Family Fun Month: How To Host a Backyard Carnival

Come one, Come All!

According to Holiday Insights, August is “Family Fun Month”! To celebrate this obscure but totally awesome holiday there will be a family fun inspired post each Friday of this month. To kick off this series we scoured the web for the best tips on creating the ultimate party theme…the backyard carnival. Hosting a backyard carnival is much easier than it seems and nearly all of the elements are affordable DIY ideas.

Ticket Booth & Party Decor


Stick to bright colors (like red and white with touches of yellow and blue) and coordinate your décor to match: streamers, tablecloths, napkins, plates, utensils, cups, game signs, etc.

Ask adults running the game booths, concession stands, and ticket booth to dress in costume: clown noses, mustaches, hair pieces, clothing, and make-up.

To create your own ticket booth, use a large refrigerator box. Cut the bottom of the box so that it can easily fit over the ticket master. Then cut out a window so that he/she can pass out tickets. Cover the box with wrapping paper, and hold it into place with double-sided tape. Next, write the words, “TICKET BOOTH” above the window.

Create a sign that tells guest what the activities are, and how many tickets are needed per activity. Next, place the sign near the ticket booth, which should be located by the front entrance. Finally, as guests enter the carnival, play carnival (or circus) music. (via dabblingmum)

Carnival Games, Activities & “Attractions”

Lisa Freedman from has the scoop on transforming your backyard into an amusement park with items you already have.

  • Lucky duck: Fill a large bucket with water and floating rubber duckies. Beforehand, paint the bottom of one duck red. Players can take turns trying to find the winning duck. Then mix them up and play again.
  • Beanbag toss: Paint a clown face onto a large cardboard box and cut out the mouth. Use a few bricks to prop up the end with the clown’s head and mark a throw line about five feet from the box. Give everyone three beanbags to toss into the clown’s mouth.
  • Bowling: Fill six two-liter soda bottles with a few inches of water, replace the cap, and arrange them in a bowling-like triangle. Mark a line ten feet from the first pin and take turns throwing tennis balls at the pins. The object is to knock all the bottles over.
  • Feeling really creative? Check out her instruction on how to create a homemade wacky golf course

Other stands could include: fortune teller, bounce house, sand art station, face painting/temporary tattoos, and a photo booth. For more great ideas check out

Create Concession Stands


Mapping out your carnival themed menu is simple! Items on your menu can include:

    • Hot Dogs
    • Pop Corn
    • Funnel Cake
    • Caramel Apples
    • Cotton Candy
    • Snow Cones
    • Soda & Lemonade

Give Out Prizes


Prizes are the best part of any carnival! Give your guests the chance to turn in their hard earned tickets for something fun. Prizes can include:

      • Candy (movie size boxes would be a huge hit!)
      • Temporary Tattoos
      • Stuffed animals
      • Mini basketballs
      • Water guns
      • Key chains
      • Costume Jewelry
      • Playing cards

Check out or your local dollar store for more affordable ideas




Last step! Get your guests in the mood to “step right up” to your backyard carnival bash with fun invitations. You can make the invitations yourself with construction paper, crayons and tickets like the one to the left.

Have you hosted a backyard carnival? Tell us about it!

Find more resources for homeowners here.

Lindsay is the the Director of Media Engagement for Coldwell Banker Real Estate and manages the brand’s media and social media department. She is also a licensed real estate professional. In 2017 & 2018, she was named a top 20 social influencer in the real estate industry in the annual Swanepoel 200 power rankings.

Lindsay lives in Livingston, NJ with her college sweetheart and now husband Joe and rwelcomed another Joe into her life as she became a mom in June 2016.

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  1. Dee
    May 1, 2013

    I am hosting a carnival and this was helpful thanks!

  2. annabanana3456
    June 10, 2013

    My sister is doing a carnival thing for her street barbeque with some of her friends and I sent this to her and she said it was great help! Thanks so much!


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