How to Organize a Carnival

How to Organize a Carnival

Following are suggestions to help you organize a carnival. These are simple guidelines and ideas put together by other Galactosemia Foundation parents.

How does this event make money?

The organizer sells tickets participants can use to play games. Participants trade tickets to play a game. If they win they are given tokens or stamps. The tokens or stamps can be cashed in for prizes. Participants may also trade their tickets for select food items (snow cones, chips, cotton candy, etc.). Organizers may also add a silent auction or raffle to this event (see “how-to organize a silent auction).

Possible costs of organizing a carnival

The first time set up expenses for a carnival can be pricey. You have to make, buy or borrow games. GF parents report an initial investment of $300 for materials (this doesn’t include labor). Some parents have borrowed games from other organizations who already own them (church, school, etc.). However, once you make the initial investment, you can use the same games every time you host the event.

Prizes and food will also cost money. Oriental Trading or party stores are a good place to find inexpensive trinkets to use for prizes.

Ways to offset start-up costs

GF families have been creative in finding ways to limit the start up costs of a carnival. Before your event, you can put buckets in local businesses asking for donations. Briefly explain your cause and use a picture of your child. You might collect enough money to pay your expenses.

Check with your local PTO or church organization to see if they have held a carnival in the past and will let you use their games.

Ask local businesses to “donate a game” in return for advertising their business at your event. List the games you need and the cost to make/purchase them. Business owners can pick which game they would like to donate. Put the businesses name on the game or at the game location letting participants know the game was donated by this great business.

Ask local businesses for gift card or store credit donations. Buy the supplies you need with these funds. Some large corporations (Wal-Mart, etc.) will donate if you complete an application several months prior to the event. **Note: you must show you are raising the money for a non-profit organization. Contact the GF treasurer for a letter proving this status.

Check with local companies who provide “jumpy games,” they may be willing to donate a jumpy for your carnival.

**Remember to remind businesses and individuals they can receive a tax write off for their donation. Forward their name, address and donation amount to the GF treasurer who will send out a letter they can use at tax time.

Steps to organize a carnival

Establish where the carnival will be. A local park, a business parking lot, a church yard, a school or other community building are all good choices.

Decide which games you will offer. Build, borrow or purchase your games. Decide how many tickets each game will cost (2-4 is a good starting place).

Decide how winners will keep track of their winnings for redemption at the prize table. You might provide participants with a piece of paper that gets stamped each time they win or hand them a token each time they win. The stamped paper or tokens are turned in at the prize table for prizes (each prize cost a certain amount of tokens/stamps).

Prize table – group prizes according to how many tokens/stamps they cost and clearly mark sections of a table with the amount (10 tokens, 20 tokens, etc.). Participants bring their tokens/stamps to the prize table and trade them for prizes.

List of possible games

  • Football toss – 3 holes cut out of ply wood, decorated, throw 3 mini footballs through the holes to win
  • Ring Toss – screw coat hooks to ply wood and try to toss rings onto hooks
  • Duck pond – baby pool, rubber ducks with #’s on the bottoms, pick a duck, certain #’s are winners
  • Bozo buckets – screw 5 buckets to a 2×4, use 5 small balls to toss into each bucket. Receive a prize/stamp for each ball that goes into the bucket.
  • Sucker stand – purchase several suckers, black out some of the bottom tips, kids pick a sucker, if the bottom tip is blacked out they win. You can make a sucker stand out of wood with several small holes to put suckers
  • Wheel of Fortune – round spinning wheel made of ply wood – decorate into a pie shape – put a candy wrapper or # on each “slice” of pie. Win the candy bar if you land on candy wrapper or win that many stamps/tokens if you land on a number. You can also make a smaller version of this game using a lazy susan you can purchase at any home goods store.

Decide how much each ticket will cost. Most carnivals use 4/$1 as a starting point.

Gather a group of volunteers to help on the day of the carnival. You will need volunteers in the following areas:

  • 1-2 people at each game
  • 2-4 people at the prize table
  • Several people at the food pavilion
  • 1-2 people to sell tickets

Sell tickets ahead of time. Many businesses will let you sit outside and sell items (Wal-Mart, grocery stores, etc.). Sell them at work, to friends, etc.

Who do participants make checks payable to and how do I handle the money?

The best way to handle this is to have checks made to GF, unless your regional group is an established non-profit and is actively supporting your event. You copy checks you receive for your records and then mail checks to the GF treasurer.