Sunday, April 23, 2006

Baby's First Birthday Ideas: A Barnyard Bash

Babies love barnyard animals, so if you are looking for a cute party theme for baby's first birthday, why not consider throwing a Barnyard Bash?

Invitations. You can either make or buy invitations that have pictures of barnyard animals, such as pigs, cows and sheep, on them. If you're not crafty, you can make invitations with simple cardstock and stickers of animals. Party supply sites like birthdayexpress.com also sell barnyard themed invitations and party wear. Make sure to tell your guests to come dressed for a country barnyard bash.

Decorations. It's easy to decorate your home for your barnyard bash. Use an inexpensive red vinyl tablecloth and white tape to make a barn door, which you can hang in an entry way in your home. If you're opting for an outdoor party, you can put out bales of hay as decoration. Have cutouts of various barnyard animals hung about the party area. Put snacks in wicker baskets that are lined with country looking red bandanas.

You can also put barnyard themed toys and books out. Some great barnyard books, which can all be found on amazon.com, include:

Barnyard dance by Sandra Boynton
Barnyard Banter by Denise Fleming
Barnyard Boogie by Jim Post
The Jolly Barnyard by Annie North Bedford

Your menu. It's easy to prepare a finger lickin' menu for your barnyard bash. Fried chicken is a great party entree to serve-- and you can either orders a few buckets from a fried chicken restaurant or make your own oven fried chicken. Supermarkets also carry ready-made fired chicken, which can just be heated in the oven and served.

Barbecued ribs can be cooked all day long in a slow cooker so that they are fall-off-the-bone- tender by the time the party starts. And hotdogs on the grill are a great item to have on hand for the kids-- just make sure the guest of honor (Baby) doesn't eat any hotdog unless it is cut up into very small pieces.

What else to serve? Country style potato salad, cole slaw and baked beans are great side dishes.

For dessert? Have a birthday cake for baby of course, with barnyard animals on it or a cake shaped like a pig, cow, etc. You can also have a plain cake and decorate it with plastic barnyard animal figurines from the dollar store. But you can also serve up some fresh country pies-- peach and blueberry are good choices. For the kids, ice cream cones are always a hit-- dip them in multicolored sprinkles for an added treat.

Games. Even though baby is too young to participate in most party games, you can still have fun games for the older party guests and children to play. Bingo is a wonderful country-fair style game to play. Have the players play to win fake money, which they can use later to "purchase" prizes with. You can purchase a country-fair style bingo set on sites like toysrus.com.

You can also have a chicken dance game, which is a great game for even the youngest party guests. Have each guest dance do their own version of the "Funky Chicken Dance" by dancing like a chicken. The kids will get to take turns doing their own version of a chicken dance and then they can ask someone else in the group to do their version. You can go around in a circle until everyone gets a turn. Reward the participants with barnyard eggs as a prize. You can fill plastic eggs with candy or coins as a prize. You can find several different versions of the song "The Chicken dance" on online music sites such as itunes.com or yahoomusic.com.

Suggested music. No barnyard bash is complete without some country style music. You can get real country-fair kitschy by having a karaoke machine for the kids to sing to. But if you're just looking for background music, dig out some country music and folk CDs. For some kid-friendly barnyard music, check out "The Barnyard Dance: American Folk Songs for Children" by Peter Feldman.

Goody bags. Give the young guests a treat to take home, with a sack full of animal crackers, animal stickers, and stuffed barnyard animals (check the dollar store for bargains on small stuffed animals). Bubbles and a few pieces of candy can round out your goody bags.

Your baby's first birthday is such a milestone, so make it an event to remember for all of your guests. Be sure to take lots of pictures so baby can look back one day to see what a great first birthday party bash you all had!

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