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30 Carnival Party Ideas

Everyone loves a carnival! Make your child's next party fun for all ages with these 30 ideas for carnival-themed activities and snacks.

30 Carnival Party Ideas

Does your little one love to go to the carnival? Then throw him a carnival-themed birthday party! Thanks to websites like Pinterest, it’s now easier than ever to find an assortment of carnival party ideas online. While there are many types of activities to choose from, it’s important that you incorporate ones that your little one will enjoy. “It’s gotta be fun, and wouldn’t it be great if it wasn’t pointless fun?” says Russell Ginns, a children’s game designer, writer, producer and composer. Ginns suggests that you create meaningful games that require skill or brain power.

Before you begin to think of the specifics, you should determine a time and place for your child’s party. “The magic number for a kids’ birthday party is 2 hours,” says Juliet Boydstun, a co-owner of The Coop, a play space in Los Angeles. “It is just the right amount of time for everyone to have fun, run around and get their sillies out. [This time frame will] leave your guests (little and big!) wanting more!”

And don’t forget the tunes. “Music is an essential element in setting the party mood,” says Boydstun. “Go for upbeat, fun tunes that are kid appropriate (no swear words) but enjoyable to parents as well.”

Here are 30 carnival party ideas to help you create the best kids’ party on the block:

  1. Invitations
    Create fun carnival-themed invitations and include game tickets for each guest. Find a printable one at See Shells Space.
  2. Guess the Jelly Beans
    Encourage party guests to use their noggins with Catch My Party‘s guessing game.
  3. Prize Booths
    Get inspired by Catch My Party and use apple baskets to display ticket prizes.
  4. Hand Out Hats
    Even little guests can dress the part with these circus tent party hats from Oh Happy Day.
  5. Carnival Signs
    Download The Red Balloon‘s template to create DIY carnival signs.
  6. Photo Backdrop
    Brooklyn Bride shows you how to make a photo backdrop out of colorful tickets.
  7. Game Booths
    If you’re handy, build game booths from 2x4s covered in plastic tablecloths. If you’re not, card tables covered in plastic will work just fine.
  8. Banner
    Create a party banner with help from All Things Mama.
  9. Lemonade Stand
    Lemonades in various flavors accented with syrup and fresh fruit are a refreshing party treat. Oh Happy Day has three recipes to try.
  10. Hot Dogs
    Stephanie O’Dea shows you how to cook up to 60 hot dogs in a standard crock pot.
  11. Sweet Treats
    Get inspired by Sweet Designs and use paper cones to serve treats like caramel corn.
  12. Funnel Cake
    The smell of fried dough instantly creates a carnival atmosphere. Girl Versus Dough has a DIY recipe!
  13. Cotton Candy Cupcakes
    Mix carnival cotton candy with birthday treats using this recipe from Oh Nuts!
  14. Chocolate Covered Frozen Bananas
    An easy, fun, kid-friendly carnival treat that can almost pass as healthy — healthy for carnival fare, at least!
  15. Candy Apple Bar
    Chop up some apple slices and put them on individual skewers (squeeze on lemon juice to keep them from browning). Then, dip the slices in different sweet sauces and toppings.
  16. Tin Can Crash
    Get inspired by Simply Cumorah and wrap tin cans in colorful paper. Then, instruct kids to try and knock ’em down using tennis balls.
  17. Ring Toss
    Mom Endeavors shows you how to create a ring toss game in your yard using pine panel, dowels and rope.
  18. Temporary Tattoos
    Create a temporary tattoo booth with lots of designs for kids to choose from.
  19. Bean Bag Toss
    Sailrite gives you instructions on how to make your own bean bag toss game.
  20. Balloon Darts
    Create a balloon dart board, like Landee See, Landee Do.
  21. No-Sew Fabric Tassel Garland
    Decorate your carnival with Pretty Prudent‘s DIY tassel garland.
  22. Penny Toss
    Lay out a flat target and instruct little ones to try to land their pennies on it.
  23. Circus Tent
    Little Miss Momma shows you how to make your very own circus tent!
  24. Prizes
    No carnival is complete without prizes! Collect a mixture of candy, stickers, mini toys and other items.
  25. Playing Card Favor Bags
    Follow Lil Blue Boo‘s tutorial to make fun party favor bags for your guests.
  26. Chalkboard Labels
    Little Bit Funky shows you how to create chalkboard labels. You can use these labels to label prizes, games and food.
  27. Face Painting
    Face painting is one of the few things kids will sit still for at a party.
  28. Ping Pong Fishing Game
    Follow Chickabug‘s tutorial to set up this fun game using plastic fish bowls, cellophane and rubber fish.
  29. Three-Legged Race
    This classic game is fun for all ages!
  30. Prize Punch Board
    Make every kid feel like a winner with East Coast Mommy‘s prize punch board.

Need some extra help organizing or setting up the party? Hire a babysitter or housekeeper to help out for a few hours.

Cara Stevens is a freelance writer living in Connecticut with her husband and two children. She has authored several books for children and writes frequently about parenting, hair care, DIY crafts, parties, food and healthy living. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter.