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Carnival Party Ideas

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Carnival Party Ideas

Plan a carnival party for your next event. Whether it is a kid’s birthday, a fundraiser for an organization you are involved in, or a get together with friends, a carnival party provides good food, good entertainment, and plenty of fun!

Here are some ideas to help you along the way.


Games make the party have a true carnival feel. They provide laughs, friendly competition, and fun for all. Decide on your game selections depending on the type of guests. If you are entertaining young children, the games should be at their level. If you are hosting a party for adults, be sure to have games that will challenge them. These can be rented or self designed. The games should have ticket winnings that everyone can cash in at the end for a prize.

Ideas Include:

  • Bobbing for Apples- Float apples in water, blindfold the contestant, and have them bob for however many they can pick up with their mouth in a minute time.
  • Hoopla Game- Line up plastic or wooden bottles in a pattern and see how many wooden rings contestants can get around the bottles.
  • Fish Game- Have a bunch of cardboard fish with a metal paperclip glued to them in a waterless baby pool. Blindfold contestants and give them a small fishing rod with a magnet on the end. See how many fish they can capture in a minute.
  • Tabletop Bowling- Line pins up at one end of a long waist high table. Have contestants stand at the opposite end and bowl to see how many pins they knock over.
  • Bean Bag Toss- Create a wooden box with a hole the size of a coffee can or use a Baggo board. Have the contestants stand t one end and see how many bean bags they can get into the hole in a minute or two.

Besides the games that have winning tickets, it is good to have some activities for those that do not wish to compete. Have a face painting station, a dress up area where they can get their picture taken in funny clothes, have a clown to make balloon animals, or even rent a card reader for the party.

Prizes/Party Favors

Prizes should reflect the age range of the guests. Stuffed animals and small toys like finger traps, match box cars, bouncy balls, or a slinky are great for kids. Also give them all party favors like a balloon or a bag of carnival candy. For adults, the prizes should be on their level like a restaurant gift card, scented candles, a bottle of wine or liquor, specialty coffee or coffee mugs, picture frames, a board game, or anything they would find useful but still fits in your budget. The dollar store is a great place to find prizes.

Food and Drinks

Think of the great food smells when you walk into a carnival. It helps create the mood. Now, these are not going to be the healthiest foods for a party but it’s your one night to let go of the diet and join in on the fun!

Ideas include:

  • Cotton Candy- use store bought cotton candy or rent a cotton candy machine
  • Snow Cones- rent a snow cone machine or replace the idea with popsicles or push up pops
  • Popcorn- get a popcorn machine or buy bags of popcorn
  • Hot Dogs- use a grill or special hot dog equipment like a roller machine to get the real carnival dog taste
  • Soft Pretzels- order a tray of mini pretzels from your local soft pretzel franchise
  • Caramel Apples- purchase beforehand or have it be part of the activities so guests make their own
  • French Fries- buy restaurant style fries and keep them crispy under a warming tray
  • Lemonade- buy cartons of lemonade or have a fresh squeezed lemonade maker
  • Iced Tea- buy cartons of iced tea of use a big clear container with a spigot like you see at the carnivals

To add an additional carnival feel to the food and drinks purchase carnival style paper products like red and white popcorn boxes, decorated fry tubs, white hot dog doilies, cotton candy sticks, snow cone holders, and plastic cups, lids, and straws for refreshments.

To create a true carnival feel, consider purchasing concession stand equipment and accessories. If your organization or your family plan on throwing carnival parties in the future the investment is well worth it.

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