Western Theme 3yr - Hat, Bandana & Badge
Rebecca in Austin, TX USA
Our daughter celebrated her 3rd birthday in early January. We always feel somewhat limited on themes and ideas so soon after the holidays and with the weather still so hit or miss, so we needed a theme that could work inside or out. We decided on a western theme and hoped for the best, as we wanted at least part of the party to be outdoors.
Our invitations were cut out in the shape of a pony and I printed "Please come to [CHILD'S NAME]'S HOEDOWN to celebrate her 3rd birthday. I included the party information and tied a mini red bandana around the horse's neck. I also tied a jute tail through a hole punched out at the rear. They were sent in the mail, so I made sure to write "HAND SORT" on the bottom and back of each envelope.
I decorated the house, front and back, like a western saloon. I had a cattle skull on the front door with a sign over the door that said "SALOON". Upon entering our foyer, I had cacti and real rope lassos all over. I had a horse corral in one area where I had a hand-made stick horse "parked" for each child. I made each stick horse by cutting 2 pieces of felt (I used brown, white, grey and black) in the shape of a horse's head and neck. I sewed the two pieces together and stuffed them with fiberfill. You could also put the two pieces together easily with fabric glue if you are not a seamstress. I made the manes out of a contrasting color of felt, using one long piece and cutting strips down each side - attaching it to the head with fabric glue. I used fabric glue to put one large googly eye on each side of the horse and black fabric paint to draw the nostrils. I stuck a long 3/4 inch diameter dowel into the bottom of each horse and used fabric glue to adhere them in place. I used the same bandana fabric from the invitations to tie a red bandana around the neck of each stick horse. The rest of the downstairs was decorated with lassos, cacti and bandanas.
When each child arrived at the party, they were given their own special cowboy hat, bandana and sheriff's badge - complete with their name (purchased through Oriental Trading Company). Each adult also got a bandana. I made the birthday girl a special pair of western overalls with red bandana trim, a cowhide print bib and I appliqued a little girl on the front that looked just like her. I made her cake with the same caricature of her on the cake - identically matching her overalls.
Upon everyone's arrival, we served BBQ, of course (brisket, smoked turkey, beans, potato salad, etc.). The plates, cups and napkins were red bandana print and we used black platic utincils. We had a few red and black balloons in the kitchen, but really focused the décor on the western saloon theme, so we decided not to use streamers or any other typical party décor.
The highlight of the party was the horse race we had outside - THE WEATHER WAS PERFECT!!! Each child was asked to come and get their horse from the corral. They chose their horse and went outside. We had spray painted black lines on our grass and they were to start at the back line. Each child was given a number (2-12) and we had one of the adults roll 2 dice. We used the numbers 2-12 so that each child would have an equal chance of moving forward (you can't roll a number 1 using 2 dice)! The adult rolled the dice and announced the number each time. When the child's number was called, they moved forward to the next line. I know the adult occassionally called out the number of a child who had not gotten to move, even if it wasn't what she had rolled. The kids didn't know when she did this and that way everyone got to move forward at least a couple lines. We went through this game twice and the winner each time won a real metal harmonica in a case. They were so excited.
The rest of the kids got to pick out of a large "loot bag" and choose a package of western themed stickers for being a good sport. That way no one felt like they didn't win something. I made the children's goody bags by sewing 2 pieces of burlap together with drawstring closure. I used 2 pieces of jute to close the bags and using black fabric paint wrote "loot bag" on the front of each bag. They were filled with gold foil covered chocolate coins. They also got to keep their cowboy hat, bandana, sheriff's badge, stickers and stick horse. The horse race winners also got to take home their harmonica prizes.
After the stick horse race we opened gifts and ate cake. The party ended with a horse-shaped pinata in the garage. It was surprisingly difficult to break open, so my 12 year old nephew finally had to give it a big whack. The kids were so excited to find more chocolate coins, little plastic harmonicas and lots of metal "gold" coins. The adults each got to take home one of the real cacti we had around the house as décor, which they thought was a nice gesture. It isn't often that the adults get to "participate" in the kid's party!
The party was a great success and 2 months later people are still talking about it. I often see the neighborhood kids out playing with their stick horses and I get so much joy each time I do! Our daugther is already talking about having ANOTHER western party next year since it was so much fun. Of course, we won't be doing the same theme again, but we'll be sure to find something just as fun for next year! This was a great theme for boys and girls and perfect for any time of year!
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