How to host an explorer’s birthday party

Well-travelled steamer trunks, bird’s nests and vintage biscuit tins set the scene for a birthday bash fit for an explorer. Tummies and hearts will be full after this grand, old-fashioned adventure


Childhood is a time for exploring, collecting flotsam and jetsam, making bush huts, mixing whimsical concoctions and, in short, having adventures. This party, created for stylist Fiona Hugues’ son’s 7th birthday, celebrates those good old times in New Zealand’s wild backyard with a focus on the natural world and fun pastimes that let kids be kids. The dress code was famous adventurers, with some Hollywood glamour thrown in – think Livingstone, Darwin, Clark Gable in a safari suit, or Humphrey Bogart battling the jungle!


> Scavenger Hunt: Everyone was given a list of flora and fauna to ‘discover’. On their return to Bivouac Base with their collection of specimens, they had to make a sketch of their favourite one. The completed sketch then granted them entry to the dig site.

>Anthropologist’s Dig: I buried various old animal bones in the sandpit, along with ziplock bags of chocolate coins. The children took it in turns to carefully dig and excavate archaeological finds and ancient treasure.

Style tips

> The table was a combination of two vintage wooden tables draped in checked shirting fabric. I served party food in wooden bowls with some glass for sparkle, and created height with some cut logs. I always look to the environment for styling inspiration – the flowers on the table are buttercups picked from a nearby pasture.

Recipes and styling by: Fiona Hugues. Photography by: Jani Shepherd. Gatherum Collectif.

Create the home of your dreams with Shop Your Home and Garden