Barnyard Party -2/7yr- Barnyard Bingo
Sarah in Pitt Meadows, BC, Canada
Theme: "Old MacDonald" "Barnyard Bash" or "Farm Party"
INVITATIONS: For my son's Old MacDonald Party, I really wanted to set the town from the beginning by creating rustic and themed invitations. I found a color drawing of a barn as a digital picture online, and then copied and pasted his face from a favourite photo into the loft of the barn. It really looked as if he were almost in the barn! I invited kids and parents to wear denim. I printed out the barns using a home colour printer, and then glued them to coordinating construction paper (I liked the look better than cardstock to achieve that rustic look). On the reverse side of the invitation I glued a cartoon picture I also found online of a horse, as well as the words in several places: EIEIO, moo moo here, baa baa there, everywhere an oink oink. For wording, I tried to include things like: RSVP Mrs. MacDonald and Cowgirls welcome.
ATTIRE: Our invitations welcomed people to dress in denim, overalls or come as barnyard pals. I'd read somewhere the idea of painting kids faces as barnyard animals upon arrival, which I thought was cute, although we didn't do this. My son, my husband and I all wore jeans. My son also donned a cowboy hat and a bandana for all of about ten minutes at the beginning of the party. His big sister wore a denim dress and his little sister wore denim overalls. All the guests came in denim, bandanas, many with their own cowboy hats and one even rode a stick horse to the party!
DECOR: The decor began with a wagon wheel I hung in the hallway I looked for a real one, but couldn't find a reasonable one so opted for a plastic one from a novelty shop. In a Martha Stewart kids magazine, I had seen a Happy Birthday message, which was essentially a number of circles hung in a row with string. You could copy or cut out the template from that month's magazine (sorry, don't remember which month, but it was from 2005 I think). I created my own version of this banner, however, by searching the Internet for an appropriate font and found the fonts Tropicana and Cowboys, which I used throughout the party experience. Using Tropicana, I printed out my son's birthday message on white paper with black ink (although you could used something to coordinate with your theme). I cut out each letter in a circle (used a small bowl as my template). Then I used a larger bowl to cut out a larger circle out of construction paper using the same colour construction paper as I'd used for the invitations to keep the theme and colours coordinated. Instead of stringing the letters, I used painter's tape on the back and stuck the letters to the wall in the entry way so that guests could see this upon arrival. I found miniature party cowboy hats at a novelty store so had those at the entry to create atmosphere upon arrival, as well as the loot bags that fit the theme. (My son also answered the door saying Howdy! to everyone who came in.) I covered the food table in a red-checkered tablecloth, labeled the food with terms to make Old MacDonald proud! To identify the deli meats, I covered patriotic food flags with Gobble Gobble and Oink Oink. I also took a barn from the kids toys and a pile of plush stuffed animals to decorate the table. I had a large basket that could pass as a pig's trough so put the buns in that on top of the table. I also served all other food in tin pie plates I found at a dollar store, like you'd see cowboys eating from in old Western movies. I had read here about the idea of decorating with hay bales and had full intentions of doing the same for an outdoor party, but the forecast called for rain as it often does in March. At $10 a bale and having to be an indoor party, I opted to forego the cost and mess but I think it would certainly be great for seating and atmosphere at an outdoor party. I also really liked the idea of painting a barn out of an appliance cardboard box, but time got the best of me. I saw a neat barn and other amazing party decor ideas at www.shindigz.com, for those of you with a high end budget for your party or want to look for inspiration.
FOOD: In addition to the deli meat and buns, the themed food I served included franks & beans in the tin pie plates, a piggy cake and a sheep cake that were inspired by ones I saw on FamilyFun.com. I got a recipe for a good Angel Food cake (# II) on www.allrecipes.com. I also put out a fruit tray, veggies with ranch dip and miniature corn cobs. I put out a jug of milk that I intended to label cow punch an idea I got from a different website, but forgot that detail in the last flurry of events. For other beverages, I served juice boxes, Jones pop for adults and of course coffee since it was still just 11am when everyone arrived. One kind parent brought me a Starbucks latte!
ACTIVITIES: Before the party, I did a lot of research online to find some activities that were age appropriate (we broke all the rules and invited all the kids we knew, so the ages ranged from 2 to 7, but made sure the activities mostly matched the kids who were 3 years of age). I found a few cute crafts that were set up to do at an unmanned station as we had many guests (google cow craft and check out DLTK for this and other ideas), but due to the volume of people these didn't get done, nor did I go out of my way to draw attention to the craft table. Since creating crafts wasn't the priority as an activity at the party, I didn't opt to do this idea either, but thought for a smaller group it would be neat to create kids own horses from long wrapping paper tubes and brown paper lunch bags to be used in a horse race activity later.
I created my own version of Barnyard Bingo by searching for farm-themed clipart. Then I took a picture of my son in his cowboy hat and bandana to create a bingo square of him too. I created a table in MS Word, inserted the clipart into each of 16 squares, including the staged photo of my son. I used a hole punch to create little dots in that same coloured construction paper to mark the bingo cards, but after a test run with my kids (which I did partly to try the game, and partly to create interest with them in the game), I realized the pieces were too small. So, we used foam shapes from our craft cupboard as game pieces instead.
After Barnyard Bingo, we played a game of Pass the Rubber Chicken as I'd found a hilarious rubber chicken. When you squeeze it, an egg like rubber ball filled with a yolk in liquid comes shooting out a hole at the bottom. I thought this would appeal to the older children, and the game itself would appeal to all ages. I was right! The idea of the game was supposed to be a cross between pass the present and musical chairs. In the end, it became pass the chicken for each child to go get their present to bring to the birthday boy thought it would be more interesting to make a game of it due to the volume of kids. If a child had the chicken when the music stopped (we sang Old MacDonald, then yelled stop as it landed at a new person), then they had to squeeze the chicken and then were called out to go get their present. Next, the kids played Piggy Snout Toss where they tossed bean bags into the snout of a pig I'd altered a bean bag toss game from the kids closet by covering the existing nine-hole board with pictures of pigs I'd drawn and barnyard stickers I'd added.
After a game of horseshoes, various kids were given different prizes for their scores these prizes included a cow key chain, plastic farm animals and an M&M jar. Other games we either had on the agenda or considered included games like Duck duck goose, find the barnyard animals, pin the tail on the donkey/pig, tip the cow, corral the piggies, horse races, and/or wagon races. I think any of these would have been really great! Other than that, the best decision I made was to hire our baby sitter to come and lead the games. This gave me the opportunity to make sure that the rest of the party ran smoothly and to actually see everyone enjoy the party.
LOOT BAGS: Perhaps my favourite part was the loot bags themselves. I used brown paper lunch bags and labeled the fronts of these with the first initial of each child. (I also considered hole punching the top and tying with raffia, but again time was my enemy!) The initials on the loot bags weren't just ordinary initials though! I used the Cowboy font at size 230 and printed out the first initial of every child attending. Then I used these letters as a template and traced it onto the backside of scrapbook paper (from Costco) which had a paisley/bandana pattern on it. The colours of the scrapbook paper were red and blue. I cut out these initials and then glued them to the front of the loot bags as identifiers.
For the goodies, one thing I created was little carrot candy bags, cutting a sandwich baggy into a cone, and filling it with orange Reese's Pieces (careful of kids with peanut allergies though). I taped it closed and created carrot tops with green painter's tape the effect was great! This was inspired by larger versions that were already in store for Easter. In addition to that, I found a number of neat discontinued farm toys at a toy store for a song, including pig trains with magnets on the end that apparently work with major train sets like Thomas The Train. Since my son's birthday is close to Easter, I was able to find a few appropriate things such as little chick purses, which I included for the girly girls. Each loot bag was a bit different, catered to the appropriate age. Various other items included little plastic farm animals, mini beanie baby lambs and pigs, barnyard stickers, horse/cow/duck magnets with woobly legs. Last but not least, everyone got a wagon wheel not super healthy, but it worked with the theme.
Hope you found this inspiring! The emails came pouring in afterward of the fun time everyone had. (Thank you notes are coming once I see all the party photos - I intend to do a photo picture with a 'thank you' border, either with the guest, their present or a themed picture of my son..whatever looks best.)
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