Fortieth birthday party, celebration and gift ideas. Happy 40th Birthday!

Becoming a Domestic Goddess:
40th birthday presents that changed my life

by Lara Enderby

Nigella Lawson, domestic goddessI met my husband in La Spezia, while I was living there for a year teaching English. My sister was visiting me from England and we were doing touristy things like taking a boat trip around the Cinque Terre. Mark was on holiday with a few friends and, as Fate would have it, we all ended up in the same boat (as it were). The rest is history but the point is, our relationship was founded on an active, outdoor lifestyle. We hiked, we swam, we dived, we skied, we travelled.

When we had children and settled down, I was busy changing nappies, doing the washing, keeping the children safe and entertained, getting them to school, helping them with their homework... and meantime trying to support Mark in his work - and to maintain some sort of life for myself beyond being a wife and mother. A familiar story to many women, I'm sure.

By the time I was 40, our first born was 13 and our youngest six. With them all at school for a few hours a day and more independent at home, I finally had some time and space to breathe and to assess my life. I guess this is what people mean when they say life begins at 40. The children are no longer babies and the parents can focus on themselves a bit more - not necessarily in a selfish way but to become more fulfilled as individuals.

As I was thinking about what turning 40 was going to mean to me and how I wanted to celebrate it, I realised I'd always felt some pangs of envy when my friends and family (apparently effortlessly) dished up fabulous, exotic food; baked (rather than bought) birthday cakes; always had homemade, healthy snacks on hand when hunger made the children fractious.

I decided I wanted to become a domestic goddess and I asked for 40th birthday presents to facilitate this.

My 40th birthday presents

How To Be A Domestic Goddess
by Nigella Lawson

An obvious choice, given the brief, and a lovely book. When I said I wanted to be a domestic goddess, I meant I wanted to be like Nigella! I like her attitude to food and cooking and, particularly now I know what I'm doing a bit more, I refer to this book again and again.

Read more: How To Be A Domestic Goddess: Baking and the Art of Comfort Cooking


Jamie's Ministry of Food: Anyone Can Learn to Cook in 24 Hours
by Jamie Oliver

And I did! A very useful book that transformed me in an extraordinarily short time, simply by explaining clearly what to do and making me understand that cooking doesn't have to be difficult or time-consuming. Without this book, my quest for domestic goddessdom might well have faltered - a truly fantastic present!

Read more: Jamie's Ministry of Food: Anyone Can Learn to Cook in 24 Hours


Made in Italy: Food and Stories
by Giorgio Locatelli

This is also an excellent book. Some of it was a bit beyond me at first but I'm well into it all now and I love the depth of knowledge Signor Locatelli gives. Because Italy is where Mark and I met, Italian food will always have a special place in our hearts.

Read more: Made in Italy: Food and Stories


Bread-making machine

It took me a while to pluck up the courage to use this machine but as soon as I did I wondered what on earth I'd been worried about! It's easy to use and produces delicious results. Another present that changed my life pretty quickly.

Read more: Panasonic SD-2501WXC Automatic Breadmaker with Nut & Raisin Dispenser & Gluten Free Program

Other great presents included:

Kitchen scales (Duronic KS1009 Slim Design Digital Display 5KG Kitchen Scales)
A whole lot classier - and more accurate - than the basic old plastic scales I had before!

Pots and pans (Tefal 5-Piece Essential Cookware Set)
Some good, strong, non-stick saucepans and frying pans.




We still lead a pretty active, outdoorsy lifestyle, though in a different way with three children in tow. We love camping together and going for walks and exploring the coast. But these days our picnics are rather more gourmet than the sandwiches, crisps and fruit I used to pack.

When the children have friends round, I enjoy feeding them food they actually notice and comment on. Getting my sons and daughter to take an interest in food and what they're eating will be a long-term benefit of the change in my attitude.

40th birthday presents can help someone learn to cookMark and I also give dinner parties and I love planning and creating feasts from all over the world. There is something about giving a successful dinner party that makes me feel sophisticated, capable and glamorous. It's not only about the food, of course, but now that I can trust myself to serve good food that people will enjoy, I find I have much more energy than I used to for being an attentive hostess.

Paradoxically, for me, becoming a domestic goddess is not about nurturing my husband and children (although I'm very happy with this as a side effect), it's about me. It's about fulfilling my need to explore and excel at an interest of my own.

Cooking is a great hobby because it's useful as well as absorbing and the people I care about can all be involved. There are times when my kitchen becomes the equivalent of a man's shed but, when I've finished whatever concoction I've been working on, we can all share in the result.

Becoming a domestic goddess is not something that happens overnight. It took me months to adjust my thinking, to get into new routines and to get my family used to it. But I'm so glad I made that change! I feel so much more in control of domesticity now, which makes life far less stressful, and I love the sense of achievement that culinary creativity brings. Food is such an important part of life and yet, in the bustle of daily living, it rarely gets the attention it deserves.

In addition to the pleasure it gives me (and all of us), cooking from scratch rather than buying processed food is much healthier. In many cases, such as bread-making, it's also cheaper.

I'll always be grateful to my mother and sisters, as well as to Mark of course, for the wonderful presents they gave me for my 40th birthday. This is how turning 40 changed my life and, although I've always been happy, the level of satisfaction I now have on an almost daily basis gives me a serenity I never had before. Thank you, everybody!

Inspired to ask for or give domestic goddess 40th birthday presents?

If you're interested in the specific items Lara mentions, click on the links in the article to read more about them and, if you'd like to, order them through Amazon.

Here are some more suggestions for an imminent 40 year old who wants to spend more time in the kitchen:

wooden spoons, spatulas, cake tins, baking trays, mixing bowls, a measuring jug, measuring spoons, a casserole dish, a steamer, a wok, a set of knives, a potato masher, a blender, spices...

You'll find lots of other ideas browsing Amazon's Kitchen and Dining department.

Give the gift of experience and knowledge

Instead of or as well as the above, you might like to request / bestow the gift of a special cookery lesson, one of the gourmet experiences provided by Red Letter Days.

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