Although the days of town-wide barn parties are very nearly over, many modern stables and barns throw barn parties for their clients during the holidays or to kick off the summer. Throwing a barn party doesn’t require lots of money, but you do need to know how to get creative.
If you want to throw a barn party, you need a place big enough to hold all of your guests. Most modern barns are long and narrow, which won’t serve your purposes very well, but there are other places at a barn that will accommodate enough people for a party. For example, our annual barn party is thrown in the indoor arena. We drag picnic tables to one end and have music and dancing at the other.
While we’re on the subject of music, you must remember that you can’t throw a great barn party without a live band. DJ’s and stereos might work for clubs and bars, but you’ll find that barn parties feel far more authentic when you have live music to dance to, preferably something including a banjo. If you don’t have the cash to hire a band, talk to some of the people at your barn and see if they know any musicians willing to play.
In order to throw a great barn party, you must have great food – this is non-negotiable. Many barns choose to have pot-luck dinners where everyone brings their favorite dish, while others prefer to barbecue or have the party catered. Hamburgers and hotdogs with sides like potato salad and baked beans will give your barn party a rustic atmosphere.
A barn party isn’t a club or bar where everyone wants to either dance or get drunk. Instead, you need to have family-friendly activities that everyone can enjoy. Games like darts and horseshoes are always fun, as are organized activities like musical chairs. It’s best to talk to some of the guests in advance to find out what they would enjoy.
You can throw a great barn party without alcohol, but in most cases, it’s best to provide at least beer for your guests. Several coolers stocked with cans of beer will suffice. You can also serve mixed drinks like margaritas, daiquiris and mimosas, but you don’t want to get everyone drunk. And make sure that you have cokes or juice for the kids if your barn party includes children.
Many barns, my own included, use barn parties as an excuse to give out awards to the best riders. My trainer purchases ribbons and trophies for year-end awards for her students (mainly the kids), then we have a short ceremony during which each rider is congratulated. This can be a lot of fun as long as you don’t let it take forever. Remember that people came to your barn party to have fun, not to sit around and listen to long speeches.
You don’t need to go all-out on decorations to throw a great barn party, but you should spruce up the party area a little with balloons, colored napkins, table cloths and such. Most party stores have horse-themed decorations that should suit your needs.
Throwing a great barn party means knowing the people you hope to attend and planning events based on what they enjoy.