KIDS WILD WEST PARTY GUIDE
Want to make a big statement? Contact your local stables, farm or agricultural supplier and invest in some hay bales. Strategically place a couple at the entrance or go the whole hog and buy enough to seat guests. Party shops stock the whole kit and caboodle including huge cardboard cut outs of cactus, rum barrels and saloon girls, but you can easily create atmosphere with homespun decorations such as bunting and gingham tablecloths. Hang signs spurting web-sourced cowboy-isms such as ‘Never squat with your spurs on'! For a Tex-Mex feel, hang strings of real or plastic chillies, red fairy lights and sombreros.
Wild West costumes are as simple to put together as they are to source. For a DIY cowboy costume all you need is a checked shirt and a pair of jeans. Accessorise with affordable extras. Choose a colourful bandana worn around the neck, a straw hat; a plastic gun (depending on your stance on weaponry and kids) a pair of boots and Robert E Lee is your uncle! Don't forget other Wild West fancy dress costumes for key figures such as Zorro, bandits and Red Indians.
Whether home on the range or at a venue, entertainment for the guests is easy to arrange with many activities suitable for multiple age ranges. All kids love the chance to beat the Sam Hill out of a papier mache cowboy boot pinata in order to win sweets and treats. Likewise, they'll enjoy a tin-can shooting alley. If you have the space and money you can hire a bucking bronco to give guests the rodeo ride of their lives. For a DIY rodeo option we like the idea of an inflatable horse costume - let the kids take turns to wear it and buck around.
Give a prize to the most authentic rodeo-er! Set up a bandit photo booth where partygoers pose on a hay bale, in costume with their face held in a ‘Wanted' frame. Then just take pictures on an instant Polaroid camera and add to party bags, email them post-party as part of your ‘thank you'.
SHAKE A HOOF!
If you have teen guests or your male guests are young enough not to have reached the tricky stage where they'd rather sell the Xbox than consort with a girl, you could organise a barn dance - a great way to help kids burn off energy before eating. Girls of any age love dancing so why not hire a teacher to teach them simple line dance routines or take on the teaching role yourself. A camp-out is another fun idea, if you have the stamina and don't mind an uncomfortable night chaperoning. Kids should come in costume, eat Western themed food, then stay the night under the stars or at least under canvas in the garden.
Forget carrot sticks and limp sandwiches, kids love chowing down on Wild West food. If you're hosting outside fire-up the barbeque alternatively if you are concerned about the weather, make sure you get a venue with a kitchen then you can go for the traditional cowboy feast of bangers, mash and beans. For an easy option get guests to wear Wild West fancy dress then host the party at a western themed restaurant. It's worth remembering however, that very young kids may struggle to sit for long periods.
For an easy going-home gift, offer a coloured Stetson, or set up a lucky dip in a barrel with each guest receiving a DVD of an old western film or a western-based animation like Home on the Range . Just make sure the certificates are either U or PG. Other ideas are sheriff badges, bandanas, gold chocolate coins and snap throw bangers. Present them in dollar-stamped, brown paper 'loot' bags.