I love planning out fun invitations to kind-of set the stage for the party. I found a post online awhile back with links to really cute circus fonts. Using Circus, Big Top, and Cast Iron, I created several inserts for the party. One held all of the specifics, one asked guests to consider donating to one of our favorite charities in lieu of gifts, one was an admission ticket, and one was a bag topper. I also included a film strip with pictures of the birthday kids and a red balloon. I packaged them in cellophane bags, stapled the bag topper on, and sent them in red envelopes.
Using my Cricut, I made t-shirts for the kids to wear with their age on the front. This was a simple, inexpensive, and precious project. My daughter is already talking about her number 4 shirt she wants me to make for next year. =)
My favorite part was the photo booth. I set up a colorful sheet on a section of our fence and filled a bucket with accessories for people to choose from for a super-silly photo op. We're using these pictures in our thank-you's.We also rented a bounce house and set up a handful of very simple carnival games. When I throw a party, a big part of my plans include trying to make everything self-serve so no one has to man anything the entire time. I want everyone (myself included!) to be able to relax and enjoy the party and not have to work.
Ping Pong Ball Toss:
I filled an old metal wagon with empty babyfood jars filled with water. Guests had to toss ping pong balls into the wagon trying to land them in the jars. The water helped people to grab the ball out of the top without having to pull each jar out every time.
I used a snack jar on a table as a target, and guests threw babyfood jar lids adorned with scrapbook paper circles frisbee-style at the jar.
I covered an old coffee table with butcher paper and circle cut-outs of pictures of the kids. Guests tossed pennies onto the table trying to land them on the birthday girl's picture for 3 points (since she was turning 3) or the birthday boy's picture for 1 point.
Bean Bag Toss I made a handful of colorful, polka-dotted bean bags and set them up with a bucket at which to aim.
Guess the Gumballs
I filled a Mason jar with colorful gumballs and set them on a table with a basket filled with tickets and pens for guests to make their guess. The closest to the correct amount (267) got the jar.We also set out bubbles and our sand table and labelled them with signs for fun. The Prizes:
And, of course, no carnival is complete without prizes. I made some tickets for each of the games, and our guests could trade them in for loot (Fun Dip, circus peanuts, Ring Pops, silly straws, stickers, and tons of other little trinkets).
For decorations I used colorful scrapbook paper to create accordion-folded circles. These were used for the centerpieces (holding pictures in bright, plastic pots) and for the Happy Birthday banner above the food table. For all of the game signs, I created them in Word using some fun circus fonts I downloaded.
Colorful tablecloths and balloons rounded out the decor.
The menu was simple: hot dogs with all the fixin's, peanuts in the shell, animal crackers, chips, and sodas. Cupcakes and popsicles were dessert. I just made boxed cake mix with store-bought frosting to save time. I topped them three ways - with sprinkles and a gumball, with sprinkles and a tuft of cotton candy, and with marshmallows I made to look like popcorn (cut an x into the top of a mini marshmallow, then brush on a mix of about 1 tablespoon of water plus 1 drop of yellow food coloring).
My goal was to make this an economical but over-the-top party that my kids would enjoy. I wanted to do as much work ahead of time as possible to my husband and I could be a part of the joy the kids experienced, and I think it was a huge success. I wouldn't have changed a thing!