This last weekend was SO much fun!  Grayson turned 4 last week, and we had a Wild West party to celebrate on Saturday.  We had 11 family members come into town and stay with us…we had a busy and fun celebration weekend!
My mom and dad have a barn a little bit down the road, and I knew that one day, we hopefully would use it for a party.  Last year, I picked up some cowboy stuff on clearance from Hobby Lobby with just that in mind.  To my delight, when I mentioned options to Grayson a few months ago, that’s the one he went with.
As I warned you with Ava’s party post, there are LOTS of pictures.  But I’m a visual kind of gal.  I typically never look at a post and get annoyed that there’s too much for me to see. (I realize I might be alone in this 🙂
We had originally planned on going to Gray’s soccer game that morning, but the little guy was a little sick, so we skipped out on that and Lara (my sis-in-law), Lauren, and I headed down on Saturday morning to set up. (Thanks to my sweet mom-in-law and equally as sweet sis-in-law for watching the kids!)
Here’s what we came up with:

My mom was so great…she moved those hay bales up front so we could use those for display/photo opp/gift station.  I feel like that (and their great red barn) set the tone for the whole party. 
And because blogger was fussy today, here’s some details in random order for your viewing pleasure.
“The Waterin’ Hole” included country time lemonade and root beer (because the idea of all the cups and ice made me see visions of plastic clean-up for days), and ice water in the beverage server. 

I have to thank Lauren and Lara, who helped me by just running around and grabbing things I brought and things from the barn to stage areas and create such a wonderful atmosphere.  Honestly, I had so much help, that I only set up the food table by myself…thank you, girls!! 

We have a couple of layered table cloths (I found the red and white checked ones at Oriental Trading…a dozen for $14.99)  I also asked Lauren if I could borrow her burlap and added that on top for some texture.  The apple baskets for the dry snacks also came from her party for Benjamin.

I loved using my coke trays for vintage flair and creating height….and y’all know: A flat table is a boring table!
Is the cake fabulous or what??? My other sis, Elisabeth, is incredibly talented and when I heard they were coming down, I just had to ask if she had time to make the cake.  One less thing, right?  Plus….no way ever I could make a cake like that! I looked around online and found some elements I liked and she made it happen beautifully! 
Plus, it was equally as delicious.  I know.  I ate 6 pieces over the weekend.  Please don’t judge me.  I’m back to whole grains and low cal today.

I made all the wooden signs you see laying around.  I just took scrap wood from our garage and stained it with a dark walnut stain, wiping it down into the wood.  Because I’m scared of my hand-writing, Lauren wrote on the other ones for me…thank you!!  This one was so much fun!  I free-handed “wanted” and stenciled the reward amount, and added a pic of Gray that Lauren took.  I printed it in sepia on regular paper so it would look rustic.  I attached it with Mod Podge and also applied some on top after it dried underneath.

I made the banner by cutting some white burlap I had into triangles and using my cricut to cut circles and the letters.  The letters were cut out from leftover invites (that were leftover because I was lazy and didn’t mail them all).  I attached it the same way I did with Ava’s banner….with stickerdoos to add a little dimension.  You can’t really tell from this angle, but the circles and letters stand out a bit.

No favor bags this time.  I got great deals on bandanas and cowboy hats that the kids could take home.  I searched all over for badges, but they were out of stock everywhere.  It got everybody in the mood and the kids were so cute.  You’ll see I used chalkboard tags to label most everything….I picked up some little wooden tags and plaques from HL at 50% off and painted them with chalkboard paint.  I didn’t mind that little bit of work because I know I’ll find plenty of uses for them now at home.
My mom pulled my brother’s old stick horse for Gray, and found a few more at the Dollar Tree.  I really wanted to try to lasso the kids, but after one stick horse race, the kids were done….they wanted to ride the real horse.  🙂
Some details on the food table…

Using containers amps up styling and theme immediately on your tablescape.  To add to the cowboy charm, I stuck to dark iron, my vintage coke trays, galvanized pieces, and a couple of denim-colored ceramic bowls.

Plus…those adorable baskets from Lauren.  I just switched out the labels for my chalkboard ones.

I really wanted everything we ate to fit with the theme, and with this party, it was so much fun!
Our Menu:
Happy Trails Mix
(this was a wonderful cereal mix–very kid friendly–y’all let me know if you want the recipe)
Ropes (honey wheat pretzels)
Haystacks (ever had these? yummy!)
Pigs-n-a-Blanket (sister schubert’s frozen)
Southwestern Salsa with chips
Root Beer, Lemonade, Water
It was simple, fun, and best of all, the perfect menu for an outside hoe-down.

I’m sorry, I just had to include a picture of Ava.  She had a ball chasing her big brother and shoveling in some birthday cake.  And how could she not have fun in that outfit??
My cute cowgirl of a mom walking her grandbaby to ride a horse…

It was so funny….the activities we thought would be a hit, weren’t so much, and the ones we thought wouldn’t be a big deal were the stars of the show.  I just had a couple of things set up for the kids to play with as they got to the party….this was our first kid party, so I really was in new territory.  We thought bobbing for apples would be a no-go, and we could hardly get those kids out of the bucket.
Likewise, we thought the offer to ride a horse would be a little scary for most.  I said to my mom on numerous occasions, “Oh, I’m sure one or two will ride, but that will be about it.” 
Poor Kristi, my mom’s dear friend and horse trainer, was walking those kids (and lots of adults!) for 2 hours!

I wasn’t having fun at all.

Inside the barn, we set up the food tables…adults got chairs and the kiddos got hay bales covered with saddle pads.  I have to give Matt credit…that was his idea and what a great one it was! 

Here’s something I can admit on the blog that I wouldn’t have said at the party.  The whole time we were planning the party, we were going to add “no gifts necessary” to the invite.  We knew the grandparents and family alone would get Gray a couple of gifts, and that would be plenty.  I just happened to look at the invite the day before the party and realized I had left that part out. 
 Oh my.  So my sweet boy went through his older things to see what we could do without to give to someone else.  He’s got my heart, that kid.

I brought my mason jars, lanterns, and Grayson’s old pairs of boots to decorate the food tables.  Thanks, Lauren, for putting it all out! It looked wonderful!

Here’s some of the kids in action; they were absolutely adorable bobbing for those apples.

It was such a fun day, and again, choosing a place with lots of character did most of the work for me (and it did NOT hurt that it was free).  Using items from around the house as decor and keeping the menu simple and snack-oriented, kept the costs low but the style spot on in my book.

And the cowboy himself hasn’t stopped talking about it yet.
His favorite part?
“The cake, Mommy, just the cake.”
Looks like you’re a rock star, Aunt Lis.
*photos by Lauren Cochran*

**linking to my favorite parties under friends and inspiration**