Carnival Party

Side Show Carnival 3yr - Elephant Cake




Heather in Adelaide, Australia


June 2001



Side Show Alley/Carnival for 3 year old We've just had a fantastically fun party for my three year old son.  I thought he was a bit young for playing games with other 3 year olds, so we had a family party. 

We posted out invitations which I made on the computer.  They said "The Carnival's in Town and you're invited to all the fun of the fair.  Get ready for lots of laughs, games and popcorn fun at Alex's 3rd birthday party." 

When the guests arrived, they were given a red clown nose.  Alex couldn't wait, so he opened the presents straight away and then we went into the rumpus room where I had set up all the games.   

I put a big top tent canopy made from different colored stripes of cardboard over the door way with lots of bright balloons at each end and set up stations all around the room.  It's winter here now and the skies are gray otherwise we would have gone outside and decorated around the yard fences.  I also printed off large posters and banners from Home Publishing featuring clowns, popcorn vendor carts and balloons and personalized them by typing in Alex's name wherever I could.  I put "Happy Birthday Alex" on his blackboard easel with magnetic letters and strung streamers from the light fitting to the corners of the room to replicate a big top and lots of balloons everywhere. 

The stations were set up on boxes which I got from a local Electrical Store's recycling bin.  I printed signs through Home Publishing showing the name of the stand.  They included ring toss, putt putt golf, toss the coins on the plate and apple bob. Most games gave you three shots and if there was a draw, we had a championship play off.  I typed up tables on the computer which made it really easy to record scores etc.   

I also made "Feed the Lion" game by stacking two large boxes on top of each other and on the top box I stuck a poster of a lion's head which I drew on cardboard.  The lion's mouth was open wide and I cut out the middle of the mouth through into the box so that you could toss ping pong balls into his mouth, thereby feeding him.  We also had "Pin the Flag on the Circus Tent" (like Pin the Tail) which I made from cardboard and cut out little flags. I had lolly (Killer Pythons, Fads, Sherbet, lollypops, licorice straps, small chocolates) and little toy presents (hi bounce balls, bangles, jacks etc) for 1st place but also had prizes for random places i.e. 4th or 8th so you never knew if you were going to win a prize or not. 

I also had booby prizes of Groucho Marx masks for those who performed particularly badly.  That made it fun to come last.  We took a photo of all the "losers" with their masks on at the end - very funny!  I made most of the games up about one week before the party and let my two kids practice as much as they wanted beforehand.  That gave them lots of confidence when it came time to playing.  There favorites were "Feed the Lion" and the "Coin Toss".  To include my daughter (who's 6), we used our shop (previously made from boxes) and set her up as a popcorn stand. 

I microwaved a couple of bags of popcorn and then packed them into individual sandwich bags tied with pink or blue ribbon (girls and boys).  We also had some lollies, marshmallows, cupcakes and musk sticks at the stall.  I placed a seat at the front of the stall for customers and everyone took turns between games to go to the shop and get a treat.  She loved it and gave her something special to do while the attention was on her brother. 

While people were waiting for a turn at the stations, there were two guessing games they could play.  One was to guess the weight of the brick; the second to guess the number of jelly beans in the jar.  About three quarters of the way through the party, I read out the results so that everyone could hear what people had guessed.  Some of the answers were plain ridiculous and made us laugh and some were surprisingly accurate.  The jelly bean winner won the jar of jelly beans and the brick winner also got a jar of jelly beans. 

We also had the favorite "Pass the Parcel" with classic old style lollies within each layer.  I tried to buy ones that would remind the grown ups of parties they had gone to when they were kids.  It bought back lots of fun memories for everyone.  Of course, the birthday boy won the last layer. 

We also played "Cake Walk" which is like musical chairs but instead you put pieces of A4 paper on the ground in a circle with each piece having a number written on it.  Everyone walks around the circle and when the music stops, you stand on a number.  It's a random elimination game by drawing a number from a pot which takes the rush out of it and also the hard feelings of being eliminated.  When you are eliminated, you draw out the next number until only one player is left.  I kept the food easy and "help yourself" so that I could run the games. 

We had nachos, pizzas, sausage rolls, mini quiches, chips and dip/crackers.  I put a percolator of coffee on and set up a tea/coffee station in the kitchen for people to help themselves.  Most were having too much fun with the games to worry about it but I think the grandparents appreciated a cuppa. 

The birthday cake was an elephant made from two round sponge cakes I picked up at the supermarket.  It was full proof and quick and easy to make.  One cake is the elephant's body and the other one is cut into pieces to make the head, trunk and legs.  Cut a circle from the middle of a cake (the head) leaving a ring of cake about 1 1/2" - 2" wide.  Cut one piece out about 6" long for the trunk; the remainder cuts into 4 pieces for the legs.  When put together, the elephant looks like he's running.  Cut lengths into a licorice strap for the tail (feathering it) and using 3 musk sticks, place like a saddle (or 3 sides of a square) on the elephant's body.  I filled this in with hundred of thousands and used Smarties for an eye; and also for the elephant's toe nails (cut in half, 3 per foot).  For the tusk, I used a white jelly bean.  I iced it with pale purple Vienna Cream and put a sparkler on the top plus the 3 candles. 

My son loved it!  It was a great afternoon with lots of laughs and everybody even managed to win a prize!  Wonder what I'll come up with for next year.    Good luck with your party!

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