Crafting · preschool · sahm

A Carnival Corral Birthday Party


With a sick kiddo (who just swapped screams for sleep) beside me, I feel a bit paralyzed — scared to get up without waking my tiny but mighty monster. Sooo, it’s a pretty excellent time to reminisce about our weekend festivities. I’m pleased to report that we threw an awesome birthday party. The weather was perfect — there were several nasty gusts of wind in the morning that made my stomach knot and blood boil, but by party time the atmosphere had calmed. So despite the foreboding forecast that fueled my week-long anxiety, we were gifted a relatively warm and sunny day. 

I worked pretty hard on all the decor and arrangements, so I’ve been wanting to share pics from the actual event in hopes of providing visuals for other party animals looking to throw a carnival-themed celebration. Ours was a major success and I’m proud of the aesthetic presentation. While the circus-carnival theme is less often used for girls, I infused lots of delicate and bright details that made it perfectly suited for my fancy five-year-old and wide-eyed one-year-old.

We served corn dogs (surprisingly, they were a huge win), veggies and fruit for a light lunch and a plethora of pretty treats: popcorn in popcorn boxes, mini cotton candy cones, vanilla buttercream cake, Swedish fish (decorated with a numbered bday candle), chocolate lollicones, gum drops, gumballs, spring marshmallows, sour gummy worms, candy bracelets, skittles, animal crackers and lollipops galore. The lollipops made darling centerpieces after arranging them in small buckets filled with marshmallows or Easter grass. 

This was the first party for which I took full advantage of the awesome themed selections at Oriental Trading. Their carnival banners and large flower lollipops were among my favorite purchases. 

We assembled a make-shift lemonade stand, with fresh lemonade in large mason jar dispensers and a selection of soda, seltzer and beer. My monogram collages, composed of the birthday girls’ faces, can be seen hanging to the left of the lemonade table above.

Our photo booth setup included clown noses (one for each kid), carnival photo props, a colorful tissue paper backdrop and a mermaid/pirate photo board with face cutouts (painted by my mama for R’s 3rd “under the sea” themed bday party).

In lieu of multiple tables, I threw a slew of blankets into a fabric basket and encouraged guests to enjoy a picnic on the lawn. Plus, it gave me another opportunity for sign making ☺️ (to see all my party signs, head over here). 

We hired a local couple who own a small farm to set up a petting zoo for the party (hence the name “Carnival Corral“). The animals were absolutely adorable, well-behaved and gentle. The kids were thrilled to be upclose and personal with a mini pony, baby goats, a chicken, ducks and a sheep. I almost prohibited the goat runt from leaving my home — she was just too wonderful for words.

The petting zoo-to-you people also offered large-scale carnival games, so we decided to book a few of those (instead of a bouncy house, which was initially part of the plan). But originally, I researched lots of DIY carnival games that I anticipated including — think glow stick necklaces used for a ring toss and shoe boxes-turned-cornhole boards. Pinterest and bloggers like East Coast Mommy are chockfull of inspiration if you’re looking for do-it-yourself carnival gaming. 

When the kids played and won a game, they got to select a prize from the baskets seen below. Each kid happily wound up with 6+ prizes as party favors (alongside the clown noses and treat bags filled with goodies from the sweets table).

Did I mention we hosted 46 guests?! Yeah, that’s what happens when you invite a preschool class and tons of siblings plus both parents decide to come along. But somehow, it felt intimate and peaceful — not one tantrum! Even Mr. T welcomed the home invasion once the carnival gates opened. 

What themes have you tackled? Anyone prepping for a backyard carnival? I’d love to see your pictures, too! Guess I’m off to clown around with my under-the-weather miniature carny. See you!

More pics for fun: 

Carnival party signs and decor ideas

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8 thoughts on “A Carnival Corral Birthday Party

  1. I am blown away!!! Such a fantastic looking party! It looks like a dream party – wow. From the amazing food array to the petting zoo … wow! I would love to have been a kid there. Great job!

    Liked by 1 person

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