With the anticipation of spring weather, it’s thankfully time to think about all the outdoor possibilities. For me, what comes to mind are ways to reconnect with people. Essentially, I’m kind of pandemic’ed’ out at this point after the last two years and all the winter spikes in cases. With outdoor being a ‘safer’ place, my mind is teeming with ways to utilize my larger outdoor space. This anticipation also reminds me of one of favorite birthday parties for my oldest daughter. So if you’re looking for an all-out fun party theme, follow along for some carnival theme party ideas.

Carnival Theme Food Ideas

You can’t think of a carnival and not think about all the delicious food options. An at-home carnival wouldn’t be the same without it, so it’s definitely an important checklist item.

My parents helped supply this party with pretty much all the fanfare from popcorn and sno kones makers to my mom’s carefully crafted carnival games. Let’s just say they are still kids at heart and have collected all the things to share fun with others. My mom in particular was a huge help with these carnival theme party ideas.

Our snacks included:

  • Popcorn with authentic popcorn bags
  • Cotton candy in clown bags
  • Funnel cake
  • Soft pretzels
  • Carousel Cake
  • Candy!!

Carnival Theme Party Game Ideas

The games are a combination of purchases and crafts, which can go in either direction depending on the amount of effort desired.

Fish Bowl Toss & Lucky Duck

Baby pools are a super easy and cheap way to accomplish this game. You can find clearance pools at the end of the summer season. The prize for the fish bowl toss was a sandwich bag filled with water and a fake fish.

Spill the Milk and Down a Clown

Spill the milk has a wooden stand built from a 3/4″ thick board, a round wooden disk and a 4×4. The metal bottles are going to a bit hard to find. Any bottles with flat bottoms and tops will work. The Down a Clown frame is built from wood, hinges and purchased from a toy show. If you really want to be authentic, the best place to look would be antique fairs or toy shows. My mom touched these up with paint.

Ring the Bell

Now this next one isn’t going to be an easy to find item. It reiterates that my parents have it all. They also have a larger version in their backyard that doesn’t travel as well as this smaller version. It was certainly a hit with our little carnival goers!

Ring a Bottle & Bucket Toss

The Ring a Bottle game is constructed with antique bottle crates, so you may have to do a bit of searching to find that exact thing. Otherwise, some crates, and glass bottles should work okay. The bucket toss is another easy find incorporating like size buckets and ping pong balls.

Bullseye Toss, Pin the Tail on the Donkey & Raise the bottle

These targets were purchased but could also be made from poster board for those who enjoy the opportunity to make their own. The bottle stand is also an easy project using a 2×4 and square wood panels. One of the long sides should be shorter in height from the other side. This can be accomplished easily with a table saw or saw with a guide. Nail or screw it all together and you have the stand! The fishing rods are long dowels with a small hole drilled into the end. Then string can be tied to it without slipping off and connected to the ring.

Face Painting

I personally love face painting so my carnival party wouldn’t have been complete without it. I was pretty tickled that my husband did several of the paintings. The easiest way to go about it is to have a selection of face paintings you can feasibly do for the kids to pick from.

Prize Table

With each game, the carnival goers won tickets. At the end, everyone was able to cash in their tickets for prizes from the prize buckets. We had pencils, clackers, yo-yo’s, candy, etc. Party City is an excellent place to check for inexpensive prizes. All they need is a paper bag to put their prize selections into for safe keeping. Our party rounded out with lollipops from the lollipop peg box. This can be constructed with a box, peg board or wood/cardboard with holes drilled into it.

Pandemic effects on mental health

As I said at the beginning, I’m mentally exhausted from the length of the pandemic and itching to engage more with friends near and far. We were able to get together with friends last summer, but it still wasn’t the same as before. In the article Seven Ways the Pandemic is Affecting Our Mental Health, it notes,

“And, indeed, nearly 1 in 7 U.S. adults said they were often or always lonely in April 2020, up over 25 percent from 2018. But another study in the U.S., Canada, and the U.K. found that people’s feelings of connection to others didn’t change much from before to during the pandemic. When one group of researchers surveyed over 1,500 people in the U.S. from January to April, they were surprised to find “remarkable resilience.” ……”one study in the U.S. in April and May (before any restrictions were lifted) found that almost two thirds of people under 30 had high levels of loneliness, and 37 percent felt they had low support from their family.”

Seven Ways the Pandemic Is Affecting Our Mental Health

So now’s the time to find safe ways to engage with others, to take care of yourselves, and to find a way back to some normalcy. As with anything, the affects of the pandemic really depend on your outlook and resilience.

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