A Little House on the Prairie Birthday Party

I was pretty excited when my daughter chose a Little House on the Prairie theme for her birthday party - excited partly because I love 19th century history...and partly because I saw it as a chance to pull together a fun party without a lot of expense or fuss. In the end, I think everyone had a great time, and the party came together quite easily.

The Invitation
I always send out digital invitations - but I do them in the form of a .JPG that I create on my computer, using free photo editing software. This year was especially easy; I found a black and white drawing from one of the Little House books and added some text:
"It's [name here]'s birthday! Please come to our Little House on the Prairie party - dressed in your favorite frontier costume. Join our 'half pint' for old-fashioned games, yummy food, and fun!"
I also let everyone know costumes weren't mandatory - just encouraged - and gave some ideas I knew might be easily accomplished with dress up or everyday clothes: Cowboy, Indian, railroad engineer, frontiersman, or pioneer, for example.

The Decorations
I wanted to keep this very simple, using things we already had on hand:

* A well worn (not historic or valuable) quilt as a tablecloth
* A basket of apples and a bowl of cherries (used later for games)
* A bucket lined with calico for utensils
* Old canning jars for straws and simple bouquets of flowers from our yard
* A Lincoln Log-built cabin
* Some sepia photos we had of our family in 19th century costumes
* An authentic old school slate with my daughter's age written on it (I later photographed her in costume, holding the slate.)

Although it didn't really fit in with the theme, we also put up a few balloons - because in our family, you can't have a birthday party without them!

I also considered using hay bales for outdoor seating; they are inexpensive (about $3 a piece around these parts) and I would use them later for chicken bedding - but we have too many people with allergies, an important consideration if you are thinking about using hay or straw bales.

The Food
I considered serving pioneer-inspired food but decided we had too many picky eaters. Instead, we stuck with easy picnic fare like hot dogs and burgers - and lemonade served in canning jars. I also considered making popcorn balls as party favors, but ran out of time to do this. At one point, I thought we'd make ice cream with an old fashioned, hand cranked ice cream maker. This would have been a nice addition, but I couldn't find a cranked ice cream maker to borrow.

We considered many ideas for the birthday cake - some pretty elaborate, with covered wagons or log
cabins on top. But in the end, my daughter decided she wanted a simple cake - something like Laura Ingalls might have had if Pa and Ma could have splurged on a cake. So I made a chocolate cake with white cream cheese frosting - two round layers. On the day of the party, I plucked some edible flowers from our yard (bachelor buttons and pansies) and used them to decorate the cake.

The Games
I had a lot of fun choosing old fashioned games for the party - and I think both the adults and kids enjoyed them. We played:

* Musical chairs, using music from Pa's Fiddle - a collection of music Pa played in the Little House books. (I downloaded a single song for a mere .99 cents...all I needed for our game.)

* Potato sack race - so fun, we did it a couple of times. You can find burlap sacks all over the Internet, but I was afraid some of the cheaper ones would rip. (We had older children - and some adults - using them in the game.) Even so, I bought them inexpensively - four for $3.55. They worked perfectly and I will keep them for future parties.

* Watermelon eating contest - I placed a cheap plastic party tablecloth on the picnic bench and gave each child 1/4 of a watermelon. Then we did an adult version, too.

* Cherry pit spitting contest. (If you can find a watermelon with plenty of seeds in it - difficult to do these days - you can use those instead of cherry pits.) I laid another cheap plastic tablecloth on the ground. (If adults will be playing, too, I recommend at least two tablecloths or a plastic aisle runner.) Each child ate a cherry, reserving the pit. Then, one at a time, she tried to spit it as far as she could. With a felt tip pen, I circled each child's pit and wrote her initials beside it, so there'd be no question about whose was whose. The child who spit a pit the farthest won. The kids liked this game so much, they played it many times.

* Apple bobbing. The trickiest part of this was finding smallish apples with stems; the ones I found were rather large, which made the game harder. (My daughter is also missing three front teeth, so it was especially difficult for her - but she did manage to get an apple.) I didn't have a half wine barrel, trough, or shallow, wide bucket, so I used the pot of my pressure canner. It was a bit deep, but that just meant the kids got a little more wet!

To view my Pinterest inspiration board for this party - and discover lots of great ideas I didn't use - click here. 

Check out the Entire Little House series of Posts:

Little House in the Big Woods Activities
Pancake Men (from Little House in the Big Woods)
Little House on the Prairie Activities
Little House on the Prairie Birthday Party
On the Banks of Plum Creek Activities 
Little Town on the Prairie Activities
Activities for The First Four Years
These Happy Golden Years Activities 
Farmer Boy Activities


  1. I LOVE THIS!! So cool. I have to pin it for future use. :)

  2. When my son and daughter were 10 and 8, we did an entire year of Little House books for our homeschooling. There was a curriculum called The Prairie Primer unit study. I filled in some blanks in the science and math subjects, and we had a wonderful year. My daughter (and I) continued learning about Laura and her family with a trip to several of the different towns the Ingalls lived in as well as reading books about Laura and her life as an adult author. We culminated this obsession with a trip to Mansfield Missouri (Laura's final home) when my daughter was 12.