End of School Backyard Carnival
The Summer Challenge: Day 1
School’s out and summer vacation is on it’s way (for Shawn anyway), so that means the beginning of the The Summer Blog Challenge. The time of year when I blog for 30 straight days and even though it’s a difficult challenge, I find it to be extremely rewarding. Looking back on the posts I have done in the past, I am proud of the stories that I’ve told and the memories I have shared. So I am back at it again this year. 🙂
To celebrate the end of school, we hosted a backyard carnival for 21 children and their families. Everything turned out great considering we had 2 straight days of rain and I don’t mean the light drizzling kind of rain. It was the kind of rain that causes flood watches and puts me into a panic of do I reschedule or not. I got it into my head that after 2 months of work on this party that show must go on, no matter what. Luckily, we got a couple hours where the rain stopped and the kids could venture out from under our deck awning, and tent.
I purchased most of my supplies online from Oriental Trading and Amazon and then I picked things up from various stores like the Dollar Tree, Party City and any other store that I went in to. I purchased a starter kit from Oriental Trading that came with games and also 150 prizes. You can get this starter kit HERE (there are NO affiliate links on this post) but I ended up with at least another 150 additional prizes from the other places. The favorites among the kids were the Punch Balloons, Twisty Straws and the Play-Doh. We also had stickers (I took sheets of them and cut them apart), mini notebooks, slinkies, bouncy balls, pencils, glo bracelets, stuffed animals, tops, bubbles, bead necklaces and more.
I made each prize have a ticket value based upon the size of it. The bigger prizes were more and the smaller prizes were only a couple tickets. I bought all the containers at the Dollar Tree and some of them came in packs of 3 or 4, so it was a great value and I love the bright colors. The containers with the straws are actually cups that I bought a few years ago for ice cream floats.
When each child arrived at the party, I presented them with a “loot bag” that contained 10 prize tickets to start off with. This was their bag to collect tickets and to carry around their prizes. Looking back I think I would have done something different because with the rain, the bags were soggy and Shawn’s bag fell apart twice because he kept setting it down where it was wet.
The icing on the cake for me was at the end of the party because I gave each child their very own goldfish to take home. What fun is a carnival if you don’t win a goldfish? The look on their faces when I gave them their fish was priceless. When our 1st couple guests were getting ready to leave, I handed each child their fish and a couple other kids saw me do it. They came up to me and (politely) asked if everyone was getting a fish. It sounded almost like in the movie Oliver with “Please sir, I want some more” except they were asking for a fish too. lol I smiled warmly and told them that everyone was getting a fish and they smiled the biggest grin ever. It melted my heart. 🙂 I am so glad that I spent the extra couple dollars and got the fish. It was the best party favor I have ever given out. (I was going to take a photo of each kid getting their fish, but I completely forgot to do it)
Since I am the hostess and the photographer, I have a hard time getting terrific, well exposed and in focus shots because I am trying to make sure things are running smoothly and that I am also enjoying my own party. Because of this, I don’t get the best photos so some of these aren’t the best but I am ok with that. The photo above is Shawn with a friend from Pre-K. We basically let the kids do all the prizes on their own and it was on the honor system. I had enough prizes for everyone, so I figured that everyone would get plenty without it being watched.
Shawn spent a lot of time at this table. lol Maybe it was because for 2 months he’s watched me buy all this stuff and he finally was able to get his little hands on them. Who knows but I think he played the games more than any child there, so he could get more prizes. There was not a single tear shed when it came to the prizes, so everyone went home happy.
We had a total of 14 games for the kids to play. Some of them were table top games and other were bigger, competitive group games. I purchased most of the games from Oriental Trading and Amazon and a couple came from Party City. (I linked to the games for you to find easily – remember, they aren’t affiliate links). I was originally going to make all the games but with work, end of school coming close and just everything else, I knew that it was going to be impossible. I did make a couple of the games though.
I gave each of the games a prize value of 1 ticket per play unless it was the number games and then they got as many tickets as they landed on. Again, this was on the honor system and I believe that most of the time they followed the rules.
We put up a large 13×13 tent for the games to be under because there was no way that I could go with my original idea. I was going to have 1 long table (12 feet total) and the games were going to be on there. Instead, I needed to cram them all under the tent and this made things crowded but the kids still had a great time.
During the party we had a few group games that everyone played and luckily during this time, we didn’t have any rain. We did the Limbo, a 3-Legged Race (I purchased colorful striped scarves from the Dollar Tree to tie their legs together) and a Potato Sack Race. There was also an Egg & Spoon Race planned but the rain started up again and seeing as we had already done a lot of other games, they didn’t even miss it.
I really loved the look on their faces as they each went under the bar. I played the Limbo Rock Song on my phone as they all went under. They moved SO fast that I didn’t have time to take the greatest photos. Oh well, they had a great time and I did get some photos of them doing it.
Even the littles got in on the fun and went under the limbo stick too. This party wasn’t just for the big kids.
I gave out prizes for the 1st and 2nd place winners of each game and these were bigger prizes than what was on the table. I found some water bottles, small packs of sidewalk chalk, and each winner also got a cute medal to wear (and take home). This was the only time where some of the kids got a little antsy because not everyone got a prize. However, they did get over it quickly.
Squirt Gun Game
I saw this idea on another blog and thought it was a good idea, so I added it to my list of games. However, instead of squirting the balls off the tees, they spent most of their time squirting each other. If we ever do this party again, I will not be putting this game out.
We had a variety of non-tabletop games for the kids to play as well. These were scattered throughout the yard and luckily, the rain stopped for them to play with them.
We had a couple younger kids attending the party, so I wanted to have a variety of games for everyone to play. However, even the older kids enjoyed playing the easier games. The duck pond was a hit with the littles because they could play in the water. lol I put round colored stickers on the bottoms and they needed to match the colors.
Just some photos of the kids and their families enjoying the games. Once everyone arrived, it got quite busy under the tent! We had a total of 21 kids and 14 adults, so it was quite a big party.
I picked up these paper popcorn boxes and that’s what held all the tickets by each of the games. (You can see them on the table) The tickets were yellow, so they looked like popcorn in there. When the kids cashed in their tickets at the prize table, they put them all in a bowl and after it would get full, I redistributed them in these popcorn ticket boxes.
My friend Debbie volunteered to do face painting during the party and she did a fabulous job! She did everything from hearts, ice cream cones, kitties, ninja turtle masks and more. I wish I would have thought to get photos of them and even I got one on my cheek.
For the food at the party, I had only 2 “rules”: All food must be carnival themed (for the most part) and it must be portable. My goal was to have the kids (and adults) come up and grab something to eat quickly and go back to playing.
I spent a couple hours the week before the party (while Shawn and I were watching a movie) and I took some washi tape and attached forks and spoons to about 100 cups. All of the food was going to be served in these plastic cups. Never did I think that I would get so many compliments on this! It made it so much easier for the guests to eat, walk around, and play games without having to hold onto a paper plate. Best idea EVER!
We had hot dogs, fruit salad and a pasta salad. Plus, small bags of chips, lots of popcorn, candy apples, cotton candy, peanuts, cupcakes, and to drink I had beverage containers of water and lemonade.
This was my 1st time ever making candy apples and I never realized how EASY it was! I will be sharing how to make them in another post. I love candy apples and they’re one of my favorite carnival/fair foods.
I knew that I wanted to have cotton candy at the party and I was able to find tubs of it at The Dollar Tree. To make them easy to eat, I took a bit of the cotton candy and stuck it on a candy stick. I then placed it in a bag and tied it with ribbon. They were SO EASY to make!
Shawn talked me into buying this cute cupcake stand and I am so glad that he did. It turned out to be so cute and it came apart nicely, so I can use it again.
I had seen this idea floating around Pinterest where you take Dum-Dum suckers and put them on the top of the cupcakes to make them look like balloons. They turned out so cute!
I originally was going to have a photo booth out in the yard too but with the rain, I had no place to put it. So some of the silly props were given out as prizes. I love these 2 boys! They both went to Pre-K and Kindergarten with Shawn and these just match their personalities!
So there you have it! While things didn’t go as planned at the very end with the weather, it was still a lot of fun and everyone had a super good time.