Cowgirls -6yr- Cow, Cow, Steer (Duck, Goose)
Jillian in Montesano, WA, USA
Our party was thrown while I was very ill and nearly 7 months pregnant so I had to adjust my long-imagined goals for my daughter's chosen theme of the year: Cowgirl Party.
COSTUMES: She was turning 7 and we had a great mix of boys and girls, for which I chose straw cowboy hats from Oriental Trading Co. The hats were fourth of July hats and since my daughter's party was in July, the red or blue stars and red and blue cording on the hats were perfect (and surprisingly still cheaper and bought by the dozen than the company's other cowboy hats of the same style and material). I took old scraps of cowboy-ish fabric leftover from quilting for my nephews, and some of my husbands old plaid shirts that were holey and made large bandanas for each of the kids with some zig-zag-cut fabric scissors (no sewing involved and no unravelling due to the cut of the scissors). Each kid was passed a little deputy badge (also from Oriental Trading and CHEAP). We drew mustaches on anybody who wanted them with a new clean brown eyebrow pencil. Stubble was added by making dots. The party was an outdoor party and in the afternoon. We kept the work down to a minimum, since I was tired out, but I found two other moms (friend and sister-in-law) to help me out with managing and watching the kids, etc, while dad cooked hot dogs at the BBQ.
DECORATIONS: We laid out our card tables of various sizes in a long row and covered them completely with one huge brown paper drop cloth from home depot. Red buckets full of old crayons were there for coloring on the table while the kids waited for lunch. The yard was decorated with tons of plain red helium balloons hanging from the deck railing, and blue and red streamers twirled and criss-crossing the yard from one tree to the next. The playhouse part of our average swing-set had a brown cardboard sign taped on that read JAIL" on the front side (leaving jail involved sliding down the slide) and "BANK" on the 3rd entrance. Plenty of Chairs and benches etc were set out under the trees for the adults to keep cool.
PARTY SNACKS: A huge cooler full of half sized sodas lemonade caprisuns and juice boxes (and water bottles since it was a hot day) was open for the kids. A second cooler by the bbq was set aside for the adults full of nice cold beer and caffeinated drinks etc. I baked Kansas City Baked Beans (which they were told was Cowboy Beans) and there were only the simple hot dogs with buns ketchup and mustard and big bowls of cheetos (daughter's favorite junk food item) and chips tortillas and salsa. We also had a BIG bowl of watermelong triangles. I had prerecorded cd of western music that played for and hour and a half (mostly old Hank Williams Gene Autry Patsy Cline and much of the same calibur of older western music and southern bluegrass etc).
ACTIVITIES: The kids ran around the yard played in the sandbox fed our bunny in his hutch swang on the swingset and ate ate ate.
GAMES: Then to honor one of our favorite older movies my husband dressed up like "Cowboy Dan" in my daughter's outgrown Red Toddler Cowboy hat and some other homely duds. He organized a game of Cow-Cow-Steer (which played out like Duck Duck Goose) and the kids had a fantastic time doing a few rounds of that. Then there was Cowboy Dan Says (like Simon Says). Then came the pinata a horse shaped one from Oriental Trading. That was hung up over a tree and each kid got a couple of turns with it (blindfolded) before two of the girls (way more intense than the boys were) busted it open. The kids cheered for each other and clapped and had a fabulous time. Each kid had a paper bag with his/her name on it to collect and keep all their collected pinata treats. For good measure and for the slower or less greedy kids I got up on the deck and threw out an extra bag of surprises on the lawn for which they were very grateful. I used old empty water bottles and sat them up on a crate for the kids to take turn aiming at with some medium sized super sprayer water guns for a fun target practice. No prizes were needed since the reward was just getting to spray the water guns!
CAKE: Then came the cake-time. For the first time ever I did not painstakingly bake and decorate the cake. I ordered 2 dozen Chocolate cake and white cake filled cupcakes from a local bakery at a great price and each had a "Yellow Rose of Texas" on top. The kids then had present opening time and I made sure my daughter took her time to thank each person as she opened each gift (and deliver a hug as well). The kids were so excited just to see her open their presents and I was quite impressed with their sweet behavior.
FAVORS: Finally it was time to go home. The kids all got a simple brown paper treat bag with a border of knotted-up brown twine that I had glued across the top and each child's name. Inside were red licorice lassos silver gum coinspink pony stickers cowboy tattoos cowgirl and cowboy make-a-scene stickers and western shaped lollipops (cactus and boot-shaped) ALL from Oriental Trading Co. These were all very reasonable. I also added some Jolly Rancher Watermelon Candies as well as some other extras from the dollar store and other odds and ends that I felt matched the theme.
Each child also had his/her cowboy hat and bandana and pinata treat bag to take home. I was super thrilled at the results and the only thing I can recommend changing is doing this at a park with a fantastic play area a shelter and a bbq and plentiful clean bathrooms rather than doing it at your home (since cleaning your home and yard up to a presentable stage can be a big ordeal for some and definitely for me (<: We had a full turn-out (everybody we invited showed) and siblings and parents were also invited so we had a very full big back yard (around 35 people) but there was plenty of food fun activity and company.
It definitely helped me realize that sometimes less is more and this party was MUCH cheaper than previous ones I've done with more people and probably tons more fun. Parent after parent said it was the nicest children's party they had ever been to and they greatly appreciated that it wasn't over-the-top or stressful or too crowded and noisy. They didn't have to find a babysitter for the other kids they had plenty to eat too and it was relaxing having time to drink a cool beer or soda under the trees and watching the kids just be kids!
THE BIGGEST HIT: surprisingly the swing-set and its playhouse. For even older children it would probably be worthwhile trying to get somebody to get them to square-dance or line-dance for a while. Let your imagination roam the range on this theme….it rocks!"