Most kids, at some point, go through a horse phase. Can you blame them? What could be better than ropin' and ridin'?
Even if you can't indulge their fantasies 365 days out of the year, you could treat them to a horse party on their birthday. Here are some ideas that would bring the theme to life.
Horse Party Invitations
Announce the party in a western way!
You could print simple invitations onto cardstock from your computer, and then run them through your sewing machine to mimic the look of stitching on a saddle.
Or how about hand delivering each invitee a cowboy hat (compare prices) with the party details printed on paper and placed inside? The invites could instruct the kids to wear the hats to the party.
If your child has ever ridden a horse and you have a photo of the moment, you could turn that picture into a postcard and send it out with the party details printed on the back.
On the invitations, ask guests to wear cowboy boots and plaid or western-style shirts, if they have them.
Horse Party DecorationsIf you're able to throw the party outside, round up some straw bales, cover them with quilts and use them as seating. If you live in a rural area (or close to one) you can usually find straw or hay bales for sale in the classified ads for $3 to $10 each.
You can also purchase fake straw at craft stores and scatter it about the food table. Nestle some plastic horse figurines in the straw.
Here's a horse party decoration you could make yourself: purchase bandanas, fold them over in triangular shapes, then tie one side of each triangle to another bandana triangle and repeat several times to create a birthday pennant banner with a cowboy theme.
You could also set up a plywood board with a hole cut out for a face and a picture painted on the other side. The picture could depict a cowboy or cowgirl riding a horse, and at some point during the party the kids could have their photos taken as they poke their faces through the hole.
If you can find some old equestrian show ribbons, hang them around your house, too. Can't any down? Make your own following these instructions for making ribbons from Paper 'n' Stitch.
Horse Party FoodYour cowboys and cowgirls will likely have hearty appetites, so plan on serving sandwiches or pizza. Serve the food on red-check deli sandwich wrap paper (compare prices) to fit the western theme.
You could also serve shiny red apples and carrots with dipping sauce--two healthy snacks horses love, too.
Set out a bowl of shoestring potato sticks (compare prices) and place a sign next to it that makes the kids think they're eating hay.
The horse party cake could be shaped like a horse shoe, a horse's head or be a simple round or square cake with a plastic horse figure on top.
You can purchase a horse-shaped cake pan (compare prices) and make the cake yourself or hire a professional bakery to do it.
Another idea is to serve cupcakes with horse toppers. Buy some from a baking-supply store or find an image you like, print or photocopy it onto cardstock and make your own cupcake toppers.
The book Hello, Cupcake! has instructions for making adorable horse cupcakes from store-bought cookies, or you could use rolled fondant to make blue-ribbon cupcake toppers that fit the equestrian theme.
Horse Party Games and Activities
What horse party is complete without a little horsing around? Here are some games and activities that fit the theme:
- Play Red Rover, Red Rover, but call it Pretty Pony, Pretty Pony instead and require the children to gallop to the other team instead of running.
- If you have a basketball hoop, play a game of H-O-R-S-E.
- Depending on the ages of the kids, you could have horse races where one child (the jockey) rides on the back of another child (the horse). Award blue ribbons for the winners.
- Show the kids how to make stick horses following these instructions for making hobby horses on the blog This Vintage Chica.
- Too complicated for your age group? Make the stick horses yourself ahead of time and give them as favors or make cardboard stick horses by cutting out a horse head shape, giving each child a wooden dowel with a slit sawed into it and setting out craft supplies such as glitter, felt markers and crayons. Once they've decorated the cardboard horse heads, insert the horse's neck into the slit on the wooden dowel. If necessary, use a hot-glue gun to secure the heads in place.
Of course, the classic activity at a horse-themed birthday party is to offer pony rides in your backyard. Hiring a service like that costs about $100 per hour, which might seem high but is comparable to renting out a bouncy castle or hosting a birthday bash at a professional party place.
Can't afford it? Dress up dad in a horse costume and let him play the part of pony--or bunking bronco, depending on how wild you want the rides to be.