For generations, young girls have loved The Little House on the Prairie series by Laura Ingalls Wilder, so why not give your birthday girl a party with an old fashioned prairie theme? This theme works best for girls between the ages of eight and eleven. The ideal party size is five to ten girls.
To make this party a success, you will need the following items:
Sunbonnets for each partygoer. You can buy sunbonnets from most costume companies, or if you start planning early enough they sometimes turn up on Ebay at a very low cost. You can also make your own sunbonnets. Purchase some cheap straw hats and sew two long, wide strips of material into the inside crown. The strips of material can be tied under the chin and it creates the perfect old-fashioned looking bonnet for the girls to wear.
Small gift baskets for party favors. These are available at most craft shops for a few dollars each.
Assortment of party favors. Think of things children might have played with a hundred years ago: marbles, pick-up sticks, jacks, small slates with chalk, harmonicas, etc. A bright bandana personalizes each basket and makes it look especially festive.
Small prizes. Ideally, each child should leave with a prize for something. Haunt the nearest dollar stores looking for dolls, hard candy, cute knickknacks, etc. Another idea is a selection of children’s books with historical themes, available in good condition from library sales and used bookstores.
Candle or soap-making craft kits. You will probably need three or four kits to make sure that every partygoer leaves with her own candle or bar of soap. Craft kits are available at most large toy stores or craft shops. Avoid candles that must be dipped in hot wax. Not only does this process take a long time, but wax burns hurt. Ideally, use beeswax candle kits. Beeswax is simply wrapped around the wick rather than melted.
Dress up. Let the girls dress up in long skirts (often available cheaply from a thrift store) and put on their sunbonnets. Don’t forget costume jewelry. It may not be historically accurate, but it’s fun for kids to try on.
Blind man’s bluff. This game has been popular for ages. The girl who is “it” is blindfolded and tries to tag the other players. When she does tag someone, that person dons the blindfold and becomes “it.” Needless to say, it’s best to play this game in an open area far away from traffic. A large fenced backyard is perfect.
Pop the balloon. Each girl has a balloon tied around her left ankle. The goal is to step on the other girl’s balloons and pop them while keeping her own intact. Last girl with a balloon intact wins. (Historical note: Remind the players that in prairie days, balloons were made from pig’s bladders!)
Scavenger hunt. Pick a room and hide prairie-themed articles. (Some suggestions: plastic farm animals, a shiny penny, a rag doll, an apron, a packet of seeds, an old schoolbook, etc.) Give each girl a list of different articles to locate. The one who finds everything on her list first is the winner.
Crafts. With the partygoers sweaty and exhausted, now is a good time to introduce the craft kits. Talk about how in prairie days, families often made their own candles and soap.
Television. While working on their crafts, the girls might enjoy watching an episode of the old Little House on the Prairie series, available on DVD. Especially appropriate is Season One, Episode Seven (“Town Party – Country Party”)
Refreshments. Birthday cake of the birthday girl’s choosing. Custom decorated cakes are available at most grocery stores if you want to stick with the prairie theme.
With a little time and planning, you can give your modern birthday girl an old-fashioned prairie-themed party she will never forget.