Spirit Birthday -5yr- Home Made Stick Horses
Donna in Greenville, SC, USA
We planned a Spirit Birthday party for my daughter's 5th birthday. I found alot of Western party ideas on this website and others, but I wanted only "horsey" ideas since Spirit was a wild stallion.
We began by creating the invitations. My creativity has just quadrupled since I discovered that the U.S. postal service will mail almost anything as long as you put enough postage on it. At different times, I've mailed dog bones and Easter eggs. This time we made miniature tipis, but we did put them in an envelope so they wouldn't get damaged. I had a tipi pattern from a teaching theme book, but generally it is a cone shape that you overlap with a hole cut into the overlapping edges for the door.
The upper edges of the tipi are irregular. We used tan craft foam to look like hides or leather. My daughter had a great time decorating them with pictograph stories using permanent markers. Inside I adhered a smaller cone shaped sticker that I created on my computer with a picture of my daughter as a Indian princess and the heads of Spirit and Rain looking in. We included all of the party details inside. Then we laced the front edge of the tipi up with a little vinyl lacing through punched holes. When removed from the envelope, the tipi invitations pretty much regained their shape so they could stand up to remind the recipients of the upcoming party.
For an activity and favor, I really wanted to hold a stick horse race but I was unsure if all of the guests would have a stick horse to bring along. So I decided that I could create them as party favors. I used a gold fleece that I found on sale at that retail store found in every U.S. city. I used craft store coupons to purchase fiberfill stuffing and dark brown yarn. Then I made a simple horse head pattern by looking at my daughter's other one. It only required two seams on each to put together two head profiles and a strip down the middle that widened on top of the head and narrowed under the chin. You have to insert two ears of folded fleece triangles in that seam at the top of the head and sew them in place. The fleece did not require hemming.
The hardest part was to mass produce the manes. But I solved that by making a pattern board of foamcore (similar to a woodworking jig). I cut a slot into the middle of the board to a short distance from the opposite edge. I made the slot wide enough for my presser foot on my sewing machine to fit through. I would wrap the yarn around the board with the slot in the center, then sew down the center slot to hold the yarn in place. Then the mane could be removed and sewn in place. Then we added the eyes made of felt. Once stuffed, dowels were inserted into the horse heads and the cloth was gathered around the neck and stapled in place. Another way to make stick horses is to use socks with actual angled heels in them. Tube socks won't work. I just couldn't locate the right color of sock for Spirit. With good bargain shopping, I made the horses for about $3.75 each!
The party began with an activity to make headdresses from feathers for the guests. We made a hairclip with a piece of leather thong and and a dangling feather like Rain's for the girls and a traditional Brave's headband with a feather for the boys. Our other activities included a tipi to play in that was made from a remnant of tan vinyl. We conducted our Spirit stick horse races. We also had a scavenger hunt in a pile of hay for things associated with the Spirit movie. I hid small balancing eagles, small plastic snakes and horses, and arrowheads made from oven hardening craft clay in the hay and then posted a picture list of what they should look for. Boy, hay was flying everywhere! Other treats were rock candy pieces like the icicles that Spirit tries to lick.
After all of these activities, it was time for refreshments with a Spirit cake that I made using the pony cake idea found on the internet. I used a large rectangle cake as a solid base and then placed the Spirit head on top and iced it in the appropriate colors. My cake decorating has been greatly simplified since I discovered in a moment of panic over a not-red-enough Clifford cake that the bakery section of our local grocery chain (a Southern one) will sell their icing by the pound already in a decorators bag! This is a real lifesaver if you're trying to save money but you're not a professional cake decorator with all of the secrets to mixing those intense cartoon colors! This would be worth asking about if you're faced with such an icing dilemma.
All of my daughter's little friends really got into the "Spirit" of this party theme. It was a great hit and a much talked about event for months by the kids and their parents. The biggest compliment to the party though, is that when the next birthday rolls around my daughter always wants the same party as she had last year.
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