Roald Dahl Turns 100!

Mark Roald Dahl's centenary with TOAST

Move over HRH, there’s a new big birthday in town. This September will see the biggest ever celebration of Roald Dahl's 100th birthday! Sophie Farrah takes a look at the life of the much-loved novelist, and how you can enjoy some gloriumptious festivities in your own home…

*DISCLAIMER. This article may contain several words of Gobblefunk (Roald Dahl’s invented language). They are not spelling mistakes. Honest.

The BFGMatildaJames and the Giant Peach. The list of Roald Dahl's timeless and much-loved stories goes on and on. Often described as the world’s ‘number 1 Storyteller’ Dahl’s magical tales have been capturing the imaginations of all ages for 100 years – and we think it's good reason to celebrate!

Born on the 13th September 1916 in Llandaff, near the Welsh capital of Cardiff, Dahl was named after Norwegian polar explorer Roald Amundsen, the first ever to reach the South Pole, and it wasn’t just a name that they shared, but an acute sense of adventure. 

Dahl’s childhood was challenging; at the tender age of three tragedy struck when his seven-year-old sister, Astri, died from appendicitis, and just weeks later his father sadly died of pneumonia.

His schools were notoriously strict and Dahl was said to have resented the harsh rules; punishment was often cruel – the cause of many trogglehumpers I am sure, and a source of inspiration for the formidable Miss Trunchbull, perhaps. In fact, many of Dahl’s childhood experiences went on to inspire some of his wonderfully fanciful stories; Mrs Pratchett's local sweet shop in Llandaff is where he developed his love for gobstoppers, which eventually led to the everlasting variety. Chocolate manufacturer Cadbury would occasionally send boxes of new chocolates to his school to be tested by the pupils; it is said that because of this Dahl himself would often dream of inventing a new chocolate bar, and this proved the inspiration for…you guessed it - Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

With his imagination intensifying Dahls’ desire for escape and adventure swelled. When his mother offered to pay for his tuition at Oxford or Cambridge University his response was; "No thank you. I want to go straight from school to work for a company that will send me to wonderful faraway places like Africa or China."

And so he did. Dahl got a job working for Shell Oil, which sent him all over the world and then in 1939, as World War II loomed, Dahl joined the RAF and more exploration ensued. While serving in the Mediterranean, Dahl crash-landed in Egypt; he was left with serious injuries to his skull, spine and hip, and so was transferred to Washington, D.C. It is here that he met author C.S. Forrester, who encouraged him to start writing….

Initially Dahl’s short stories were published in magazines; they were grisly and mysterious stories geared toward adult readers. He then married actress Patricia Neal in 1953 and together they had 5 children; most nights Dahl would read them bedtime stories, and it is these fantastical tales that went on to become the delightful stories that we are all so familiar with today…

James and the Giant Peach was published in 1961, followed by Charlie and the Chocolate Factory three years later. They were both hugely popular, and were eventually made into popular films starring household names such as Jonny Depp, and George Clooney. Dahl's other most popular books include Fantastic Mr. Fox (1970), The Witches (1983), Matilda (1988) and of course The B.F.G (1975), which this summer is also transferring to the silver screen in a version directed by none other that Steven Spielberg. Today, his stories are available in 58 languages and he has sold more than 200 million books.

On the 13th September this year would have been Roald Dahl’s 100th birthday – so what better reason to celebrate and enjoy a little bit of nonsense. Here are Toast’s top tips for creating a most phizz-whizzing children’s party!

Delumptious Delights

Dahl delights in writing about glorious food! A creative cook himself, he never produces anything boring or normal, his late wife Liccy said food was always exciting for him. From holey eggs on toast, wormy spaghetti and green pea soup, scrambled dregs and liquid chocolate, everything on Dahls table was intriguing, so embrace your inner child and harness Dahls’ imagination with your party food and whip up a few Wonka inspired sweeties and chocolate treats.

Try this recipe for Wonka's Whipple-Scrumptious Fudgemallow Delight from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, or Celebrity Chef Rachel Khoo also has a mouth-watering recipe for Veruca Salt’s Salted Caramel Clusters. Frances Quinn’s giant chocolate fudge fancy which is based on the Bruce Bogtrotter chocolate cake in Matilda also makes for a dramatic centrepiece. There are also plenty of sweet and savoury treats in Roald Dahl’s own book of Revolting Recipes that will help you create a truly authentic Dahl inspired menu.

For something simpler, grab a selection of paper sweetie bags from hobbycraft and fill them with a colourful mixture of penny sweets from the fabulous traditional sweet company Ask Mummy and Daddy. You can also go Wonker-tastic and create a sweetie table that’s overflowing with gobstoppers, liquorice and rainbow lollies from Spun Candy, or even enlist the experts at Zafferano, masters at creating crafty foodie theatre to create somthing magical for your guests. 

Toadstool Parties Spun Candy Ask Mummy And Daddy

But if you're more of a cake lover and want a centrepiece that will dazzle, Cakes by Robin are a talented team of cake artists that will bring your ideas to life, we just adore their incredibly intricate Wonka cake, featuring all the characters from Willy Wonka and Charlie to Augustus Gloop, Violet and of course the Oompa Loompas.Images: Cakes By Robin, Francis Quinn

(Images: Cakes by Robin and Frances Quinn's Giant Fancy)

For the grown ups, luxury confectioners Rococco Chocolates have also created a collection of indulgent Roald Darhl Chocolate bars. Flavours include; the BFG Frobscottle & Snozzcumber white chocolate, Mr Twit’s Beardy Breakfast chocolate, and George’s Marvellous Medicine, that will have your guests drooling as much as Augustus Gloop as they indulge. 

Rococco Roald Dahl Chocolate

A healthier but still scrumdiddlyumptious option is to offer guests a suitably giant bowl of peaches (James’ favourite) served with cream, or plain yoghurt. Tinned peach slices look great in a big glass bowl; they are also less messy and more cost effective than fresh peaches.

All this should be washed down with lashings of frobscottle – a green-fizzy drink, where the bubbles go down instead of up. Made with fizzy water, kiwi’s, lemonade, drinking yoghurt, cream soda and vitamin C tablet - a sweet, refreshing drink for kids. No swigpill or swotchscollop allowed! Serve from these fun, colourful mason jars from Barmans, with their funky krazy straws.

Images: Roald Dahls Revolting Recipes, Barman UK

For the grownups – try these four unique cocktails created by Rocket in Bishopsgate, to inject some nostalgia into your evening. Mix up a ‘Mr Fox’ a carrot, lemon and apple juice, Gomme syrup, Żubrówka vodka and St Germain elderflower liqueur concoction, or  ‘The Witches’, which combines blackberries, Koko Kanu coconut rum, crème de mure liqueur, Gomme syrup, lemon juice and Havana rum. For the more colourful, ‘George’s Marvellous Medicine’ is a blend of Whitley Neill Gin, Blue Curacao, Gomme, Lemon Juice and Archers. And finally, ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’ is a mix of Chivas regal, El Dorado, Mozzart Chocolate and chocolate ice-cream – the perfect tipples to raise a Toast to Roald Dahl’s centenary.

Rocket Bishopsgate

(Images: Rocket Bishopsgate)

Splash Some Colour 

With every Dahl story comes an enchanting theme to be explored so why not choose your favourite and recreate a classic scene to transport your little ones into the land of Dahl.

Whether it’s the school room of Matilda, the gardens of James and the Giant Peach, or Willy Wonka’s factory, hire in some props to help add the magic to your party. Event Prop Hire and Theme Works have a wide range of giant bridges, lollipops, toadstools and golden tickets that will bring any Dahl story to life, while Space Cadets have the most magical Giant Peach story telling space, a big hit with children and families.

Event Prop Hire

(Image: Event Prop hire)

Eventologists Theme Works Big Foot Events

(Image: Eventologists, Theme-Works, Big Foot Events)

Space Cadets

(Image: Space Cadets)

Toadstool Parties

(Images: Toadstool Parties Eddie Judd Photography)

For a general theme that explores all of his books, string some illustrated Roald Dahl Matilda bunting from Sarah Sews It around the room to create a cosy reading corner, and place a large patchwork quilt rug on the floor and lots of colorful cushions to sit on and gather around for story time, and choose the most charismatic adult (or a selection of!) and ask them to read a chapter from one of Dahl’s classic stories with this anthology

Sarah Sewsit

To get everyone up excited, take some inspiration from Heston Blumethal’s original lickable wallpaper that tasted of tomato soup and prawn cocktails as featured in his Chocolate Factory Feasts TV program which, you can also find a recipe for in his book Fantastical Feasts 

For a ready made party, check out Kit and Caboodle’s chocolate factory party kits, complete with giant and miniature balloons, edible necklaces and their version of lickable wallpaper, perfect to help you to set your party scene. 

Kitand Caboodle

Get Crafty

Dahl’s fantastical and hugely inventive stories encourage children’s imaginations to run wild, which is why interactive craft activities make a perfectly suited party activity.

Include an ‘Invent your own scrumdiddlyumptious chocolate bar wrapper’ competition – all you need is plenty of paper, crayons, stickers and some glitter for good measure all available from Hobbycraft, plus a chocolately prize for the most inventive design.

Children could also try making their very own Mr Twit Beard! Or get baking with one of BKD London’s jellybean cupcake making kits.

Dress Up!

And don’t forget the costumes! This purple Willy Wonka Top hat from MadHats is an ideal accessory to complete your fancy dress look and Sequins and Swords have a variety of playfull costumes for Roald Dahl Day.

Mad Hats

(Images: Sequins and Swords and MadHats)

Get Downloading

Head over to the Roald Dahl website where you can download your very own Roald Dahl Day 2016 party pack. This colourful kit is brimming with loads of little extras that will help you throw a truly jump-squiffling party!

There’s distinctive Roald Dahl decoration templates such as bunting and stickers for kiddles (or oompa loompas?) to colour in, and grown ups to print out. There’s also a host of activity sheets and party games including a gobblefunk quiz, ‘Mischief Maker’ invitations, placemats, party hats and some marvelous games for your get-together…


Don’t forget to head over to Toast’s Little Black Book for a whole host of inspirational suppliers who can help bring your Roald Dahl party to life; from themed fancy dress and brilliant bunting to perfect props and chocolate fountains that would make Willy Wonka jealous. 

Toast Tip 

OK so this isn’t your usual Toast tip, but it’s a tip of sorts, and one of Toast’s favourite Roald Dahl quotes; 

Never do anything by halves if you want to get away with it.

Be outrageous. Go the whole hog!’


Wishing you a whoopsy whiffling Roald Dahl Day! 


Trogglehumpers – nightmares

Gloriumptious – glorious and wonderful

Delumptious – delicious

Kiddles – children

Swigpill  - disgusting food

Frobscottle - a nice drink with bubbles

Phizz-whizzing – brilliant

Swotchscollop - disgusting food

Oompa loompas – workers at Wonka’s factory

Jump-squiffling – something absolutely colossal

Scrumdiddlyumptious – scrumptious and delicious

Whoopsy whiffling – really great 


Posted in Inspire Me

by Sophie Farrah
on on 12 September 2016

  roald dahl

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