A Vintage Carnival Style Birthday Party

There is just something about Carnival parties that makes me smile.  Maybe it is because I have so many wonderful childhood memories of loving the carnival atmosphere – the rides, food, games, excitement.

There are so many ways to decorate, games to play and treats to serve and I love to see each person’s spin on the popular carnival themed birthday party.

This carnival party by Amy is simply precious (as is her daughter!)

Amy styled her party using our printable Vintage Carnival collection.

I adore her dessert table and how she put a piece of furniture on top to add a striking backdrop.

Amy used our printable party logos as cupcake toppers.  How adorable are the paper cups that the cupcakes are in?

Her daughter is just precious.  How cute is her dress!?  Coca Cola bottles really help set the tone of a “vintage” carnival party.

Classic foods like hot dogs, animal cookies and more…..

The kids were BUSY with loads of games and activities.

Face painting, sack races, carnival games and more.

Amy even had a ticket redemption station so that the kids could pick their prizes and use tickets that they earned at the games.  This truly feels like a real carnival!

Great job, Amy!  You put a lot of hard work into the party and it shows!  Thanks for sharing!


Here are some more party details in Amy’s words:

“I couldn’t have done this party without the help of some fabulously talented friends, one being my fellow party planner, April Hudson.  She truly is talented, and she sewed the top of the canopy for the booth.  It looked like we had ordered it from a store.   My husband is active duty Navy and was deployed for the party, but before he left, he constructed the two wooden booths.  He wanted to contribute something for our little girl that would add a very special touch to the party.  For the tables, we covered a craft table (from Costco) with teal colored vinyl tablecloths from Party City.  Then we used the striped red and white roll from Oriental Trading and cut pieces out to gather all around the table.  We duct taped it with white all around the teal tablecloth- in the end, it was a cheap and awesome looking table to sit the booth on top of.  🙂  April also sewed the darling little red and white striped apron, which added a great touch!

We did not hire any outside help- my face-painters were a couple of talented neighbor girls, Sophia Hudson and Morghan Gaskill.  The photography was done by me, April Hudson, and my neighbor Tom Larsen.   I love my macro lens for my Canon Rebel T2i 🙂
We played old time carnival music that I downloaded from itunes.  As my son told me, “Mom, we didn’t have a carnival themed party…It WAS a carnival!!”  🙂

The boppy game was a huge hit at the party, even for the adults 🙂  The kids also absolutely loved the potato sack races (I bought the sacks at Party City).  We made up our own “Go Fish” game and “Match a Duck” game.  The disc drop game and spinner game from Oriental trading were very popular with the kids.  They kept going back for more.  Another game was “The Kissing Booth” which was a large apothecary jar filled with Hershey kisses and the kids had to put their guess as to how many in a bucket.  The winner got to take home all of the kisses.  The kids won tickets for the games and then were able to go to the prize booth, and they bought their prizes.  The prizes were a great mix of vintage toys- silly putty, chatter teeth, whoopee cushions, mustache glasses, jumping beans, etc.

We had an old radio flyer wagon that we filled with vintage popcorn boxes, and my son pulled it around the Carnival.  We passed out hot dogs in vintage wax wrappers that resembled something you would get at the fair.  I also spray-painted a wooden dowel and put it on a stand that we stacked hot pretzels on so the kids could snack on those as well.  Another big hit was the vintage bags of peanuts.   The sweets table was very popular too.  I used an old bathroom cupboard that was sitting in our garage, dusted it off, and secured it on the table.  I set  small, glass coke bottles on it to give it some character.  I filled the table with apothecary jars full of nostalgic candy.   The gumball machine was sitting next to it, and the kids would get their pennies from the tickets/prizes booth and then come get their gumballs.  They loved it!

Each child got to take home all of their goodies, prizes, and also a box of Animal Crackers with the adorable thank you printables from Anders Ruff.

Olivia absolutely loved her party.  She definitely took everything in, and she is still talking about her birthday party.  She may not remember it when she is older, but we will always have the pictures, and she can look back and see how much work went into her party and how much fun we had.  I wanted to throw a party for neighbor kids and friends of all ages.  I think the vintage carnival did just that.  We had children from 2-11 years old, and all of them had the best time.

Thank you for the special printables that added such a great touch to the party.  The invitations with Olivia’s picture were precious.  ”

Credits/ Sources:
Disc game, Spinner game, Boppers, Directional sign, Clown noses, Photo booth- Oriental Trading
Prizes- Michaels, Dollar Store
Ferris Wheel- Pier 1

Invitation and Printables- Anders Ruff 🙂

Gumball machine- Amazon

Red and White Striped Cups, Peanut bags- Hey Yo Yo (Etsy)
Elephant (From Ross and then spray painted to the blue color)
Popcorn Boxes- Target and World Market
Olivia’s dress- Hipcouturediva (Etsy)
Large popcorn buckets for cake pops- Dollar Store
Vintage Hot Dog wrappers- The Party Fairy (Etsy)
Cupcakes, cupcake bites, Clown Cake Pops-   Homemade by Amy Nowak
Carnival Booths- made by me, friend April Hudson, and my husband
Other signs in frames- made by April Hudson by using several circus fonts


Our printable vintage carnival party is available in the shop here.


  1. Thanks for posting your party. I am planning a birthday carnival for my daughter’s 8th birthday with mixed ages and genders. Your descriptions and photos are super inspiring!

  2. Thanks so much for sharing these pictures! Looks like a fun filled party…! Will keep your ideas in mind for the future!

  3. Absolutely amazing job! I’m planning a carnival theme for my daughter’s 5th bday next month. I won’t have the time or help to do the game booths but fabulous idea! Thanks for the inspiration!

  4. I would love to know where you got the sign that says welcome to the carnival. I keep seeing it everywhere but no luck on how to buy or make it.


    1. Hi Meagan!
      I’m so sorry but I’m not sure where they found it! Have you tried googling it? We do sell printables and could design a graphic that looks similar for you, if you are interested? Then you could print and mount on foam core board. Let us know! Sales@andersruff.com

  5. I’m planning to hold a carnival-themed party for my daughter who is turning 7. The boppers that you got from Oriental Trading, did they last for the duration of the party?


    1. Hi! This was actually a client of ours party so unfortunately we aren’t real sure how the boppers held up. I wish we had more details on that for you!

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