The 80th Birthday Party

Over the weekend we had Carl’s father’s 80th birthday celebration.  My father-in-law and his wife live interstate but came to Sydney for the event that we hosted in a hired club room that overlooks one of Sydney’s most beautiful beaches.

In order to keep the costs down and within our budget we self-catered the event for the 20 adults and 10 children who were attending.  The pressure was that we were only allowed access to the venue one hour before our guests arrived and there was so much stuff we had to truck in;  I had no idea!  I walked into the empty room and had to set up tables and chairs and a bar and a buffet table and glassware and plates and cutlery and napkins and serving spoons and all the food plus decorate, all in 60 minutes.  We just managed it!

Here’s a little look at how we celebrated this very special 80th birthday…

The weather was lovely; not too hot and with a slight cloud cover, making it very pleasant.

The view from the room on Balmoral Beach is spectacular


We sat the adults at this table and children at another

I bought three different types of flowers and grouped them into glass jars of varying heights that I placed in a brown paper bags and did up with a rubber band then purple and green ribbon.

The flowers

Flowers with floral napkins to match

I wanted to give everyone who came a little gift and my friend Celia offered to make me 100 chocolates.  She is so kind!  The chocolates were amazing and I put five int0 20 little cellophane bags and did them up in the same ribbon that I used for the flowers and added a swing ticket with the guest’s name on them.  These doubled as place settings.  Here’s the link to the recipe for making the chocolates.

Goodie Bags

We had a separate children’s table and all the children were given an activity book and a small lolly bag with their name on it that doubled as a place setting.

The children’s table

My father-in-law is a minister and so I made him a Bible cake.  The cake was edged in gold dust that was recommended to my by Lorraine and bought at The Essential Ingredient.  (It’s great to know other food bloggers – they are a wealth of information!)  It’s a powder that you mix with vodka and quickly apply with a paint brush.  It works brilliantly and gives a great effect.  The cake was a chocolate and ground almond cake covered in a dark chocolate ganache then covered in a rolled royal icing.  The ‘scriptures’ written on the cake were what we call, ‘The Gospel according to Greg’.

A Bible cake

The text for the cake was printed in Word, turned into a JPEG, then emailed to Pure Gelato who printed it on rice paper then express posted it to me.  You place the rice paper in the freezer for three minutes, remove the plastic cover then apply to the cake.

Mocktails of rhubarb and rosewater syrup filled with sparkling mineral water.

Rice Paper Rolls with a delicious dipping sauce

I’ve previously blogged the recipe for these rice paper rolls so here’s the link! 

Sweet Potato, Avocado and Pickled Ginger Salad

And that’s all the photos we managed to take of the food.  We were a bit busy!  And I got a little sidetracked!  The rest of the food was cooked on the bar-be-cue and it was boned and butterflied spatchcocks (poussins), marinated pork fillets and sausages.  The cake was served as the dessert on plates with creme fresh and blueberries.

It was a very special occasion not only because of the birthday celebration but because the room was filled with extended family was see all too infrequently.  And they’re lovely people!  The last of the guests left the lunch function at around 7.30pm then Carl, Archie and Arabella and I cleaned up, poured ourselves a wine and sat on the balcony enjoying the view and remarking on what a wonderful day it had been.  And Alfie had a coke!

If you liked this post, why not like me! 


Related Post


  1. You survived! Hooray! I’m so glad to hear it all went well, love! xx

  2. Stunning!! Looks like a huge success – congrats x

  3. And you found the time to make this feast when?

  4. What an amazing celebration … both the meal and the decorations did your father-in-law proud at the magnificent effort. And the bible cake with quotations was inspiring, I’m sure. 🙂

  5. Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella says:

    The cake looks FABULOUS! I’m so glad that everything turned out well. I can’t believe you set all of that up an hour before guests arrived! :O Wow! That’s true organisation Charlie! 😀

  6. Happy Birthday to your father-in-law … and great job on the celebration … and at a beautiful location, too!

  7. Happy birthday to your father in law 🙂 The food all looks delicious and stunning view!!

  8. Norma Chang says:

    What a lovely, lovely spread. So glad to learn the weather cooperated and all well smoothly and well. Love you flower arrangement idea, so creative.

  9. Sweet Posy Dreams says:

    You did a spectacular job. Those flowers are so gorgeous — love the color! The cake was unbelievable. You are an amazing woman. Happy birthday to your father-in-law.

  10. What a wonderful way to celebrate an 80th birthday!!!! You did a fabulous job Charlie! You could do this for a living and make a fortune! Just lovely. 🙂

  11. “And Alfie had a coke!”–*chuckle* What a great occasion and beautiful way to celebrate a senior family member! I can’t believe you did all that attention to detail set up in just an hour. I love the sweet details and the cake is one-of-a-kind. I hope you are able to get a little rest. I had a very informal birthday party at my house yesterday and I’m tired–without half of the work you went to. Lovely, Charlie!

  12. Victoria at Flavors of the Sun says:

    What a lovely, special event. And the beautiful details at every turn…my, you did a fabulous job. I just love the flower arrangements. Creative and so appealing. This was a beautiful, loving tribute in every way. Well done.

  13. Ashley @ Wishes and Dishes says:

    Wow! Great job! I love the rhubarb and rose water cocktails!

  14. Wow! Only 60 minutes! You sure were hustling ! Fabulous menu items and creativity! I do so miss getting together with family for these special times. You did a great party and deserved a glass of wine and rest!

  15. What an incredible party get together my friend it sounds so special 🙂

    Choc Chip Uru

  16. Tina @ bitemeshowme says:

    Everything looks perfect. You did a great job – perfect set up for the location too 🙂 Happy Birthday to your father in law =)

  17. Everything looks amazing – venue, decoration, layout, cake, food…Your story reminds me of restaurant wars on Top Chef – you guys would have won hands down

  18. Claire @ Claire K Creations says:

    What a beautiful setting Charlie! That must have been quite a mission to bring everything in and set up in a hour but you did a wonderful job.
    I love the flowers in paper bags. Brilliant idea!
    How nice of Celia to make the chocolates for you. What a sweetie.

  19. What a beautiful party…and in 60 minutes? Truly you are the party queen. I love the flowers and the cake is pretty awesome. What an ingenius idea that gelatin rice paper is. Bravo!

  20. Jennifer Cullen says:

    The party looks like it was wonderful. You always make everything come together. Even when it seems like it may not! When it’s my 80th birthday, will you make me a cake in the shape of a Torah??

  21. What a marvelous setting, spectacular centerpieces, amazing food and perfect cake! Wonderful celebration for your FIL!

  22. Barb Bamber says:

    Well, I am inspired.. look what you’ve done, the place-settings are so elegant, the flowers so bright and spritely in their little arrangements. The food sounds excellent (I knew it would be coming from you).. and that cake!! He must have been so touched by the effort and detail you put into this evening. I can imagine you were so pleased with what you’d accomplished! xx

  23. I love how you were able to make the event very memorable. The setting is exquisite and I’m sure the food is magnifique as well. I love occasions like these. It makes it more special doing it yourselves. Happy Birthday to you FIL!

  24. What a wonderful setting for a special day and what a lot of work you put into the event. The flowers and cake are gorgeous.

  25. OMG you’ve been so busy. Isn’t it nice that Celia and Lorraine came to your aid just when you needed it most. I love the table decorations and the food. Greg must have been over the moon with all that love you put into everything.

  26. Loved the flowers especially . . .imagination used for superb effect!

  27. Minnesota Prairie Roots says:

    Everything about this party from the food to the flowers to the venue to the cake is just lovely. At least you did not have a tornado scare like we did during my Mom’s 30th birthday party open house in April.

  28. You did an amazing job. You could be a professional. I can’t believe you made that cake!

  29. Looks beautiful!

  30. Well done, Charlie. You guys really pulled off a great party and I’m sure everyone left very happy, especially the Birthday Boy. What a fantastic day!

  31. What a lovely event Charlie, and what gorgeous good and beautiful table setting. I’d love for you to do my benchmark birthday next year, only no mock tails, we want the full octane kind!
    Eva http://kitcheninspirations.

  32. You got to be kidding me, and I thought you were going to get some rest this weekend! Happy Birthday to your father in low Charlie, you did such a splendid job, everything looks wonderful. Now I’ll have to wait for the recipes and more.. 🙂

  33. What a wonderful day – and beautiful set up! You did a brilliant job with the self-catering and self-decorating. I think it looks and sounds like a perfect 80th celebration.

  34. wow how did you manage all that in 1 hour. Great Cake, great view, bet you were glad to put you feet up with a wine!

  35. Wow,
    So beautifully done!

  36. InTolerant Chef says:

    What a lovely sounding time, and how nice to catch up with family now and then too.
    It looks like you did a fantastic job Charlie, good for you! And how sweet of Celia too make your chocolates- she’s so lovely indeed 🙂

  37. Kris Radge says:

    Charlie this is spectacular. What a beautiful occasion you created for your Father in Law and all your family. Amazing. X

  38. Jenny @ Ichigo Shortcake says:

    This is a truly amazing celebration and even more amazing cake Charlie! Well done on such a fine job! The writing on the bible cake is such a great idea, I will do that too when I need to make a cake like this. 🙂

  39. This is great party, Happy Birthday to Him. You are amazing. Thank you, love, nia

  40. Looks like a lovely time!!

  41. The Squishy Monster says:

    omg, I’d be so elated to have such a party! Great view and that rhubarb rose water? AHH! The eats look lovely and the view, view view!!!

  42. GourmetGetaway says:

    Oh you have done such an amazing job! The venue is ideal, your flowers are gorgeous. The place setting so thoughtful and the kids would have been beside themselves at having their lens special treats at the table… But the food!! Wowwy girl!!! You are the catering queen! Everything looks so delicious. I am going back to your rice paper roll recipe again and battling my way through rolling the buggers. I want one so much after seeing the picture!

  43. thelifeofclare says:

    This is fantastic! What an amazing job you did to have got all of that done! The tables look amazing and the food sounds delicious!

  44. IronWhisk says:

    Wow! All that looks so good.. especially the rolls. Yummy 🙂

  45. yummychunklet says:

    That is one fine looking cake! Great floral arrangements, too!

  46. I am glad to have stopped by your blog. You have done an awesome job in organizing this party. Food looks so delicious.I will be back often to check your recipes. Let’s stay connected.

  47. Cass @foodmyfriend says:

    You did an incredible job. Makes me tired just looking at it!

  48. WHat an incredible, incredible party. And the cake, my God, what a beauty!! I love the rolls.

  49. Flabbergasting! That’s what you are! What an incredible party and what an amazing job you did! Wow!

  50. PS…back to say that I think the orange curd was too sweet for the pav. But lime curd sounds amazing!!!

  51. How thoughtful and loving your preparations were, and what an achievement to bring it all together. I love the idea of the paper bags over the jars for the flowers, and the way you took care of the children as well. To say nothing of the food, which looks fabulous – and the bake!! Congratulations.
    PS I’ve been off line with major computer issues and a deadline, but am functioning again and writing my blog once more, and able to come visiting. I’ll soon catch up with your posts that I’ve missed.

  52. Looks like you guys are in a constant celebration mood! 😉
    The bibel cake is pretty cool, maybe I should make a diabetic version for my mother in law, …

  53. What a neat party! Gorgeous views, I loved the way you did the flowers, I will definitely be stealing that idea! The food looks amazing (but yours always does!), and the bible cake…what a COOL idea! You could do so many different things. All in 60 minutes? They should have crowned you the Queen of parties! 🙂

  54. Dear Charlie,

    Balmoral is my favourite Sydney beach as it is a lot less touristy than some others and so serene. I think I know where this place is and I didn’t know it was available for hire – must remember that!

    The setting is beautiful and those Vietnamese rice paper rolls are such a good idea when you need to ferry so much stuff around. Congratulations and happy 80th to Greg!

  55. Jed Gray (sportsglutton) says:

    With so little prep time you did this former event coordinator proud!

Speak Your Mind