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For my son’s milestone 5th birthday party, I scoured the internet left and right for weeks and came up with a winning combination of ideas (some my own) for the perfect cowboy themed party. The planning and (handmade) work behind it was nothing short of arduous.
As it turns out, the pint-sized guests had a great time, the adults loved it, and I even impressed myself – I am of the non-crafty (or 2 left thumbs) variety. Like most great parties, we did have one hiccup – my dog ate the cake the morning of the party and I had to make another one. The 2nd cake was not quite as pretty, but it worked.
I easily designed the cowboy theme invitations online, and also ordered matching thank you notes as well. You can also find cowboy invitations that you fill out by hand.
On the day of the party, the guests were greeted with a homemade “Wanted Poster” at the front door (or you could find other Wanted signs to use).
They then came in to a (super cheap) “Welcome” dress-up table that doubled as the party favors (hats, bandanas, badges and water guns). All of the items featured on that table were from Oriental Trading or Hobby Lobby, including the burlap runner and the checkered gingham tablecloth. (We did already have the apple basket and crate, however.) The bandanas would not stay rolled up, so I kept them in place with cute mini clothespins.
Being that it is summertime and bugs and heat are aplenty, the food table was indoors. Here it is nearly complete (we were still adding more food at this point.) My husband and I handmade the banner with various western scrapbook papers. I give full credit to the hubs for the popsicle stick fence. The “Cowboy Grub” sign I made, printed and framed. The mini straw bales were purchased half-price at Hobby Lobby for pretty cheap, and some of the other decor I found at the dollar store. You can find the straw bales at the Dollar Tree during the fall as well.
The food included:
- Make your own “Happy Trails Mix” in glass jars (peanuts, walnuts, pretzels, chocolate chips, M&M’s, raisins) with small-sized paper bags for the guests to build their own treats. (I am re-purposing these glass jars on our kitchen counter for easy snacks for the kids and guests.)
- The cake
- Small Sixlet candies in red and blue (bonus – they are peanut safe – but always check the labels)
- Campfire pops (marshmallows dipped in chocolate and dusted with graham cracker crumbs) – super easy and fast to make
- Pigs in Blankets
- “Haystacks” (rice krispy treats) – these did not stay on the sticks very well, so we had to resort to the cupcake liners.
- Watermelon wedges on a stick
Here is a close up of the rosette I made from bandana-print scrapbook paper (it took three 12×12 papers for each rosette).
And I folded the napkins, added twine and the utensils, then stacked them up.
And the not-so-perfect cake. Since I do not like the taste of fondant (and I feared using it, since it was my first time ever with fondant), I iced the cake in homemade buttercream (smoothed it out with a wet spatula) then added fondant accents (cow print). The hat was also fondant with a rice krispy underneath to shape it. Guess what? Fondant was not that difficult to use! By the way, if you’re afraid to use fondant or just want quickly dress up a cake or cupcakes, you can always find lots of cute and well-made pre-made fondant toppers on etsy.
The drinks I kept outdoors surrounded by ice. Again, I used my digital scrapbooking software for the “Waterin’ Hole” sign and the “well water” labels on the water bottles. I found it easiest to remove the old labels and use the stickiness to stick the new labels on (with a bit of Elmer’s glue at one end to seal it).
I kept the the kid tables simple, added the balloons to the birthday boy’s chair and a few paper lanterns to the tree. (I will use these lanterns for my next project, hot air balloons for my son’s ceiling.) We ended up having 12 kids plus our own so we had to quickly put out another table (not pictured).
We had a teepee and borrowed a saddle, stand, rope, chaps and hay bales from a friend for some photo ops.
To tell you the truth, I had several simple but fun games planned out, but I gave up my plans when I saw how much fun the kids were having creating their own games. Sometimes you just have to roll with it – let them do their own thing while you sit back and watch. Really, a bunch of kids together never get bored.
I had Target Practice for their water guns (although I was a popular target) and, of course, a Filling Station.
We had a “lasso the horse” station, but the kids decided it was better to ride the horse instead. I did want to lasso the kids myself, but thought that I better not. We also had a small bounce house and a lady that came over to do some face painting.
At the Hitching Post, we had 3 handmade hobby horses that the kids rode around for fun. (I used this tutorial when making them.)
And of course, I had to get a photo of the little cowgirl sister, too!
Some of the supplies I used (contains affiliate links):
Happy party planning!
Valerie is a God-fearing coach’s wife and stay at home mom of five bright-eyed little ones. She is the original founder of A Nation of Moms, a “one-stop shop” blog-azine of resources and advice for all moms who, like Valerie, just needed a little help.