Circus/Carnival -1yr- Plastic Pipe Carnival Booths
Jeannie in Hickory, NC US
For my son's 1st birthday, we decided on a circus/carnival theme. There are a lot of children in my husband's family, so I wanted it to have the atmosphere of a real carnival without breaking the bank. This was a great theme because I could save money on the partyware by using solid colors instead of a theme or character. I bought red, yellow, and blue cups, napkins, plates, etc. I bought white tablecloths with bold color balloons printed on them. I accented with clown decorations that I found at the dollar store as well.
For the invitations, I found some on clearance that had a clown on the outside. I ran them through my printer and printed a poem on the inside along with all of the party details. The poem read "Step right up and join the fun. The carnival is in town cause "name" is turning one. Bowling, Ring Toss, Goldfish and more.. Cake, Cotton Candy, and treats galore. The party begins on "date" from 3 to 5, but the fun can't begin until you arrive! The words were printed in different colors. I also saved money by baking his cake.
I made a sheet cake with colorful sprinkles on it. I baked a small round cake and decorated it to look like a clown. I used a decorated sugar cone for the clown's hat and I placed the clown on top of the sheet cake. I piped icing around the edge of the cardboard, so it would look like one cake. Everyone asked if he had an individual cake for his 1st birthday, and I lifted the clown cake off of the sheet cake. Everyone loved it!
The best part of the party were the ticket and game booths that I constructed out of pvc pipe. I went to a hardware store while they weren't busy, and the guy was happy to cut the pipe in the lengths that I needed. I drew the graphics and lettering for each game booth on posterboard. After constructing each booth, we covered the front and sides with a disposable tablecloth, hung the sign on the front, wrapped the poles with crepe paper and hung balloon shaped garland across the top of it. They looked so real, that everyone wanted to borrow them for their own parties. We spent aprox. $15 on the pvc pipes and joints. They were a breeze to put together. We had "Silly Pins Bowling", "Ring Toss", "Face Painting", and "Go Fish" booths.
The bowling game was an inexpensive plastic bowling set where I drew silly faces on the pins with a permanent marker. I bought a ring toss game at the dollar store. I also purchased face paint crayons from the dollar store for face painting.
For the Go Fish booth, we bought a baby pool and filled it with cardboard fish. They used a fishing pole made from a dowel rod, string, and a magnet to catch a fish. Then they took it to a table set up with fish bowls and real goldfish. With parent's permission they could trade it in for a real goldfish. BIG HIT!! I purchased the fish bowls at the dollar store and the goldfish were only 20 cents. Before the children played games, they were given a Loot Bag ( I ran white sandwich bags through my printer and printed a clown with "Fill me with candy..Fill me with sweets…then take me home for a special treat! Thanks for coming to "name" 1st birthday party.
They were also given a game card that had each game printed on it and a checkbox beside of it. I asked some adults at the party to man the game booths. As each child played a game, their game card was checked off, they got some candy for their loot bag, and they were given a string of red tickets (purchased at Walmart for 1.97). The game cards made it easy to rotate the kids through each game one time. After their last booth, they got to trade their tickets in at the "prize" table for a grab bag (dollar store). Then they were allowed one visit to the "concession stand" for a bag of cotton candy or a big multi-colored lollipop (purchased at Walmart's candy store).
The kids were in heaven!! And the parents didn't mind the real goldfish either :) With all of the decorations and excitement, it felt like a real carnival. I was able to provide this big bash for 13 kids and approx 35 adults for $125 maybe a little less. Not too bad considering all the prizes that the kids walked away with. It's easy to spend that much on a small party using themed characters! I hope some of these ideas are useful to someone :)