Ride 'em Cowboy! Wild West themes are great for a group of active little ones. There's plenty of opportunity for pretend play and fun costumes. And the party can be held inside or out. A hint: Stick to rodeo games and party favors, and avoid toys or games that would encourage a "Gunfight at the O.K. Corral" atmosphere.
Game: Pony Ride or Stick Horse Race. If you've got good outdoor space, consider a pony ride as a party event. Make sure you call for reservations four to six weeks before your party to ensure availability. Ask friends and neighbors for recommendations. If you must pick from the Yellow Pages, ask the vendor for references. Also, set up a craft to keep kids entertained while they are waiting for their turn.
For those without a good lawn for partying, keep the western theme by arranging a stick horse race. Mini broomsticks in horse decor will stand in for the real ponies. It's nice to have one for each guest, but for the race, you really only need two -- one for each team.
Party favor: Sheriff's badge stickers. Stay away from the six-shooter/bows-and-arrows favors. Not all parents will approve.
- Six weeks before party day: If you're considering a pony ride, now's the time to make calls and line up a vendor. A popular local pony may have a very busy schedule.
- One month before party day: Make guest list, plan menu, send invitations.
- Two weeks before party day: Shop for party favors, paper goods. Ask a friend or relative who has RSVP'd to act as your assistant on party day.
- One week before party day: Shop for menu items.