Carnival Party

Carnival Theme 5yr - Balloons & Streamers




Denise in Kapaa, HI, United States


March 2005


Special Mention

My son and his cousin were born only two weeks apart, so for their 5th birthdays we decided to have a big birthday bash. I decided on a Carnival theme because it is so universal. I had to start planning the party about three months in advance. Since we were inviting so many children, about 40, we decided to reserve a pavilion at our children's community playground. Reservations are a must and we wanted to make sure that we would have the exact date set. This was the best place to accommodate all the kids and their parents. A family friend owns a Giant Inflatable business, so we reserved a large jumpy castle and a Shave Ice machine as well.      

After reserving the site and large rental items, I then started to create the invitations. I made the invitations to look like a Carnival/ Fairground poster. I found a carnival grounds clip art for the background and had balloons and confetti printed all over. I even printed words in some of the balloons highlighting some of the things that we were going to have at the party (ie. Face Painting, Bouncy Castle, etc.)  I created a banner on the very top that read, It’s a Birthday Bash!!! Underneath I wrote Balloons, clowns, and games are on the list for fun. Hurry on over cause the CARNIVAL has just begun! Please join us to celebrate XXXs 5th birthday." Then I put the location, time and RSVP info at the bottom. We folded these and put them in envelopes with confetti and sealed them with balloon stickers.      

We wanted to keep the food items simple since we had so many people to feed. We decided on grilled hotdogs, chili with rice bowls, potato salad, pasta salad, fruit salad, popcorn bags, potato chip bags, soda and water, and of course the shave ice machine.     

We decorated the pavilions with tons of multi-colored balloons and streamers. I made giant posters out of poster board with each child's name on it. I printed their pictures out off of the computer and put the pictures on each of their posters. We hung these over the tables that were designated for presents. I made each birthday child their own birthday shirt so they would stand out as the Birthday boy/girl. I used an HP Iron on transfer sheet and printed the designs off of the computer.     

As the children began to arrive, I had one helper doing face painting and another doing tattoo art. The kids kept busy with these and the jumpy castle until all the children arrived. We then began the games. If you are stumped on what games to play, do a google search under Carnival games and you should come up with sites listing various games to play. I think this had the most consuming prep work because we had to come up with so many games. At this age I didn't want any games that would involve competition and I thought it was best to have games that all children can win at.

Please note that you will need lots of helpers to pull this party off, because you have to have one helper per game. I recruited my 16 yr old sister and her girlfriends. Since I am a very frugal mom, I searched the Internet to find the best prices for all of our carnival necessities. Oriental Trading (OT) seemed to be the best priced and they have a whole special area just for Carnivals. We had created various sections around the pavilion using tables to showcase each game. When I said go the children could do whatever games they wanted. Then after everyone had a chance at each game they could go back and play whichever game to win more prizes. I ordered various novelty toys from OT for the prizes and made sure I had both girl and boy related toys (i.e. Plastic necklaces and rings, foam glider planes, parachute men, more tattoos, etc.)      

The games we had offered were: (Game 1) FISH FOR A PRIZE.  We encouraged the children to play this game first. We used a large ocean scene shower curtain and strung it up between two posts connected to the pavilion. I made two fishing poles out of wooden rods, from Home Depot, and string. I attached a wooden clothespin to the end of the string. With a helper hiding behind the shower curtain, the child stood on the other side and cast their pole over the curtain. The helper in turn clipped a pre-made goody bag, made from white paper lunch sacks, to the fishing pole and the child reeled their catch back. The bag contained a novelty toy and a bag of cotton candy (purchased at CostCo.) I printed labels for the goody bags saying, Thanks (blank space) for being a part of XXXs birthday party." The helper would write the child's name on the goody bag before putting it on the pole and this bag was then used to hold all the prizes that they would win in future games. Also if a child lost their bag we could return it to them when.

(Game 2) SOCCER KICKOFF. I purchased a very inexpensive mini soccer net and ball combo from Walmart. We set it up and the child had to attempt to kick the ball into the goal. If they made a goal they got two prizes if they didn't then they got one prize for the effort.

(Game 3) JELLYBEAN COUNT. I purchased a large jar from the Dollar Store and filled it up with jellybeans (bought on clearance from Easter). I got a clipboard and made a sheet for children to write their name down and guess how many jellybeans were in the jar. I encouraged the parents to help suggest numbers since some of the younger children couldn't count very high. Toward the end of the party we awarded the person who guessed closest with the jar of jellybeans as their prize.

(Game 4) LOLLIPOP GUESS. I took a large Cardboard box and covered it with butcher paper. I poked about 100 tiny holes in the bottom of the box. We inserted lollipops (again purchased from Easter clearance) into each hole. We had marked some of the lollipops. The child then got to pull a lollipop. If it was marked they won a prize and kept the lollipop and if it wasn't marked they still got to keep the lollipop.

(Game 5) TYLER'S TOILET TOSS. This game sounds weird but it was actually very cute. We had a potty training seat, that hadn't ever been used, in our garage. I printed a bulls eye out and taped it to the inside of the toilet. I then made five fake cloth diapers folded up and safety pinned. The goal was to toss as many of the diapers into the toilet as possible. For each successful toss, the child won a prize. We had a line taped on the ground to designate the distance you could stand from the toilet toss. The kids found this game hilarious.

(Game 6) DUCK POND. We took our mini blow up pool and filled it with water. I collected various rubber ducks from our bathroom toys and purchased a few more from the store. I used plastic rings that came from another ring toss game purchased from OT. The child would toss the rings and try to ring a duck. For each ringed duck, they received a prize. Remember that you don't have to have this many games. Use your best judgment and consider your party size to decide on how many games you want to create.     

After about an hour or so of games, we gathered everyone around to sing Happy Birthday and eat cake. We had two different flavored cakes, one for each birthday child, made by a friend who happens to be a professional baker. They were both decorated with balloons, clowns, and confetti.  After the cake the kids could do any of the activities they wanted until it was time to go. 

This party lasted about three hours. All the kids had a blast and were talking about it for weeks at preschool. Even the parents commented on how well the party went. It was a lot of work but it was well worth it. Just remember to recruit as much help as you can.

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