Ideas for the Party Human

Posts Tagged ‘carnivals

OK, so I’m jumping out of order here, but I’ve got to post about my daughter’s 11th birthday party we just had two days ago, while it’s still fresh in my mind.  It was one of the biggest parties I’ve thrown for my daughters, but it was a lot of fun, so I want to share.

THEME:    Carnival Arcade

INVITATIONS:  OK, so these weren’t anything fancy, but I succumbed to my daughter’s wishes.  I suggested we write the message on a balloon, so they’d have to blow it up to read it, but she opted for an ordinary, printed-off-the-computer card.  I used MicroSoft Publisher, their Greeting Card template.  Emily helped me until she had the design she wanted.

Front of the cardInside, it read:  “. . . To Emily’s Extraordinary Carnival!  Step right up!  Dare to test your skills!  Win fabulous prizes!”  Then it gave the WHEN, the WHERE, and the RSVP.  She invited 10 girls.

MATERIALS FOR ACTIVITIES:  To do exactly what we did–White paper gift bags; stickers (ordered carnival ones from Oriental Trading Company); markers and crayons; a kiddie pool (we borrowed from a friend); weighted rubber ducks that float (we got from Oriental Trading Company); squirt guns (we had lots); a target (we drew one on freezer paper, using different sized bowls for the circles); a blindfold; trampoline (we covered the safety frame with a large tarp to make it like a tent and put a large ball inside for them to bounce with); large bucket or tub; apples; balloons (dollar store); a bulletin board (taken from Emily’s room); thumb tacks; darts ($4 at Fred Meyer for 3); easel (a cheap extendable one we had); hula hoop and things such as lids, bowls or rope to make concentric circles on the ground; balls (tennis or light-up bouncy balls from Dollar Tree); lightweight lawn horseshoe set ( we had one); posterboard covered with polka-dot paper (or you could draw circles on it); card table; pennies; roll of cheap tickets (Staples); duck tape; aprons with pockets for “carnie moms” to wear; fun hats for carnies (optional); spray paint; prizes (we ordered stick candy and glowing slinkies from Oriental Trading Company, then got other small prizes at dollar stores, as well as getting rid of little toys Emily had lying around).

 As you can see, this made for a lot of activities.  Emily had wanted some more, such as donut-biting, water gun tag, and a jelly bean jar, but I nixed them for various reasons.  You can come up with any number of alternatives to what we did.  Think of what you have on hand and how you can make a game out of  it.

FOOD:  We kept it simple.  We had a red-and-white color scheme, so we ordered a fun ice-cream cake from Dairy Queen and got some “Tiki Punch” at Dollar Tree.  We got red clown cups at the Dollar Store, and red dessert plates at Dollar Tree.  We had tons of white plastic forks left from a Costco run, and white napkins completed the set.

Emily's ice cream cake

Emily's ice cream cake

DECORATIONS:  We kept these simple.  I made a banner in Publisher, which we hung over the front door.

Welcome to the Carnival!

Welcome to the Carnival!

I got 6 red and 6 white helium balloons from Safeway ($1 apiece) and hung them on the front porch, the trampoline and the picnic table.

Backyard Carnival

Backyard Carnival

I also got red and white streamers from the dollar store.  We hung them in the dining room, through a doorway, and from the trampoline.  The other thing I did was make signs for each game in the carnival.  I used Publisher’s Sign template and printed them in red on white cardstock.  Then I put the signs in vinyl sheet protectors and taped them up where the games were set.

BLOW-BY-BLOW:  Because of soccer games and pictures early in the day, we had to set the party from 3:30 to 5:00 in the afternoon.  For this reason, we changed the order of things from how we’ve normally done birthday parties.  As the girls arrived, we directed them to the dining room, whose table was covered in freezer paper.  Each girl had a white loot bag to decorate with stickers, markers and such.  We had them put their names on them first.  Some of the girls wore fun hats to get in the spirit of the thing.  This was a good activity to keep them busy as we waited for everyone to arrive.

Emily and her friends decorating loot bags

Emily and her friends decorating loot bags

(OK, so these pictures aren’t exactly magazine quality, but you get the idea.)

The center for decoration of loot bags

The center for decoration of loot bags

When everyone had finished her bag, they went in to the living room and watched Emily open her presents.  Then we gave them instructions before we opened the carnival in the backyard.  I had asked two moms to help me run the games.  We placed the games so each “carnie mom” could run two games.  My husband watched over the apple-bobbing and took pictures.  I gave the carnie momes aprons with pockets to keep supplies for their games  in and offered them fun hats to wear, if they wished.  I told the girls that they could play the games as many times as they wanted until we closed the carnival at 4:50.  Some of the games carried their own prizes; some gave out tickets, which could be exchanged for prizes at the end.  The loot bags should be used to carry their prizes and tickets.  Then the carnival was open!

There was Rubber Duck Racing . . .

And they're off!  Which duck can paddle fastes?

And they're off! Which duck can paddle fastest?

Guests raced rubber ducks by squirting their duck with a squirt gun to get it to the other side of the pool first.  Winner kept the duck as a prize. 

And Blindfolded Target Practice . . .

A guest prepares to shoot as Carnie Mom gives instructions

A guest prepares to shoot as Carnie Mom gives instructions

This game was the sleeper hit of the party.  It was Emily’s invention, and I had doubts about how well it would work but agreed to give it a try.  We had the guest stand on a line I had spray painted in the grass, and we blindfolded her.  We gave her a loaded squirt gun, and she got three squirts, trying to hit the bullseye, which was worth 5 tickets.  Each larger circle was worth fewer tickets, with the outside circle worth 1 ticket.  I watched to see where the water hit and gave her the appropriate number of tickets.

Then there was the Funhouse . . .

Bounce me to the moon!

Bounce me to the moon!

This was just a fun place to expend energy!

Having fun in the Funhouse

Having fun in the Funhouse

If they got hungry, there was Apple Bobbing . . .

We could always tell when girls had been bobbing, by their soaked hair!

We could always tell when girls had been bobbing, by their soaked hair!

Emily had wanted to have bags of popcorn to hand out also, but we decided that was a bit too much!

Another favorite was Balloon Darts . . .

100_2913The guests were given 3 darts, and they got one ticket for every balloon they popped.  Some of the larger balloons had a ticket inside them as a bonus.

And the ever-popular Ball Toss . . .

Ball TossThis originally called for cardboard with holes cut in it, but as we didn’t have the needed materials on hand, we opted to use what we had to form a sort of target on the ground.  (Yes, our hula hoop is broken.)  They stood at the line painted in the grass and tossed 3 balls.  3 tickets for the center bowl, 2 for the yellow lid, and 1 for within the hula hoop.

Don’t forget the Penny Pitch . . .

Pitching pennies

Pitching pennies

Guests were given 5 pennies.  They stood at a line in the grass and pitched them onto the card table.  I had wrapping paper with large polka dots on it, so I covered a piece of posterboard with it and taped it to the card table.  For every penny which landed completely inside one of the dots, they could receive a ticket.  The problem with this game is that some pennies got lost in the grass.

And last, but not least, Horse Shoes . . .

A Carnie Mom shows a guest how it's done

A Carnie Mom shows a guest how it's done

At 4:50, we closed the carnival and brought out the prizes.  We had a mixture of candy and small toys, and the trading was fast and furious until the prizes were all gone. 

Prizes for tickets--a trading frenzy

Prizes for tickets--a trading frenzy

The problem was that we had not anticipated how many tickets the girls could rack up in 40 minutes of playing.  We priced our prizes too low.  1 ticket for candy and small toys; 2 tickets for larger toys.  In 5 minutes, all the prizes were gone, and the girls still had plenty of tickets left.  We should have “charged” more.

When the prizes were gone, the kids jumped on the trampoline until the parents came to get them.  They all seemed to have a great time and left with plenty in their loot bags.

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