Planning a creepy carnival / circus themed Halloween party? Get excited! You’re going to have so. much. fun!! Creepy Carnival was my favorite Halloween party EVER. Not only did we have a blast with the games and costumes but it was a lot of fun making all the DIY projects for the party. Because yeah, when it came to finding creepy carnival stuff in stores it just wasn’t happening. So what sets the stage for your ultimate Creepy Carnival? Here are my favorite DIY projects and ideas that will make your party rock!
1. Red and White Stripes
The absolute easiest (and most effective) DIY project is jagged red stripes painted on white paper! Pick up a roll of white bulletin board paper from a teacher supply – grab a 4″ foam brush and bottle of red acrylic paint. Roll the paper out and cut each “sheet” to the desired length, paint sloppy stripes (for a creepy adult party you can make it more jagged, for kids a little more solid) and let dry. Once dry roll the sheet up and secure both ends with clothespins until the day of the party. You don’t want to put these up early in case of rain – but the day of you can just use push pins to hang them up and when you’re ready to let them down remove the clothespins. This was my FAVORITE creepy carnival decoration and they were so easy to make!
2. Carnival Banners / Posters
Carnival banners are a must to set the tone for a creepy carnival party. Luckily it’s easy to make your own banners with inexpensive fabric, acrylic paint, wooden dowel rods and glitter glue. Now if you’d like to save $$ you can easily make carnival posters instead with white or other colored paper / poster board. Paper would probably be quicker / easier to do. Of course I just had to go all out so I did the fabric banners. A simple fold and zig zag stitch with the sewing machine along the top of each banner made a place to put the wooden dowel. To hang, you’d just tie some rope to the wooden dowel. Then I painted the banners for each “area” of the party I wanted, making them extra creepy and embellishing with glitter glue.
3. Disturbed Duck Pond
What’s a carnival without the duckpond game? Of course, it needs to be creepy! We purchased some plastic duckpond ducks online and used Ava pup’s plastic pool. Still, these ducks looked so cute and happy. The trick? Use a lighter to melt their heads and add some “blood.” Total disturbed duck pond! We used a sharpie marker to write numbers on the bottom of the ducks for the game.
4. Bloody Confetti
Another one of my favorite projects! This is so fun to toss around the food tables and if you want to go all out all. over. the. floor. ;) Sometimes you can buy chunky confetti at the party store but if you can’t find any you can totally DIY by cutting up streamers! To make your own just spread the confetti out on some newspaper in an area you can make a mess (outside for me!) and then just take some watered down red acrylic paint or watercolor and splatter it! While the paint is drying you can move the confetti around with your hands to spread it around some, then let it dry. Totally fun and creepy!
4. Creepy Carnival Prizes
For our party we had two games – the disturbed duck pond and Tempt Your Fate. Our carnival “prizes” were actual prizes and decor as well. To make your own creepy carnival prizes visit garage sales and thrift stores for cheap toys / stuffed animals. Once you’ve collected enough, start doing bad things to them. HA! We switched heads, moved body parts around, rolled them in the dirt, pulled buttons, ripped off an eye, added blood etc. Use some rope and hang the wonderful prizes up for display. My favorite was the pig with the leg growing out of his head. lol. We also used scratch off lottery tickets for the Tempt Your Fate game as well as big candy bars and boxes of candy as prizes.
5. Anomalies, Curiosities and Mysterious Wares
Never before seen and “alive” are classic carnival phrases – so of course you’ll need some choice anomalies and curiosities to entertain your guests! Mason jars filled with rubber rats, spiders, bugs etc. are perfect for mysterious wares. I bought two inexpensive baby dolls, removed the arms/legs from two sides and stitched them together to make “siamese twins.” We had snakes, faux crow wings, “human hair” (wigs) and all kinds of stuff. One of my favorites were the human head anomalies. Just order some foam heads online, add a can of spray foam, some spray paint and spray adhesive, wigs and red acrylic paint and you’ve got the makings for some creepy heads. FYI make sure you don’t touch the spray foam – it’s really harsh and not for skin! The spray paint will also melt the foam some, giving you a distorted look. Let dry for a few days, ideally in the garage (the foam and paint fumes get a bit stinky.)
6. Balloon Darts / Tempt Your Fate game
This game is so much fun! To make your own balloon dart board, pick up a sheet of foam insulation from Home Depot or Lowes. It’s about 8′ tall, 4′ wide and an inch or two thick – the stuff with the Pink Panther on it. Then just paint the front and sides of the foam sheet in a color of your choice. We did white, then painted jagged sloppy colorful circles on it. Let dry and tada! Balloon dart board. We ordered balloon darts from Oriental Trading and pinned the balloons to the board with straight pins.
So you can either have traditional balloon darts (pop a balloon, get a prize) or you can play the Tempt Your Fate game for big or little kids. The rules for Tempt Your Fate are easy: each balloon has a slip of paper inside it, either a good or bad fate. If you decide to play you must agree to do whatever the paper tells you. Good fates include prizes like scratch off lottery tickets, candy bars, dollar bills, etc. Bad fates include things like “go inside, stand in the corner and cry like a baby for 5 min.” or drink a shot of lizard pee (apple cider vinegar) among other things. This game was hillarrrrrrious.
Want to play Tempt Your Fate at your party? Download our free printables to use for your adult party or re-word them for the younger crew. I’ve included a printable rules sheet to hang up too. There are two sets, one “as is” and another to customize. You’ll need to have Photoshop and download the special circus fonts for the customizable set as well as the font Social Animal. :)
7. Step right up! Carnival signs
Another one of my favorite DIY projects for Creepy Carnival were these quirky, hand painted signs! Not only did they really add to the theme but they were super easy to make! All you need is some foam brushes, a variety of acrylic paint colors, some cheap plywood, and wooden steaks. We cut our signs to a variety of sizes, from 2′ x 2′ to 3′ by 1′ etc. I chose to make wooden signs because I get pretty cranky if there are high winds on party night (and my signs are all floppin’ around!) So if you have access to a wood saw, great! If not you can purchase precut plywood at Home Depot / Lowes or just take the measurements you want and they will cut them for you. You’ll need to use wood screws or nails to attach the wooden steaks. Once that’s done you can paint the signs. OR if you want to save some $$ you can easily make carnival signs with poster boards and wooden steaks. Whatever floats your boat! :) For the final touch I wrapped mason jars with a little cheese cloth and added candles to make luminaries to light up each sign.
More ideas for your Creepy Carnival party…
- bubble fogger (these things are soooooo cool!)
- fog machine
- outdoor spot lights in blue, green, yellow and red
- hanging paper lanterns
- strands of white globe lights
- Frankincense incense
- carnival food! cotton candy, caramel apples, moldy hot dogs (make “abrasive” areas and tint with green food coloring) toxic lemonade, popcorn splattered with “blood” red butter, bloody cupcakes with candy glass shards
- arrange to have a fortune teller or set up a ouiji board
- have a balloon room filled with balloons (this freaked our guests out ha!)
- ask guests to dress the part: you’ll get sideshow freaks, tightrope walkers, carnies and all kinds of fun costumes
- and of course… creepy carnival music! My absolute favorite is Nox Arcana’s Carnival of Lost Souls available on iTunes (or you can order a cd.)
Prepare to be mystified! You’ll have all kinds of fun hosting your own Creepy Carnival Halloween party! And who knows, maybe you’ll be the star act! Stay tuned, I’ll share our own party pics soon…
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