Thursday, September 12, 2013

DIY Cowboy Party Decorations

Last time I told you how we celebrated my nephew’s first birthday with a “Cowboys Down on the Farm” themed party.  Today I am back to share how we created the various DIY elements for the party.  We crafted a banner, several fabric garlands, the paper fan backdrop, the party favors, and a scattering of printables.

I designed the invitation in Publisher; it’s modeled after one I found on etsy.  Ours featured a red bandana and cow print background with a rope border and plenty of country charm.  The western fonts I used are Nashville, Coffee Tin, HFF Young Wanna, Pointedly Mad, and EcuyerDAX.  The back of the invite included a photo of the birthday boy and directions to the farm.  I love it!

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The rest of the printed cards and signs incorporated the same graphics and fonts.  I made several signs directing guests to games, favors, drinks, and food.  There was also plenty of cow print garland in various sizes decorating the tables and even the little birthday boy’s high chair!





The birthday banner was also created using Publisher.  I drew out all the shapes and filled them with graphics that I found online.  There was cow print, plaid, dots, horseshoes, chickens, pigs, and stars in shades of red, blue, brown and yellow.  Then I punched holes in each square and tied them together with little twine knots.


The photo wall below the banner showcased photos from Ruger’s first year.  We backed all the photos with cardstock in red, blue, brown, green, orange and yellow to coordinate with each photo.  The photos were pinned onto twine strung from the siding.   This was a highlight of the party.  It was colorful and decorative and also really fun for people to see all the pictures of baby Ruger!

The fabric pennant garlands were made with red and blue bandana fabrics that I cut in triangles and stitched together on a bias binding.  These garlands went all around the open sides of the carport.  The piece on the front was something I made for my fourth of July party last year.  I figured since it was red, white and blue it would work with our theme.



My favorite thing that we made for the party was the paper fan backdrop and centerpieces.  I saw these centerpieces on Kara’s Party Ideas and I knew I had to make them!  It took me a while to figure out what these little paper things are called.  But eventually I found a great tutorial for “paper fan rosettes” over at A Blissful Nest and set to work folding and cutting.  I got all my scrapbook paper from  They have a wonderful selection of double-sided cowboy and farm themed paper!  It was so much fun combining all the different prints.  After I cut and folded my fans, I simply glued a wooden skewer into the folds at the bottom.  I filled my tin buckets (from Walmart) with floral foam and pea gravel (so they would be heavy enough not to blow over) and then I stuck the sticks in the foam.  After I was happy with my color combinations and heights, I hot glued crinkled brown paper filler on top of the foam.  Voila!  Cheap, easy and reusable centerpieces!


The tables were decorated with red and blue bandanas which I found on Ebay and at Walmart and then topped with a paper fan centerpiece.  The best part was that the fans are double-sided so opposite sides of the table got a different view!



The centerpieces complemented the paper fan backdrop on the far wall of the carport.  We wanted to have access to the doors which go into a storage building during the party.  It was great to have that space for coolers and party boxes.  So, I suggested using large solid color paper fans to decorate the doors without impeding their function.  Hannah and I had a “party crafts” day and made a bunch of red, blue, brown, and cow print rosettes in various sizes to hang on the doors.  (The solid colors ones could be reused for other parties by changing the center circle paper… I’m thinking they would look awesome for July 4th, too!)



Hannah had the brilliant idea to glue magnets to the backs of the fans so they would easily stick to the metal doors.  We added layers of cardboard on the back of the smaller ones before sticking the magnet on.  That gave them a bit of height so we could layer them on top of the larger ones.  It worked so well!  And none of them blew away in the breeze! 

After a few tries we had them arranged like we liked.  :)  In the end, it was a gorgeous, colorful backdrop for photos, cake and presents.  And the brown doors tied in with our color scheme, too! 



And last but not least, we have the cake—a true DIY masterpiece! :)  I spent five hours the night before the party baking and decorating all the cakes and cupcakes.  But it was worth it!


I saw this cake featured in a different cowboy birthday party at Kara’s Party Ideas.  I made a white cake (with a recipe from Betty Crocker) and crusting no-melt buttercream frosting (from Thyme Bombe).  The cupcakes and smash cake are the same recipe, but the tiered cake was the piece de resistance!  I frosted the layers using the Viva paper towel method for smoothing and then added black icing (store bought in a tube) in random spotty shapes.  After letting it set a bit in the fridge, I used my paper towel to smooth out the black icing and kind of smush it into the white icing.  It made the spots flatter and more integrated into the rest of the frosting.  I think it turned out awesome!  I especially like the little squiggly edges of the spots, which look more realistic than pieces of fondant cut out.  The “rope” border is caramel icing piped with a star tip. 

For the topper, Hannah wanted a number “1”.  I made this one using foam board and bandana fabric.  Basically I printed a number 1 and cut out three copies from foam core.  Then I taped them all together so it would be really thick.  Next I cut a piece of bandana fabric and started gluing it onto the foam, starting with a flat plane of fabric on the front.  I just kept clipping and gluing until the whole thing was secure and covered with fabric.  I had to piece a couple of places with a small section of fabric to cover all the foam.  After it was covered with fabric, I painted on a nice layer of Mod Podge so it couldn’t fray or come unglued.  Isn’t it cute?  After this picture was taken, I stuck the end of a wooden skewer (cut off short) into the bottom, which held it in place on the cake.


The little banner on top of the cake was an afterthought that I saw on Kara’s Party Ideas.  I created it in Publisher using a banner graphic and adding the text on top.  I cut it out and glued wooden skewers on the back before sticking it in the cake, although I think the striped straws would have been cute standards, too!  These are easy decorations that don’t take hours of tedious frosting. :)


For the cupcake toppers I created graphics in Publisher and cut them out using my new circle punch!  I did four designs, two with phrases and two with the number “1”.  Then I simply taped toothpicks on the back of each circle before sticking them in the cupcakes.  The cupcake papers were red and blue bandana print, they are made by Wilton. :)



The favors were also a DIY project.  We made cowboy cookie mix in a mason jar for the guests to take home and bake themselves.  The recipe can be found here.  After pressing the ingredients into the jars, we tied a little tag on the top with twine.  Ruger’s Cowboy Cookies were a big hit! :)


I had so much fun working on all the decorations and projects for this party.  The best part about our decor is that except for the balloons, it is totally reusable.  I wanted to spend money on things that we could keep and use again instead of throwing away.  So of course all of these creations are going into my growing “party vault” so we can bring them back out for the next family cowboy party! :) 

Hope you find some inspiration here for your next shindig.  If not, mosey on over to my “Party Time” category for more ideas! :)

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Heather said...

Sarah.. that is just stinking cute and precious. you're so talented..