Sunday, August 22, 2010

My Kids' BIG Carnival Birthday Party!

Both of my kids birthdates are around the 4th of July. We celebrated with family, but I didn't have a party for friends due to many reasons. (I had surgery, my husband was out of town, we had a vacant apartment we had to clean, fix and rent, and vacation.) I decided a few weeks ago that with school starting soon, I couldn't delay any longer. I threw together this party in less than a week.

Because my kids have a lot of friends, we are very social family and we are inclusive, there were over 45 kids that came to the party and at least 10 moms. It was big! It was a little crazy, but very fun for the kids. My kids wanted to have face painting at the party so we called it a carnival party. The invitations were simple. I just printed the information on one side and my kids stamped balloons and presents on the other side. I wanted them to be involved in every step of the planning. It was obvious that a 2 and 4-yr-old decorated their invitations and that was great with me. We hand delivered over 30 invitations to their friends. It was so fun to see and hear their excitement. My daughter would say excitedly, "__________, I'm having a carnival birthday party and I want you to come."

The ages of the friends ranged from 15 months to 14 yrs. Most kids were between 2 and 6 yrs. I divided the older kids (7 or older) and the younger kids into "helpers" and "participants." When I made the invitations, I taped on a little piece of paper saying I needed lots of helpers for this party and invited the older kids in the families to be my assistants. I got a great response from everyone. The older kids definitely wanted to be involved. Some even came over to my house throughout the week to ask what they were going to be able to help with. Some gave requests to be in charge of certain games.

Before the kids showed up, I set up nine stations, divided the younger kids into nine groups (based on age and friendship), decided where each helper would be stationed and wrote each participants name on a lunch sack. When the kids came, I had the participants play "Duck, duck, goose," while I explained to the helpers their duties and places. I had one helper assigned to each station and one helper assigned to each of the nine groups (they would rotate with the groups and keep the small groups together.) The groups had only 3-4 kids in them. That way there were 2 helpers at each station.

Instead of doing tickets that the kids would redeem for a prize at the end, I just gave each group leader a treat or prize to put in the lunch bag right before the groups rotated. There were a few kinds on candies, a balloon that could be blown up at home, a band aid, stickers and some little cheap trinkets I bought at the dollar store. After I had explained to the helpers how the party was going to work, we divided the participants into their small groups with their leader. (Luckily some moms stuck around. It is a little difficult for 7 year-old to keep a group of 2-yr -together and moving to each station.
I had each station placed strategically throughout our yard so we just had to rotate counter-clockwise when I blew my whistle. The first couple of rotation were a little rough, but after the helpers became a little more familiar with how it worked, things went much more smoothly.

At most of the stations, I had two activities. If one was inappropriate for the age group, they could do the other OR if they finished one activity, they could do the other. Back-up plans are a great thing.

These are the stations.
1. Knock-down-the-cans/Sandbox

I saved the food cans we emptied for a couple weeks, washed out the insides, took the labels off,
and had a birthday game. We put two piece of OSB on the dirt in shade - one to stop the balls the kids threw and the other for the kids to step on!
The helper set up the cans, gathered the balls and cheered the kids on!
If they got tired of the can game, they had the option of playing in the sandbox. The kids LOVED the sandbox!

2. Ring Toss

I checked this ring toss out from a resource center where my kids go to storytime. It was free and easy! I love that!
The helper gave the rings to the kids and told them where to stand! The kids loved this station!
3. Face Painting

This was the station my kids (and every other kid - even the helpers) were thrilled about it! Face painting!!!! I asked a couple of moms to do some simple faces. I used Halloween make-up I bought on clearance last November.

The birthday boy loved being a cat!

Mustaches, beards and eyebrows were the most popular requests for the boys. Butterflies around the eyes where what the majority of the girls wanted!

4. Bowling

I set the bowling (which I also checked out from the family resource center) on our front porch. It is enclosed so the ball and pins would stay in a contained area. Sorry! This is a great picture.

I had to two helpers here to set the pins up, and direct the activity!

5. Tin Can Stilts/Sidewalk Chalk

My husband was asked to make peach cobbler for a funeral a few days before the party. I saved all the bigger tin case he used for stilts. I'mnot sure what else to call them. This was on a sidewalk so they had an even place to step. The older kids liked walking around on them.
The younger kids just did sidewalk chalk. I didn't want anyone getting hurt!

6. Bubbles

I had a bunch of bubbles! One of the oldest helpers blew bubbles for the kids to pop and chase. The kids could also blow bubbles too.
7. Dress-up

I set up a tarp with a whole bunch of dress-ups on them. The kids could dress up how they wanted and get a picture which I need to get developed and take to them with a "thanks for coming" paper.

I had a floor length mirror outside so the kids could see what they looked like! I checked out a lot of the crazy hats from the resource centered and borrowed a few more dress-up from a friend in addition to what we had. There were plenty of dress-ups to try on!
8. Ball Toss/Balance Beam

I think this was the favorite of the activities. I jsut cut shapes in a piece of OSB and got some small balls the kids could throw through the holes.
The helpers decided to make it interesting by kneeling behind holes and trying to get the participants to hit them. Who doesn't want to throw balls at silly people?
My husband also made a balance beam. He took a 4x4 and nailed two 2x4 on each end to keep it from turning over while the kids walked on it. I forgot to take a picture!

9.Pin The Nose on the Clown/ Hit-The-Ball

I drew a clown without a nose on a posterboard. I cut out some round circles for the nose. We taped the clown onto a fridge that just died and hadn't been taken to the fridge graveyard yet. It worked great!

The kids wore a blindfold and taped the nose on. The older kids got turned around a few times before they got to tape the nose on the clown.

When they were done with that, they could hit the wiffle ball with the plastic bat. My husband tied a rope between two trees. From that rope, he tied the wiffle ball hanging from a string to the middle of the rope. Every kid who comes to our house wants to hit the ball. This is perfect so we don't have to sit and throw a ball constantly. Plus, the kids can swing until the hit it!

After we rotated all the groups through all the stations (about 5 minutes each), I brought out popsicles for everyone to eat. I had some water and lemonade out the entire party that people could drink from if they got thirsty! The cupcakes were just normal cupcakes. I had to make 5 dozen and didn't have the time or money to make them fancy.
On the invitation, I wrote that presents were NOT expected. My kids have a ton of little toys and really don't need more. But most people still on insist on bringing toys so I wrote not to spend more than a $1 or $2. After the cupcakes, the kids opened presents. Because of the number of kids, I didn't ask them to sit and watch. The helpers could go play the games they helped with and the younger kids could do whatever they wanted to!
For party favors, I had a big box of books. Kids could take one or two. I'm a teacher and books are so much better than candy or toys (in my opinion). The books were used and I got them free from this book company in my town. I love using my resources!!! This was in addition to the little goodies they got at each station.
The helpers got a book and a Lik-A -Stix. They thought that was the bomb. Here is the only picture I got of me!

Here are the birthday boy and girl with their painted faces!!!! They are just so cute!!!!

My daughter and her very best friend. They are inseparable. She lives next-door to us!

Here is the picture of most of the people at the party! A few had already left and some chose not to be in the picture! This was a big, fun party and I am glad that we could include so many people! I'll have to come up with something like this for next year. Once my daughter gets in Kindergarten, she probably won't want to share a party!

I only spent about $40 on this party! I didn't have fancy decorations or extravagant favors, but the kids loved it. I also think that if I would have put parents in charge of the groups or stations, it may have gone a little more smoothly, but the kids would have missed out on a great opportunity. I was exhausted after it was over, but it was well worth it!
Happy birthday kids! I love you!

p>Linking to: Funky Junk - Saturday Nite Special, Tatertots and Jello - Weekend Round-up, Under The Table And Dreaming.

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  1. Michelle! It looks like everyone had a great time! I did a party like this for Jamie when she was about 4. It was fabulous! I love home made parties!
    great job!

  2. OH MY! That is a lot of kids. It looks like they had a blast and I love the mustache face painting! ;)

    Great job.

  3. What a fun party! Kids parties are probably my favorite kind of party to have!! LOve them!! Great job on it! Thanks too for making me the "Blog to Watch" this week! It's been sooo fun to make friends and join in on all the blog hops! I love your blog! I've already featured you lots and I'm sure I will feature you SO much more in the near future! Thanks again!

    Marni @ Sassy Sites!
    My blog is a blog about YOU!!

  4. Michelle,

    I love your can-do attitude, and how open and inclusive you are. Nice party. Thanks for sharing it will all the rest of us, in addition to those 45 kids!

  5. What an amazing turn out! I love how you had things for all ages... something for me to keep in mind for my sons upcoming birthday =) Thanks for the inspiration!

  6. Michelle, that looks amazing!! We postponed my 2 year old daughter's birthday party because of 6 month old daughter's recent surgery, and I need to get it together quickly! Thanks for the motivation. :)

  7. Kids don't care if you have fancy decorations - they just like to have fun...looks like they did!

    Party and Entertaining Inspiration

  8. Great Job! I enjoyed your post! found it at "Anything Related" link party

  9. How cute! I love how many games you offered the kids. Looks like they had an incredible time!!

    I hope you will come participate in my link party! All About The Boy @ The Nifty Nest!


  10. Very cute party - I wonder if I should plan a carnival party for my soon-to-be 8 year old this year?

  11. Those activities are brilliant. I can totally see our poopsies loving those. Plus books!

    Good news! We're staring a Friday Giveaway link-up party this Fri. 8/27 plus we are giving away custom backsplash! Please join us. Jane F.

  12. Just stopping by from Tatertots and Jello. Wow - what a party! Looks like everyone had such a great time!

  13. Wow! What a party! Looks like fun was had by all! Nicely done!

  14. I cannot believe that you invited THAT many people to the party! You are such a nice mom (and neighbor)!

  15. your kiddos are adorable! how fun does this party seem? what a great idea! i wish my little guy's birthday wasn't in the dead of winter, i know he would adore something like this!

  16. I really love how much you involved your kids in the process and planned the party strictly with them in mind. Great job.

  17. We are so glad you shared your great party with us at Anything Related! Looks like fun! Your kids are adorable!

  18. You really know how to incorporate the kids into everything.

  19. What a great party.


Thanks for leaving a comment. I always like to know what you think of the projects I highlight!

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