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Designers Journal Kids

happy friday + ruby’s 1st birthday party!

Ruby's 1st Bday on Oh Joy | photos by Bonnie Tsang

Ruby's 1st Bday on Oh Joy | photos by Bonnie Tsang

Last month, we celebrated Ruby's 1st birthday! Even though no one really remembers her first birthday, we still wanted to celebrate with a big party, as it gave us an excuse to see our friends and celebrate our first year as parents, too (we're still in one piece)!

Ruby's 1st Bday on Oh Joy | photos by Bonnie Tsang

Ruby's 1st Bday on Oh Joy | photos by Bonnie Tsang

We held Ruby's party at Grand Park,—a new park that opened up in downtown LA this summer. It's so pretty and clean and new and we knew it was the perfect place to have the party. And the icing on the cake? The amazing hot pink tables and chairs that are set up all over the park. You can move them to wherever you want, so we had instant seating and tables! We showed up bright and early to set up and claim an area for Ruby's day.

(Pssst…this is a long post with lots of photos, so click below if you want to see more…)

Ruby's 1st Bday on Oh Joy | photos by Bonnie Tsang

Ruby's party was all about patterns. Someday she'll ask for a princess party or something trendy that kids are really into; while I still have some say, I wanted to make everything colorful and festive. So we asked everyone to come dressed in their favorite patterns.

Ruby's 1st Bday on Oh Joy | photos by Bonnie Tsang

That's Ruby and her boyfriend, Axel, having a serious discussion about their future wedding. This photo is going in their wedding slideshow, for sure.

Ruby's 1st Bday on Oh Joy | photos by Bonnie Tsang

Ruby's 1st Bday on Oh Joy | photos by Bonnie Tsang

I was in crazy book-tour mode during the couple months leading up to Ruby's party and needed help making decorations. So I asked Jenny Batt from Hank & Hunt to help out with her amazing DIY skills. We chatted about the colors I wanted and the types of things I could work with in a park, and she painted and DIY-ed to her heart's content…something that helped out so much during my travels, and made Ruby's party look just like I had imagined.

Ruby's 1st Bday on Oh Joy | photos by Bonnie Tsang

In addition to what Jenny made, I ordered a bunch of paper plates, wooden utensils, and paper napkins in a few different colors and patterns to go with the theme. Just to make sure things didn't get too crazy-looking, I narrowed down the color palette to just a few colors and bought most of the patterned pieces in polka dots or stripes. The giant plastic animals that Jenny painted were meant to be for decoration, but ended up also being perfect for holding down the napkins, too, on the slightly windy day (and also perfect for using as decorations in our house afterwards)…

Ruby's 1st Bday on Oh Joy | photos by Bonnie Tsang

We served mostly hand-held food made by our friends at Heirloom LA. Boar empanadas, grilled cheese sandwiches, and bite-sized chicken and waffles were some of my favorites. For dessert, we had more easy-to-eat treats like hand pies, cookies, and for the adults, some seriously delicious Crack Pops.

Ruby's 1st Bday on Oh Joy | photos by Bonnie Tsang

Ruby's 1st Bday on Oh Joy | photos by Bonnie Tsang

The bigger kids had a ball just running around in the park. All we brought were balls and bubbles, and they were thoroughly entertained. And all the little ones made their way to the ice cooler…clearly, ice is fascinating!

Ruby's 1st Bday on Oh Joy | photos by Bonnie Tsang

Ruby's 1st Bday on Oh Joy | photos by Bonnie Tsang

For Ruby's cake, Sara from Matchbox Kitchen, made a fresh strawberry and chocolate cake. It was all organic, made from natural ingredients, and so, so tasty…we loved that it wasn't too sweet, and both the kids and adults enjoyed it. Ruby didn't really understand the whole singing and blowing-out-candles thing, hence the confused and slightly pissed-off expression on her face.

Ruby's 1st Bday on Oh Joy | photos by Bonnie Tsang

Ruby's 1st Bday on Oh Joy | photos by Bonnie Tsang

It was an awesome day, and we all had so much fun. Oh, and if you remember this post about gifts, we decided to ask for donations to Operation Smile in lieu of presents. Some guests still brought gifts, anyway, but we really wanted to start teaching Ruby about giving back and hope to continue this tradition in some way every year.

Thanks so much to our family and friends who shared Ruby's special birthday with us! It meant so much to have you there! And thank you to our friend Bonnie for taking such beautiful photos of the day that we'll cherish forever.

Have a great weekend guys!


Photos | Bonnie Tsang

Location | Grand Park in downtown LA

Food | Lunch by Heirloom LA; lollipops by Crack Caramel

Cake | Fresh strawberry and chocolate cake by Matchbox Kitchen

Decor | Plastic animals, tablecloths, picnic blankets, fringed garlands, paper poms, and favor bags DIY-ed by Jenny Batt of Hank & Hunt; felt shape garlands from Land of Nod; tea towels from Poketo; food signs made by me.

Disposable Tableware | Plates, cups, and napkins from Shop Sweet Lulu; wooden utensils from Sucre; gold polka dot trash bags purchased a few years ago from Adrian Mondratowicz's project.

We wore | My dress is vintage from Etsy, cardigan is past season of J.Crew (similar), flats from ShoeMint; Ruby's dress is by Pink Chicken (from last year), striped leggings by Nature Baby, gold pom by, sandals by Saltwater; Bob's pants and tee are past season of Bonobos, shoes by Zuriick.


  1. I am seriously jealous of that park with the pink furniture. I want to have MY birthday party there!
    Everything looks great, as always. And I love the gift donations!

  2. Aaaagh! Ok, I loved this post, Ruby is so precious and the party looked wonderful, but I cannot express how happy I am that you served chicken and waffles! I tried that combo a couple years ago and don’t have it very often because I moved away from the best restaurant… May’s Chicken and Waffles. Delicious. And no one ever believes me. And then some miracle happens. I end up at a restaurant and it’s their new menu item. Everyone tries it, loves it. I proved it. Bam. So yummy!

  3. Hi Lindsay!
    Ha, well, I think its pretty easy to spot someone stealing the hot pink pieces! And theyre not super light which helps! ;P

  4. Wow I was totally thinking you went all out renting pink furniture, but how convenient that it’s part of the park and they aren’t chained to the ground! So awesome!

  5. these photos are gorgeous, and that party is the cutest! All three of you are going to love looking back on the pictures years from now. and Joy where did you get that silver tray with the leather handles? love love.

  6. omg! i love the hot pink benches and tables! when i first saw your photos, i thought you hired the tables and benches… what a nice park! the colors are so you, joy! i wonder if ruby knew it was her bday! i always wonder if babies have memories of their early childhood… happy belated bday ruby! wish you three happy everyday! 🙂

  7. Joy,
    I just found your blog and I’m already following! Just reading through some of your posts, I can tell that I really like your style and your story. Thanks for writing, and I’m definitely going to be coming back! (So, good to meet you!)

  8. What a beautiful party! It looks like everyone must have had so much fun. And I think it’s great that you went with donations instead of gifts. How many toys does a baby need when ice is the most fun, right? 🙂

  9. You are definitely one of the coolest parents ever. And that’s incredibly sweet of you to ask for donations to a charity than gifts for your girl. I will take a note from that! 🙂

  10. Wow, I don’t even have kids and I want to go to that party! Love the pattern theme, simple and fun. And that last picture of Ruby and your legs is too precious. Thanks for sharing!

  11. Such a fun party! You have such a cute family.
    I have to ask your new mom opinion, it’s about the ice. I agree, ice is so much fun for this age, my girls always try to grab it, then eat it! I am terrified that they will choke on it, maybe I’m being over paranoid, did the little ones not try to eat it?

  12. What a fabulous party you had! I have passed along to all our designers who worked on the park, and seeing the photos brought some serious smiles to their faces. Your daughter is adorable, and you and your husband will be amazing parents to her for all the birthdays to come. I think I’m also going to copy the idea of painting the animals…I loved the gold lion!

  13. Hi Julie!
    In this case, they were more playing with it. But Ruby does like eating ice, especially when its hot out. Usually I just make sure to watch her. Shes pretty good at biting off pieces with her front teeth, and just try and make sure the pieces are either really big that she can hold onto or smaller chips she can just put in her mouth and not choke on.
    Hope that helps!

  14. I was so excited to see you posted pictures of your little girl’s 1st birthday party because my sweet girl turns one on Sunday and we just threw her party this past Saturday! Cool to have a little something in common. : ) I adore how your party turned out. That cake is to die for and those hot pink tables and chairs… perfect! I also love that you chose to do it outside. Lots of room for the kiddos to run and play. Great idea! I posted pictures of our little party on my blog. I used Minted’s new party decor to decorate. : ) I hope you check it out. : )
    Hugs and many blessings to Ruby!!! She is just too too cute!

  15. So adorable. The pink tables and chairs added just the right amount of color. You are so creative and I love to see your ideas. Congrats on your daughter turning one and even though she won’t remember it, you will.

  16. I am now officially addicted to your site! I loved everything about your daughter’s party, but what really stood out to me was you asking for charitable donations. My husband and I have just launched our website It allows guests to donate to a charity of your choice, while also setting up a gift fund so that your child can receive one (or a few) special gifts from everyone coming to the party! I raised $400 in total for 3 charities for my son’s bday and he got a bright red drumset from all his friends. My house is noiser, but the idea of giving back makes it all worth it 🙂
    Please check it out and let me know your thoughts!

  17. I wish my mum had propped me up with a boy for photo to be published in our future wedding slideshow. LOL. 😀 Been following your blog for a year and more and I love it. 🙂

  18. Oh this is so perfect for a first birthday. Love the bright and festive colours. Jenny did a fab DIY job, and that cake is a real winner! Happy Birthday to your little girl! (and yes, well done on surviving the first year!)

  19. hi Joy!
    I’m having my daughters birthday party soon and i was thinking about making grilled cheese sandwiches for the kids. I was wondering how it went with you though, how did you keep them outside? did you have something to keep them warm? I’m afraid they’ll get hard and won’t taste good. thanks so much! 🙂

  20. Hi Liz!
    Ours were made by Heirloom LA (a caterer) but we didnt keep them warm. They were fine but it would have been better if they were kept warm. If your party will be inside you can keep them warm in the oven. If its outside, you can try burners.

  21. Hi Joy, can you tell me what you did for drinks? I am planning a similar party for adults and kids and not sure what to do regarding alcohol.

  22. Hi Mika,
    We just did lemonade and water. Since we were in a public park, we didnt want to lug extra adult drinks. And since our party was pretty early in the day (11am) everyone seemed to do okay without them!

  23. Hi Joy! I love all of the decorations and want to do some of the same things for a baby shower. Do you know if your friend painted or spray painted the toy animals?

  24. Nice post! Thanks for sharing your kid party ideas about birthday theme party celebrations. PartyManao is your one-stop online party supplies and planners, organizers. Visit for your party planning needs.

  25. Nice post! Thanks for sharing your ideas about birthday theme party celebrations. PartyManao is your one-stop online party supplies and planners, organizers. Visit for your party planning needs.


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