THE LOOK Think bright red-and-white-striped banners, plenty of balloons, a ticket booth, and signs pointing to "attractions." Create "Admit one" name tags tied around mason jars with raffia, colorful striped mini-tents over the food and drink tables, and if you're feeling really ambitious, set up a "clowning around" photo station.



THE EATS Hot dogs, cotton candy, popcorn, snow cones, candy apples—and lemonade, of course—make for a spread worthy of a blue ribbon. For big kids, offer sausage and pepper heroes. Get really into it with peanuts, soft pretzels, and birthday cookies with fun carnival messages like "Come one come all" or "Step right up."



THE FUN Invent games of chance, like a kiddie-pool ring toss with floating rubber duckies, or a bean-bag toss through the rungs of a ladder. (Assign each rung a point value, with the lowest rung given the lowest number.) For another game of skill, hang hula hoops from tree branches and see if kids can toss a soft ball or bean bag through them. Set up a pyramid of empty bottles and cans and let kids attempt to knock them all down. Have kids peek their heads through a homemade Strong Man and Bearded Lady cut-out! Face painting, too!


THE FAVORS Award small stuffed animals, red clown noses, and fake goldfish-in-a-bag prizes. Mini rubber duckies are fun, too, and Barnum's Animals Crackers will remind party-goers of all the fun they had at the kiddie carnival!



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