Tag Archives: cowboy


Mural Project

DrawingHaving the kids create a mural that syncs with your birthday party theme is a great way to keep everyone occupied as your guests arrive and get themselves organized. Rather than just turning them loose at a table with crayons and paper, it becomes a group activity requiring cooperation and planning and discussion, and actually a bit of a challenge. The group dynamics of the project increase with the age of the kids: preschoolers will just draw individually but will still end up with a project that all have contributed to.

Look for the wide, i.e. 48″, roll paper to tack up on wall or lay on the floor. It’s on Amazon so you’ll be able to find it, but if not, tape 2 or more 12″ wide rolls together to make the wider mural. If putting on your wall, use the paint friendly stickies rather than tape and protect your wall with extra paper top and bottom so anybody that misses the mural paper still hits paper and not your paint. Outline the mural with blue masking tape so it’s really clear where they’re supposed to make their art.

Provide the  markers and crayons– paints are perhaps a bit too messy. Spark their creativity with some print outs from the web of possible themed art they might wish to copy or to work from.

Making a party themed mural can work for so many different birthday party themes– animals, aliens or monsters, princesses or pirates, dinosaur, cowboys, circus, etc. Turn that awkward  ‘arrival time’ into actual party time by incorporating this group art project right into your party.


Themed Carnival Bean Bag Toss

DinosaurLittle kids love the old-fashioned bean bag toss game, and you can customize this carnival game favorite to almost any party theme. And, you can easily make it with a big box, posterboard, markers or paints and inspiration from the internet.

If your birthday party theme is a carnival- you’re good to go from the get go.

Any other theme, just find clip art on line that projects your theme and is sufficiently stylized for easy reproduction without much artistic talent. That means, it’s mostly geometric with block colors so it can be easily sketched and colors filled in to result in an image that works with your theme. Honestly, how hard would it be to reproduce the dinosaur graphic I used here? Buzz Lightyear might require some real artistic talent, but look and you WILL find cowboys that you can reproduce. Dinosaurs, Hello Kitty, Dora, Blues Clues… same goes for just about any other theme you can think of. BTW, this is a good ‘together’ project with your birthday child- you may end up doing the drawing but they can work with you to choose the image.

Obviously, this is a birthday party game for the preschool set.

Get a large cardboard box from the appliance store and posterboard for your graphic image. Once on the posterboard, glue the image to your box and figure out where to place your holes for the game. I suggest like 3 holes of different sizes worth different points to introduce an element of competition. Whether anyone wins in irrelevant- it just makes it more fun for the kids to THINK it’s competitive. Cut out the holes through both the posterboard and box with your exacto knife. All that’s left is the bean bags.

Dig out or get from friends some fabric scraps. Dig out your sewing machine or get good strong fabric glue at the craft store. Stitch or glue up your bean bags filled with white beans (easier to clean up than rice if the bags break).

Here’s a tried and true preschool age game that you can tie directly to your party theme with a minimum of artistic ability- your critics here are not reviewing your gallery show for the New York Times!

Pirate Photo Prop

Pirate Photo Prop

Pirate Photo Prop

Use one of these very reasonably priced photo props at  your next kids birthday party and you’ve got party fun taking the pictures and your party favor all taken care of!

There’s a photo prop for just about any kids party theme you can think of– pirates, princess, surfer dudes, safari, luau, farm, football, race car driver- just scroll through all the pages on Amazon and you won’t believe how many of these things there are  to choose from.

Have a helper to upload and print out the results so they’re ready to hand out as your party favor when your guests leave. Make sure you’ve got the glossy photo paper on hand for printing the pictures. And if your guests are young, your helper can help keep order as they get their pictures taken.

Alternatively, use the pictures as your thank you notes instead of party favors. Print the photos out on the glossy photo paper and use mounting corners to attach the photo to the front of your blank note card (so it can be removed and saved by the parents).

As either a party favor or as personalized thank you notes, these photo props are a fun addition to your kids birthday party.

Pirate Door Decoration

Door Decor

Pirate Door DecorationGreet your guests with a themed door decoration and they’ll be in the mood for your games and activities right when they cross the threshold! This one’s for a pirate birthday party, but with minimal artistic ability you can create a similar greeting for your party guests for a multitude of party themes. Think Princess, Star Wars, Sponge Bob, Dora the Explorer, etc., etc.

This guy’s so cute, so here’s a shout out to Suzanne over at oursouthernnest.blogspot.com for a great idea that’s infinitely adaptable to your party. You can’t tell so much from this photo, but she has hung this decoration at the midpoint of her screen door (the doorknob is at the top of this pirate’s head) – just at eye level if you’re 3 or 4 years old!!

You can use a foam board from Office Max or Staples and your exacto knife to cut your shape and sharpies to draw or glue on fabric or pieces of construction paper to create your image. Find a stylized and largely geometric image online that matches your theme and work from that- the more geometric it is the easier it will be to recreate without being an artist.

Remember who your audience  is– a bunch of young children – and they don’t need a Picasso to be able to enjoy the image and get excited by it about your party. And that’s your purpose here, not getting hung at the Met.

So have some creative fun coming up with a kid friendly door decoration for your next birthday party. Perhaps this is something an older sibling would really enjoy doing for you and for the birthday child? Be it a lion’s head for your jungle party or Darth Vadar or Buzz Lightyear or Casper the Ghost for Halloween, greet your guests with a themed decoration on your front door.

Marshmallow Shooter

Birthday Party Games- Marshmallow Wars

Marshmallow ShooterGet Dad involved in the party prep and have a birthday party game the boys will have a blast playing; this is a Two-For! All it takes is a willing father and trip to the local Home Depot or it’s equivalent and some colorful spray paint. And, of course, plenty of mini marshmallows.

Not for lack of desire, but it’s often hard to find a meaningful way to get fathers involved in things like party prep, so it’s a bonus to have something that will accomplish that. But as soon as you start talking Home Depot, it’s a good bet they’ll step up to the plate.

Thanks to MomsCraftySpace blog for this marvelous idea for a mini marshmallow shooter that Dad (or you) can construct out of inexpensive 1/2″ PVC pipe pieces and connectors with the paint to make them look extra special. There’s no particular instructions given, or required, as the picture pretty much says it all: a handle and a barrel and a mouthpiece to blow out the mini marshmallows.

As both PVC and paint are probably not the ideal to put in the kids mouths, I’d suggest wrapping the shooting end with clear packaging tape (a couple of times around) just to be on the safe side.

For your pirate birthday party, cowboy party, star wars party or any other birthday party theme that justifies some kind of a team ‘war’, this is one of those perfect birthday party games. Or, it’s the perfect game for a pool party or any outdoor, backyard party. Just ’cause it’s fun!

Getting Relatives Involved

CowboyI’ve suggested on many occasions that having Mom or Dad dress up relative to your child’s birthday party theme is a great way to become more a part of the celebration. Any pirate birthday, princess party, cowboy party, star wars party, an animal or jungle/safari party, or other character based party gives you the perfect opportunity to do this.

But how about passing that honor on to a special relative for this important occasion? This is a super way to involve that relative in your child’s life in a special and different way that will likely be remembered for a long time.

Grandparents specifically come to mind. The one in your family that’s most likely willing to act a bit like a kid themselves would be your most obvious choice.

Most grandparents have more time to put in to their costume than today’s crazy busy parents do. Send them up into their own attic or to the thrift store to put their outfit together.

Even better- both of you dress up for the party! Each a little differently, with your own unique styles. Have some fun yourselves doing this together.

If not a grandparent, then a favorite uncle or aunt.

Take a look at this grandma who drove some 70 miles in full pirate regalia to be part of her grandchild’s party. She certainly must have gotten quite a few stares as she drove by.

The whole point here is to give the chosen family member a special role to play in this birthday. Not babysitting, not surrogate parenting, not just helping out with the party- this is pure fun and relationship building for all involved.

The kids love to see the adults participating at their level, and dressing up puts you or Grandpa right there. Do you have any other ideas for actively including other family members in your birthday celebrations to help build those relationships? If so, please add them here.

Photo Party Bags

Favor BagIf your birthday party involves costumes, like a princess party, a pirate birthday, a Star Wars party, or a cowboy birthday, your party favor bag can actually become a big part of their take home memories. All it takes is your digital camera, your printer, a helper and plain old white lunch bags filled with whatever goodies you choose.

Take a picture of each guest as they arrive in their pirate or space alien or princess or whatever costume. Even better, take each guest’s photo singly and again with the birthday child. Make it a big deal as everybody arrives so they all feel really special. Take each shot in portrait format (a tall rectangle) rather than landscape (a wide rectangle).

While the party goes on, your helper can print out each guests two photos on either plain paper or the more expensive glossy photo paper at about 5″ x 7″ size to fit the lunch bags. Trim the photos to size and glue one to each side of the lunch bag.

You can get fancy and add text to your photos before printing, such as “Michael- thanks for coming to my party!”, or “Susie- you’re a beautiful princess!”.

Dress up the white lunch bags with different colors tissue paper peeking out the tops to make a pretty display when you place all your party favors for the kids on a table where they can all see the pictures and find their own to take home.

Now your party favors are so special that it matters very little what’s inside those lunch bags. A candy bar and a small trinket should be enough. What would you recommend to put inside to keep the cost down?

Pirate Hat UpSide Down

Hats for Snacks

Pirate Hat UpSide DownWhy serve your party pretzels or chips in a plastic bowl, especially a plastic bowl that you have to pay for. Instead, have serving pieces that go with your party theme. And hats might be just the thing for your party.

Having a party that includes a bunch of hockey players? Strip out those old hockey helmets, turn them upside down, and with a little kids’ clay underneath to keep them from rolling, they’ll make great popcorn bowls.  Obviously, they need to be lined with plastic wrap first.

Pirate hats for your pirate party. Crowns for your princess party– even homemade paper crowns with no bottom that just keep the chips or pretzels contained. Cowboy hats, baseball caps, straw hats, a detective’s fedora (from the secondhand store).  In fact, a trip with your birthday child to that secondhand store just to buy hats for this purpose might be a lot of fun for both of you.

Not so much for snacks, but here are directions for a great-looking clown hat to use as a centerpiece on your food table at your clown themed party. Or, turn it upside down and fill it with food. Of course, you’ve made it first with your birthday child and had a good time doing that.

One idea usually leads to another, and this makes me think of making papier-mâché containers with your birthday child–  painted whatever colors work for your party decoration theme.  Decorate these with more painted polkadots,  squiggles, whatever, and your serving pieces will be most unique.

Best of all- when uniquely served, plain old pretzels or chips become a much more interesting snack and at least part of your decorating has been taken care of.

Princess Cupcakes

Cupcake Wrappers

Princess Cupcakes

Photo with permission and courtesy of never-travelled.blogspot.com

What little princess wouldn’t want their birthday cupcake with such a royal presentation? Even store-bought cupcakes are fit for a princess when decked out in these adorable wrappers.

Not that you couldn’t figure it out for yourself, but just to make it easy I’ve made a very simple template you can print out for the cupcake wrapper. Print it out on colored paper, even construction paper. Tape it together to fit your cupcakes, and trim the scallop edge as necessary.

If you don’t want the “Princess” on the wrapper, just click on the words and delete. You can’t do it in Word, but if you have a graphics manipulation program, you can change the wording to whatever you want, save it as a jpg or other graphics format, insert it into the CupcakeCrown document, and rotate it is needed to place it on the wrapper.

Add glittery stick-ons or fake jewels for the full effect. I’d color coordinate the cupcake frosting to the color of your wrapper paper, just as in the photo.

For a wrapper that’s not for a princess, cut off the scallop edge, remove the princess wording, and decorate as you please: cowboy stickers, dino stickers, whatever your theme. For example, a dinosaur theme might call for green frosting and green or brown wrapper paper.

Cupcakes are easy, and this wrapper makes them extra special for your Princess Party or whatever theme you’re using.