An old fashioned carnival is a great party theme. Carnival style games are good fun and not that hard to prepare. This theme works with both boys and girls and works for preschool age kids as well as early elementary school age kids age 6 to 8. That’s why you see these games at all the church fairs and school fund raisers – they work!
Start by printing out your prize tickets – these are free to download and print and give to the kids when they play each of your games. They can ‘redeem’ their tickets for candy and small prizes OR for their goodie bags at the end of your party .
With some borrowed card or folding tables and some inexpensive plastic tableclothes, you’ve got your game stations. It’s a good idea to have each ‘station’ manned by an older helper- neighbors, cousins, siblings, whatever you have access to. If it’s in your budget, get each a straw boater to wear- reminiscent of old fashioned country fairs and sideshows.
The actual games for a carnival themed birthday party are the easy part – and you’ll find lots of ideas on the web. Check out this post about one family’s carnival birthday party, and you’ll find even more carnival game ideas here.
Just to give you a feel for how easy this really can be, consider the ‘knock down the bottles’ game. Collect quart or 1/2 gallon plastic milk jugs or any other unbreakable bottle that will stack. If they’re not heavy enough, put a little sand or sugar in them. Stack them 3 high in a pyramid on your game table and give the kids a wiffle ball to knock them over. If the wiffle ball won’t tumble them down, take out some of the sand until it will. Put a line on the ground with masking tape in front of the table at an appropriate distance for the age of your party guests to make it doable, but not too easy. Give tickets equal to the number they knock down on 2 or 3 throws. Your game manager will be stacking them back up for the next player. That’s it!
We’ll be following up in the future with more carnival themed party ideas.