I love theme parties! I love transforming my backyard into another world! We’ve done several parties here at But First We Craft, like Ninjas, Harry Potter, Disney Princess Party and Batman. Today I want to tell you about our Cowboy (or Wild West) Party. This was another one of my favourites. I love the historical time period parties. We did a Pirate Party and a Knights Party that I’ll tell you about another time. I love trying to pull in everything I know (or at least everything I know that’s child friendly, lol) about a subject so that it feels like you’re entering a time machine. There are obviously things from the modern age we use- like plumbing- but I love being immersed! Come along, Partner, and tell me what ya think of our shindig! By the way, I’m trying out being an Amazon Associate, so if you buy things from links on my site, I’ll get a bit of a commission. And thank you in advance if you do!💖
As usual, I went to Punchbowl.com to get my invitations. There are so many options here! Free and Plus options. Just edit your information and email it to your friends. I always ask guests to R.S.V.P. a couple of weeks in advance of the party because I usually make or buy a lot of things like favours, costume pieces or game equipment. It’s too complicated to have to do everything right before the party, or to be hounding people right up to the date to see if they’re coming. I like to do things a bit at a time so the days before the party aren’t mayhem. Just make it simple (keep your options open) and ask for an early R.S.V.P.! If you want to have people dress up, be sure to mention it in the invitation. I like to get people to dress up because it makes your guests anticipate it more, and helps create the effect of going back in time. However, parents like to know your expectations so their child isn’t the only one wearing something different. So, it’s often nice to say something like, “Please come in costume to our Cowboy Party. A pair of jeans with a checked shirt will do the trick- or you can go in full dress. Just be creative and be ready to have fun!” I gave sheriff badges, bandannas and stick-on mustaches to each guest, so even if they forgot, or couldn’t come up with something, they would still feel dressed up. Nobody forgot, though, and I was amazed at the costumes we got: cowboys and cowgirls, Natives, a Mexican, saloon girl, and the birthday boy was a coyote (I don’t know how he comes up with this stuff)!
I LOOOOOOOOOVE doing the decorations. This is what hypes me up for the party. I always spend ages on Pinterest compiling ideas, but I can usually come up with some things out of my own brain, too 😏.
This is mostly just a bunch of stuff from around my house that looked Western, plus some stuff that I borrowed from family members.
- Burlap bag (this one was from Bean Head coffee)
- Cowboy boots
- Deer hide (my husband tanned it himself- what now?!)
- Cowboy hat
- Lasso (this one is legit! It’s my Uncle’s; he works at a stable) You could also use rope
- Cast iron frying pan
- Tin cans with the labels ripped off
- Wooden mallet
- Old-fashioned looking photo, or actual old photo
- Mexican blanket as a table cloth (I got mine in Mexico while on a mission’s trip, but you could get one on Amazon.)
- Cactus stemmed glasses, sheriff badges and bandannas from Dollar Tree. I folded up the bandannas, pinned them with the badge, tucked the mustache behind the badge and placed them into the glass. When the guests came I gave them a bandanna and badge, and we used the stemmed glass as part of a prize
- Basket with the party favours
- Shotgun shells (or some kind of bullet thing. I can tell my husband is rolling his eyes right now…🤦♂️)
- Barrel made of cardboard and duct tape
I used twine for the rope and just wound it around the fence. I borrowed wooden clothes pins from my friend and I hung up a couple plaid shirts, a pair of jeans, an undershirt and my shawl. This was a super simple decoration that added a lot.
Jail and Fire Pit:
The kids loved playing in this jail – I know because it got totally destroyed from all the use! I just took a big box, cut open the side to be a door, cut slits for the window and wall bars. I sprayed spray paint over the black writing on the box. I did all the western writing by looking up western fonts on Pinterest and drawing them by hand in permanent marker. If you like the font I used you can find it here.
I made a pretend fire pit by stacking wood and fluffing red, orange and yellow tissue paper around it. We opened presents around the fire. (No, I don’t know why I thought it would be a good idea to sit in the dirt to open presents. That was a mistake. 🤦♀️
I made a sign post out of a random stick of wood we had lying around. It’s a 1 x 4, I think (there goes husband rolling his eyes again!). Then I cut arrows out of cardboard and google mapsed (that’s a real verb, right?) how far famous Wild West places were from my house. I made the arrows point every which way because it looked better. Obviously they should all be pointing…wait for it…west, but that wouldn’t look as good, would it?Then I used a staple gun to attach them to the stick. Our stick had a pointy end so we just shoved it into the ground with our huge muscles.
I loved this!! I took a board of plywood, put it in front of my breakfast bar chair and wrapped the chair in brown packing paper, using the staple gun to attach the paper to the plywood. I staple gunned a piece of black bristol board to the middle and cut strips of cardboard to make the “Keep Out” and “Danger” signs. Then I used another piece of cardboard to make the “Mine” sign. I used the Wild West font sparingly as it takes way more time to do. I meant to put a toy lizard that my son has on the mine, but I forgot. Since everything was loosely stapled together it was really difficult to carry outside. Also, I had to put it out at the last minute because it was my good kitchen bar stool and I didn’t want it to get rained on.
Easy Peasy. Get huge cardboard, cut it out in the shape of saloon doors, draw slats on it with permanent marker and a ruler and staple gun it to your gateway.
My brother-in-law owns a straw chopping business so he got me a bag of straw bits. We dumped them into a pile, spread them out a bit and put our rocking horse in the middle of it. Did it ever look cute! We used this for a lasso game later on too!
This was the only indoor decoration. I tried to keep everyone outside because then the mess was contained, and then my house didn’t get too messy. But people need to use the bathroom, so that deserves a decoration too. I cut out a moon shape from cardboard, and wrote below it on a rectangle of cardboard and in western font, OUTHOUSE 25₵.
Another favourite part of mine is planning the games. Basically, I don’t like planning the food. I try to delegate that away! But games? Games are my thing.
Lasso the Rocking Horse:
Take a hula hoop and tie it to the end of a long rope. Twirl the rope and throw it to “lasso” the rocking horse. This was shockingly difficult. I think only one person managed it. But it was still fun. The first and second place winners got one of the stemmed glasses with an enormous gummie snake in it. I like to have two prizes ready in case there’s a tie. Sometimes you don’t have the time or inclination to do a tie-breaker.
Panning for Gold:
This game was a huge hit! I think for the number of kids I had at the party it may have been better to have two tubs, so four kids could play at each one. There was tonnes of gold, so that wasn’t an issue, it just took a lot of patience for the kids, which isn’t a bad thing either…
Earlier in the week collect lots of small stones. Many of ours were the size of a marble, many were half that. We also threw in a couple that were larger so they really felt like they “struck it rich.” Once the stones are collected spray paint them gold. You’ll probably have to do it a couple of times to get all sides. I did it in a shoe box lid, and then just shook the lid each time to get more sides exposed.
On the day of the party take a tub filled a quarter to half full with sand and place it in front of the mine, with room for a child to sit at each side. Pour the “gold” into the sand and mix it around. Fill the tub with water until it’s about 3/4 full, mix it around. Give each child a sieve and let them start panning for gold! We let four children go at a time, and used a phone to time each round for about 2 minutes.
Also earlier in the week I made little bags so the kids could put their gold in it:
Instructions to Make Little Money Bags:
- Get a piece of fabric (I used something like soft, cream burlap) about 4 inches tall by 5 inches wide. (I’m just looking at the fabric in picture 1and realizing that the picture is sideways. It is longer in width than in height)
- Fold it in half and sew one of the short edges and one long edge.
- Turn the bag inside out
- Write a Dollar Sign on it.
- Put a short piece of string in the bag to tie it up at the end. I used twine.
When the kids were done panning for gold they put their treasure in their money bag. It would be a good idea to keep a permanent marker handy to write each child’s name on their bag after it’s full.
To make the Wanted Poster cut a square or rectangular hole in a big piece of cardboard. In western font write “WANTED” at the top, and “REWARD $10, 000” at the bottom. When each guest comes in take a picture of them in the wanted poster.
This is my least favourite part of planning a party. So I ALWAYS ask my sister to do the cupcakes. She took cake decorating courses and is so great at it! So I just tell her the theme and she does something amazing. In this case she did this:
Aren’t they adorable little campfires? The birthday boy’s cupcake (in the foreground on the left) even has marshmallows roasting on it! For something to drink we had a juice and ginger ale mix in Mason Jars; big mason jars for the adults, and little ones for the kids.
For the favours for our Cowboy Party I got old fashioned candy sticks, which I could very easily picture in a Wild West general store. My Mum made fancy labels that said, “Sweet of you to come, Partner” on one side and “Here’s something for you to take as you ride off into the sunset” on the other. We tied them onto the candy sticks with twine.
Here’s the order in which we did things:
- As guests arrive give them their costume pieces and take their picture in the Wanted Sign. Taking pictures of costumes at the beginning is very important because, with little kids, the costumes start to deteriorate as the party goes on!
- Play Lasso the Rocking Horse and hand out the prizes.
- Open presents.
- Sing Happy Birthday with cupcakes and juice.
- Play Panning for Gold.
- The official party is over now. We always give kids the chance to play whatever games they want to at this point. A lot of kids played in the jail, and some played Panning for Gold or Lasso the Rocking Horse.
- As your guests leave give them the party favours.
What do you think of our party? Our guests certainly enjoyed themselves, as did the Birthday boy, and since he’s the reason we had it that’s confirmation enough for me! 👩👦