Farm Party -4yr- Cardboard Barn
Vivian in Racine, WI USA
For my son's 4th birthday party, we had a "farm party" at home for him. His birthday is in November, so we lucked out when it was sunny and in the mid 50's here in Wisconsin. He had just started preschool, so we were excited that he could finally invite his own friends instead of family friends or sibling friends. However, it was a dilemma figuring out which kids to invite. In the end, we decided to invite the whole class (19 kids) along with a half dozen family friends. Since the party was in the middle of a Packer game, we were surprised that all but 1 child rsvp'd that they were coming. That gave us a total of 25 kids for a party at home (a couple guests brought siblings)! However, in the end, we were glad we invited everyone because it gave us a great chance to get to know the children in my son's class as well as many of the parents.
Invitations: We die-cut red barn shapes and glued it on to card stock so that we could open the door and loft. inside the loft we wrote a "4" and inside the barn doors we wrote "you're invited to ____'s FARMTASTIC 4th Birthday Party". inside the card I preprinted 2 labels. One had a picture of a rooster crowing and had party details such as location, date and time. The other label had a funny pig picture and asked that parents dress children in farm or cowboy attire, and to dress for the weather since we would be outside for part of the day. I received a lot of compliments on the invitation, and a lot of people thought they took a long time to create, but with the die-cut machine (used for free at the local teacher's media center) and pre printed labels, they were easy to do and the kids helped with the gluing and pasting of the barn shapes and labels.
Decorations: I used 2 picnic tables inside of our pole shed and covered them with red gingham tablecloths. At each place setting I set out a home made farm animal coloring book, along with a cowboy hat (purchased for less than $1 each from Oriental Trading Co.) On each hat I put a die-cut cowboy or cowgirl with the guest's name (Cowgirl Callie and Cowboy Curt...) My husband strung clothes line zig zag around the ceiling. I had decorated white lunch bags with a cow face and spots (also die cut shapes); and he hung them to the clothes line along with red and green animal shapes (also die cut).
We taped additional animal shapes on the windows (I wanted to find large animal heads to tape on so it looked like animals were looking out but couldn't get any big enough). We were able to use straw bales for free from a local animal feed store and we made a large square out of the bales for the children to sit on when they weren't at the tables.
Inside the square, we placed buckets of stuffed animals and a large barn we made out of a box from a dishwasher. The barn was easy to make, I just cut a door and rounded the top. I spray painted the whole thing red and painted a white outline and a white X on the door. It was big enough for the kids to crawl through the door, and they had a lot of fun with it. We made a scarecrow and pinned a sign on him that said "Welcome to ____'s 4th birthday party. We're glad you're here." We also purchased blow up beach balls in the shape of farm animals from Oriental Trading Company and placed them around the yard. At each animal I put a sign. For example by the horses, the sign said "Neigh Neigh there's a party today!" and by the cows it said "Moo Moo Happy Birthday to you"
My husband filled his utility trailer with straw (we had to pay for any bales we opened) and took the kids on hay rides with his lawn tractor. Along the way, he stopped the ride to point out "what our animals were doing" and to read the signs. I was worried because we don't have any real animals and couldn't afford to rent any.
We also put our jack o lanterns left over from Halloween around the yard. The kids got a real kick out of the ride (asking to go again and again). During the hay ride we split the group in 2, and half played some games while the other half took the ride. We also hid toys and wrapped candy in a big hay stack and had the kids dig for them. (Kind of like a farmer's pinata). They used the cow bags to gather the treats in. The littlest kids got some time alone for a while before we let the bigger kids in there, everyone got quite a bit of stuff, and it seemed to even out better than piñatas often do. There were enough things that no one found, that for those who didn't get much, we could did through and help them find more.
I took small red bags for the goody bags and tied them in the trees in the back yard. They had a bendy farm animal (Oriental Trading Co.), some candy, animal stickers, sheriff's badge, etc. in them. The kids were told to go out back and pick a 'special' apple from our trees.
We played duck duck goose, but made it extra fun by raking all the fall leaves into a huge pile (probably 6 feet tall) and then circling the kids around it. If someone got 'goosed' they had to jump into the leaves. We could have played for hours I think, but we made sure each kid got a turn and then went on to the next activity. We also played farm animal bingo, on cards I made up myself. We played until everyone bingo'd. In addition to a prize of a farm animal on a stick that is activated by a trigger (Oriental Trading Co.) they got to eat the candy corn markers.
We also 'fed' baby chicks (which were really yellow pom pons glued to a Popsicle stick) by running to a pail, choosing a gummy worm, and trying to walk back to the start without dropping the worm (the prize was the worm). I had more games planned but we ran out of time like pin the tail on the pig (I drew this on a large tag board and used pink curling ribbon for the tails) and my kids drew pig faces on pink balloons which the kids used fly swatters to 'round up' the pigs and get them back in the boxes.
The children went home with their cowboy hats, apple bags, cow bags with loot from the haystack, a pink pig balloon, the animal stick, and a homemade coloring book made from free coloring sheets found on the internet. On one of the coloring sheets the animals were at a birthday party and I printed "Thank you for coming to ____'s party. It was FARMTASTIC to see you". CAKE: I made a barn cake and pig cupcakes around it improvising from ideas I found on the web.
FOOD: We decided against trying to serve lunch to that many kids, so in addition to the cake and ice cream (Kemp's makes an awesome ice cream called MOO tracks that has cow shaped peanut butter cups in it and it tastes great too); I set out tin pails with various snacks in it like animal crackers and shoestring potato and pretzel sticks (which we called horse hay) and chex mix (Which we called chicken feed). I still hear from kids and parents about what a fun party it was.
Surprisingly, it was also fairly inexpensive, I estimate it cost about $5/kid which is much less than a Chuck E Cheese or other such event. Many of the pre-party activities like making the cow bags and the pig balloons I involved my 2 children in so it wasn't a drain on my time, but rather a fun family activity. My son has memories he will never forget, I had fun putting this together, my husband got so involved in the hay rides he didn't mind missing the Packer game (they won) and my daughter is now asking what we can do at home for her birthday in February!
The only thing we didn't anticipate was that the kids climbing around on the hay bales kicked up an enormous amount of dust. We should have worried less about things getting cold inside, and kept the doors and windows open for ventilation. This was our best party ever, I hope these ideas help others plan a FARMTASTIC day
BirthdayPartyIdeas.com - Birthday party ideas to help you plan your kids birthday party celebration.
NutcrackerBallet.net - Nutcracker information, performance directory and ballet reviews.
FreeParkConcerts.com - Find the best summer concert in the park near you!