Leah’s Carnival Party

At this point, it’s no surprise to anyone that I’m going to go all out on a birthday party for one of my kids. I know it’s insane and it’s TONS of work (especially this one), but I love putting the parties together. And my kids have a great time and that is the ultimate goal 🙂

So going way back to this past Christmas, friends of ours gave us a popcorn machine. My first thought was “Okay, one of the kids is having a carnival party this summer.” Funny how these ideas come about, but that is how this one was born.

Nailing down the details for this party was tricky. I wanted to include classic carnival foods, but also some non-junk foods. And the games needed to appear to kids ranging from 2 to 11 and be self-operating.

In the end, I figured out the menu, the games, the prizes, etc and it all came together really well! The amount of prep was crazy though. I had EIGHT people helping me do food prep and set up right before the party and we still managed to get it together just as the guests were arriving. (PS: THANK YOU to my “crew” (aka my family) for helping out!!)


I found a few inspiration pics from a Google Image search and designed this invitation for Leah’s party.



We had minimal decorations since the food and games were kind of the stars. I put up streamers and balloons in the kitchen near the food, but that was about it except for the pictures. I have done this monthly pictures display for both of my kids for their 1st and 2nd birthdays. It’s fun to see how quickly they’re changing!






Here was our menu:

  • Hot Dogs
  • Chick Fil A nugget tray
  • Corn on the Cob
  • Pasta Salad
  • Watermelon & Grapes
  • Popcorn
  • Soft Pretzels
  • Funnel Cakes
  • Cotton Candy
  • Marshmallow Dumbbells
  • Lemonade, Soda, Beer, Juice




I also made little signs for all of the food…



The cupcakes (ironically) were the only thing that went really wrong. First off, the cupcake liners I ordered from eBay arrived 2 days AFTER the party. Fail. Luckily, I have a stash of liners and I actually had some that were really perfect for this. Crisis #1 averted. I made plain old chocolate cupcakes and planned to frost them with a new icing recipe I found for a whipped cream icing. I was making the icing at the last minute and I was so busy that I kept turning on the mixer and walking away and forgetting about it. Between that and the humidity, my icing was soup 😦 But a call to my mom and father-in-law to pick up some canned frosting and my sister and brother-in-law icing the cupcakes at the last minute saved the day! Box cake and canned frosting, and you know what, they were delicious. Crisis #2 averted.


I really wanted to have a bouncy castle (as my kids call them) for this party. It seemed fitting. We decided to purchase one instead of renting. It seems a little extravagant to me, but hopefully it’s a good investment since we can use it for future parties.


I also wanted to include face painting. I was reluctant to hire a pro for this since we had already spent money on the bouncy castle so I purchased a face painting kit. I printed out some simple ideas and hoped the parents would be willing to try their hand at face painting. Many parents did give it a go and the kids looked great! Unfortunately, sweaty faces + water guns and we had a lot of smearing and I’m pretty sure there is a fair amount of paint on the bouncy castle. Oh well, it’s washable.



We had 3 games. They were set up so that each child could win 1 prize from each game, and the idea was that those 3 prizes would be their party favor. The games were fairly self-explanatory though my husband did supervise a couple of them. And since we were left with more than half of the prizes at the end of the party, I don’t think how to win a prize was quite clear.

Ring Toss

I made this ring toss set with empty iced tea bottles, a cardboard box, and a set of rings (found on Amazon). Each bottle was numbered, and each number corresponded to a prize bag.


Fish Bowl

For the fish bowl game, I used clear plastic cups and taped a picture of a fish with a number on the bottom of each one. The cups were then filled with water. The kids tossed ping pong balls and tried to get one in a cup. Again, the numbers corresponded to a prize bag.


Water Gun

For this game, I stuck golf tees in a block of stryrofoam and the object was to shoot the balls off their tees with a water gun. I couldn’t figure out how to do prizes for this game so I just did a grab bag of prizes instead of individual ones. The kids did play this game, but the water guns were a hit on their own (I thought they would be!).


So that was how we celebrated Leah’s 2nd birthday!! Everyone seemed to have a good time and it was our first time having a large party at the new house. There will be many more, I’m sure 😉


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