Parties with a Twist of Murder!
Parties with a Twist of Murder!

73 DIY Decoration Ideas: Wild West Party

Ideas and Tips for Ace-High Murder Mystery Party Decor

Different saloon decorations for Wild West parties and also gold mine scene
Different jail decorations for our Murder in the Wild West game

Hosting a Wild West Murder Mystery - Other Helpful Ideas

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Yee-haw partner. Let your guests mosey on down to Deadstone Creek Saloon for an ace-high murder mystery party. These rootin' tootin' decoration ideas are designed for our Murder in the Wild West mystery game but most ideas are also suitable for other Wild West parties.

Choose whether to theme your decorations around:

A - The Wild West (think jail, saloon, gold mines, wanted posters, guns)

B - Cowboys (think chuckwagon, hay bales, bandanas, cow prints, horses etc)

C - Western/American Pioneer (think wagon wheels, gingham, burlap, tin pails and natural items)

D - Desert/Mexican (think cacti and Mexican materials)

Or mix and match the themes as you wish.

A:- Wild West Decoration Ideas

A1:- Wild West Jail Decorations

1 Create a mock jail for an ideal photo booth opportunity and for a great backdrop for your party. (A jailbreak plays a prominent part in the murder mystery.) Make this jail as simple or as adventurous as you wish. The photo shows some jail decoration ideas that we and our customers have tried.

Examples of jail decorations made for our Murder in the Wild West game
Different styles of DIY jails

To make an old west jail decoration for your murder mystery party, you can go to as much or as little trouble as you wish. A few ideas:

A2:- Old West Saloon Decorations (Our Murder Mystery Game is Set in Deadstone Saloon) 

A2.1:- Saloon Doors

6 Some customers have created those iconic batwing doors that they had in the Old West.

Two examples of saloon doors that customers have made for our wild west party
Two types of saloon batwing door decor

A2.2:- Saloon Decor - Two Examples of a Gambling Theme

Poker and Faro were both popular games in Old West saloons. There were also other card games (for example Three-Card-Monte) and dice games such as Chuck-a-Luck and High-Low.  To echo the gambling that happened in saloons, use playing cards, playing card motifs (hearts, clubs, diamonds and spades) or dice as themes throughout your party. 

For Bonnie's superb wild west murder mystery party, she embraced the saloon gambling experience and created a gambling entrance to her party and then echoed this with dice and playing cards used throughout the party space.

Examples of gambling theme saloon decor that Bonni used in her party
Gambling theme decor - playing cards & shapes in entrance, cardboard covered dice and cards covering a mirror

For our own Wild West mystery party decorations, we themed our dining table around playing cards and dice and then echoed this in other places in the dining room. 

Saloon decorations have a dice and card theme to match the gambling that happened
Dining table has green sheet for cloth, a runner made of large playing cards, a centrepiece of dice and playing cards, playing card placemats and dice coasters, poker tokens

A2.3:- Some Suggestions for Gambling-themed Saloon Decorations:

General Ideas
Buy normal-size or large-sized packs of playing cards. Use these playing cards to create a gambling theme throughout your decorations:
Use playing card motifs (for example hearts, clubs, diamonds and spades) throughout.
Use a dice motif:

A2.4:- Other Saloon Decor Ideas

Saloon furniture tended to be wooden and simple. Saloons would have a wooden bar. Many would also have animal heads and that infamous painting of a near-nude lady. In the American West, saloons were often made out of wooden planks.

Amanda used a scene setter to great effect in her superb wild west party:

A3:- Other Wild West Decor Ideas

29 Gold mine and dynamite sticks: to create "dynamite" sticks, take a cardboard tube. (Any tube shape if fine - for example, kitchen roll centres, toothpaste tubes or tubes containing certain chocolates.) Cover in red paper or tissue paper. Write the word dynamite in large black letters. Then have a piece of string hanging from the centre of each tube. For an extra fun touch, replace the string with party poppers. (Bang!)

Note: We used kitchen roll centers and red napkins to create the dynamite sticks. We teamed these with a "gold mine" sign arrow created out of cardboard, some miniature hessian money bags stuffed with newspaper and a "Deadstone Creek Gold Mine" certificate from the game's party kit:

We used kitchen roll centers to create the dynamite sticks
"Dynamite" = kitchen roll centre covered with red crepe paper; gold mine certificate from game's decoration pack; small hessian bags filled with newspaper = party favour bags

30 Wanted Posters: Use the decorations in your party kit to create some "Wanted: Dead or Alive" posters. Use the ones provided (Deadstone Gang and Billy the Kid ). Alternatively, for a bit of fun, use the blank Wanted poster provided and add in your friends' photos! Or, for a really special memento of your murder mystery, take photos throughout the game, edit them into the blank Wanted poster and then send them to friends and family after the party.

Tip: to make printouts seem even older, slightly scrunch up the paper and then tear the edges; optionally print in black and white or sepia. Most of the printouts supplied in your wild west party pack have a pre-aged background; for the few that don't, you can age them by brushing with tea or coffee and dry.  Then either tear the edges or else carefully singe the edges of the paper. (Please take all necessary fire precautions.) 

We added the Wanted posters to the walls of our jail, as did Bonnie:

Wild West wanted posters stuck on jail walls
Wanted posters are supplied with game's decoration pack; posters aged by tearing edges and scrumpling the paper

31 Money bags: use plain hessian bags and add a dollar sign. Use small bags for party favours - or as awards for best costume or mystery solution. Use larger bags as decor. Add a wanted poster (see party kit), a toy gun and some gold chocolate coins and arrange as a table centrepiece. Optionally scatter gold coins (gold-covered chocolate coins) around. Or use gold bar party favour boxes as decorations.

32 Cut sheriff's badge out of cardboard. Use paint, felt tip or gold wrapping paper to colour.

33 Guns and bullets: the Wild West wouldn't be the same without guns. For safety, please use TOY guns. Hang these toy guns from walls or make them into a feature arrangement with other western ornaments or memorabilia.

34 Create a party entrance by having a "Welcome to the Wild West" sign; then have signposts directing them to different places mentioned in the murder mystery party. (A few of the locations mentioned in the game are: the Jail, Courthouse, and Sheriff's Office, Deadstone Saloon, The Cactus Restaurant, the General Stores, Henderson H ranch, the stables and corral, a gold mine, hitching posts, the creek, and a canyon.) Alternatively, if your garden layout permits, create saloon doors (batwing doors) out of cardboard and then fix them to the entrance gate - or to your front door.



B:- Cowboy Party Theme Decorations

35 The murder mystery game is set in a cowtown on a night when cowboys, cowgirls and ranchers are all in town. Cowboy hats and boots, spurs, saddles, horseshoes, pails and bandanas are all obvious decorations if you have them.

36 Cowboy costume hats: line with a napkin and fill with dry food such as rolls or crisps. Or hang cheap costume hats on pegs or place on a straw bale. Cut cowboy hat shapes out of cards; then colour and hang them on walls as decorations. Alternatively, use smaller hat shapes as place settings.

37 Make horseshoes out of cardboard and paint; hang on walls or use on the table as place name holders.  

38 Gingham: use a red and white gingham tablecloth. Wrap cutlery in matching ribbon.

39 Bandanas: in the Old West, cowboys wore bandanas to protect them from the sand and sun. Make cowboy bandanas the central theme of your party decorations:

  • 40 Wrap the cutlery in them and put other bandanas on coffee tables as tablecloths.
  • 41 Buy a bandana tablecloth and napkin set.
  • 42 Buy a set of cheap bandanas and place them diagonally down the table to make a table runner.
  • 43 Create a stunning tablecloth or unusual wall hanging by sewing these bandanas together. (If you don't like sewing, tape them together on one side and then reverse to show a tape-free display. As most bandanas are almost 2 feet square, this is not such a big job.)
  • 44 Cut bandanas into bunting shapes, string together and hang them from the ceiling.

Note: We used a pack of 12 bandanas to create an ace-high feature as guests walked into our party space:

Cowboy bandana decorations - wall hanging and cutlery basket
Top = wall hanging made from bandanas; bottom = bandanas wrap cutlery in a wicker backet

45 Hay bales (or straw bales): these can often be bought cheaply (and then given to friends with animals afterwards). Mini hay bales can be bought and used together with a cowboy hat, a bandana and flowers as a table centrepiece.

46 Chuckwagon (a food wagon that cowboys used on the trail): turn a rectangular table into a chuckwagon by adding a long red or gingham tablecloth, a couple of fake wagon wheels made out of painted cardboard or hula hoops (see below) and add a Chuckwagon sign.

47 Use a cow print theme: use a cow print tablecloth, balloons, party plates and cups and napkins. Optionally wrap a Mason jar in a cow print material and fill it with sunflowers for a simple table centerpiece.

48 Buy a pack of foil dishes or pewter-style paper plates and use these instead of plates for your meal. Serve coffee out of tin mugs.


C:- Western / American Pioneer Party Theme Decorations

Wagon wheel - nothing speaks of the American Frontier more than images of those wagons rolling across the western plains. You can either:

  • 49 Create your own wagon wheel out of a large sheet of cardboard: cut out a circle, cut out the sections between the spindles, and then paint.
  • 50 Use a cheap hula hoop; optionally wrap rope round and round the hula hoop to add width. Use large bamboo sticks (or other firm sticks) for the spindles. Use a foam or cardboard circle for the wheel centre. Paint each component brown and then assemble.
  • 51 Buy a second-hand wagon wheel or cart wheel from Facebook Messenger or Ebay.

Note: we chose to create a wagon wheel out of cardboard and used it (and a cardboard cactus) as adornments for our jail. (We used double-wall cardboard sheets 1000 x 1200mm thick.) This worked fairly well but, if I were to do so again, I would put weights on the cardboard as it dried to prevent a slight bowing in the middle.

Wagon wheel made out of cardboard
Wagon wheel cut from a large cardboard sheet and then painted

52 Gingham:  red and white checked gingham conjures up images of pioneers and the Western Frontier. Use a gingham tablecloth for your dinner party table. For a cute touch, tie the corners of the tablecloth up with string and add sunflowers or daisies. Flowers would be simple things such as daisies or sunflowers. Optionally, carry the gingham theme through to wall hangings, napkins and party favour bags.

53 Signpost with Western Words:  use cardboard or old planks of wood to make a signpost or signs to hang above the buffet or bar. Paint with words such as "yee-haw", "pardner", "giddy up", "Rootin' tootin'".  

Burlap (also known as hessian). Buy a roll; alternatively, dustsheets made from unbleached natural cotton twill can give an (almost) similar effect for a cheaper price - and can later be reused for decorating. (If you can afford it, however, hessian is better).

60 Buy a pack of cheap tin pails and use to hold flowers or food. Optionally, line with a napkin or bandana to match the tablecloth.

C1:- Other Western Decor Ideas - arrange together:

Steve's all-fired old west party used a scene-setter and other ornaments to great effect:

Old Western scene setter


D:- Desert / Mexican Party Theme Decorations

The mystery game is set in an unspecified area of the Old West. Hosts are therefore free to set it in desert areas of The West should they wish.

A Mexican theme could also be a realistic theme for your murdering game as the early cowboys were the "vanquero" from Mexico.  Many Mexicans continued to work as cowboys throughout the Old West as the 19th century progressed, especially in the Southern states.

68 Cacti - live or fake - can instantly add a desert feel.

  • 69 Cut a cactus shape out of cardboard and paint.
  • 70 Use house cactus plants as a table centerpiece.  
  • 71 Buy cactus-themed items from party suppliers - for example,  cactus tealight candles, cactus party plates, cups and cocktail sticks, cactus bunting and even inflatable cacti.

Note: we used some leftover cardboard to create a large cactus to stand next to our jail. (We used double-wall cardboard sheets 1000 x 1200mm thick.) 

Cactus made out of cardboard

72 Colour scheme: capture the feel of the desert with a colour scheme full of oranges, reds, yellows and browns.  Use a cactus green accent colour.

73 Mexican: use a vibrant Mexican table runner (either on the table or as a wall hanging); decorate with Sombreros, maracas, bunting in the colours of the table runner and Tequila bottles. 

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