece together what was happening.

Karen came over to me. “Maria, what’s going on?”

“I have no idea,” I whispered back. “Tom must have put the house on Airbnb when I told him I’d be out of town.”

Tom’s sister, Susan, walked up to the couple. “Hey, why don’t we all sit down and talk this through?”

We all moved to the living room, the decorations and party supplies now feeling strangely out of place. The young couple introduced themselves as Jake and Emily.

“We’re really sorry about this,” Jake said. “We thought the house was empty.”

Emily nodded. “Yeah, we didn’t mean to crash your party.”

I forced a smile. “It’s not your fault. This is just a big misunderstanding.”

I pulled out my phone and called Tom. He answered on the second ring.

“Hey, honey! I thought you’d be on your flight by now,” he said cheerfully.

“Tom,” I said, trying to keep my voice steady, “did you list our house on Airbnb?”

There was a pause. “Uh, yeah. I figured since you were going to be out of town, we could make a little extra money.”

I closed my eyes, taking a deep breath. “Tom, I’m not out of town. I was planning a surprise party for you. And now we’ve got a house full of guests and a couple who thought they rented our place.”

Tom’s silence was palpable. “Oh no, Maria, I’m so sorry. I didn’t know.”

I looked at Jake and Emily, who were sitting awkwardly on the couch. “What do we do now?”

Tom sighed. “I’m on my way home. We’ll sort this out.”

I hung up and turned to everyone. “Tom’s coming home. We’ll figure this out when he gets here.”

Jake stood up. “We can find another place to stay. We don’t want to ruin your party.”

Lisa shook her head. “No, stay. We’ve got plenty of food and drinks. Join us.”

Emily smiled hesitantly. “Are you sure?”

“Absolutely,” I said. “The more, the merrier.”

Tom arrived about fifteen minutes later, looking sheepish. He walked in and immediately apologized to everyone.

“I’m really sorry about this,” he said. “I was just trying to save up some money for a vacation for Maria and me.”

Susan laughed. “Well, you certainly surprised us, Tom.”

Jake and Emily ended up staying, and the party went on. They were great sports about the whole situation, and soon everyone was laughing and having a good time.

“Cheers to unexpected guests and surprise parties,” Dave toasted, raising his glass.

“Cheers!” we all echoed, clinking our glasses together.

As the night went on, I couldn’t help but smile. Despite the chaos, it turned out to be a night we would never forget. And as for the vacation, Tom and I would definitely be taking one, with a story to tell for years to come.

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