My special edit to celebrate strong women
MY ULTIMATE BIRTHDAY GIFTS COLLECTION
Another lap around the sun is the perfect opportunity to celebrate, even if it doesn’t always feel like it. Getting older can be a bit of a mixed blessing I know, and as much as I have my wobbly moments in front of the mirror when a grey hair has appeared out of frigging nowhere (I was twenty just last week, wasn’t I?!), I’m always aware that ageing is a privilege, and it’s a special thing to experience all the joys and challenges that each new number brings. So whether you’re five or ninety-five, I think it’s important to start off the journey with a bang — and whether you’re planning an all-out-John-Travolta-disco-extravaganza or a simple dinner with friends, here’s how small businesses can help you mark the occasion.
‘Open in case of celebration’ confetti card, by Studio jAN.NE.KE: Can it really be considered a celebration unless there’s confetti? This birthday card by London-based Studio jAN.NE.KE will kick the party off in the style it means to go on — joyously.
Birthday queen party hat, by Hadley Paper Goods: If you can’t feel like a queen on your birthday, when can you? Crown the birthday girl in this beautifully created, adjustable, FSC card party hat from designer Jo. She’ll know she can be waited on hand and foot (for 24 hours anyway).
Balloon pops by POP Bakery: Forget mini crème brûlées, no party buffet is complete without these bright, hand decorated cake pops. They make a real treat whether you’re six or sixty, and if there are any left over (who are we kidding?) they last around 10 days in the fridge, so you can enjoy them well after the dance floor has emptied.
Show your age t-shirts, by Twisted Twee: Okay, I know what you’re going to say. “Holly, after a certain age, the number is not something you want to advertise.” Well, I’m going to pooh-pooh that — growing older is something to be grateful for. Founder Suzie agrees with me, creating this colourful organic t-shirt emblazoned proudly with your number of years around the sun.
Recycled newspaper party hats, set of six, by Oklahoma: These block-printed hats are made by women in Bangladesh working for a registered World Fairtrade Organisation. They remind me of paper fireworks, and I think they’re totally marvellous. I’d bring these to a birthday dinner to kick start the festivities.
‘Make your own kits’, by Fumbalinas: Jodie from Fumblinas is the genius behind many of my flamboyant headpieces and the brilliant news is that she’s now created a kit — which means you can create your own showstopping number for a special celebration. Ready to turn heads? Make it an outfit to remember.
Custom enamel and glitter painted 300mm mirrorball, by Third Eye Signs: If you’re hosting a blowout bash, then perhaps consider a showstopping centrepiece that you can keep up all year round. How about a dazzling bespoke enamel and glitter mirrorball? The lettering, colour and style will be discussed in your consultation, so it will be created exactly to your chosen specifications. What better way to celebrate your birthday?
‘Just add salt, tequila and lime’ sequin ornament set, by Kate Gwilliam: Tequila is my tipple of choice, so when Independent Award Nominee Kate Gwilliam created this hand-embroidered sequin set, I knew it would be just the thing to bring some sparkle to the party bar, or make a perfect present for a fellow spirit lover.
Disco ball punch bowl, by Midsummer Nightcap: Saturday Night Fever, eat your heart out. The punch bowl is such an iconic party staple, and this customised mirrorball can hold up to two litres of cocktail. Apart from the wild dancing, it will be the best statement on the dance floor.
Sequin bunting in gold, by Rosa Bloom: Each side and every sequin on this gleaming gold string of bunting is individually hand-stitched in Rosa’s trademark oversized style, which makes it the ultimate birthday party heirloom. In fact, it’s so lovely I might just hang one in my house year round.
Awesome sparkly birthday badge, by Sparkle Child: How can you make their birthday outfit extra special? A glittering badge with two layers of sparkle celebrating their brand new magical age should do it. These lovely badges are beautifully made in Kristal’s independent Hackney studio.
Upcycled furoshiki wraps, by Pri Pri: I was introduced to Furoshiki, a style of reusable cloth packaging ideal for wrapping presents, when I met lovely Priya, founder of Pri Pri. Hers is eco-friendly, and each piece is hand-sewn from exquisite pre-loved sari fabric by underprivileged women in India, who’ve been upskilled in tailoring. The best bit? You can use it again and again for years to come.
Personalised happy birthday candles, by Heather Evelyn: Illustrator Heather, may have just created the most elegant birthday candles I’ve seen. A beautiful addition to a celebratory dinner party, each one is personalised with your design and wording so they’re tailored specially to your occasion.
Cele-graze, by Berry and Brie: You can now ensure that whether you’re turning 20, 40 or 80, your age will be utterly delicious and jam-packed with cheeses, fruits and meats (quite literally). It makes a perfect selection of grazing favourites for a birthday lunch and there’s a delicious vegetarian and vegan option, too.
Meringue pies, by Meringue Girls: Deeply filled and with a mountain of meringue, founders Alex and Stacey have created a truly showstopping celebration dessert. The flavours change seasonally, but currently, tangy lemon curd, rich tiramisu, and passionfruit and lime have got me wishing someone’s birthday will arrive soon. Oh hang on, mine!
Cake Defender side plate, by Jimbobart: A perfect present to help protect the birthday cake from sneaky thieves. It features a hand illustrated, superhero bear who will keep a watchful eye on the treats when the birthday person is dancing or topping up their glass with something fizzy.
‘Wrinkles Are Cool’ print, by Magda Archer: Age isn’t a number, it’s a mindset and when we remind ourselves that growing old is a privilege we should start to see our wrinkles in a new light. They’re a map of our life, evidence of late nights laughing and the thing that makes us uniquely ‘us’. Who could you buy this for as a positive reminder?
Naughty balloons, by Luck and Luck: ‘F**k you’re old!’ sounds so much nicer when it’s written across a confetti filled balloon! These naughty party decorations will start your loved one’s birthday off with a giggle and can be blown up with air or helium.
Happy Birthday doughnuts, by DoBoy: “Happy birthday!” Say it, sing it and write it in doughnuts. Amy creates less ordinary doughnuts to help you send a tasty, personalised message to your loved ones. Add their name and choose their favourite topping (Biscoff, Oreo and lemon cheesecake to name but a few). Available for click & collect, Uber Eats delivery and in store walk-ins at three locations across Yorkshire if you happen to be local.
Need more inspiration? Try my gift guides for strong women, mothers or creativity. How are you planning to celebrate? I’d love to know in the comments below.