Are you planning a kid’s birthday party this year? Here’s how to throw an amazing carnival birthday party at home- on a limited budget and mostly DIY!

Birthdays are the highlight of any kid’s year- and it’s up to us parents to make it as special as possible.

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A carnival themed birthday party is so much fun- for both the birthday kid and the guests!

Here’s how to throw an amazing DIY carnival birthday party.


Birthday Party Ideas: Give you kids an memorable birthday experience by planning an amazing DIY carnival birthday party complete with carnival games, activities and food!


How to Throw a DIY Carnival Birthday Party for Your Child


A successful carnival birthday party needs to have all the elements- carnival games, carnival themed food, a carnival inspired cake and, of course, don’t forget the tickets!


Must Have Carnival Party Games:


The games are the highlight of any great carnival birthday party. Here are a few examples of DIY carnival games you can make:


milk bottle toss game for a carnival birthday party set up on a small table


Milk Bottle Toss:

This carnival game is made by gathering quart-sized jugs (I used buttermilk) and spray painting them a bright red.

Print out labels that say MILK and use Mod Podge or glue to affix the labels securely.

You will need about 6-8 bottles in total. Fill them with some rocks, sand, or water to help stabilize them so they won’t blow over to easy and can be stacked.

Add a bucket of plastic balls and a table and you are ready to go!


clown drawn on a large board for tossing bean bags through the holes


Feed The Clown:

Nothing beats the old stand-by bean bag toss, especially for the youngest party-goers.

Use a large piece of foam board, get out your markers or paints and channel your artistic side!

Draw your best clown and cut out circles where his mouth should be or as juggling balls.

Lean your board up against a wall or add a second board to the back to create an A-frame.

Add a bucket of bean bags beside the clown.


balloons taped to a board to throw darts at for a carnival party


The Balloon Blaster:

This carnival party game is usually the most popular. It is easy to make and so fun to play!

All it takes is a large piece of foam board, cardboard, or wood (whatever you have on hand)  and lots of little water balloons.

Blow up lots and lot of balloons- and then blow up some more. In rows, attach your balloons to the board using push pins.

Set the board up off the ground a little- we used an easel- and grab a few darts.

Put all of your extra balloons in a garbage bag and set beside the game so you can replenish them as needed.

This particular games needs the supervision since it deals with a few sharp items, so have an adult or teen available to help with the darts and replenishing the balloons.


young boy tossing a ball into small jars of colored water


Ping Pong Ball Toss:

Do you remember going to the county fair as a kid? I always loved the ball toss and usually came home with a little goldfish from the school carnival!

This carnival party game is so simple to make, and more challenging than you might think!

You will need about 12-16 containers- small glass bowls from the local dollar store work great. Fill them with colored water and set them neatly on a small table.

Set out a basket of ping pong balls and let the fun begin!

PS- Don’t forget to hand out TICKETS for each game! The kids can redeem their tickets for prizes at the end of the party!


More Carnival Party Activities to Include


carnival party guessing game table


The Guessing Booth:

Find a few small jars and fill them up with some favorite treats such as M&Ms, Goldfish Crackers, or Hershey Kisses.

Print up some simple  entry forms and a large jar to hold all of the guesses.

Whoever comes closest to the actual amount wins the jar! Just don’t forget to count the treats first!



Watermelon Eating Contest:

This is a simple activity that is full of fun and perfect for cooling off at the carnival!

Cut a couple watermelons into large equal chunks- 1/8s is about right.

Then it is just ready, set, EAT! Whoever eats their part the fastest wins the prize! Prizes for second and third place can be added as well.

Don’t like watermelon? How about a hotdog eating or cotton candy eating contest?


A Photo Booth:

Photo booths are so much fun and a great way to preserve the memories of a great carnival party.  

You can create a booth out of a large appliance box or just set up a nice area of the yard to taking pictures. Don’t forget the props!



Face Painting Table: 

Face painting is a must at the fair! Get a face painting set and set up a table to paint the kids.

Here are some face painting ideas to get you started.



Don’t Forget Carnival Party Food!


No carnival birthday party would be complete without a concession stand! Good food choices include simple and easy foods that can be eaten quickly or carried along as the kids play the games.

Here are some ideas of carnival themed food to include at your party:

  • Boxes of air-popped popcorn (use these cute bags or boxes!)
  • Fruit kabobs
  • Cups of cotton candy (beware it melts in hot, humid air)
  • Ice filled coolers of juice boxes and water bottles
  • Veggie and fruit trays


And of course, we can’t forget the cake! You can’t have a carnival birthday party without birthday cake!

You can choose one large carnival themed cake like this one:



You can also make individual clown cones for the kids. These are cakes made to look like the ice cream clowns you can find at ice cream shops.


backyard carnival party ice cream clown cones


You may also choose to make a homemade ice cream cake! It’s the perfect choice for a carnival birthday party!


Carnival Birthday Party Prizes!


No good carnival birthday party would be complete without prizes!

Remember how I mentioned to give tickets for each game? Set up a table full of prizes of varying size.

Make each set of prizes worth a  different amount of tickets and allow the kids to all go shopping at the prize table in exchange for their tickets. It’s like a make-your-own goody bag!


kids choosing prizes from a table at a carnival party


Some good prizes are:

  • Markers
  • Crayons
  • Fake Tattoos
  • Stickers
  • Hot Wheels cars
  • Pencils
  • Pens
  • Little things you can pick up at your local dollar store

Set this table up near the end of the party so party goers can gather their prizes before they leave. This is also a great time to announce winners of the guessing booth!


Tips on Having the Best Carnival Birthday Party:


Here are a few tips on keeping your carnival party looking great and running smoothly.

  • Create a cohesive look by making matching signs for all of your games.
  • Assign a ticket award to each game. 1 ticket for popping a balloon, a ticket for each bean bag tossed in the hole, 2 tickets for knocking down all the milk bottles, etc.
  • Recruit other parents or local teens to help “man” the games and pass out tickets
  • Have a bag or roll of tickets at each station so that no one runs out
  • Keep a timeline in mind for the party.  When will the games end? When will you hold group games? When will you move on to ticket redemption, cake, or presents.


That’s it! This is an amazing party that kids will remember forever! If you throw one of these amazing carnival birthday parties I’d love to hear about it.

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