|(c) Bryan Valencia Photography|
Our birthday parties are casual, family affairs, so I always send electronic invitations. I scoured the web looking at horse-related invitations, and chose elements from 3 - 4 invites to create my daughter's invitation in a photo editing software program that came with my computer. (If you don't have a photo editing program, you can use a free online service, like PicMonkey.) I found a photo of my daughter's favorite type of horse (Appaloosa) and with it, paired an Old West type font: "Cowboys and Cowgirls are WANTED to giddy up to the [last name]'s for a galloping good time celebrating [first name]'s birthday! [First name] is turning [age]!" I saved the invite as a .JPG and send it as an attachment in emails to our family.
|(c) Bryan Valencia Photography.|
When I'm planning a birthday party, I always decide upon the cake first. In this case, I looked at images online - always hoping for cakes that look do-able for me, a mom without any training in baking. My daughter fell in love with this cake, which I found on Pinterest, and wanted an almost exact replica. Initially, I was nervous about all those piped roses, but looking at YouTube videos, I realized it was do-able with the right piping tip. It's a VERY easy technique. (Trust me; if I can do it, you can, too! I especially recommend watcing this video by Lori's Bakery and this one by Kitchen Adventures for how-tos.)
I made the cake in four 8 inch round layers, using a cake cardboard in between the second and third layers. (For more tips on assembling a layered cake, click here.) I made my own buttercream frosting; regular store bought frosting won't work.
Just before serving the cake, I added my daughter's favorite toy horse and a free printable pennant banner I found online. (To add letters to the pennant, I opened the .PDF and took a screen shot of the pennants, saving it as a .JPG. Then, using free image editing software, I added one letter to each pennant. I printed this, cut out the pennants, and folded them in half along the indicated fold lines. I used bamboo skewers and some silky string I had laying around to create the "holder" for the banner. To secure the pennants, I placed them over the string and glued the pointed ends of the paper together.
Other Food and Decorations
We normally keep our party food pretty simple: hamburgers and hot dogs, coleslaw, potato salad, and the like. This year, my husband did some pretty impressive barbecue. Whatever the case, I rarely find that trying to pair the food to the theme works; we have too many picky eaters!
This is what the children played:
|Pin the Tail on the Horse.|
|(c) Bryan Valencia Photography.|
|Apple toss game.|
|Water Gun Target Practice Game. (c) Bryan Valencia Photography.|
Feed Sack Race: Otherwise known as a potato sack race. I still had the gunny sacks left over from last year's Little House on the Prairie party, so I just called them "feed sacks" for the purposes of our horse party. This simple game always generates lots of laughter.
|Lasso the Horse Game. (c) Bryan Valencia Photography.|
Horseshoe Toss: We actually had to skip this game, but I do think it's a fun addition. I don't think plastic horseshoes would work very well (they don't have enough weight), and that was all I could find online for under $30. But a local store had a real metal set on sale for summer, so we lucked out. I've also seen people sew bean bags shaped like horseshoes, which makes the game more appropriate for younger kids.
Horse Pinata: My kids love pinatas, but I had a hard time finding anything but teeny horse pinatas. I ended up buying this small - but quite adequate - horse online. It held plenty of candy for 6 kids.
For more horse or cowboy/cowgirl party ideas, visit my Pinterest Horse Party Board.