23 answers

I Need Ideas for a Carnival Theme Birthday Party

My son is going to be 6 years old and we want to have a carnival theme party. I need ideas on games and food. We have a couple of games already planned, but I need more! Also, instead of getting a prize at each game I was going to put it all in their treat bags to take home. i Need to keep all these kids busy! Thanks!

What can I do next?

More Answers

Hi D.,

Well you can do anything from the simple to the elaborate. I’ll start with some simple ideas first in case you are on a tight budget, which with the economy these days I think most of us would like to save money whenever we can.
You could always have little Carnival stations set up just like your theme where children can pick and choose which games they want to play. Of course this might require some volunteers from friends and family to man the stations, but it sounds like you will have a few of those to help you out.
Ring Toss: Get those little craft hoops and Pepsi or Coke liters and the children have to toss the ring around the container. Put a tape line so many feet away and then toss the hoop and if they looped it around the pop they win.
Basket Toss: A basket is placed on its side, on a tilted surface (maybe even at an angle in a chair or counter) and the children have to toss a basket ball into it and the ball has to stay.
Lollipop Tree: Use one of those fake plant trees or you can have someone walk around with an umbrella and lollipops hanging down and tied to it as the lollipop tree (pick a lollipop and guess the color to win) with colors marked on the bottom of the stick and have the lollipops hang upside down so they don't see the colors.
Ping Pong Ball Toss: Purchase brightly colored pong balls from Walmart ($1.50 for 6). Then buy a large foam core board from Hobby Lobby or Michaels. Hot Glue plastic dixie type cups in rows, onto foam core board. Lay board on table, let kids toss ping pong balls into cups.
Water Gun Game: Buy a water gun, funnels, and use liter bottles to make this game. It can be played in a bathtub if you aren’t having the party outside. The first child to shoot water into an empty liter bottle and fill it to a certain line with water wins. Making a small incision in the top of the bottle for a wooden stick to float out with a flag on top and a foam bottom that will rise with the water would signal the winner.
Penny Toss: Put plates on upside down cups of various heights in a roped off area and use “lucky” pennies to toss on the plates.
Fishing Game: Paint a large box to look like a fish tank (complete with Nemo if you want) and cut a narrow strip to fish through. Then craft your fish on them from craft foam and attached paper clips. Tie a large magnet (the local Dollar Tree has some) to a fishing pole and Voila!
A shooting gallery: set up pop cans and give the kids stopper guns to use to knock them over.
Musical Clown Noses: This game has the same concept as musical chairs. Place a pile of red sponge clown noses on a table or on the floor and have the kids walk around them in a fairly large circle while carnival/circus music is playing. Once the music is turned off the kids need to grab a nose and put it on (there needs to be one less clown nose than there are kids). Whoever is left with no clown nose to put on needs to leave the game. The game continues until there is one kid remaining (who is the winner).
Snacks can be anything from popcorn in small bags, peanuts in their shells in small bags, soft pretzels and hotdogs to caramel apples. And you can get box tops from paper boxes (you know the boxes that hold 8 to 10 reams of paper at work?) Flip the lids over, paint or cover with red and white striped wrapping paper, attach a strap from one side of box top to other and load with a concession (your carnie helper will look like the girls who used to sell "cigars! cigarettes!" - to give you a visual). Also Walmart has started carrying the cutest closeable cardboard food containers which you could even put grapes in. They are in the paper plate section near the animal plates they now carry. They have animals on them and the top opens and closes. You can also have colorful balloons and attach them to EVERYTHING. (Walmart carries inexpensive helium tanks for about $19).
Meijer has raffle tickets by their party supplies that you can buy and use for the games. I would send so many in the invitations and then tell the children that they get so many tickets, say five tickets, everytime they sing happy birthday to the birthday boy. Children love having tickets to "buy" things. You could even pass out play money at the door to buy the "snacks." The Dollar Tree has play money for next to nothing. Since you are creating a play world, why not go all out? With three boys of my own I know they love doing things like that.
Now if you want to get expensive you can have the pony rides, a local magician, and call in a catering team. I hope these ideas help. Good luck.

1 mom found this helpful

There are several things you could do for the cake. You can actually have it done like a circus tent, a specific animal....like a lion, bear or a clown. You could do three round cakes, place them next to each other and do them each different.....like a "three ring circus". You can use actual small plastic animals on the cake or animal crackers that they could eat. You could also do cupcakes and make each cupcake like clowns, lions, tigers, etc. You can use sugar cones for the clown hats....break off the bottom a bit if you want them shorter.

As far as games, etc........KIDS LOVE FACE PAINTING. You could have a couple of people do face painting (like clowns) for the kids - with permission from parents, of course.

Do you know anyone who does balloon animals? I have a craft that i have done with a paper plate and construction paper, making bears, lions, elephants, etc.

You could do a charade of animal walks, the other team has to guess what animal. You could have a sheet of paper w/ different animal prints (paws, hooves, etc.) The kids have to guess which animal belongs to that print. You can even go so far as to have them match their home.....i.e. jungle, cave, desert, etc. Even.......WHERE they live....Africa, North Pole, Asia.......you could do a seperate game for each of them so you can have more winners. You can make it fun AND they can learn something too.

Might want to have "circus food" too....like hot dogs, etc. Might find someone who makes or might sell cotton candy, if you don't mind them having it.

I just realized you said CARNIVAL......NOT Circus. Sorry. Anyway...some other game ideas are guessing the number of.....jelly beans in a jar, throwing bean bags through or into something, races (sac, dressing - where you have to run down put on a coat, hat, etc, and run back and take it off, next person puts it on, runs down & puts on something else, comes back takes both off, gives to next, etc. OR.do it where one is at the opposite end with a pile of clothing...each pile has a shirt, hat, pants, etc. Each person runs down and puts ONE THING on the person and runs back until the person is "dressed".

You tie a string, about 36" on balloons. They
NEED to be the same length to make it fair. Each child ties a balloon on one ankle. When you say, "GO", the have to try and pop each other's balloon. The last balloon unpopped wins.

Races pushing or rolling an egg (or clementine, if you don't want to chance breaking the egg) with their noses. Would depend on whether you can be outside, too.

Have a bag with various items in it. They have to feel inside the bag (someone will have to probably monitor so no one looks or make it so they can put hand inside a small hole of a box, just big enough to get their hand in..and see who can guess the most items in the bag.

Don't know where you live but if you are close to Riley or a children's hospital, you could also have a HUGE piece of butcher paper and let the kids paint a "get well" card for kids who are in the hospital and can't go to parties. I like this because it takes the focus off the child and allows them to think about someone else even at their own party. Then, of course, you and your child deliver the banner to the hospital. Trust me......this kind of thing means alot to those kids!

1 mom found this helpful

I think it would be fun to use small red or white buckets with the word "popcorn" instead of bags for their treats.
I'd serve up hot dogs, peanuts (provided there are no allergies), cotton candy (Micheal's craft store usually sells small bags of it along with other kinds of fun "retro" type candy) and maybe even some Lemon Ice!
Knock over milk bottles with a ball
pull a duck out of the baby pool (or small tub)
clothes pin drop into a bottle
Fishing over a short wall and attach prizes to a clothespin tied to the end.

Oh, and by the way...I am a SAHM who is a licensed cake decorator, so I think that the cupcakes that I made for my daughter to take to school on Monday would be great fun as well. They were cupcakes made to look like small buckets of popcorn. They are not on my website yet, but I'd be happy to send you picture of them.

1 mom found this helpful

What games have you already thought of?

A few that come to mind might be a fish pond with nets to catch the fish (could be real- feeder fish much cheaper), you could do a ring toss, rent a moonwalk (if you have the money- if it's through the week it's cheaper), water balloon toss if it's warm enough, do a putt putt golf hole- great for the guys,lollipop pull, the list is long but those are what we do at our schools carnival.

1 mom found this helpful

Oh my goodness D., don't do a thing! Just call Apple Slice party planners ###-###-#### or e-mail them: ____@____.com

I just had a party for my daughter and hired these people to do the party - it was AMAZING!!! I didn't have to buy anything, except invitations. They set up game stations, there was face painting, story telling time (and the story was about my daughter), and there was an arts & craft station - It was great!
They had ice cream and cupcakes and each child received a gift bag with their name on it(and it wasn't just candy). And they have a mascot the Apple Slice Mouse. He had a little parade with the children. It was great!

After the party I received a personalize photo album. And from the arts & craft station the children made a book with their photos, pictures that they drew, and written messages to my daughter.

The party was so personal and catered to my daughter. I am still overwhelmed! (as you can see)

All I did was invite the guest!

I can send you photos if you are interested!

1 mom found this helpful

You could have corn dogs, popcorn served in the striped bags, depending on the amount of kids, you could get the single serve cotton candy that costs $1.00 at walmart. You also could make some carmel apples, root beer floats, and anything served at the fair.

For games, you could do a three legged race, bean toss, depending on the age of the kids, you could do the darts at the balloons. The fun is endless.


Little kids love Bingo. You can print out free cards from http://www.dltk-cards.com/bingo/ on a variety of themes, and use M&M's for the markers--colorful, temporary, edible. There is an option for picture-only so reading ability is not a limitation.
Treasure hunts with clues are always fun.
Tossing ping pong balls or clothespins not too dangerous.
Maybe something creative, artsy.
Don't want to overwhelm them, though. It is good to have more games than you will actually have time to play.
Allow time for free play, too.

Best wishes,

www.birthdaypartyideas.com is a great website for party ideas. You can choose your theme and will find several different posts and can pick and choose ideas from each one. We use this website for all of our parties. Last year we did a spy themed party and got awesome ideas from the website.

I just saw on Pottery Barn's website that they have all kinds of carnival party decorations, games, etc! I thought it was really cool and thought about purchasing the stuff for my sons birthday! Hope this helps. You have to look at potterybarnkids.com

Hey D.!

We did a carnival themed party for our mom's group.

Get a music cd from your library with carnival themed music (circus music works great!)

Buy raffle tickets at any novelty store (there's one on Mayfield road, or you can buy at www.centurynovelty.com). You could pass out a raffle ticket for each game that they play and then they can "buy" their goody bag!

We hired a facepainter to come and also had a popcorn machine (or you could do cotton candy)

Here's a great site for ideas: http://familyfun.go.com/parties/birthday/feature/famf0803...

You can shoot stacked, empty pop can with a nerf crossbow or use beanbags. You can have them throw balls into buckets. Throw rolls of toilet paper into a toilet.{not one that's hooked up} Shoot nerf arrows or throw footballs through hanging hula hoops. Fish out of a small plastic swimming pool. Shoot hoops. Have someone make balloon animals. Have a face painting booth. Rent one of those inflated things kids jump in or fill a kids swimming pool with balls for them to play in. You can also have a popcorn & cotton candy booth. My church does this & more in October as an alternative to Halloween.

Have your child make tickets and send them with the invitations - they must present the ticket to come in and then you could have a drawing at the end for a prize. Kids love taking/giving tickets like at a fair.

I am also in birthday mode. You can take some buckets and do the grand prize game like on bozo. Set the buckets in a line and have the kids start with throwing a ball in the first bucket and so on. You could also take a card board box, decorate it however you want and cut holes out of the top and do a bean bag toss. You could also make those things that you put your face through and take a picture. Your face is the face of whatever is painted on the big piece of cardboard. I have a projector that I can project any picture onto anything else, and it works out really great. I try to make all of the decorations myself so it makes quick work out of the art. You could try to find a recipe for elephant ears. I know they sell kits, but Im not sure what all you need, or funnel cakes. You can buy those tickets at walmart too. You could also have the kids dress up for the party. Kids love that! Have them dress up as something you would find at a carnival. Face paints are awesome and balloon animals or hats. My son is getting ready to turn 5 and was at a birthday party that they were making balloon hats and swords and he loved it. I think they make books that come with everything you need to learn how. Peanuts, as long as you know noone is allergic. cotton candy, You could make little fried donuts and give the kids some carmel or chocolate to dip them in. If you search on the internet you could find some cool cake ideas, maybe a train with clowns, or you could make clown cupcakes by getting icecream cone to put on top as a hat. good luck. If I think of anything else or find anything I will let you know. I have to start searching for birthday ideas.

I had stations set up around my yard....
1 - a mini cornhole station....if they got a cornhole in they got to pick a prize.
2 - tattoo station
3 - log walk - they had to walk across a log
4 - family picture station...we have a bridge so I had the family's stand on the bridge and their pic would be taken..then the kids received a mini play camera that showed animals when you looked through it.
5 - scavenger hunt in the woods...they had to get 4 nature items, moss, rock, bark, leaf...etc..

The party was a huge hit.....we had a bonfire and tv by the bonfire for the Ohio State Football game for the husbands!!

Hope this helps!

What a fun birthday idea. I would stick with decorations in primary colors in stripes and triangles, since carnivals are all about color. As for food, stick with easy things that you would find there like hotdogs, elephant ears, slushies. Little boys love that stuff. I don't know when you are planning this party, but you could do games like blow up ballons and then have them throw something to pop them, corn hole, ring toss, etc.

I did a birthday party for this age last Aug and the thing to remember is that they blow through the activities quickly. Plan the party for an hour to hour and a half and then let the food take up at least half an hour of that time.


you can take 2liter pop bottles and partially fill with sand and have the kids throw rubber balls at them to knock them down or roll a soccer ball at them like bowling.

you can get the little frisbees with the holes in them or cut up the inside of little paper dessert plates and have the kids try to get them on the pop bottles.

you can get a toss across game and instead of the x's and o's you can put animal pictures or clowns on them.

you can get a large brown box, water balloons and darts .
tape the balloons to the box against a tree and the kids can try to pop the balloons. definitely needs its own adult for this game. Hope you have fun.

D.,, I have had 5 children How about your son;s favorite character,, find someone that can dress in the costume and come to the party a don't forget a pinata kids love them.. I am local in Ohio and am an event planner if you need any help.. I have great references.. We do the costumes all the way to the food.. Kids love finger foods at parties . If I can be of further help please email me at ____@____.com

check out the web site www.familyfun.com it has great ideas on various party themes as well as treats adn craft ideas.

Have fun

Hi D.,

A friend of mine did a carnival party for her daughter. We rented a blow up jumping castle from "pump it up" (i think was the company) we rented a balloon making clown, and a face painter to keep the kids entertained. We also rented a snow cone machine and popcorn machine.

Games were potatoe bag hop race, 3 legged race, drop a cloths pin into a mason jar from a high distance (such as sitting on your knees on a chair leaning over the back of the chair). And a few other games.

we had tickets and they could turn their ticket in for a prize. 1 ticket = a choice from xyz section, 2 tickets= a choice from xyz section and 3 tickets a choice from xyz section. we bought toys from the dollar store as prizes.

Good luck, have fun.

Go to www.orientaltrading.com
The selection is fabulous and very affordable. Have fun!

Hi D.,
I have never done a carnival themed party, but have always found good ideas at familyfun.com. Good luck!

My cousin owns a booth where he makes elephant ears and funnell cakes I know he has done birthday parties in the past and he may be willing to still do them. I don't want to neccessarly give his number out on here but you can email me and I will get you his info if your interested.. my email is ____@____.com...

try familyfun.com - a division of Disney - they always have great ideas - and birthdayexpress.com aslo has great party ideas!

Required Fields

Our records show that we already have a Mamapedia or Mamasource account created for you under the email address you entered.

Please enter your Mamapedia or Mamasource password to continue signing in.

Required Fields

, you’re almost done...

Since this is the first time you are logging in to Mamapedia with Facebook Connect, please provide the following information so you can participate in the Mamapedia community.

As a member, you’ll receive optional email newsletters and community updates sent to you from Mamapedia, and your email address will never be shared with third parties.

By clicking "Continue to Mamapedia", I agree to the Mamapedia Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy.