Babyologists, get ready for a big, fat dose of party envy because we’re showing you what may well be our most visually spectacular party yet! Feast your eyes on the gloriousness of Mattea’s vintage carnival party.
Little Mattea – or Mattie, as she’s known – is the apple of her parents’ eyes and they’ve given her a first birthday party that shouts it to the world. But in a most tasteful, Babyology-approved way, of course!
This is a party of firsts in so many ways. Of course, it’s Mattie’s first birthday. But it’s also the very first kids’ party for first-time Melbourne parents Tandiwe and Nicole, who between them have discovered a tonne of impressive skills they never knew they had – baking, sewing, and general all-round party hosting brilliance.
There’s so many amazing details here but let’s start at the beginning, with the perfectly themed invitations from Party NV on Etsy. Tandiwe printed them at home on parchment then posted them out to guests in retro popcorn bags for a real circus vibe. Matching printables – drink labels, a birthday banner, cupcake toppers – also came from Party NV.
The desert table is just stunning, don’t you think? Everything bar the macaroons (which came from Clifton Hill patisserie Cavallini) is homemade. Including those downright adorable cupcakes masquerading as burgers and the cinnamon cookies masquerading as fries, both inspired by that awe-inspiring mistress of bake, Bakerella. Red velvet cake pops dipped in chocolate were another Bakerella treat.
Tandiwe really wanted lollipops for her party table – hey, every carnival has them, right? – but decided they’d be too much of a sugar hit for Mattie and her toddler friends. So she made these startlingly perfect lollipop cookies instead, using a tutorial from Sugarbelle. Next, giant pretzel sticks from Costco were dipped in white chocolate and then sprinkled with red, blue and yellow sanding sugar to match the party décor. Caramel coated apples took a few tries to get right but were apparently one of the hits of the day!
Here’s another example of the incredible attention to detail. Popcorn is a must-have circus food but again, not so great for toddlers, so Tandiwe made cupcakes resembling mini bags of popcorn instead. She baked chocolate cupcakes, then topped each with mini marshmallows individually handcut and painted with yellow food dye to mimic buttered popcorn. So where did she get so many white mini marshmallows? She had a friend from the States post a giant bag to her, confessing to us the friend must have thought she was mad!
Even the fairy bread was more than ordinary, cut into the shape of circus tents using cookie cutters found at The Little Fox Factory, which was also the source for the elephant cutter used on the sugar cookies and clown cutter for darling gingerbread clowns. Tandiwe had to make a few batches to get things right – royal icing can be darn tricky – but she sure nailed it in the end.
She also nailed the birthday cake. Look at it here in all its fondant covered glory. Tandiwe was set on making it herself as a true gift from the heart to her daughter but was nervous, having never tackled fondant – or tiers – before. Tandiwe was rightly proud of the end result, which came together after watching countless how-to videos on Youtube! How delish does this sound – the bottom tier was lemon sour cream cake topped with sour cherry buttercream and the top layer was chocolate hazelnut cherry cake with chestnut buttercream.
Here’s one detail we especially loved. Rather than fork out big bucks for expensive milk glass cake stands, Tandiwe rummaged at local op shops for candlesticks and pretty plates, gluing them together before coating them with glossy red spray paint. Party prettiness at a fraction of the price – that’s genius! Here’s some instructions if you feel similarly inspired. We also adore the pretty glass drink dispenser – found at Costco for a bargain $30 – used to serve the homemade raspberry lemonade. In fact, Tandiwe tells us that for all its fancy-schmancy luxe looks, the party was for the most part a DIY affair and put together on a strict budget, with a professional photographer to capture the day the only real extravagance.
Now onto the fun bit – the games. With so many littlies, Tandiwe wisely decided to forego the structured games and opted for a series of carnival style sideshows instead. Check the clown dress-up station with its handmade clown hats, masks, colourful wigs and red noses – adorable! A homemade can toss and fishing game were other fun distractions, with goldfish shaped cracker boxes and mini bubbles among the prizes.
We also love the play area for the smallest guests, decorated using a circus tent from Ikea, alphabet foam mats from Kmart, a colouring table and ball pit hired from Party Kidz, and metres and metres of homemade bunting, sewn to easy-to-follow instructions from Homemade and Happy. Tandiwe says it took weeks to make the bunting but we think it was well worth the ansgst and effort. Nicole did her bit too, sewing the lovely table backdrops and table covers – her first time behind a sewing machine! Prizes and favours, including these boxes of Barnum’s Animal Crackers found at USA Foods, little bags of fairy floss and bubbles, were dotted around for children to collect at their leisure.
Now here’s the birthday girl herself, looking cute as a button in a darling Eternal Creation party frock. I’m sure we don’t need to tell you that Tandiwe’s friends were so impressed with her hitherto undiscovered baking talents – not to mention her party flair – that they’ve already roped her in to help with their own kids’ birthday celebrations. As for Mattie – well, her parents vow she’ll have to wait til her 21st to see a party on this scale again!
Want to share your child’s wow-worthy party with us? Then just fill in the form below. While we can’t reply to every email, we’ll certainly let you know if your party is chosen to be showcased on Babyology. We can’t wait to hear from you and look forward to seeing your amazing parties!