One of my favorite childhood memories is going to the our county fair (and the carnival) every single year. The sights, smells, and overall look of it just excited me as a kid and I still hold onto that feeling today.
Back in 2015, at the end of the school year, I put on my very own Backyard Carnival and it was a blast! The only problem was that it rained heavily on the day of the party but thankfully we have an awning on the deck and got a huge tent to put all the games under there. Thankfully, the rain let up later on and we all weren’t trapped on the deck.
It seriously one of my most favorite parties that I have hosted over the years and I thought since the next couple weeks are going to be busy for me, I would share it with you all.
I had invited 16 children and their parents to come to our backyard carnival and I don’t think a single one said they couldn’t come. We even had people cancel their plans so they could be there! I was (and still am) known for my kids parties and this was one no one wanted to miss out on.
With that many kids I knew I needed to make things fun and yet easy to manage. I wanted to also create the feel of a real carnival; get your food and walk around the midway and rides and take it all in. So because of this, I wanted all the food to be handheld and portable.
There were small sandwiches and bags of chips but I had also made a pasta salad and a fruit salad. I put them in cups with an attached spoons and forks to make things easier. This would allow the kids (and adults) to grab a cup and go back to playing games; instead of needing to handle plates and finding a place to sit down.
The snacks were my favorite part of the food! As I planned this party over the course of a month, I kept adding more and more snacks. The cotton candy sticks were a huge hit and all I did was take a candy stick and wrap cotton candy around it. Easy peasy!
It was also the first time I had ever made candy apples and they turned out great!! This is probably my favorite carnival treat, next to fried dough of course!
I wanted to allow the kids to enjoy themselves but to also allow the parents a chance to relax and not have to be watching them the entire time. The prize table was done on the honor system and they would earn tickets by playing games and then could go and cash them in. I had so many prizes that there wasn’t a single squabble. I also put a limit on some of the bigger prizes to make sure everyone got one.
On a side note: look at Shawn without any front teeth! I love it! He had just finished kindergarten!
I bought a lot of the games (and still have them in the attic!) and I made a few of them myself. I have used a few over the years for PTA events when I was secretary. The kids could pretty much play everything without help and really enjoyed themselves. There are so many games that I don’t even have pictures of. I had 17-20 different games all over the yard.
Once the rain had stopped we were able to get out from under the awning and tent and do a couple group activities. The first one was doing The Limbo. I played music and the kids just kept going and going. Even the littlest of kids got in on this one.
One of friends (she was the grandmother to a couple kids in Shawn’s class) said she would do face painting. (Totally her idea too!) So a bunch of the kids got their face painted by her. She did such a great job! It really added a level of fun to the party.
There were so many kids that our potato sack race had to be split in half (I only had so many space available to line them all up!)
The winners of each race got a special prize to take home with them. They didn’t even know those prizes existed until the race was over.
This was the last game that each kid had to play right before they left the party. It was my version of the goldfish game where you toss the ball and get a fish if it goes in.
Because what kind of a carnival would it be if you didn’t have a “chance” to win a goldfish? Each kid got a fish as they left the party. This was my favorite part of the prizes and the looks on their faces were priceless. Even one of the kids cried when they were told they got to take it home with them. Even the parents didn’t know I was doing this and it got a lot of “wow! You’re amazing!” comments. I wasn’t looking for praise. I just like to see people enjoy themselves and make them smile.
It’s crazy to look back on this party… one of the kids graduated high school this year. Others just finished their freshman year of high school. The others are growing up and it’s hard to believe that they were this small!
I still have all the stuff for this party in the attic and maybe some day I will do this again. It was so much work but honestly, it was incredibly fun!