My girls’ 12th birthday was in February, but this past year, we swiped an idea from a friend whose daughter also has a February birthday. We just moved their birthday to summer. That gave us the chance to pick from outdoor activities. That might only work for tweens or teens — kids who are “mature enough” (I use those words very loosely…) to not mind shifting the timing of their celebration. Anyway, the girls picked a horseback riding party, and we had more fun planning it together.
If you didn’t know, I have twins and we still do joint birthday parties. Together, the girls picked a color palette of teal, gold and white. I supplemented that with burlap and lace, and those decisions drove our party style.
Lest you think party planning is glamorous, I wish you could have seen me a few hours before the party, doing all the party set-up, working with a farm hand to secure a wobbly picnic table, sweating like a hippo. Oh my goodness. It was soooo hot.
But the picnic tables fit right in with our rustic look, so I was pleased as punch to have them available. Here’s how we styled them:
- The base is a dark teal tablecloth, with the faux raw silk side showing.
- I bought extra wide burlap table runners, then cut five inches into each side and knotted the edges.
- Scattered along the runners were small mason jars with candles in a variety of sizes. (NOTE: I don’t believe in lighting candles around kids; why ask for trouble?)
Since our table was long, I used two centerpieces. Both were built from old cowgirl boots and faux flowers. When it comes to children’s parties, I 100% believe in using silk flowers. As pretty as real flowers are, why not be able to put your flower arrangements together ahead of time, and save some of what you’d pay for fresh flowers?
I always think of place settings as an exercise in layering, and that’s how I approached this table, as well.
- We started with gold chargers from Hobby Lobby and white lace plastic plates (a Tuesday Morning score).
- Each plate was topped with a mini horseshoe, which came painted gold from Etsy seller Rob’s Rustics. Baby A is learning calligraphy, so I had her create placecards on kraft stock tags and tied each tag to a horseshoe, which doubled as our party favor.
- Mason jar glasses wrapped in burlap and lace were recycled from our Country Music Awards Karaoke Party.
- For napkins, I used white bandana and created napkin rings with teal grosgrain ribbon and vintage bridle buckles.
- Into each napkin ring, I tucked a bamboo fork with a horse-style button that I glued on.
The girls were so excited about the bonfire, and wanted to have a sleepover after the riding party. So we started our party at 7 and ordered in pizza for dinner with lemonade to drink. I went heavy on the desserts, just to keep everyone full through the sleepover stage of the party. Our desserts were all purchased, except for the candy kabobs. Most of the minis came from the Target bakery. I often find their desserts have just enough style to fill out a dessert table on a budget.
- Cookie dough cake with vanilla buttercream frosting from Smallcakes Woodstock. I topped the cake with the gold horse from the girls’ Elementary School Graduation Party, more faux flowers, and a gold glittered 12.
- Horseshoe cookies in our party colors from Guilty Confections, my go-to cookie shop.
- Mini vanilla cupcakes.
- Madeline brownie bites.
- Frosted brownie bites.
- Mini s’mores cupcakes.
- Mini shortbread bites.
- Homemade candy kabobs. The girls and I put these together the morning of the party.
- Also on the dessert table were s’mores kits for the bonfire. I found mini woven baskets at Hobby Lobby and filled them with packets of marshmallows and graham crackers, plus full-size Hershey bars.
For serving pieces, I used a combination of white ceramics from my collection, plus…
- Mini apple picking baskets lined with white bandanas
- Teal stools topped with little hay bales
- The food labels were written by my daughter on teal dollies and are in wood slice place card holders.
Lucky for us, one of my girls’ besties family owns a horse farm, and they were incredibly flexible with their time, and did everything they could to make it a special event for my two. If you’re a North Georgia local, I can highly recommend Mariposa Farms.
If you are planning a horse farm party, the stable manager will let you know what activities are possible at her facility. To cut down the wait times for each activity, we broke the girls into two groups. Here’s what we did:
- Training about the horses and practice in the ring.
- Riding in the outdoor ring, like a horse show.
- Painting a white horse with washable paint.
- Steeplechase jumping, but for the girls. They jumped hurdles while waiting their turn to ride!
- Bobbing for apples.
- Pin the tail on the horse — I know it sounds like a young child’s game, but tweens are in that kind of golden age where they appreciate being really silly and aren’t yet too cool for it.
- Roasting s’mores around a bonfire at the end of the night.
- At the end, the stable gave everyone a show ribbon.
- We didn’t do this, but younger kids also might enjoy decorating horseshoes.
- Party styling: The Party Teacher
- Photography: Kim Craig Ali Photography
- Fabric bunting: The Party Teacher
- Printables: Little Legel Designs
- Cake and mini vanilla cupcakes: Smallcakes Woodstock
- Horseshoe cookies: Guilty Confections
- All other desserts: Target
- Gold horseshoe favors: Rob’s Rustics
- Bridles used as napkin rings: A Vintage Parcel
- Burlap table runners and teal tablecloths: Premier Table Linens
- Gold horse cake topper: Half Pint Fauna
- Gold chargers, s’mores baskets, mini apple baskets, teal stools, white bandanas, gold glitter 12 cake topper, horse buttons on forks, teal ribbon, M & G letters: Hobby Lobby
- White plastic plates: Tuesday Morning
- Bamboo forks: Amazon