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.

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