The allure of the Old West is easy to understand--adventure, wide open spaces, opportunity around every corner and unbridled revelry. A western-themed party can capture that atmosphere and provide loads of fun for your guests. Whether you're hosting a birthday party, a graduation celebration, a July 4th party or a gathering for no special reason at all, there are plenty of games, activities and decorations that will conjure up visions of cowboys, scoundrels and frontier towns.
Give your guests at least two to three weeks notice, so they'll have time to wrangle up appropriate attire. Encourage them to be creative in their costumes, from cowboys and sheriffs, to bank robbers, mysterious strangers and riverboat gamblers. Costumes don't have to be period-accurate, just encourage them to have fun with the theme. Invitations made to look like old-time "wanted" posters will help your guests get into the spirit of the evening right from the start.
Set up table games like poker (played with chips, not real money) and blackjack with a volunteer "house dealer."
Set up a cardboard bull cut-out and rustle up a lasso so your guests can try to rope themselves a steer.
Stage a quick-draw contest using water pistols.
Food and Drink
Chilli is a staple western-themed meal. Set out a large pot of it along with readily accessible bowls and spoons, so your guests can serve themselves. Add cornbread, nachos and hot dogs to the spread, as well as baked or refried beans. Trail mix makes a good and easy snack. For drinks, put out multiple types of micro-brewed root beer, as well as regular beer if it's appropriate for the guests.
Country music is obviously appropriate, although what kind of country is up to you. If you have a large party space, stage a line dance. If you're up for a hoedown, square dancing is the way to go. Hosting your western-themed party outdoors in a "cowboy camp" environment will ensure all the space you need for dancing.
Hang sombreros and cowboy hats, as well as real, cardboard or inflatable cactuses and other western decor available at your local party store. Set out cowboy boot-shaped mugs and bowls. There are even curtains you can buy to mimic swinging saloon doors. Straw bales add a particularly ambient touch, but they're not recommended for indoor parties, as they can be more mess than they're worth.