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Summer means state fairs, carnivals, amusement parks, and water parks, and it also means that your child has several locations to choose from for a birthday party. If the thought of tracking down a large group of rowdy kids at an amusement park makes you break out in hives, why not keep the entertainment at home this year?

At first glance, it may seem like a recipe for disaster, bringing the same group of unruly children into your home. However, with a little creativity and planning, you can make a carnival-themed party at home as fun as, and perhaps more memorable, than a day trip. If you are expecting a carnival, it can be just as easy, and maybe even more fun, to create a carnival in your own backyard.

Start planning that carnival!

Planning a birthday at home should start at least a month in advance. This allows a lot of time for shopping, both online and in regular stores, and for delivery of any items you may have to order, such as a popcorn machine or decorations. Plus, you’ll have time to determine the guest list and send invitations, so you know exactly how many children to expect and time to plan the day’s activities.

Gather the activities

Are you getting stuck trying to think of things to do at the party? Think about the carnivals and fairs you’ve been to. Activities may include ring tossing, bean bags, a fishing stand, and face painting, among others. If you really want to add to the carnival atmosphere, you can even order a popcorn machine or cotton candy to have fresh carnival food on hand, and maybe have the adults dress up as clowns to hand out the popcorn and the cotton candy. Popcorn machines add a lot of style and can be repurposed at other parties and family events.

You will be amazed at how easy and inexpensive carnival games can be set up. A ring toss only needs a few empty soda bottles and a few wooden rings. To toss a bean bag, you can make your own bean bags out of multi-colored socks and dried beans or rice and a bottom out of sturdy cardboard and some paint. For a fishing shed, place a blanket over a string and decorate it with fish.

Install stations in the backyard for each stall. Older kids in the neighborhood, or other parents in attendance, can help you run activity stations like the fishing stand and the popcorn machine.

Have fun with your summer party!

Don’t dismiss yourself as not being “smart” or “organized” enough to throw a carnival-themed party this summer. A few carnival games, some fun decorations, and a popcorn or cotton candy machine will make for a stellar backyard carnival. A little planning will go a long way towards making your child’s birthday unique and memorable.

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