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This birthday, throw a hoedown

There's nothing like gathering all your friends and family for your once a year fete, so why not express how you truly feel deep inside (and perhaps pay tribute to your southern routes, if that applies) with a hoedown birthday party?

This is a perfect party theme for this time of year, as the weather is slowly but surely warming up, and that means longer nights on the porch strumming your banjo into the wee hours and squaredancing till it hurts.

Be sure to clue your guests in well in advance so they'll have time to come up with their finest garb to dress for the occasion. Old leather boots, gingham dresses, straw hats and handkerchiefs are all in order for this particular dress code.

You can go to town and back with the decor, which almost certainly calls for drinks served out of mason jars and round paper lanterns strung from the trees outside. If you're stuck on what to hand out as a birthday party favor, offer everyone mini cowboy hats - they may be no replacement for the wide-brimmed ones sitting on their heads, but they'll certainly be a durn good keepsake.