You’re a Gem – Sam’s First Birthday Party

Somehow 365 days passed in a heartbeat, and today is Sam’s first birthday! We had a big bash for him last weekend, and because we really think he’s something special, we planned a “You’re a Gem” themed party. We also chose the theme in honor of his adoration for all things shiny, particularly jewelry, rocks, engagement rings, and sparkly stones. (He might be my son.)

We crafted the paper gemstone backdrop from vintage construction paper and these printable templates, and then we strung them up on a wooden dowel from Home Depot. The assembly line we had going at 11 pm with scissors, rulers, and Elmer’s glue was proof that my husband is also a gem. I didn’t intend for the backdrop to end up looking like a giant necklace, but in the end, it did (and that was appropriate, because on the invitation we requested that ladies wear their shiniest jewels).


We all overdosed on sugar–rock candy-covered vanilla cupcakes, huckleberry lollipops, mint chocolate malt balls, pop rocks (I’ve always wanted an excuse to serve pop rocks at a party), Lucky Charms, brownie wedges, and more–with the exception of Sam. He was very cautious about the whole sugar-for-the-first-time thing. He inspected his cupcake with one finger, took a little taste, pushed it around, and then wiped his finger off on my arm. A few minutes later, though, he double-fistedly demolished the cheese platter. I’m fairly certain we have a savory guy on our hands. Next year, he’ll probably get a wheel of brie with two candles in it.

The punch was cranberry ginger ale + Trader Joe’s hibiscus cranberry juice + sparkling water. We also had a coffee station with assorted kinds of rock sugar and sugar cubes.

Jordan caught the vision for creating a gem-shaped piñata, and he spent the evening before the shindig camped out with a graphing calculator, t-square, box cutters, duct tape, and the biggest cardboard box I’ve ever seen in my life (thank you, Amazon). He emerged with a piñata-shaped octahedron, which we filled up with Lindt truffles, wrapped in gold foil wrapping paper, and dangled from a tree branch.

Our beautiful, faceted piñata had only one minor flaw: it was indestructible. We went through the usual embarrassing, nausea-inducing, hazardous routine: 1) paper bag on your head! 2) spin you! 3) take a whack! After a number of people had bludgeoned the piñata with no results whatsoever, the guys resorted to gemstone piñata baseball. Two innings in, the octahedron exploded. As did the truffles.

There was a pet-rock-making station, because…well, you can’t have a gemstone party without a rousing pet rock competition. Afterwards, we hid the little guys in the yard for Sam to discover in the coming year as he explores his digs (and possibly also to leave a nice little surprise for the next tenant. Heh).

These tropical flowers were an unexpected find at a local flea market the day before the party. I didn’t plan on buying fresh flowers for the party, but I couldn’t resist these amazing stems! The lady who sold them to me told me how to care for the calla lilies and birds of paradise so they will last for up to a month. 

I printed out chronological photos of Sam’s 365-day life and stuck them to the wall with washi tape. The night before the party, what tiny little sound woke me up repeatedly through the night in the quiet house? splat. *pause* splat. *30 minutes pass* splat…as pictures fell, one by one. We put them all back up in the morning, but next time I’m going with painter’s tape. Nevertheless, it was a special way to recount Sam’s exceptional adventures, from his earliest hospital escapades as a teeny preemie to his shenanigans as his current robust, exceedingly busy, curious, snicklefritz, one-year-old self.

Well, happy birthday, Sam! You really are a gem.

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