How to celebrate 30 in style: Holly Clarke Cake Design

Part of our mission to revolutionise how people give is to encourage the celebration of every little bit of life that’s worth celebrating. As such, we’re a BIG fan of celebrating birthdays, whether they’re the bigguns or the littluns, and Patchwork can help you organise that party or big, life-changing/life-affirming gift.

With another year comes so much more experience and joy, so we wanted to flip the narrative on turning 30 and ask some of our favourite creatives to share their thoughts on turning 30 (and, because we’re super nosey and this is our favourite question, we ask them what their 30th birthday Patchwork would be for.) First up is Holly McCulloch of Holly Clarke Cake Design, purveyor of delicious bakes and hilarious puns to boot.

Who are you, where do you live and what do you do?

Hello! I am Holly (McCulloch, but my cake name is Holly Clarke, after my Mum’s Mum), and I currently live in a house full of subtle glitter and fairy lights. (And space for my cake paraphernalia.) Employment-wise I describe myself as a ‘bunny careerist’, in that I have bounced around quite a bit, but I have recently found my happy feet and am working as a cake baker (Holly Clarke Cake Design) and writer (under my actual name!).

What do you feel you’ve learnt in life so far?

Gosh LOADS 😉 On a serious note, when I was 21 I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer and for a while that dominated my life (it never dominated my person or character, but it dominated my activities); where I had to be, what I had to do, what I had to avoid etc etc. And for quite a while after that, I strove to be independent, to never have to rely on anyone else. At the time this was probably a combination of me knowing I was taking up a lot of my mum’s time and emotions, and a desire to be ‘normal’, but…

…what a load of CODSWALLOP! That was the stupidest lesson to learn! What I should have learnt (straight away rather than taking too long to realise) is:

  • Community is so important! People want to help people! It’s a natural human instinct! I love it when people ask for favours! I feel useful!
  • Being happy makes you feel better than feeling angry, so you should always try to gravitate towards the positive rather than the negative, even (/especially) when the negative is more appealing than the positive (I realise sometimes you just can’t and sometimes you have to just be angry or sad or deflated, but I try to reserve these feelings for situations that really warrant them, like poor queueing etiquette)
  • Laughing really does make everything better
  • Nobody is normal. Whenever I meet anyone I always try to find the weird in them. It’s often closer to the surface than you might realise.

How would you sum up your 20s?

Trying! As in I was always trying to trying to fit in, trying to succeed, trying to learn moves to Beyonce dances.

What are the good things about entering your 30s? What are you looking forward to?

I am really excited about my thirties – I’ve not been in here for long, but so far it’s been my favourite decade (if I think about it personally, not environmentally or politically or economically, but that’s a different blog post). But in general I feel so much more at ease with myself, who I am and what I enjoy.

How did you celebrate your 30th?

I had a ball. I drank margaritas with all my favourite friends (or those that were able to come), wore a sombrero, danced the night away, ate cake and pranced around in an inflatable unicorn costume. I have photos somewhere. (Eek!)

What’s the one big gift you’d really love?

I need a new car (for cake deliveries), but my heart is singing for a dog. A four-legged companion to help me gravitate towards the happy, and listen to all the stupid things I have to say.


Thanks for sharing your 30 story Holly, we’re super curious about that inflatable unicorn costume..!

Are you turning 30 soon and want to celebrate with something meaningful? Check out our alternative 30th birthday gift ideas here…