Coolest Kid Birthday Parties

Coolest Carnival Game Ideas for a Circus and Carnival Birthday

Many of the carnival game ideas on this page have been graciously submitted by visitors like yourself. If you've got any cool ideas to add just scroll to the bottom of the page and share them with us, Thanks!

For many of the parties you can set up game booths, such as the ones in carnivals and circuses. For the booths you will need lots of helpers - so see if you can get teens from your neighborhood or any of your friends to help out.

A few months prior to the party, gather up all your kids McDonald, Burger King, Wendy's, etc. toys from kids meals (you might also have friends who are looking to throw such toys away) and put a box of toys by each game booth. You can purchase nicer toys for big-prize winners.

Since you don't want your toys to run out so fast (the kids of course will want to play millions of times), you can give out a certain amount of raffle tickets and tell the kids that basically they can play as many times as they want, but to win a prize they need to give in a raffle ticket and play. They then will need to give each booth a raffle ticket to play the game.

You can also change this around and have the kids play the games, if they win they receive a raffle ticket and just like at an arcade they get to cash in their raffle tickets for prizes (the more raffle tickets the better the prize).

Here are lots of cool booth and carnival game ideas:

Penny Toss

Take a board and cover it with brightly colored wrapping paper. Then take metal cans and cover with different colored wrapping paper. Put masking tape on the bottom of each can and arrange them onto the cardboard. Put the board on a table and put a line of masking tape on the floor as a starting line (you can vary the distance of this line with regard to the age of the kids). Give each kid a few pennies and let them try throwing them into the cans. You can give out a prize to whoever gets their pennies into the cans.


For this carnival game, put empty tin cans on a table in the form of a pyramid and let the kids throw beanbags or balls at them. If they knock down a certain amount, they get a prize. You can also have the kids use water guns to squirt water at the tin cans and knock them down.

Doughnut Eating

Tie a string between two trees or any two objects. Tie a doughnut to the bottom of the string and have the kids eat the doughnuts without hands (it's important to hang the doughnuts at the height of the children).

Feed the Lion

On a big cardboard box paint the face of a lion with a hole for his mouth. Designate a throwing line and let the kids toss beanbags into the lion's mouth.

Little Squirts Shooting Gallery

Line up ping-pong (or plastic golf) balls on the tops of different sized drink bottles. Have several water guns pre-filled and a bucket of water or a water hose handy for re-filling them. Test shoot your guns and draw a line for the kids to stand behind (farther back for older kids). Let them try to "shoot" the balls off of the bottles. This works great and is a lot of fun!

Elephant Ring Toss

Paint big ears and the shape of an elephant's face on a box. Then take an old vacuum hose and connect it to the box as the elephant's nose. Use thick metal wire to hold the hose up and let the kids try and throw rings onto the elephant's nose.

Ping Pong Toss

Collect glass jars and put them all on a table (create spaces between each). Give out little ping-pong balls and see if kids are able to get the balls into the jars.

Bottle Rings Carnival Game

Collect lots of glass bottles and put them on a table in a bunch - all of them touching each other. Then let the kids toss little rings (ones that are a little bit bigger than the rim of the bottles) and try and get the rings over the rims of the bottles. You can find the bottle rings on eBay or at most dollar stores.

Guess the Weight

Have lots of different objects (a brick, half a bottle of water, a tape recorder, a big book, etc.) and let people guess the weight of each object. Then weigh each object and whoever got closest to the real weight wins a prize.

Cold Potato

First get a balloon and get a bunch of ice cubes and put it inside the balloon, then put back in the freezer (you can also just put water inside the balloon). After some time [days] you take it out and you pop the balloon, peeling it away from the ice. The ice will be shaped as a patato. Then play the same game as hot potato but it is an ICE potato instead of a ball and it will start melting in people's hands while they pass it around.

Mouse Holes

Take a cardboard box and cut three holes on one side of it (to resemble mouse holes - make sure a golf ball can make it into the smallest hole). Make the holes three different sizes. Then let the kids roll golf balls and try and make it into the holes. Give different points for different holes.

Arctic Candy Pond

You get a baby or toddler swimming pool and buy all kinds of different candies. Place the candies at the bottom of the small swimming pool and then get two to four bags of ice and pour on top. The kids try to grab candy with their toes!

Polka Dot Carnival Game

Take a large sheet and paint polka dots on it. Then cover a table with this sheet and let the kids try and throw coins. They need to get the coin completely in the dot. You can play another version of this game using a Twister board (has lots of dots on it) - it works great. You can also put candies on the circles and the kids have to throw coins, get the candy to slide off the circle, and have their coin land instead. It's harder than it looks!

Bucket Toss

You need a few buckets and a few different size balls. Set the buckets in a straight line with spacing between them (about half a foot between each). The best score would be getting the smallest ball in the farthest bucket.

Dart Throw

Use a piece of wood or thick board and with tape or thumbtacks attach balloons (you can also do this on the side of an old building). Use little balloons if you want it to be harder and bigger balloons if you want it to be easier. Give each kid three darts to throw at balloons (make sure you have enough balloons ready to continue adding to the board as they pop them.)

Guess How Many

How you play is that you get a bunch of jellybeans, M&M's, marbles, etc... then put them in a jar and have the children guess how many candies are in it. Whoever guesses the closest should get a prize and some extra carnival tickets (optional). Another way to play this game is to give the entire jar to the child who guesses the correct number without going over (the prize is the entire jar of candies).

Bean Carnival Game

The point of the game is to have as many beans on your plate as possible. Every person gets two plates and 1 straw. 2 people get to play this game at a time. You give them 15 seconds and they start to suck a bean through the staw and bring it to the other plate who ever has more beans on his plate at the end wins! (make sure to use bigger beans for this game - ones that are bigger than the hole of the straw).

Flour and Pennies

Have two bowls filled with flour, and pennies mixed in each. Give two kids 1 minute to find as many pennies as possible. After a minute the player who finds the most pennies wins! (Since some kids are allergic to wheat flour / gluten, you could hide the pennies in sand or something other than flour).

Balloon Darts

First you fill balloons with beads (while they are deflated). You also fit a little folded piece of paper inside (on the paper write a prize name). Then blow up the balloons and attach them to a wall/a big board/or anything similar. Last, the kids throw darts at the balloons (they get three tries). Whichever balloon/s they pop, the pieces of paper tell them what their prize is. You can also le the kids sit on the balloons or use a thumb tack to pop them.



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