A graduation is a big milestone for teenagers. This is a party that will be remembered for a long time, so the right details can mean a lot. But, be sure to let the graduate make some of the party-planning choices. A graduation party is about the graduate, after all. For a Western theme, you can focus on creative decorations and food, providing a few activities, or choose a barn dance type of musical bash.
For a real blowout Western party, consider hiring a local country band or singer to perform. Or, hire a professional square-dance caller and band to throw a square dance for your guests, with the caller teaching them the steps. If that's not an option, find a good mix of country music to play on the stereo, such as compilations of classic and modern country hit songs.
At a graduation party, the focus is on the graduate, so you don't need a ton of activities. Get your teenager's input on what she thinks would be cool to do at her party; she may come up with some great ideas that surprise you. A perennial favorite passive activity is to hand out disposable cameras to the guests and afterward, make a photo album for your graduate. Snapping photos keeps people busy, and involves otherwise reticent guests. If you want even more things for guests to do, try Western-themed games, door prizes and contests. A cap-gun shooting range, a mechanical bull, a costume contest or saloon-style poker tables all could be fun activities for teenagers and adults alike. For younger guests, you may want to provide a Western craft activity or outdoor games such as a pinata, a potato sack race or pony rides. Get your guests into the swing of the theme by passing out sheriff's badges, bandannas, 10-gallon hats, stick-on mustaches and feather boas.
A Western-themed graduation party could range from the simple to the all-out in terms of decorations. Have your guests greeted by a life-size cowboy or cowgirl cutout with your graduate's face. Put up "Wanted" posters with your graduate's photo, and use vinyl cling signs that look like Old West signboards, labeling the train depot, hotel, saloon, general store and bank. If the party room doesn't lend itself well to a Western scheme, you can purchase vinyl cling wall rolls in the style of red barn siding, weathered wood boards or even a desert scene. Scatter around tin buckets, wooden barrels, plastic barbed wire and eve an inflatable cactus. Hay bales and rubber snakes on the ground are other great Western touches to your decor. Gingham-checked tablecloths can instantly create a country look at your food tables; sprinkle the tables with metallic boot, hat or horse cutout confetti for another Western touch.
Your party planning may go more smoothly if you plan to hold the Western graduation party somewhere other than your home. A nearby ranch, farm or even a saloon-type restaurant could provide a more authentic Western setting. Or, perhaps a restaurant has a party room they will let you decorate. Large decoration kits with barn door entrances, split-rail fences or saloon doors are available for purchase or rent at party planning stores and websites. In fact, there are so many resources for Western parties, you may want to consider narrowing the theme to a specific setting, like a saloon, a ranch, the OK Corral, a hoedown or a mining town.
Serve drinks in boot-shaped glass mugs, and go rustic and simple for the food. Use cookie cutters to create star-shaped sandwiches, brownies, Jell-O, or cheese and crackers. Western food always should include barbecue, whether its steak, chicken or ribs, or barbecue-sauced hamburgers and hot dogs. Baked beans and s'mores are great for a ranch theme. Serve chips and dips in plastic cowboy hats, or set a bowl inside a real hat to serve food. Checkered napkins, bandannas and rope ties for silverware and tablecloth accents complete your table settings.
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