Carnival Party Games and Activities

A backyard carnival is simple to put together. All you need are a bunch of simple games and inexpensive prizes. This post is full of simple and inexpensive DIY carnival games and activities.

Everything I made was created using my printer and some dollar store supplies. The signs were designed using Picmonkey, and they really tied everything together.

Check out this simple guessing booth. I filled two dollar store jars with candy, and the child that was able to guess closest to the amount in each jar was able to take that jar home after the party.

The straw draw was another popular game with the party guests. Bits of paper were rolled up and inserted into pieces of straws. Some of the bits of paper had "small", "medium" or "large" written on them. Then, kids picked straw pieces, and those that found prizes were able to claim them.

I also made a ring toss by hot gluing a paper towel roll onto a dollar store cake pedestal. The rings were made from pipe cleaners. (To make it a little fancier, I used hot glue to attach carnival tickets to the cake stand.)

A bean bag toss is easy to make too. Just attach point values to bowls, and start throwing bean bags to earn prizes.

I also used an x-acto knife and duct tape to turn an old box into a frisbee toss. So simple!

And what is easier than stacking cups to make a knock down game? It's a classic carnival game for sure.

Old boxes make good carnival games too. Put the lid on an angle, cut a few holes, and you've got a wonderful ball toss game.

And just to keep things interesting, and to help the kids perserve the memories from the party, set up a carnival photo booth. I have some great tips and tricks (and free printable photo props) here.

It's so easy to set up a backyard carnival, and it's popular with all ages. These carnival games and activities are simple, inexpensive, and lots of fun!

Gina Bell
(Mom and Amateur Party Planner)

Carnival Photo Booth

The simple (and thoughtful) DIY details are what make a party special and memorable... and what is more fun than a photo booth?!? When I threw a carnival party for my boys, I knew I needed a fun photo op, so I created a fantastic carnival photo booth. Today, I am sharing my best tips for setting up your own photo booth, and I'm including a few free printable photo props to get you started.

I started by making a simple backdrop. You could use a dollar store tablecloth, but I opted for a couple of pieces of foam core covered in wrapping paper. Cute, right?

Then, I set out a basket of props the kids could use. I chose some things from our dress up bin, picked up some options at the dollar store, and designed items that I printed out on cardstock.

I also made sure to have a jar full of clown noses... perfect for clowning around.

To download the photo props I designed, click on the pictures below, right-click, save them to your computer, and print like regular 8x10 photos.

You can frame the signs. Then, you can cut out the other props, and tape them to sticks.

Here's a picture of my three boys in the photo booth. Isn't it a great photo?!?

It isn't difficult to set up a photo booth, but it's a really great idea. After the party, my boys loved looking at all the photos of their friends.

Are you planning a party soon? If you set up a booth like mine, let me know. I'd love to see some pics!

Gina Bell
(Mom and Amateur Party Planner)

Celebrating the First Day of School

Planning a celebration for the first day of school is a wonderful idea... and it can be done VERY easily. All you need is a little DIY decor, a simple treat buffet, and an inexpensive party favor. Today, I'm sharing my best tips for celebrating the first day of school with a simple DIY party.

Simple decor - To decorate for a simple first day of school party, start with what you already have. Stacks of books, wooden alphabet blocks, a vase full of apples, and chalkboards are fantastic. You can also use apples to "paint stamp" a fun banner, or you decorate with balloons and printed signs.

Party food - Kids will love this simple DIY first day of school food buffet. The centre piece is a giant cookie made with my favourite soft and chewy chocolate chip cookie recipe. Then, you can use dollar store jars, punny notes, and treats to create an array of goodies.  For example, you can include: sweet tarts (for a "sweet" start to the new year), gummy "book worms", teddy bear crackers (for a "beary good year"), and excel gum (for an "EXCEL"lent first day of school).

Party favors - No party is complete with a little gift / party favor for the guests. I love colourful dollar store party glasses for a first day of school party favor. They are super cute in a jar with a tag that says "LOOKing forward to a great school year!"

Cute ideas, right?!? To download the tags for the first day of school buffet and party favors: click on the photos below, right click, save them to your computer, and print them like regular 4x6 photos.

The first day of school can be pretty hectic, so a simple celebration is perfect for the occassion.

Important milestones deserve special celebrations, and I think this simple first day of school party is easy, inexpensive, and super-fun. Happy first day of school!

Gina Bell
(Mom and Amateur Party Planner)

You may also be interested in this "smart cookie" bar.

Simple DIY Golf Party

Parties don't need to be elaborate to be fun. The key to a unique and memorable party is including DIY details that pull the party together. Today, I am sharing the simple DIY golf party I hosted for my youngest son on his 11th birthday.

The best part about golf party is that the entertainment is included. For my son's party, we went to a mini golf course, and the kids had fun competing with each other.

After a round of golf, the kids came back to my van, and we had some snacks in the parking lot. I had my coolers stocked with freezies, juice boxes, and chips. The party guests also had fun claiming prizes from the prize punch I made. 

Prize punches are a staple at all our parties, and you can find the full DIY instructions (using dollar store supplies) here.

And what is a party without cake? These golf cupcakes couldn't be easier to make. I made my favourite cupcakes, frosted the cupcakes with green icing (using a tip that makes the icing look like grass), added a flag made from a toothpick and red electrical tape, and finished by adding a white gumball. Cute, right?!?

Finally, I made a practical and fun personalized water bottle "loot bag" for the party guests. They were useful while the boys were playing golf, and they were practical gifts to take home from the party.

I think a golf party is a great party theme, and the DIY details of this celebration were easy, inexpensive, and super-cute! 

Gina Bell
(Mom and Amateur Party Planner)

11 EASY and AWESOME Ways to Celebrate Birthdays at Home

Celebrating at home is great for parties... but it's fantastic for intimate gatherings too. I have two birthdays in my house this summer, and with Covid restrictions in place, I'm guessing we will be celebrating with a small number of people. Today, I'm sharing some fun ways to celebrate birthdays at home.

1) Serve candy for breakfast - Can you think of a better way to start the day? My sister-in-law serves her kids a tray of candy in bed on their special day every year, and they love it. I think candy for breakfast is a super-fun birthday tradition.

2) Make birthday pancakes - Pancakes are the birthday breakfast of choice for my boys. I make birthday pancakes in the shape of their age, and I serve them with milk in a wine glass. It's a simple idea, but it starts the day in a special way.

3) Write a birthday letter - Every year, I write my boys letters on their birthdays. The letters are a "snapshot" of my boys' likes/dislikes/personalities. Writing birthday letters to my boys is my favorite birthday tradition. You can find an example here.

4) Decorate while the kids are asleep - Waking up to fun decorations on your birthday is an exciting way to start the day. Decorate a special chair, hang streamers, or fill a room with balloons. 

5) Pick a theme - Any size gathering can benefit from a party theme. A cohesive theme really pulls a party together, appeals to the interests of the guest of honor (and makes them feel special), and gives the gathering a professional feel. You can find some of my favourite DIY party themes here.

6) Make fun party food - Party food doesn't need to be complicated or fancy... but it should be fun. Buy and prepare the birthday boy/girl's favorites, and choose items that fits your party theme. You can find some of my favourite DIY food ideas here.

7) Make a fun cake - Making your own cake instead of buying one from a bakery is a great way to add a personal touch to a party and make the birthday boy/girl feel special. Cakes don't need to be fancy either. Check out my favourite simple DIY cake ideas here.

Another option is to let siblings make birthday cakes. They aren't fancy, but they are made with love.

Simple cupcake parfaits are another super-easy option.

8) Let the birthday boy/girl choose the meals - Picking the meals on their birthday is fun for kids. Kids can choose to get food from a restaurant or they might prefer to stay at home and enjoy their favorite homemade meal.

9) Have the birthday boy/girl wear a special birthday shirt - It's always fun to let the world know it's your birthday with a special birthday shirt. In the past, my boys have made their own shirts, and I have created shirts to go with their interests and the theme of their parties. 

10) Set up a birthday scavenger hunt - Instead of just giving the birthday boy/girl their birthday gift, send him/her on a scavenger hunt to find it. It's a simple idea, but it adds a little bit of anticipation and fun to the occasion.

11) Have a "yes" day - I've never been brave enough to do this, but I have read about parents that let their kids have a "yes day" on their birthdays. The idea is to say "yes" to everything the birthday boy/girl wants to do on his/her birthday. I think (with a few parameters in place), this could be a lot of fun!

Aren't these fantastic ways to celebrate birthdays at home? If you have a birthday celebration to plan, I hope some of my easy and inexpensive ideas inspired you!

Gina Bell
(Mom and Amateur Party Planner)

PS - Find more party planning ideas here.