When there's literally nothing around you for miles, you learn how to throw a party together using whatever you've got lying around pretty quickly. Take that western ingenuity and put together a hoedown people will talk about for weeks. If you haven't had the chance to visit the wide-open spaces of the American West, we can help you pull together the most convincing western-themed party that'll have your guests horsing around.
Western-Theme Parties Are Made for the Outdoors
So much of western culture - swing dancing, riding horses, going to the rodeo, hunting, etc. - happens outside. You can't really embrace a western-theme party without getting everyone in the great outdoors. Now, we know that not everyone has a backyard to host their party. In that case, your local parks might have a covered event space you can rent for the day. Similarly, there are barns you can rent that'll really sell your theme.
Go Rhinestone Cowboy With Your Decorations
Bigger is better for some western parties. After all, Beyonce didn't put on her disco-ball cowboy hat for nothing. Mix bright colors with western fringe, and hang neon bandanas and rhinestone everything. If the buckle bunnies can bring the bling to the rodeos, you can bring a little maximalism to your western-themed party.
Get Decoration Inspiration From Yellowstone
If you want something a little more subdued when it comes to decorating, you can look to everyone's favorite modern-day western television series, Yellowstone. Set on a massive ranch in Montana, you'll see rustic decoration in its finest. Exposed lighting, vintage table cloths, and woven rugs add an intimate and cozy feeling to the great outdoors.
Go Full Toy Story With Your Decorations
A kitschier way to decorate your party is to look at Woody and Jessie's outfits from Toy Story to get pattern and color inspiration. It's okay to take a stereotypical 'western' palette and use it to decorate your party. People love a little irony. This can look like hanging banners with cow and bandana prints, using burlap to make placemats, and mason jars for glasses.
You Can't Go Wrong With a Brisket Basket
You can't possibly have a country-western themed party without including delicious western foods. Grilling or smoking meats and prepping heavy, flavorful sides is the way to go. For example, you can't go wrong with taking a huge slab of brisket and smoking it for hours while people hit up the dance floor. A few sides to add to your western meal are:
Have a Few Frito Pies
Frito pies are a great on-the-go dish you can serve up to your guests when you don't want to be cooking all day long and cleaning up for even longer. Make a Frito pie station using snack bags of Fritos that people can open up and dump a big pile of cheesy bean-free chili in. All you need is a couple of napkins and a disposable fork, and your guests will be tossing their hunger out the door.
Put Together a Whiskey Drink Menu
Just like their southern neighbors, cowboys love to down a whiskey straight. Tap into that tradition in your hoedown by compiling a whiskey-based drink menu. Whether you're serving Jack Daniels or Jim Beam, these are a few whiskey drinks recipes to have on hand.
- Rob Roy
- Rusty nail
- Scotch and soda
- Lynchburg lemonade
- Mint julep
Western Parties Were Made for Dancing
Whenever you're planning a party, entertainment is something you can't forget to organize. You probably have that one friend that always brings the energy up and can get the social blood flowing, but chatting around a campfire only lasts for so long.
So, for a western party, dancing is a night-long activity that's tailor made for the theme. Slip some cowboy boots on, put on your best country western playlist, and start moving. Line dancing, square dancing, and contra dancing are all folk dances that people can learn quickly and jump right in with.
Curate a Country Western Playlist Full of Classics
Dancing is only as fun as the playlist can make it, so it's not something you should take lightly. If you're looking for classic acts for that real western vibe, these are some of the best artists:
- Marty Robbins
- Hank Williams
- Gene Autry
- Patsy Cline
- Jimmie Rodgers
- Tammy Wynette
- Loretta Lynn
- Merle Haggard
- Conway Twitty
- Johnny Cash
- Dolly Parton
Set up Horseshoes Instead of Beer Pong
Beer pong is one way to occupy a group of guests, but it screams college frat social instead of country western carnival. Instead, set up a few horseshoe stations where people can pick up their shoes and try to get them to latch onto the poles. It's a great game since it's low commitment and doesn't require a lot of equipment.
Rent a Mechanical Bull for a Rowdy Time
If you can't go to the rodeo, you might as well bring the rodeo to your party. Mechanical bulls are a great equalizer. Whether you're stone cold sober or dead drunk, you're only staying on that bull with technical talent and sheer determination. Your guests will have loads of fun betting on who can last the longest.
Set up a Hayride
If you're hosting a huge gathering, having a hayride is a great way to occupy kids and young adults. All you need is someone willing to drive a trailer bed around with a few bails of hay stuck in it. It can also double for a great place to take pictures.
At Your Western-Theme Party, Rope Your Guest Into Having a Good Time
Western-themed parties are just like any other party where there're no real rules as to how you can and can't interpret the theme. So long as you vibe with the decorations, menu, and activities, your guests will love it too.