13 October 2011

Party Ideas: Gruffalo 3rd birthday party

Alison Lawson is a spectacular cake-maker. So it's a good thing that her sister encouraged her to foster her talent, learn cake-making and set up her own business - Alison Lawson Cakes! Here Alison shares with us tips and tricks for a Gruffalo party that she created for her son Harry's 3rd birthday. It's truly amazing! Not only are Alison's cakes awe-inspiring - check out those cookies. They are perfect. (You'll know what I mean if you have ever attempted to make these). Bring on the Gruffalo...

Birthday: My divine second son Harry – turning 3.
Organised by: Mum Alison of Alison Lawson Cakes.
Location: Our temporary home in Bowral, NSW – we are in the midst of building our dream home having moved to Bowral from Sydney one year ago.
Theme: Deciding on a theme for Harry’s 3rd birthday celebrations came easily this year. We had to look no further than his favourite book The Gruffalo, written by Julia Donaldson and illustrated by Axel Scheffler.
The next job was to choose a colour scheme. Brown, white and green came to mind quickly, to represent the ‘Gruffalo’ as well as the ‘deep dark wood’.

Invitation: When it came to the invitation, it was obvious to introduce our star character – the Gruffalo! My sister and I worked on the invitation, and Harry was thrilled with the concept of a Gruffalo Feast. He proudly carried his own copy of the invitation around the house for days!

Cake: Besides the colourful array of Gruffalo inspired treats on the party table, the real hero was the ‘Gruffalo’ cake. One of the key elements in planning a party table, is to create a focal point. The cake is an obvious choice, because it is usually the most expensive item on display, and is the result of many hours of
work – it deserves to take centre stage! The three-dimensional design of the cake captured the ‘giant’ nature of this much loved literary character. The Gruffalo sat up tall, in all of his ‘giant’ glory, watching over the entire party. The cake was chocolate mud between layers of chocolate ganache. The ‘Gruffalo’ shape was carved by hand, and took quite a while!

Party Food: Creating the ‘Gruffalo Feast’ menu was fun. It was such a ‘hoot’ to see the children embracing the treats in their ‘Gruffalo’ form. The menu was as follows:

  • Owl Ice-cream, otherwise known as ‘Cookies and Cream’. I displayed the cones on a cake stand to add some extra levels to the table.
  • Vegemite sandwiches were disguised as Roasted Fox Sandwiches – a sure crowd pleaser at any toddler party.
  • Scrambled Snake – popcorn displayed in gorgeous little pine cones.
  • Gruffalo Crumble, otherwise known as Apple Crumble, was very popular among the mums and dads!
  • Orange Eye Balls, made famous by the Gruffalo. I made these by placing rockmelon balls in little shot glasses.
  • Purple Prickle Jelly cups with Blackcurrant jelly as the secret ingredient.
  • Gruffalo Tonic – water served in funky recycled bottles

Given my love of baking, I couldn’t resist whipping up some decorated cookies. I honoured the character of the Owl, as well as the setting of the Forest. Cookie Wands are popular with the children, and I love the effect of being able to stand them up on the party table. The red and white ‘mushroom’ cookies looked ever so sweet, and were hard to resist.

Decorations: Good quality decorations are expensive to buy, so I try to make my own. Bunting creates a fun party atmosphere and you can incorporate the papers and colours of your choice. Martha Stewart has a fabulous tutorial on her website on how to make your own ‘party flags’. I found the free printable template incredibly simple to use, and before I knew it I had a long length of beautiful bunting ready to hang – thanks so much Martha!


  1. Take some inspiration and plan your party table around it.
  2. Select some feature colours
  3. Make the cake the star attraction of your party table
  4. Use favourite plates, cake stands and jars to create different levels
  5. Include tags and labels to dress the table up
Something Special: Party favours. The ever-so-stylish Sambellina brand party bags were a great addition to the overall scene. Inside I included an individually wrapped ‘forest’ cookie, as well as a personalised chocolate bar – very cute!

Details of where you can find bits and pieces from the Gruffalo party table:
Thank you so much Alison for sharing this amazing party with us. If you love Alison's cakes and party styling, pop over to her Facebook page to say hi.

Images: Alison Lawson Cakes

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  1. Steph, thank you for the great feature on your wonderful blog. I loved every single minute of preparing this party. Reading your article just reminded me of how much fun we had on the day. Alison.x.

  2. I think Alison makes a good point here - I know some mums would look at this and thing 'omg - is *this* what I have to do??'

    But unless this is your *love* - like it is for Alison (and you!) ... leave it to the experts to do it for you! ;)

    See you soon, darlin!

  3. Very true Amanda - this is definitely not what you have to do. In fact, I've never made a fancy birthday cake - all my cakes are round, frosted with buttercream icing and with a number on top. Pretty simple! It's whatever you love to do :)

  4. What a fantastic birthday and the dessert table, styling and catering is amazing. What a talent.

  5. I hear you Amanda - I think the same thing when the note comes home from school about fancy dress costumes.

    Visions of kids wearing amazing creations from very clever mums when sewing a button on is a complete challenge for me!

    As mums we all have our little passions. Sewing is clearly not one of mine, so I am only too happy to 'beg, borrow or buy'....usually at the very last minute.x.

  6. Oh my! Why have I not seen this post before! I love the Gruffalo as does Miss Daisy! :) This party looks absolutely fabulous! :) What a talented lady you are Alison! :) Love it!

  7. Great ideas. We have trouble finding things to entertain our three year old and there is way too much emphasis on themed parties with paid entertainers that charge way too much, which seem to be all the go for kids aged 6 and up.
    All the best

  8. Hi where did you get the decorations for the party bags please ? The whole party looks fantastic!

    1. Hi there, Alison made the Gruffalo party favour bag tags herself. Very clever!


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