You’re Invited to a Carnival!

A carnival-themed birthday party will thrill your child and guests alike.

By Dawn Angileri


Birthday parties at home are memorable ways to celebrate your child's birthday. Plan a themed party to make the day even more exciting and also more focused.

How about a carnival? 

For our carnival party, design the invitation to look like a giant admission ticket or like a balloon (cut out rounds of colorful stock paper and attach string to each one).

Don't forget thank you cards. In today's digital world, it’s easy to personalize the thank you notes with a picture taken at the party.

For the carnival, hang a big banner over the entrance to your house or apartment, similar to the banner over a carnival midway. You and your children can create the banner with craft or butcher paper and paints or markers to welcome partygoers. Lots of colorful streamers and balloons help set the festive mood.

Decorate and label the prize table and the different stations (booths) for the various activities you have planned. The booths can be as simple as card tables or you could decorate large boxes from a local appliance store.
The activities can be simple or elaborate, depending on the size and length of the party. Ask a few friends to help man the booths and dole out tickets. Every child should win a ticket at each booth and you can decide if you want "winners" to get additional tickets. Some ideas for booths and their activities are:

  • Face painting
  • Temporary tattoos
  • Penny or bean bag toss
  • Guess how many candies in the jar (and win the jar)
  • Basketball shooting (draw a line on the driveway)
  • Ball toss (toss 3 soft balls into a basket)
  • Quarterback test (throw a football through a hanging hula hoop)
  • Can knock down (wrap soup cans with bright construction paper, stack in a pyramid and have the kids throw soft balls at them).
  • Water gun shoot (the kids try to knock over empty juice cans with water guns)

If your budget allows, hire a clown or magician or rent a bounce gym for the day.

Depending on the time of day you hold the party, you can serve simple snacks and forget about a full meal. 

  • Soft pretzels
  • Peanuts
  • Popcorn
  • String cheese
  • Watermelon

If you decide to serve a meal, keep it casual, as you would find at an actual carnival. 

Set up a lemonade stand and serve Berry Refreshing Lemonade alongside bins of juice boxes and waters.

Don’t forget the cake! Decorate it with frosting balloons.

Party favors
Sort inexpensive prizes into bins labeled with "price tags" to indicate how many tickets each is worth. Kids love to purchase their own prizes with the tickets they collect throughout the party.

Empty popcorn boxes make great “party bags” for a carnival party. Write each child’s name on the box and let the party guests decorate them with stickers and markers and suggest they keep their tickets in their boxes during the party.

If you can't find popcorn boxes standard brown or colored paper bags also work well. Draw bright red and blue lines on each bag to make them festive, or let the kids decorate them with markers, glitter, and stickers.

Welcome to the carnival!