Ya'll ready for a hoe-down? You don't need a big ol' barn to throw the kind of shindig to get the local sheriff all hot under the collar, you know.
When it comes to keeping the kin and cowpokes entertained, a little bit of imagination goes a long way. Our cowboy party ideas help too.
If you were throwing an Indians party, of course, you'd be using smoke signals to get the word out. Going for a cowboy theme makes things a whole lot easier. Here are some ideas to help you round up your herd:
Luckily the old West was none too fancy: even if you don't have a barn at your disposal, it's not too tough to turn your home into the perfect Western-style setting. Use ropes, battered tin cans on the fence, spare hats, cow hide fabric, horseshoes, and bullhorns.
If you can, put up a hitching rail outside the venue and if at all possible a horse trough or tin bath equivalent will almost certainly result in someone getting a dunking before the saloon closes.
A few toy guns scattered around will finish things off nicely - as well as giving your guests something to play with while they wait for the food to finish cooking.
Speaking of food, cowboy tableware is easy enough to create. Just beg, borrow or steal a big trestle table, and cover with a red and white checked cloth - prairie-style dining for pennies!
For a great comedy touch, have someone dressed in black with a top hat take down their height and width measurements for their coffins as they arrive.
The great thing about a cowboy-themed party is its flexibility. If you don't want to come as a full-on cowboy, you can always come as an Indian, complete with feathered head-dress, or you could come as one of the cows
There's no excuse either for your more fashion-conscious friends. Cowboy Couture has never been more popular, making it easy to dress up your own clothes with a cowgirl hat and pair of cowboy boots, or to sling a kerchief around the neck of your t-shirt (cowboys, by the way, call them Sloppy Joe's, and so should you!) sling on a pair of Wranglers and still look like you just stepped out of a saloon.
Of course, if you're feeling particularly daring, why not make like Christina Aguilera in sexy cowgirl chaps - ride 'em, cowgirl!
Cowboy games are great fun. Most of them revolve around shooting things, catching things or rounding things up - a great recipe for a party, in other words! Try these for size:
Tin Can Shoot: Just what it says on the, er, tin. Line your empty cans up along a wall or other surface, issue each ranch hand with a cheap water pistol, and let them have at it. The sharpest shooter in the West wins the game.
Hobby-Horse relay: Every cowboy needs a steed, but if you don't have real horses to hand, or even real hobby-horses, a collection of old brooms will do just fine. This game works just the same as a normal relay race: split the cowpokes into two teams, mark out a course, and give them one steed per team. Each team member must take it in turns to complete the course before passing the "horse" on the next person. First team to finish wins.
Bronco Lasso: Replace the bronco with a large stuffed toy and the lasso with an old clothesline or skipping rope. Then let the cowpokes try to bring her inâ€¦
Cattle Drive: Having real cattle at your party could be a recipe for disaster: instead, buy a bumper pack of balloons, and mark out a course using string (try to use the garden or another suitably large area for this one). Now bring out your trusty brooms/hobby horses and get the cowpokes to earn their keep by "driving" their charges through the course.
Finally, if your guests are up for it, stick on a CD of line dancing music or buy a learn to line dance DVD - you may never turn into the next Billy Ray Cyrus (and that may not be a bad thing), but you should have some fun along the way.
Once again, you get off lightly when it comes to cowpoke grub. Beef jerky, Sasperilla (root beer), fried chicken and sweetcorn are all the order of the day - and all available at your local supermarket, too! And never forget those beans!!
If the weather's good to you, try a cookout (or a "barbeque") with some hot dogs and beef burgers. Meanwhile, help quench the thirst of the ranch hands with some Cactus Juice: simply pour some fizzy lime juice into a punch bowl and then add some lime sherbert just before serving - a beverage fit for even the toughest of cowboys.
When it comes to serving the food up, simplicity is best:
Call the diners to the cookhouse by banging on a big pan with a ladle. Try turning cowboy hats upside down and lining them with paper napkins before filling them up with French fries and other treats. If you can get them, enamalled tin plates also look great.
Some SillyJokes' Cowboy Resources at a glance
Cowboys and girls
In the Saloon.