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Birthday Party Themes: Cowboy Party

Updated on October 15, 2011
Audrie riding Snickers at Lexi's birthday party.
Audrie riding Snickers at Lexi's birthday party.
Lexi and Madison riding an old Arabian mare.
Lexi and Madison riding an old Arabian mare.

Western themed birthday parties

As a mother and a grandmother, I’ve done more than my share of planning a birthday party for kids. Many of these included themed birthday parties. If you’re thinking along these lines, take the child’s interests and hobbies into consideration when choosing good birthday party themes. Kids’ party ideas might include themed birthday parties with a pirate, princess, Transformer, Elmo, Cars, Sponge Bob, or Little Mermaid motif. I think I’ve actually used all of these at least once. One of my most creative themed birthday parties was for my grandson’s, Tristan’s, third’s birthday party.

At the time, Tristan was very into cowboys, so we decided on cowboy or Western birthday party themes. It turned out to be a big success, and even the adults had a lot of fun!

Planning a birthday party with a cowboy theme

When planning a birthday party, you’ll first need to decide on a date and time. Needless to say, Saturday is often the best day for a children’s birthday party because most parents are off from work. Afternoon and early evening seem to be the best times of day. We had the cowboy themed birthday parties at night because it was a better setting for the campfire.

Next, you need to decide on how long the party will last. I’ve found that two hours is a good length of time for a children’s party. Also, if the kids are small, you’ll probably want the parents to stay.

You’ll need to work on your guest list, of course. Most of the time, you can figure on about a 50% rate. In other words, about half the people you invite will show up. If you’re serving a meal, you might want to include an R.S.V.P. with the invitation.

And speaking of food, you’ll have to decide what you’re going to serve. For our cowboy themed birthday parties, we usually served hot dogs, chili, chips, raw veggies and dip, and roasted marshmallows, with the ubiquitous birthday cake for dessert. As for the cake, it’s usually the most important food item of the entire party, so keep this in mind when choosing one.

You’ll also have to decide how you’ll entertain the little rascals for two hours. For Tristan’s Western- themed birthday party, we turned an old wooden out building into a “saloon.” We set up several games inside for the kids to play, and we had a “bar” where they could get soft drinks or juice in cowboy boot-shaped mugs.

Another way we entertained the little cowpokes was to let them cook their own dinner over the campfire – with adult supervision, of course. They roasted hot dogs and marshmallows on long skewers.

After dinner, we sat around the fire and told tall tales. If you’re not a good storyteller, you can always read, instead. If you know someone who plays the guitar, you could teach the kids a couple of simple Western tunes like “Home on the Range” and “Tumblin’ Tumbleweeds.”

Something else you can do for cowboy themed birthday parties is to make a bucking barrel. We made one for Tristan’s party and it was a huge hit! I got the idea from my college days. There was a big rodeo team at my old alma mater, and the cowboys had a bucking barrel set up between a couple of the dorms.

To make one, you’ll need some thick bungee cords, a 55-gallon barrel, some old belts, some rope, and an old rug. Drill two holes in each end of the barrel for the cords to go through. Glue the rug onto the top of the barrel, and place belts around the barrel for the girth and the rigging. Attach the ends of the bungee cords to ropes, and hang the barrel between two nearby trees. You’ll probably want to place a couple of old mattresses or pads under the barrel, too, to soften the falls. When each child gets on the barrel, he should place one hand under the belt and the other hand should be held in the air – just like the real rodeo cowboys do. An adult makes the barrel “buck.”

If you have access to a real horse or pony, of course, this would also be great for the kids. Many children never get the opportunity to ride a real horse, so you might be providing them with the chance of a lifetime. Make sure the equine is very calm and gentle and is used to noisy children. The parents will probably want to take photos of their kids on the steed, so let them know in advance to bring their cameras.

Birthday party decorations

For birthday party decorations, I made “wanted” posters for each child. To do this, I got parents to email me pics of their kids, which I traced onto parchment-colored paper. I then stenciled “Wanted” across the top, and I gave each kid a “bandit” nickname, like “Dirty Dan” or “Laredo Lexi.” We hung the posters around inside our “saloon.”

Other birthday party decorations included lariats, an old saddle, bandanas, and cowboy hats. Each child was told to wear jeans and boots to the party, and we gave out hats and bandanas as they arrived. We bought these cheap from a party supply store. We also used the bandanas as napkins, and we used new (unworn) hats to hold chips.

Birthday invitations

Birthday invitations for kids should be fun! Bright, colorful, whimsical birthday invitations are the best for a children’s birthday party. For cowboy themed birthday parties, you can make your own invitations. A cactus or a cowboy hat is easy to draw. Just trace the pattern on green paper or use your computer to make birthday invitations with pics of cattle, horses, or cowboys.

Birthday party supplies

You can find lots of birthday party supplies at your local party store and online. Cowboy themed birthday parties are popular, so you should have no problem finding all kinds of neat Western birthday party supplies. These might include hats, bandanas, sheriff’s badges, themed plates, piñatas, cowboy balloons, and the boot mugs mentioned earlier.


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    • profile image

      Lexi 5 years ago

      looks fun

    • habee profile image

      Holle Abee 7 years ago from Georgia

      Nancy, we've done the princess thing several times, too.

    • nancy_30 profile image

      nancy_30 7 years ago from Georgia

      This was a great idea for a birthday party. Thanks for sharing and the great tips. I just finished having my two girls birthday parties. One was in June and the other was at the beginning of August. They both love princesses so I went with that theme. Maybe next year I'll go for the cowboy, or in my case cowgirl theme. It sounded like a really fun party.

    • habee profile image

      Holle Abee 7 years ago from Georgia

      Buckie, just get a big pony! I'd need a Belgian or a Clydesdale!

    • akirchner profile image

      Audrey Kirchner 7 years ago from Washington

      Cool idea - I think I would have loved it! Do you think 57 is too old for a pony party?

    • habee profile image

      Holle Abee 7 years ago from Georgia

      Hi, HH! Do you like horses?

    • habee profile image

      Holle Abee 7 years ago from Georgia

      Right, Judy - campfires and hot dogs are hard to beat!

    • habee profile image

      Holle Abee 7 years ago from Georgia

      It was loads of fun, Pam!

    • habee profile image

      Holle Abee 7 years ago from Georgia

      Thanks for reading, ZZ!

    • habee profile image

      Holle Abee 7 years ago from Georgia

      Bayou, I love the chuckwagon idea! We've done the hayrides, and they were a big hit! I need to add that to the hub. Thanks!

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 7 years ago from London, UK

      Thank you for these lovely suggestions. I am sure every kid would love a party like that.

    • habee profile image

      Holle Abee 7 years ago from Georgia

      Chris, I luvs me some cowboys!!

    • judydianne profile image

      judydianne 7 years ago from Palm Harbor, FL

      Anytime there is a campfire and hot dogs, you can bet it will be a lot of fun! Sounds like you had a great party!

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 7 years ago from United States

      The party looks like a great success. Children love to ride ponies, at least I know mine did. Some great ideas.

    • zzron profile image

      zzron 7 years ago from Houston, TX.

      Sounds like a good time was had by all.

    • bayoulady profile image

      bayoulady 7 years ago from Northern Louisiana,USA

      Habee, Looks like it was loads of fun!

      I went to a cowboy/western theme birthday party for one of my former students.

      I loved that she greeted each guest with a bandana. She was the sheriff with a badge and she was in cowgirl gear. Lariats were everywhere. The "vittles" were served at the back of a chuckwagon.(Burritos, chips,hotdogs,etc.) They also had pony rides, and a hayride.

      Cowboy parties are a blast!

    • carolina muscle profile image

      carolina muscle 7 years ago from Charlotte, North Carolina

      Cowboys are good role models for kids, too... great idea!