how to throw an awesome birthday party


A party requires sparkles ~ lots of sparkles!

Recently I celebrated something of a milestone birthday and with it, had a party that was really 22 years in the making.

To cut a long story short, I never had the traditional 18th, 21st or even 30th. So for the past couple of years my party mantra has been “I’m having a 40th”.

Planning stated last year, ramped up in March, I wanted the party to have little wow factor, a little uniqueness and be a lot of me.

And I got a great night and I want to do it all over again. But I think the bank account might want to wait until my 50th!

I thought I might take you through a few of the details that really were the icing on the party cake for me. And being savvy online folk like you are, these are things you can do at home!

So step one was a domain and a website.  I chose a domain name I could use again and created a WordPress site inside the domain so it had my

Now anyone familiar with WordPress knows you pick a theme and your away. A couple of extras I used for privacy and customisation.

I imagine you could do something similar with any blogging site.

Some basic pages for your website:

  • Who – I added a little gallery of photos from babyhood to the present day and uploaded some videos  I made from our own home movies from waaaay back. (I used a Vimeo account for this and upgraded for better privacy settings.)
  • What – party details with a clip from soundcloud of the band who were playing on the night.
  • RSVP
  • Messages – I used a nifty little web app called Padlet which allows people to write on a virtual wall and also has an embedding feature so you can put it on your website. It allows pictures and text and had a some neat customisation features.
  • Virtual party – with a couple of social media junkies planning the party, I wanted to capture things as they happened. With a hashtag, naturally. I used Rebel Mouse for this which also allows embedding. Wasn’t perfect but was the best free solution I could find.

Now to invite people. I did all this by email using mail chimp. Designing invitations and sending them out with links straight to the relevant sections of the website. It made it easy to send updates and keep in touch, as well as chasing those pesky RSVPs.


Now into the real world, we booked with a lovely local cafe we frequent who do functions. Planned a cocktail menu and some decorations. Booked a band and we were on our way.

There wasn’t a theme as such but one developed.  The initial “logo” was a photo of me from when I was about 18 months old, reading a newspaper. (After which followed two decades in newspapers.) So it became newspapers and black and white. Simple and classic.


Master 10 having a lark at the photo booth. We made a backdrop of crepe streamers.

Then the details. One thing I absolutely wanted – after fairy lights which were ultimately scuttled by bad weather and an inside only party – was a photo booth. But I wasn’t convinced on the cost and results so decided on our own version. My Fuji Instax. We made up a backdrop of streamers, stocked up on film, grabbed some “props” from Spotlight and we were away.


The eldest took on the job of manning the booth and I bought this album in black to put them in. The philosophy was one for you and one for me and I now have a crazy album of instant photos! I love it!


Next, a guest book. I looked around, searched Etsy (where I found some absolutely lovely ones), and then stumbled on the idea of using blurb! Brilliant! Using their Indesign book plugin, I was able to design a little book from start to finish. Completely me. It was one of my favourite things and the tools were really easy to use.


We gave away stubby holders – the Mr has contacts – which I designed with newspapers from the day I was born.


We don’t eat at lot of  sugar or cake so the local grocer did me a “cheese” cake of scrumptious French cheese . It was a big hit!

And the images. I got smart and hired a local photographer. And I’m so so glad I did. He did a fabulous job as you can see and meant I was going to get the photos I wanted while also enjoying the party. (I didn’t take single photo all night!) I did, however, set up my camera to film the speeches, which worked out way better than I expected. And we set up our GoPro to time lapse the room over several hours for a bit of fun and to capture some party action.


Then it was just a matter of filling the room with lots of friends (who will ignore your instruction to not bring presents), keep the wine and food flowing, have some funky music and it’s sure to be a rollicking good time.

Oh, and balloons. Big foil numbers and lots of balloons. Keeps that party spirit going long after it’s over!

All images by Peter Charlesworth Photography

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  1. says

    The perfect way to celebrate a milestone birthday…it looks fabulous and wonderful in every way!

    Very belated birthday wishes to you!

    Ingrid x


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