Super Duper Fun Carnival Games!
With spring officially here there are a lot of busy committee people looking for ideas to make spring carnivals a success, including getting the best (and most profitable) carnival games, carnival booths and activities booked and ready for the day. VolunteerSpot has created a free eBook that's stuffed full of everything you need to make your carnival a success -- click here to see it.
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Carnival games are the bread and butter of any carnival’s plan to maximize revenues. Some things you pretty much have to rent, like large bounce houses, dunking booths and battling padded sumo suits. But there are a lot of creative winning activities that can be put together with very little money, the only thing that costs money is prizes (and even some of those can be free, I’ll tell you how.) So in the spirit of economic downturns (and maximizing profits!), here’s a big list to get started.
Free or Nearly Free Activities
- Ring Toss – easy to build a ring toss setup with 2 liter soda bottles.
- Tug of War: all this takes is a big length of rope – might even be available from the PE department of the school. Moms vs Dads, Brothers vs Sisters, 4th grade vs 5th grade, boys vs girls are all great ways to drum up carnival enthusiasm.
- Flocking Sales and Insurance – Sell the opportunity to have a flock of plastic flamingos (or tricycles or potted plants or a giant school mascot or whatever else you can come up with) placed on someone’s front lawn – and sell insurance policies against being flocked. Also, sell insurance against having your name revealed as someone who’s flocked someone else. It’s like toilet papering someone's yard, but way easier to clean up!!
- Toy Swap – Bring a toy and drop it off upon entering the carnival – get one swap ticket for each toy brought. Collect toys up until a certain point in the carnival day. At a designated time, open the toy swap to everyone who’s brought something.
- Giant musical chairs – Start with 40 people and 30 chairs and work down to one big winner who gets a prize ribbon.
- Guess what?: Have strange substances in containers and participants have to guess what it is either by smell, touch or sound. (Make sure to have allergy information on ingredients at hand.)
- Exile Island – People can buy a chance to send a friend to the carnival's "Exile Island” and while there they can find clues to a mystery prize hidden somewhere in the carnival.
- Beading booth – One roll of thin cord and some creative beading ideas can occupy carnival goers for a long time. Beads can be made ahead of time out of natural materials, rockets tied with wire, clay glazed and fired ahead of time, macaroni for little kids – the beads don’t have to cost much, if anything, and the fun is in putting together your own cool necklace! Sell tickets by the necklace or in 10 minute increments.
Free or nearly free prizes
- Ribbon Rewards – Cut 5 inch lengths of satin ribbon and tie them to a large safety pin. Each time a child participates in an activity, tie a new colored ribbon to the safety pin. Each booth has a different color. The most active and involved (and ticket-spending) kids will end up with a chest full of ribbons, and a pretty neat keepsake from that year’s carnival. You can even add a special prize offering to the kid who collects the most ribbons.
- Carnival passports – Each kid gets a passport to be stamped at each activity booth – six or more stamps per card. Once the passport is filled it can be entered into a drawing to win a bigger door prize – another way to drum up more booth ticket sales!
- Lunch with the principal or pastor– A special opportunity to sit down for a meal with the leader can be a drawing prize. It can be a casual lunch or something nicer, donated by a local restaurant.
- Clean out the favor bag closet – Send out a notice asking for parents to donate leftover party favor prizes – this alone can fill up most of the needs of the fair for prizes.
We know you've got your own great ideas -- so please click 'Comments' below and let us know what creative and fun carnival ideas are traditions in your community.