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Need-to-Know Information When Planning a Party

Party Planning Checklist 

Planning a party can be a difficult task but with a good guideline you won’t skip a step! This comprehensive list will keep you organized and more importantly, will make your party a memorable one!

4-6 weeks before party   

  • Select date and time for party.

  • Choose location for party, Most people have the party at home, however, if you can't, Chamberlin can help you with finding a venue. 

  • Develop the guest list (neighborhood friends, class mates, team mates, cousins, etc.).

  • Call Chamberlin Pony Rides and reserve your day (734-780-5800)

3-4 weeks before 

  • Make or purchase invitations

  • Mail invitations 2 1/2 weeks before party 

2 weeks before  

  • Purchase party supplies such as decorations, favors, games. We suggest Oriental Trading Company online. 

  • Purchase enough for siblings and a few other extra guests.

  • Plan menu and make grocery shopping list.

  • Arrange for help. Identify family members and friends who can help set-up/clean-up, prepare and serve food, and coordinate games and activities.

1 week before  

  • Gather up tables, chairs, toys, coolers, serving dishes, and other supplies you'll be using at the party. * We offer a full line of tents, dishes and supplies you may need for your party.

  • Follow-up with the invited guests who have not yet RSVP'd to determine final guest count.

  • Order cake & balloons.

  • Prepare any foods that can be frozen for the following week.

  • Call your Chamberlin Pony Rides event manager and reconfirm any details

2-3 days before

  • Do grocery shopping.

  • Get cash or make out checks for any paid helpers.

  • Prepare favor bags.

Day before

  • Prepare remaining food, including cake or cupcakes if making these.

  • Clean and child proof party area.

Party Day!

  • Save a parking spot for the truck and trailer (about 40 feet)

  • Finish last minute food preparation.

  • Pick up cake and balloons

  • Set-up and decorate party area Set-up games 

  • Have fun!

  • Do minimum level of clean-up.

2-3 days after

  • Finish cleanup/put-away.

  • Have child prepare thank you notes for gifts.

  • Don't forget to send thank you notes to your helpers.

  • Send pictures taken at the party to distant relatives, put one on fridge, save some for scrap book. And please send some pictures to Chamberlin Pony Rides so they may share them with their Facebook fans!




Simple Arrival Activities, such as making and decorating name tags, gift bags, or party hats, are a good way for children to transition into the party. Provide plain name tags, favor bags, or party hats and a supply of markers, stickers and ribbons. Have an adult available to provide guidance, such as "be sure to write your name on your favor bag".

You can also have arriving children draw on or sign a big Happy Birthday card for your child. Write "Happy 7th Birthday, Jason" (inserting the appropriate age and name for your child, of course) in colorful letters on poster board and then have the children add their names and artwork. If you have chosen a "barnyard" theme have the children draw a picture of a favorite animal.

Another fun arrival activity is a "guess how many" jar. Fill a clear glass or plastic jar (with a secure lid) with a known quantity (yes, you have to count them!) of candy, marbles, pennies, tiny toy cars or some other item that ties in with the theme of your party.

Decorate the jar and lid with stickers and a bow and place on the arrival activity table. Provide slips of paper for guests to write their names and their "guess" and a small basket or box to collect the entries. At the end of the party award the jar of goodies to the child with the closest guess.


12:30 - 1:30 Chamberlin Pony Rides event

It takes us about 20 - 30 minutes to set up the petting zoo and pony rides. You really only need 1 hour for your event if you have 25 children invited or less. Also, remember the age of the children has a lot to do with the attention span. A 3-year-old is not going to be amused by a goat for more than 40 minutes, no matter how "cute" it is! For this reason, we suggest our Complete Party Package. Some children don't want to ride a pony or feed a goat. So we include face painting, balloon twisting, music, bubbles. There is something for all ages and attention spans!

1:30 - 2:00 Refreshments

Plan to call the children from the petting zoo to cut the cake and open gifts. If not, it may be difficult for them to leave the animals.

2:00 - 2:30 Closing Activities

Close the party by making a game out of distributing the favor bags. Have the children follow clues to "hunt" for their bags or distribute the bags as part of a musical circle game (when the music stops the child holding the gift bag keeps it and gets up from the circle... continue until all children have a favor bag).

Parents seem to have mixed feelings about opening presents during a birthday party. I use to prefer not to open presents at a party because I thought it was a bit boring for the other children. However, as Monica got older I see that the other children like to see their gifts opened and to check out the other gifts.

Birthday Invitation Etiquette for Kid’s Parties

Parents: Should They Stay or Should They Go?

When you're having a birthday for a child , other parents are always going to be an issue. Depending on you and your party, you may want the parents to either attend with their children or to just drop them off. The question is how do you pass on that information politely and what limits should you expect to set on those parents. Although you can suggest on your invitation for parents to attend, including wording such as “This is a drop off party” or “Please pick your child up at (time)” can come across as rude to some parents. Plus, parents should feel comfortable to stay if they choose. Remember, they don’t know you. However, it’s fine to include wording that encourages parents to stay, such as “Parents welcome to attend,” “Separate Refreshments Available for Parents,” or something along those lines.

Siblings: Are They Automatically Invited? 

As parents, we hate to see any of our children feeling left out of something fun, such as a birthday party. However, we have to realize that birthday invitations are meant for the invitee only (unless otherwise specified on the invitation) and possibly a parent. Imagine wha t would happen if every invited person to a party showed up with all of their siblings – the poor party host would run out of refreshments and sanity pretty fast! With that said, many parents will bring younger siblings to parties if they are planning to stay at the party, too. This is why I strongly suggest sending out the invitations early enough so you can request an RSVP, preferably by email or phone so you can contact the person directly to make sure you know how many people will be attending. It’s a little more work for you now, but you won't have any surprises on the day of the party. While there’s no polite way to exclude siblings on the invitation, if you're throwing a party and have to pay a per guest fee then you could specify “We are only allowed 15 guests so please let us know as soon as possible if (Name) will be able to attend.” In this way, you are letting the parents know that there is a limit on the number of guests you can have without specifically saying leave your other kids at home.


Everything you need to plan the PERFECT party


March 15, 2019

Let's face it, no child is happy when its time for the animals to go home. We suggest when the petting zoo's time is up, gather the children and have an organized game or two.  Then you can wrap up your party with cake, ice cream, and food. 

Animal Sounds Contest

Have the kids take turns and make their best barnyard animal noises. For older kids you can use a panel of judges to later award prizes for the longest, shortest, silliest, quietest, loudest, quietest, etc. so that at the end everyone wins!

Chicken Egg Relay Race

For this kid birthday party game, separate the group into two teams and have them stand in two single-file lines facing the same direction. Place a chicken egg (a small white balloon) between the knees of the first kids in the line. Once the whistle is blown, the race begins where the first kid with the egg needs to turn to the second person in line and the second person needs to grasp the chicken egg between their knees. The second kid passes it to the third and so on. The team to get the egg to the end is the winner. If the egg drops in the middle that group has to start over.

Pig Races/Sheep Herding

This is a kid birthday party game that is not only fun to watch but also very fun to play. You’ll need to blow up large pink balloons. With a permanent marker make piggy faces and attach curly pink ribbon to one end of each pig. Choose a starting point and an ending point. Divide the group into two teams and have them stand in a line behind the starting line. At the blow of the whistle the first one in the line needs to get the pig from the starting line to the ending line and back to the starting line with a fly swatter (swatting the pig balloon). Make sure to have extra pink balloons just in case any pop. You can also choose to do this with sheep where you blow up white balloons, attach short pieces of black curling ribbon to make little sheep tails and use a black marker to draw faces on them (you can also decorate with cotton balls). Try being creative and creating other barnyard balloon animals – cows, chicken, horses, etc.

Animals on the Loose

For this cool kid birthday party game, hide lots of barnyard animals all around the party area. Make a barn out of a big box and put a sign saying “barn”. Tell the kids that all of the animals were let loose and that they need to find them. Stand next to the barn. Once a kid runs back to put an animal back in the barn give them something small like a sticker, the second time possibly a tattoo, the third time an ice pop.

Dance and Sing-Along

The kids can dance and sing to great tunes that fit perfectly to this theme, as the chicken dance, the bunny hop and more. You can also check out this whole page of Barnyard kid songs we’ve created, it has lots of kid songs that fit the Barnyard theme.

The Barn is on Fire!

For this kid birthday party game, put two chairs on one side of the party area, put a large empty tub (or any other large container) on each chair, and tape a picture of a barn on the chair. Divide the group into two equal teams and have each team stand in a line about 15-20 feet away from the chairs. Give the first person of each team a plastic pail, a farmer’s hat, a bandana and gloves. Once the relay starts, the first person needs to put on the farmer’s hat, the bandana around their neck, the gloves, and to run with the pail of water. What they need to do is run to the barn chair and dump the water in the tub. They then run back and give the next person the hat, bandana, and gloves. While this is happening an adult fills their pail with water. They then do the same as the first person. The team that finishes first (all the players have gone) wins! To play this kid birthday party game indoors, use blue tissue paper to represent water in the pail.

Egg on Spoon Race

Divide the children into two teams and have them stand in two lines. Each team gets 1 egg for each person.The first person in line on each team holds a spoon with a plastic egg on it. They have to travel to a bucket about 10 feet away. If they drop the egg they have to go back to where they started. (Little ones can just put the egg back on their spoon and continue). The first team to fill their bucket wins. Older kids can use real eggs :-).

Favorite Farm Books

Read the kids some great farm-themed books. Some of the favorites are “Old MacDonald had a farm”, various versions of “Chicken Little”, “Wishy Washy” and “Duck and Hen” by the Wright Group, “The Little Red Hen”, “The Little Yellow Chicken”, etc.

Duck Duck Goose

This is where you don’t need to change the name of this classic game to fit the theme because it’s perfect the way it is for the Barnyard theme!! A way you can make this kid birthday party game more interesting is raking up leaves into a huge pile (if you can – at least 3/4 feet tall) and whenever anyone gets “goosed” they have to jump into the leaves.

Milk the Cow

Here’s a really fun kid birthday party game for this theme! Make your own cow by taking a medium-sized rectangular box for the body and a white balloon for the head (use paper for the ears, a cup for the nose, and paper towel tubes for the legs). Paint the paper towel tubes white and use a black magic marker or paint to make the spots on the head and legs. Then you can add water (or even milk!) to a few Latex gloves for cow utters which you attach to the bottom of the cow’s body. Poke a tiny hole in the glove fingers so that the kids can start milking.

Pin the Tail on the…

Here you can take any barnyard animal with a tail and play as if it were “pin the tail on the donkey”. You can see what animal your kid prefers whether it is a cow, horse, pig, etc. (basically any barnyard animal with a tail).

Pig Out

This is a kid birthday party game where Jell-O is placed in small trays and the kids get to pig out just like pigs. This is best if you divide the group into 2 or 3 teams. They then have the group choose the pig. The pigs sit on their knees with their hands tied behind their backs and whoever finishes eating the Jell-O first, gets a point. The rest of the team needs to root for the pig. Then the next kid comes up and that’s when you put Jell-O (or any other kind of food, whether it be cake, whip cream, etc.) in the bowls and you go for another round until everyone has been a pig.

Find Mrs. Clucks Eggs

Hide colorful plastic Easter Eggs filled with a treat or party favor around the play area, house, or back yard. Tell the story: Poor Mrs. Cluck is so forgetful she laid her eggs about the farmyard and can’t find them back! How many of Mrs. Cluck’s eggs can you find?

Farm Animal Charades

This kid birthday party game can be very fun especially when parents will be there. In a farmer’s hat put lots of animal names. The parents must then act out the animals and kids need to guess. If there are no parents the kids can do this by dividing the group into two and have them take turns where one from their team goes up and acts out an animal for their group.

Animal Match

Give each kid a piece of paper with an animal written on it (write down each animal twice or three times). On the blow of the whistle everyone makes the noise their animal makes. The matching animals have to quickly find each other only by listening for their sound. Once they’ve found their partner they grab each other’s hands and sit down. If you want to have winners and losers for this kid birthday party game, the last pair to sit down goes out of the game. This is a fun kid birthday party game to play again and again.

Animal Run

Lay two ropes parallel to each other about 15 to 25 feet from one another (best in a big yard or party area). Cut out pictures of barnyard animals and glue them to index cards. Give each player a card except for one who is the Farmer. Have half of the group stand behind a line and the other half behind another line (making a rectangular space to play in, as with dodgeball), the Farmer stands in between the ropes. The Farmer walks back and forth making sure no animals are on the loose. The Farmer calls out different animals, one at a time, and the players holding those cards have to run to the opposite side to stand behind the other rope. If the Farmer tags a running animal, that animal needs to freeze. The last animal not to get caught becomes the Farmer.


March 15, 2019

Pigs in a Blanket 

 Take hot dogs to the farm by turning them into Pigs in a Blanket. Simply bake hotdogs in crescent roll dough (found in tubes in the refrigerator section of your local grocery store).


Serve piles of thinly-cut French fries, and call them "Straw."

Brown Cows 

Serve chocolate milk, and call them "Brown Cows." You can give your cows "spots" by throwing a few mini-marshmallows into each glass.

Mud Puddles 

Brownies cut into circles and topped with hot fudge "mud." If you want to go all out, add a marzipan cow or pig (found at specialty and gourmet stores) to each.

"Pig-Out Contest." 

Children must hold their hands behind their backs and eat cubes of Jell-O piggy-style from "troughs" (i.e. small bowls). This activity might require putting on paper napkin bibs!


Make them shaped as animals (you can be creative with what you put in the sandwiches; try ham and Swiss cheese with a bit of mustard, peanut butter and banana slices; wrap and refrigerate the sandwiches - before you serve, remove from the fridge, trim off the crusts and cut out shapes with cookie cutters).


  • Gummy worms

  • Animal crackers

  • Animal fruit snacks

  • Any kind of animal-shaped foods

  • Chick feed - Chex-Mex and Candy corn. Put in low places for the youngin's to reach (put signs on them saying "chicken feed").

  • Pig muck - (chocolate pudding)

  • Bugs - (chocolate-covered raisins)

  • Candy Apples

  • Moo Cream (Ice Cream)

  • Smores (marshmallows, chocolate and graham crackers)

  • Cow Tails (beef-jerky sticks)

  • Jell-O Jigglers (cut with animal-shaped cookie cutters)

  • Apples with worms - A fun idea is to take gummy worms, cut each in half, then put a toothpick into each half and the other side of the toothpick stick into an apple... it gives the illusion of a worm coming out of the apple! (just remember to tell everyone to take out the toothpick before eating the apple and gummy worm)


February 14, 2019

Beanbag Boot Toss

To play this game, set up a few cowboy boots on a table. Draw a line a few feet away from the table. Have players stand behind the line and toss beanbags at the boots. Award prizes to players who can knock over a boot.

Tin Can Target Practice

On a sawhorse or table’s edge, line up one tin can per player. Have kids stand a couple of feet from the tin cans. Give each player a squirt gun and a bucket of water for refilling. When you signal the start of the game, kids squirt water at the cans, attempting to knock them down. When a player knocks over his can, he gets to claim a reward from a collection of trinket prizes.

Gem Mining

Before the party, have your kids paint a collection of rocks. Mix the painted rocks with plain rocks and put them all into a baby pool filled with water. Give kids sieves and have them mine for the gems. You can also play this game in a sandbox. Bury gold-painted rocks or gold nuggets in the sand and have them panhandle for the gold.

Snake in my Boot Relay

This game is fun for any cowboy-themed party, but might also be especially enjoyable for a Toy Story party. Divide players into two teams. Give each team a cowboy boot. At the other end of the play space, place two buckets filled with rubber snakes. On the signal, the first players for each team race to retrieve a snake, bring it back and place it in the boot. Those players then tag the next players in line, who also race to place a snake in their boots. The relay race continues until one team has had each of its members collect a snake and drop it into the boot.

Blindfold Branding

Pin the Tail on the Donkey is a classic party game that is often changed to suit the theme of a party. In this cowboy version, instead of pinning a tail on a donkey, kids stamp a brand on a cow.

Hang up a poster of a cow. Cut a large sponge into the shape of a horseshoe and attach it to a stick. Dip the horseshoe-shaped sponge into some craft paint. Blindfold players and see who can come closest to branding the cow in a pre-determined spot.

Other variations of the pin the tail game to play:

  • Pin the tail on the horse.

  • Pin the badge on the sheriff.

  • Pin the hat on the cowgirl.

  • Pin the boot on the cowboy.

  • Horse and Wagon Race

Gather players into groups of three. On each team, one player sits in a wagon or cardboard box that is decorated like a horse coach. The other two players are the horses who must pull their cowboy, in the wagon, across the finish line.

Cattle Corral

In this game one player is the rancher, trying to corral the cattle. The remaining players are the cattle. Tape off a square on the lawn to serve as the corral.

Play begins with the kids running around freely while trying to avoid being tagged by the rancher. When a player is tagged, he must go and stand in the corral. Another of the cattle players can go into the corral and tag him to set him free, but if that player is caught by the rancher while doing so, he also becomes a cowboy and must help corral the remaining players. Play continues until all the cattle players are in the corral and only ranchers remain outside of the box.

This same game can be played where the corral is a jailhouse, the “it” player is the sheriff, and the other players are bank robbers.

Cowboy Hat in the Ring Toss

Place a hula hoop on the ground. Have your little cowboys line up behind a line and try to toss their hats into the ring. Award a prize for players who land their cowboy hats inside the hula hoop.

You can also draw a large bullseye target on the lawn (use lawn paint) and have the player whose hat lands closest to the bullseye win the game.


Dress the food table like a chuck wagon. Make large wheels out of poster board or cover hula hoops. Attach an off white sheet to the wall behind the table to look like a covered wagon. Hang ropes, lanterns and old pots and pans from the table.

Cowboy Face

A cowboy face snack is fun to eat and easy to make. To start take a whole banana and slice it in half longways then put it on the top of the plate, this will make the rim of the cowboy hat. Now take an orange and slice a thick circle out of it then slice the circle in two halves. The halves make the top of the ten gallon hat. Use grapes for eyes and nose and apple pieces for ears. Some raisins make a smile and a few pinches of grated coconut make for tasty cowboy hair.

Lone Ranger Crackers

Using cheese, a few square crackers and some animals crackers you can come up with an edible ranch. First take four square crackers and build a stable out of them. You do this by placing three standing up in an open ended box layout and then put the forth on top as a roof. Next slice some cheese into long pieces and set them up around the stable as a gate. Using a few animals crackers you can populate your ranch.


Everyone knows that cowboys eat beans by the campfire but for a snack you don't have to have canned beans. Instead take some green beans or snow peas and tie them into bundles. With about five of six beans each and a piece of string you go from having plain old beans to having bundles of hay instead. This makes eating vegetables a lot more fun for young children.


S'mores may not be a healthy snack but they are definitely a cowboys snack. They are easy to make in the microwave or oven if you don't want to roast marshmallows on a fire. Take a square of tin foil and on it build your s'more. A graham cracker, piece of chocolate, marshmallow and finally the last graham cracker. Wrap it up in the tin foil and place in the stove on broil for about five minutes or in the microwave for thirty seconds to a minute. You can also add some fruit to the snack with a piece of strawberry or banana inside.

Cactus Juice

Mix sprite and green food coloring for “cactus juice”

You can always serve traditional cowboy food:  Hotdogs, Sloppy Joe's, Chili, Coleslaw, potato salad

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