Cost effective is becoming a more popular term with the parties lately. When I was a kid, the birthday party was simpler; have the neighbor kids come in for ice cream and cake. Maybe a few colored balloons and party hats could add to the festive atmosphere. A game, such as pin the tail on the donkey or musical chairs, seemed entertaining enough. Even at that, such parties were considered expensive in those days.
Since we have a vacation planned for next summer, a trip to a dude ranch in Wyoming, the thought occurred to me to get the kids’ minds on the upcoming holiday. Why not have a cowboy birthday party? We have not tried this theme before. Some of the props for the party can be used on our dude ranch trip later in the year.
When I mentioned this to our son, he applauded the idea. He really seemed to think that a cowboy party would be great. However, his ideas and my ideas did not mesh at times. He saw cowboys with guns, the red Indians, ponies and a saloon as the necessary elements of this type of party. My thoughts ran in other directions. The idea of having large livestock running over my back lawn did not appeal to me at all, not even one small pony. My vision included ten-gallon hats, contests to try to lasso our large dog, some western music on a CD for musical chairs and western-cut shirts with the snap buttons. For food, I envisioned barbecued beef cuts on the backyard grill and iced tea. I could even see us trying to learn a square dance to end the party.
Someone came up with the idea of “wanted” posters for invitations, putting each invited guest’s picture on a poster. The poster would tell them how to dress, what kind of activities to plan on enjoying at the party and even gift ideas for a seven year old boy.
For atmosphere, we could put rusty tin cans and broken bottles on the posts of our lawn fence, rent a set of bull horns to hang on the back of the house and trestle tables with checkered plastic table cloths. We could put together a homemade covered wagon to use for the chuck wagon in which to barbecue the meat. This would make it more like a cowboy party.
I found some throwaway paper plates in the supermarket so we did not have so many dishes to wash after this shindig ended. In the attic I found an old 8-track tape of Roy Rogers singing cowboy songs with the Sons of the Pioneers.
We decided to simplify the meals after considering the amount of work would be involved in barbecued beef. We decided to use dried beef jerky. It is much easier to get ready. A cowboy party must have beans, for sure. After all, that seems to be what the movies tells us that real cowboys ate a lot. A neighbor suggested something she called cactus juice for drinks. It uses lime ice cream with fizzy lime juice.
We are hoping that our little seven year old, going on eight, will say, “Yahoo”, when he enjoys his cowboy party with his friends.