Step right up! The carnival is in town. Check out our how to on how to create the ultimate DIY carnival. All of the games and stations can be set up in the backyard, in a parking lot, or even indoors in a large space.
Carnival games are always a hit at parties and social gatherings, but they can be expensive to rent from an event company. However, creating your own carnival games doesn’t have to be expensive or hard to set up. That’s why we focused on these low cost, low maintenance DIY carnival games. These carnival game ideas will surely be tons of fun for everyone, young and old.
Carnival Games for Kids
Every kid loves a carnival, and there are plenty of ways to bring the games to your next PTA event, homeschool gathering, or birthday party. I’ve rounded up our favorite carnival games, sure to be a hit with all ages. Just add in some popcorn, cotton candy, and some entertainment and you’ve got yourself a carnival.
DIY Bean Bag Toss
This DIY bean bag toss is so simple and cost effective that it’ll be almost hard not to make! Bean bag toss is a great way to get everyone involved and introduced to backyard carnival games! It is an absolutely perfect game for younger kids all the way up to older kids!
Source: Modge Podge Rocks Blog
DIY Dunk Tank
The mother of all DIY carnival games is the dunk tank! Whether you’re using it to raise money at school carnivals, for fun at the big event, or for great fun at a birthday party, everyone will love the dunk tank!
Source: Dunn Lumber
DIY Ring Toss
Another really fun carnival game is the ring toss. It’s one of those perfect indoor and outdoor games that everyone can play, from young children to adults! Another plus is that you can make the game ultra easy and super challenging with different types of bottles!
Star Wars Light Saber Sensory Bottles
This next great idea is perfect for doing sensory activities with children that may get overstimulated from all the games at their carnival party or for children that just aren’t into competitive carnival games. Traditionally at carnivals, you would find colored sand art spots, which are always a huge hit.
This is a fun way to give kids an opportunity to create a piece of art at the carnival. These Star Wars sensory bottles are great for an individual kid or small group.
Source: Little Bins For Little Hands
Carnival Photo Booth
Every great carnival should have an array of special activities that everyone can enjoy! This awesome DIY photo booth is no exception! Using a cardboard box and some wrapping paper you can make this cute photo opp that the whole family will enjoy!
Source: Wishes Do Come Tru
Face Painting How To
The source here gives directions for 8 easy to do face-painting options for the first-timer. Let’s face it not everyone can be an artist, but having directions on how to do a great job with face painting makes life that much easier. It adds extra fun carnival activities to your next carnival celebration! You can even get temporary tattoos and add it to this station as well to help avoid those long lines that everyone will be getting in to get their face painted!
Source: Everyday Chaos And Calm
Hole In One Carnival Game
While the creation of this carnival game is quite involved, it’s sure to be a hit at your next carnival party! Plus, it’s always fun to have new activities for kids and carnival goers to play! Once the hole-in-one game is set up, all players will need is a club and golf ball, so running it fairly easy to do!
Source: Carnival Savers
Carnival Obstacle Course
If you don’t have access to piles of used wood, zip lines, or climbing apparatuses, this obstacle course is for you. One of the best ways to get kids outside and be active is by creating an obstacle course. There are so many fun ideas when it comes to planning and creating obstacle courses, and the best part is you can use anything and everything to furnish your obstacle course.
For this obstacle course, you will need items like balloons, pool noodles, sand, and hula-hoops. Many of these items you probably have already, and if not, they can all be purchased at any dollar store.
Before the course is set up, make sure to have a starting line labeled and have a really fun finish line. Some of our favorite finish lines include carrying a plastic full of water without spilling a drop across it or having a potato sack race across the finish line, but whatever you decide, just make sure it’s fun.
Source: Inspired Motherhood
Homemade Bouncy Ball
While this isn’t quite a traditional carnival game, it sure is so much fun, and it also doubles as a really fun science experiment which is perfect for school carnivals. Plus, it’s super easy to set up and it’s very cost-effective. All you need is some food coloring, Borax, glue, and cornstarch. Watch as your kids are amazed at how these simple ingredients turn into a rubbery bouncy ball.
Add a coffee can or bucket and the first child that can bounce their ball into it wins a prize.
Source: The STEM Laboratory
Squirt Gun Shoot Out
This is the DIY version of the traditional carnival game; water gun race. This DIY version is super easy to set up and tons of fun. To start, each kid gets their own squirt gun and then tries to shoot a ping pong ball off a target a few feet away.
Ping-pong balls can be placed on top of plastic cups, golf tees, or soda bottles. As an added bonus, you can use food coloring or watercolor paint to fill the squirt guns so each kid has their own color. This is a great game for small groups.
Source: Oriental Trading
Can Knocker Carnival Game
Similar to the traditional carnival game, milk bottle toss, this DIY version is a bit more kid-friendly and easier to be successful. All you need are some tin cans like gallon or half gallon paint cans or large cleaned tomato sauce cans and some tennis balls, bean bags, or wiffle balls as the throwing item.
You can get very creative with which style can or bottle you use as the target but make sure if you are using bottles, the bottles are plastic. We wouldn’t want broken glass at our carnival.
Source: Something Like Life
Pick a Duck
One of my favorite carnival memories is the pick a duck game. A plastic pool has rubber ducks floating in it. The game player picks one and the number or shape on the bottom says what prize you get. The carnival’s youngest guests will love playing this over and over again! If rubber ducks aren’t in your budget, water bottle lids, milk jug lids, and soda lids float. Write the number or shape underneath each of those let the games begin. Prizes can be something simple like candy, stickers, temporary tattoos, etc.
Once simple game that you can make for older kids and adults is a trivia booth. Use fun facts from Trivial Pursuit cards or questions from other pop culture games and let the race to answer the questions begin. It can be set up so that if you answer the question correct you win a prize or a race between two players to answer it correctly first. This is so fun and easy to set up.
Quick Carnival Activities
- Snacks – Nachos, candy, drinks, and more!
- Stickers and Temporary Tattoos – Great for prizes or for their own booth.
- Sand Art – Fill different containers with colored sand.
- Hair Color Spray – Add color to kids hair as a carnival attraction!
- Karaoke or Music – Liven the carnival up with music or karaoke.
There’s absolutely nothing better than going to the carnival. Hosting a carnival can be loads of fun and is a great way to create memories and a fun-filled atmosphere for the whole family.
Whether your carnival is a massive production with food, animals, rides, and games for a back-to-school weekend or a child’s birthday party, there’s really no wrong way to enjoy a carnival.
Every kid will have a blast, and you will be crowned a creative genius for organizing such an awesome carnival. Let the games begin.