Birthday parties today are not what they used to be. My little cousin went to a birthday party where the kids got on a pirate ship and sailed around the Chesapeake. My daughter went to a birthday party at a bounce house place, and the dad was literally passing out dollar bills left and right for the kids to enter a simulated tornado. I’m not knocking it — it’s great fun for the kids, and if you don’t mind spending the money, go for it. I’m more into frugal fun, like the Cowgirl Campout party I threw for my daughter. Here is an idea for those on a budget – – you can have a cool party for your kids too, and without the price tag. Kids don’t know, and don’t care, how much you spend.
This party was not stressful at all to plan. Here’s how it went down . . . when each girl arrived, they got to choose a stick horse from the “corral” (Making your own stick horses takes a little effort, but they are really easy. I’ll show you how.) Then I put a pink bandana on each girl, which I had made from fabric I purchased for $1.79 a yard at a big fall sale. Then, each girl was given a pink cowgirl hat (99 cents at the dollar store) and some foam stickers that were cowgirl and camping themed. These stickers were on sale for $1.39 a pack, and I bought two packs. I also printed free camping-themed coloring sheets from the Internet and put them on the table.
After the girls were done decorating and coloring, I moved them to the back porch, where my husband set up our tent. Each guest was offered grilled hot dogs, chips, vegetables, and Ranch dip in plastic food baskets. I had the food set out on a red and white checked fabric tablecloth I got at the flea market for $2. All I had to do was serge around the edges, then wash the tablecloth. (Excuse the towels on the tablecloth in the picture – – everything was fast and furious with 11 little girls.) I made signs for all the food, which I printed out in color, and in Western-type writing. In front of the hot dogs (which I was keeping warm in a slow cooker) the sign said, “Get Along Little Hot Doggies,” and for the chips, “Taters,” and the dip, “Back at the Ranch Dip.” I had small waters and juice pouches in the “Cantina.” We grabbed our Jessie and Woody dolls, and propped them up against a small bale of hay I had from fall decorating. The girls ate in the tent, while we played the Veggie Tales CD, “Bob and Larry Go Western.” (Really, it’s funny to hear Veggie Tales characters sing, “Jesus Take the Wheel.”)
For games, we played pin the tale on the donkey, and had races with our stick horses. Not all the girls were interested in the race, but we had enough for a little competition. Afterwards, I baked s’mores in the oven, by putting graham cracker squares on a baking sheet, with a square of chocolate on top, then a marshmallow. I heated them at 350 for about 5 minutes. Then I topped each s’more with another graham cracker. The girls ate the s’mores in the tent, while my husband told them a campfire story. After that, we opened presents and put in Toy Story 2, and I served them popcorn in pink lunch bags.
I think besides eating in the tent, the stick horses was the most popular thing. Here’s how I did it:
You will need brown felt (29 cents – – get two), scrap fabric, stuffing ($4.99 for a bag, but use a coupon and get it for half price), google eyes (59 cents for a set of four), and sticks from the craft store ($1.29 each.) You will also need ribbon. Prices vary, but I used what I already had. Also, this project requires a glue gun.
Trace a horse head shape, and a triangle for the ear, and cut out. Cut out two ears per horse out of the felt. Using felt, also, cut out a mane for each horse, which is really just a long piece the length of the neck, with cuts all the way down to simulate horse hair. Place pattern on fabric which should be folded in half, and cut. You will end up with two pieces, enough for one horse. Pin the ears on the right side of the fabric, upside down. Pin the mane on the right side of one of the horse pieces. Sew ears and mane on the fabric. Place right sides together of horse heads, and sew around all the way around, except for the very bottom. Turn right side out. Glue google eyes on the horse, and stuff.
Place stick inside the horse head, and hot glue at the base of the neck. Glue and tie a ribbon around the bottom of the fabric.
If you need an inexpensive gift for your child at Christmastime, this would be a wonderful project. These horses made a great party favor, and I loved to see the girls enjoy them.