Saturday, May 5, 2012

Declan's Fourth Birthday Party

We did a big Western style party for Declan's fourth birthday this year.  It was epic in scope.   How did we end up at a Western theme?   Well it was largely my nostalgia for Brown family style party planning.  There must be ponies, or its just not a party.  So really the party theme was to make the ponies less noticeable. 

This party has legs!

Here's the invitation-

This year, in an effort to combat the general resistance of Arkansans to RSVPing, I actually included a subtly- worded reply card: 

It wasn't just super cute, it really worked.  Good thing I had an accurate head count too, as we ended up with 90 guests, including 42 children.  Doesn't that sound terrifying?  It wasn't too bad in actuality though, as we didn't have any organized activities, so everyone just spread out to the different play areas, so it never felt that crowded.  We had pony rides, and a petting zoo, toy tractor rides, a Western playhouse town hacked out of cardboard and duct tape, and a crafts table to paint wooden snakes and make Western beaded necklaces.  We also set out the train table, parking garage, and the bouncy house from last year.   In all honesty it turned out to be more of a production than I had originally intended, but it isn't the first time I have gotten carried away, and it is not likely to be the last.  There was a great moment when Shane and I were watching them unload the veritable Noah's ark of petting zoo animals, and a llama and a goat walked by, and I looked at Shane and asked "Too much?" and he assured me it was just right.  Just the right amount of livestock to really make the party go smooth.

Here is the Western town out of cardboard. Included were jail, saloon, outhouse, general store and the shooting gallery.  For the sake of authenticity, the kids' juice boxes were kept in the saloon. 
Also note the cheesy western sunset backdrop used to cover up the huge hole in our fence where we had a dead pine tree removed last week. 

Note to self: In future, always select a party theme that dovetails with dilapidated decorations.  The crappier I made things, the more authentic they looked.  It was very liberating.
Declan emerging from the Saloon with a juicebox. 

My mom made a pennant banner out of bandanas to mark the entrance to the party. Very cute!

We set up a toddler corral, as I know for my part that the thing I would most like to see at a party when I was toting around a two-year old was some sort of cage device.  It was primarily used by preschoolers jumping off the patio into the pool of balls below.  You can also see the kids food tables all set up and decorated with cowboy hats for the kids.  The adult tables were set up inside.

My dad, taking a break from the grueling toil of party set-up. No really, it was pretty grueling. For the two days leading up to the party I was all "power wash this, paint that, craft this, clean that". I don't think my parents will ever visit again.

We had seating for 40 inside and 30 outside and still had to eat in shifts.

Declan was very emphatic that he wanted the cake to specify "Declan WHITLOCK" lest it get diverted to another Declan's birthday party.  Done and done!  Funnily enough, when I ordered the cake and said I wanted a decoration in a Wild West theme, the bakery clerk said "Wow, noone ever does that anymore."  So our party was very last year, apparently.  Who knew?

I used my extensive knowledge of child psychology to design the shooting gallery, which allowed kids to knock down stacks of tin cans with a water squirter.    Kids like knocking stuff over.   This was probably the most popular party attraction.

Maddie, one of the big kids from our neighborhood, came to paint faces. 

 The petting zoo consisted of random animals strewn about the yard:  some goats, a llama, a donkey, ducks, bunnies and even a puppy.

I like the view of Charlie in the background, blowing out the candles from 50 yards away.

I will add a seperate post of pinata and pony pics as this one is getting a little long...

How cute is Julia in her Western Wear? 

Even cuter with her Western moustache in place!

All of Declan's school friends came.

Even more surprisingly his TEACHERS came too.  His off-the-clock teachers came on their own time to wish him a happy birthday.  They are so wonderful I can't even say.  Declan was over the moon to have Miss Courtney and Miss Whitney come to his house.

I didn't get that many great pictures of the party in full swing, but I will do a seperate post with all the pinata and pony pictures I took.  Mostly I was running around like a madman, as evidenced in this, the only video I took.   I was trying to get a shot of Declan ringing the triangle to bring everyone in for the chuckwagon.  Meanwhile, there are some people leaving and some arriving, and some just chatting as I pass by.  I sound COMPLETELY manic, which is pretty much how I felt.  Declan was a total party trooper, and he had a fanstastic time, but two things irritated him at his party, one being when kids did not drop what they were doing and run to dinner when he rang the triangle in their face, and the other being when people left before the party is over. I think he gets that from me- I never want anyone to go home either. 

That footage pretty much captures the mayhem. There was a lot going on, and on it went, for 5 hours, start to finish.  Next year, see you all at Chuck E. Cheese's. 


  1. This puts all birthday parties to shame! I wish I didn't see this :(

  2. That was not my intention! You were sorely missed. Abbey would have looked so cute in her western wear!

  3. Wow, Great job Lee-Ann! What an incredible party. Amelie was salivating over the photos and telling me she wanted to move back to LR to attend all of Declan's birthday parties. You outdid yourself! The party should of been filmed for My Super Sweet 4th Birthday Party.

    1. MTV totally didnt return my phone calls. We are ecstatic at the prospect of your return to Little Rock. Dreams really do come true!

  4. Okay, my head was hurting thinking about a cool theme for my kid’s bash. We will be celebrating at Chicago venues but still haven’t come up with a good theme. Your party looks so amazing that I’m going to borrow your idea of Western style. I just loved it so much, and I’m sure my little one will love dressing up as a cowboy.