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Come One, Come All to the Carnival!

Fun and creative ideas for throwing a carnival-themed children's birthday.


The invitation would be hand-made by printing carnival tickets off of the computer with all pertinent details. These invitations can either be hand-delivered by your child and/or mailed to the guests.


Purchase a helium balloon tank and blow up balloons on your own for the party. Make one large balloon arch on your own, and/or have balloons located all over the carnival party area. A few colorful balloons would be a very special decoration to attach to the birthday kid’s chair.

Purchase streamers in an array of bright, primary colors and have them bunched heavily together from the ceiling. When the kids enter the carnival, they can walk through the streamers to the fun.

For the big top, hang a very large sheet over four standing poles to create the effect.

Purchase primary colors of tableware and set the table. Over the party table, hang a mock trapeze with a stuffed monkey on it for added décor.


Upon entering the party, hire a favorite babysitter who is creative with paint to be on hand to paint little carnival animals on the guests’ faces.

From there, the kids would receive an empty popcorn box and a string of tickets to use at the different activity booths.

Turn very large appliance boxes into carnival booths for the activities. Ask for parent volunteers to run the various booths, and hand out prizes. The prizes can be little toys found at a Dollar Store, i.e. spinning tops, bouncy balls, plastic animals, Pop Rock candy, etc. At the booths, the following activities could be organized using stuff that you have around the house:

Fishing game: Mock up a fishing pole with a paper clip on the end and have the kids throw the line over the box where the adult clips on a prize that the kids reel in.

Hula hoop throw: Have the kids throw a ball through hula hoops to win a prize.

Have a wading pool on hand with little rubber ducky toys floating. Little ones can pick up a rubber ducky, look for a number on the bottom, and receive a prize that correlates to the number.

Balloon darts: Blow up balloons and have them taped to a cardboard box. Have kids throw darts to see how many they can break. Make sure to have additional balloons as each one pops away.

Guess the number of marbles in a jar.

Enjoy a water balloon toss. Have kids pair off in twos and start to throw water balloons to one another. After each successful toss, have them take one step back and continue with the toss. The last team still throwing the water balloon wins.

Under the big top, have an additional adult volunteer or the babysitter you hired for face painting entertain kids with a silly routine.


Have a traditional BBQ with hot dogs and hamburgers and put out bowls of snacks and popcorn. Have Cracker Jack boxes, animal crackers, and cotton candy bags lining the party table for additional treats.

Make a carnival birthday cake yourself or a batch of cupcakes that the kids can decorate as an additional activity. You could also host the kids making sundaes by providing three flavors of ice cream, chocolate sauce, and cherries as another party activity.

Goody Bags:

Kids can take home a bright-colored cup filled with the prizes they won from the games, as well as extra boxes of Cracker Jacks and animal crackers. Make sure to put the kids’ names on the cups as a personal touch.

For more of Lisa’s party etiquette advice, check out Lisa’s book Dear Peppers and Pollywogs... What Parents Want to Know About Planning Their Kids’ Parties, available at Also, be sure to visit Lisa’s website at before you plan your next celebration!

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