Remember the Old West birthday party from “Parenthood” the movie? Didn’t that look like one of the coolest kids’ birthday parties ever? I especially loved how Steve Martin’s character, Gil, improvised when the professional cowboy performer failed to show up. Seeing his son in tears, Gil dressed up in makeshift spurs, bath mat chaps and a tiny hat to entertain the kids. And the kids loved it.
You might need to put in a little more planning and forethought if you are going to host an Old West birthday party for your child. Not everyone has the charisma and comic timing of Steve Martin, after all. But with a little bit of effort, you can pull off a great western themed party that your kids will remember for a long time. Here are some ideas to help you mosey on down the party planning trail.
Depending on where you live, chances are a lot of the kids your child invites to their birthday party won’t have their own western wear. Fortunately, you can supply all of your young guests with their very own cowboy getup for less than a typical goody bag. A dozen straw hats trimmed in red and blue accents can be purchased for less than $20 online. Bandanas are easy to find for about $1 each in fabric and hobby stores and even in many Walmart locations.
If you want to go all out, you can complete each outfit with a toy gun and holster set from the dollar store. This brings your total for costumes to less than $4 per guest.
An Old West party really demands some authentic western grub. Your party guests are a lot more likely to gobble up some cowboy beans or western chili if it is served from a big pot out of the back of a chuck wagon. You don’t need to rent a covered wagon, though. You can give your serving station a chuck wagon feel with some painted cardboard and a sheet tucked over an arched garden trellis.
Toss some hay bales around a fire pit to give your guests a fun place to eat their supper. Serve them some cowboy beans in tin cups with a hunk of Texas toast on the side to make them feel even more like real cowboys.
Party games are fun, and there are plenty of old-fashioned games your guests can play. Stick horse races and sack races are a lot of fun. Pin the tail on the donkey has a western feel. And of course, if someone can make balloon horses those will be a great hit.
If you can swing it, nothing completes an Old West birthday party like pony rides. If not, the next best thing may be a cowboy sing along beside a bonfire at dusk. Find someone who plays a guitar and can lead a few easy tunes while you roast marshmallows over the fire. Don’t forget to take lots of pictures, because this will be a party you won’t want to forget.
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