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Hello all!!!


We're brainstorming for a carnival/festival we want to take place next school year. This is the 1st time something like this has been done in our little school (274 students) and I have no idea where to begin.


1) Any thoughts on activities/booths that are pretty economical?

2) Does anyone have experience out there with asking local restaurants and businesses to sponsor and donate with food, prizes, activities, etc? I don't know how to ask.


3) Am I completely out of the loop and I should have started this last fall?


Thanks everyone for any words of advice you can offer!

Amy Worrell

Tags: carnival, events, fall, fundraising

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How about a picture station - Hay bales and mums or pictures/murals with face cut outs that kids can take pictures at.

Go online now and look for carnival games.  Oriental trading has some too.  Get a crafty dad to make a few for you.

This could be something small or it can be a fundraiser and you can sell tickets per "game".

Face painting/tattooing is a neat booth.



Here are 2 helpful sites:


Good luck!

Thanks!!!! Awesome help, I really appreciate it!

We LOVE Carnival fundraisers and support lots of them!  Here's one of our most popular blog posts:


Best Fall Carnival Games and Ideas


Please share your booth favorites and best practices too!

Picture station is a good idea. We are in a rural area and can usually get a farm to provide the hay bales as long as we promise to return them when we are done. A local nursery may be willing to provide foliage in return for a mention as a "sponsor."

Gear games for all the age groups you have at your school. The fishing game is good for little ones. Hang a sheet or shower curtain painted with a sea life motiff and kids "fish" for prizes. Oriental trading small toys, coloring books or even small bags of candy are good prizes.

Large cardboard boxes can be used to make a frisbee or baseball toss game. Draw or paint a large character face with a wide mouth (we did Spongebob) and the kids throw frisbees or base balls through. (Could even use footballs!) Use a line to do different distances for different ages.

Toilet paper toss: Get an inexpensive toilet seat and a large pack of toilet paper (tape the end!) and let the kids throw the TP through the seat.

A few years back we did a pie toss with some middle school students volunteering to be the targets. Pie plates and LOTS of whipped cream. The kids loved it...even the targets!

Egg and spoon. I suggest trying to find craft wooden eggs at like Hobby Lobby instead of real boiled eggs.

Bounce houses and inflatable slides are always good and it seems all age groups enjoy them. Some of those rental places also have games or dunking booths to rent.

For older kids we are hoping to get someone to donate a TV we can raffle off and find someone to do Karaoke with it this year.

If you have someone willing to pound the pavement for donations, a silent auction is an idea.

Hope this helps!

Really wonderful ideas! Thank you all so much!


Going to a local Catholic school festival this weekend and taking lots of pictures to get ideas as well! :)

You're not starting too late - great job starting something new at your school!

We have a parent with a "rhino" a 4 wheeler kind of quad but lower to the ground that pulls a tractor with hay bales & kids on a hay ride.  We made a "dance floor" bales of hay in 4 corners, lights strunt in a square on poles stuck in 5 gal buckets, We did a "pig kissing" booth - there are places who will bring the pig to you & take care of it for the evening (only 60 bucks!)  Photo booth is awesome, Each class decorates a scarecrow that we silent auction off - good luck - they are tons of fun!

Hey Amy,

I was in your shoes last year and I learned tons by posting to these forums and talking with fellow PTA moms (and carnival coordinators) that I magically would run into doing normal daily things around Austin!!


Economical activities/booths: Check with other schools or PTAs in your area. Chances are that they have a shed full of carnival games that you can borrow. When you start looking for vendors, explain that you are on a limited budget and if they can discount your rental at all, you will list them as a sponsor of their activity and allow them to hang a banner and pass out flyers there. For example, if you rent a moonwalk, and the rental company gives you a 50% discount on the rental fee, then you would only pay half price and give them the ability to hang a banner, pass out flyers to other parents who may later rent more moonwalks from them, and you can also list them as a sponsor on your event program or website. I saved our school about $2,000 last year by offering this option to our vendors and all of them signed up for it. Most vendors know that PTA's have limited budgets and are trying to fundraise, so they are happy to help out.


Asking businesses or vendors to donate food, activities or prizes: We mail out a letter that we wrote explaining that we are organizing a school carnival and are in need of donations of any kind. We mention that we are a 501(c)(3) and attach documentation for it, plus we mention that we will list them as a sponsor of the event in all event flyers. Our school carnival is advertised to an additional 4 elementary schools nearby, meaning that our flyers reach 3500 families. When you mention this to businesses they get excited about it. Last year, we raised about $1,600 in donations from businesses who sponsored our carnival. Some of our members print the donation letter and walk it to the contacts they know with businesses to get more donations. We've had luck just mailing out the letter and walking it to the business, so either way helps.


Are you out of the loop? No! A lot of schools plan their carnival a year out....I planned ours in 3 months. I know another person who planned their carnival in 2 weeks. Every school and PTA is different. Just work with what you have. You may get tons more donations and sponsorships when you have the whole year to plan, but with hard work you can get just as much in a shorter amount of time.


Definitely start getting your parents talking about your carnival as well, and open it up to them to bring more ideas to you. For example, one family might own a snow cone machine that you can use to make snow cones and they would even run that stand for you! Another family might know a music DJ that you can use for music.


I was sitting at my son's baseball game last spring and just happened to start talking to a mom sitting next to me. We came to find out that we are both PTA moms and that we are both our school carnival coordinators!!! Had I not talked to her that day, I would've never known that! She has helped with her school carnival for several years and it was my first year of helping so I learned TONS from her! Reach out to your community and talk to everyone about your plans. You'll be amazed by the information you find!

So many awesome ideas!!!! Thanks so much for your insight! I'll update on how it goes (10 weeks left!!!)

Use Facebook & Twitter to Build Buzz and Boost $$$


Based on recent discussions w/the fun folks at TX PTA summer leadership conference - we wrote an article with simple tips on using facebook and twitter to build buzz and boost profits at fall carnivals and big school events.  Please check it out here.


Carnival, Auctions, BIG events:


      Raise More $$$ and Boost Turnout using Social Media


And here's a terrific list of low-cost, easy carnival games and ideas:


     Free or nearly free fall carnival booths and activities


Have an awesome carnival!!!



We held our first Spring Fling Carnival in May 2011. We called and asked businesses to sponsor our even by donating $$ to cover the cost of the activities so that we could offer it to all students and the community for free. It worked. We got about $1500.00. Then we held a raffle and made about $6000.00, had a silent action and sold hot dogs, drinks, cotton candy, snow cones for a $1 and made another about another $3000.00. Being the first I think it was an awesome success. Activities were covered by a company that provided the bouncy houses, carnival games. face painting, magic show, music and the workers! They also provided the snow cone machines, cotton candy with supplies included in the package. (the sponsor donations covered the cost) If you would like to chat more about this let me know. Good Luck!

In helping with many a school carnival at my four kids' schools, I found that making it easy for lots of parents to get involved and offer whatever resources, time or skills they have is a big key to a successful fundraiser. I work for a site that organizes volunteers, so I help on that end. A family who owns a restaurant, helps with food. Those who have connections to local businesses or products will secure donations for baskets that are raffled off. Here are some great planning tips from our site:

Planning a School Carnival Tips

Organizing Volunteers for a Carnival


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