We’ve rustled up a bunch of our favorite cowboy party games, so roundup your western pals because it’s play time at the dude ranch.
Balloon StampedeFill your play area with balloons. Then set the cowpokes loose on a balloon-popping stampede. Fill the balloons with prizes such as cowboy stickers and temporary tattoos prior to inflating. Once the stampede is over, kids can go back and collect the prizes.
Homemade Wanted PostersThis cowboy party activity requires a little bit of advance preparation. When you send out your western party invitations, include a note that asks parents to email you a photo of their child. Or, you can take pictures of guests as they arrive and print them in time for the activity. Once you have a photo of each guest, mount it on a piece of paper, cardstock or poster board (depending on the size you wish) with the word “Wanted” printed across the top. Leave enough room below the image for the kids to complete the poster themselves.
Write one old west nickname per party guest on a small sheet of paper. These words will be used in front of the party guests’ real names on their wanted posters. Some suggestions:
- Coal Eyes.
- Pan Handler.
- Saddle Hands.
- Leather Foot.
In a second cowboy hat, place papers on which you have written bad deeds. You can use a combination of traditional wild-west crimes like bank robbery and train hijacking with silly crimes such as stalling at bedtime or burying vegetables under a napkin.
Have party guests sit around a table with their wanted posters, some crayons, markers, cowboy stickers and any decorative supplies you wish. Pass around the cowboy hats and have each child select a paper from each hat. Then have them complete their posters with their cowboy nicknames and the crimes for which they are wanted. For instance, a completed poster might read something like: “WANTED! Coal Eyes Matthew. For: Feeding his homework to the dog.”
Hang the wanted posters around the party area until the end of the event. Then send them home as party favors.
Lasso TossGather your party guests for some old west lasso tossing. Because real lassos can be dangerous, however, consider using a hula hoop or rope rings instead. Place a rocking horse or sawhorse at a fair distance from the line where players will stand. Give each player three tries to loop the lasso around the horse’s neck.
If you don’t have a rocking horse, try staking a stick horse into the ground.
Beanbag Boot TossTo play this game, set up a few cowboy boots on a table. Draw a line a few feet away from the table. Have players stand behind the line and toss beanbags at the boots. Award prizes to players who are able to knock over a boot.
Rodeo RidesIf you have a seesaw, attach a saddle to each end. Place a child on each saddle and have two adults guide the the seesaw up and down.
Another way to give rodeo rides is to secure a saddle to a red wagon, bicycle or another suitable ride on toy. Have an adult pull the rider around a rodeo ring or obstacle course.
Snake in my Boot RelayThis game is fun for any cowboy-themed party, but might also be especially enjoyable for a Toy Story party. Divide players into two teams. Give each team a cowboy boot. At the other end of the play space, place two buckets filled with rubber snakes. On the go signal, the first players for each team race to retrieve a snake, bring it back and place it in the boot. Those players then tag the next players in line, who also race to place a snake in their boots. The relay race continues until one team has had each of its members collect a snake and drop it into the boot.
Tin Can Target PracticeLine up as many tin cans as you have player on a sawhorse or table’s edge. Have kids stand a couple of feet from the tin cans. Give each player a squirt gun and a bucket of water for refilling. When you signal the start of the game, kids squirt water at the cans, attempting to knock them down. When a player knocks over his can, he gets to claim a reward from a collection of trinket prizes.
Gem MiningBefore the party, have your kids paint a collection of rocks. Mix the painted rocks with plain rocks and put them all into a baby pool filled with water. Give kids sieves and have them mine for the gems. You can also play this game in a sandbox. Bury gold-painted rocks or gold nuggets in the sand and have them pan handle for the gold.
Blindfold BrandingPin the Tail on the Donkey is a classic party game that is often changed to suit the theme of a party. In this cowboy version, instead of pinning a tail on a donkey, kids stamp a brand on a cow. Hang a poster or large, cutout of a cow. Cut a large sponge into the shape of a horseshoe and attach it to a stick. Dip the horseshoe-shaped sponge into some craft paint. Blindfold players and see who can come closest to branding the cow in the designated spot.
Other variations of the pin the tail game to play:
- Pin the tail on the horse.
- Pin the badge on the sherrif.
- Pin the hat on the cowgirl.
- Pin the boot on the cowboy.
Horse and Wagon RaceGather players into groups of three. On each team, one player sits in a wagon or cardboard box that is decorated like a horse coach. The other two players are the horses who must pull their cowboy, in the wagon, across the finish line.
Cattle CorralIn this game one player is the rancher, trying to corral the cattle. The remaining players are the cattle. Tape off a square on the lawn to serve as the corral. Play begins with the kids running around freely, while trying to avoid being tagged by the rancher. When a player is tagged, he must go and stand in the corral. Another of the cattle players can go into the corral and tag him to set him free, but if that player is caught by the rancher while doing so, he also becomes a cowboy and must help corral the remaining players. Play continues until all the cattle players are in the corral and only ranchers remain outside of the box.
This same game can be played where the corral is a jailhouse, the “it” player is the sheriff and the other players are bank robbers.
Cowboy Hat in the Ring TossPlace a hula hoop on the ground. Have your little cowboys line up behind a line and try to toss their hats into the ring. Award a prize for players who land their cowboy hats inside the hula hoop.
You can also draw a large bullseye target on the lawn (use lawn paint) and have the player whose hat lands closest to the bullseye win the game.