A carnival-themed party can be a blast for teens, bringing back childhood memories of the local county fair. If your teen is planning to have a carnival birthday party in your backyard or other party site, work with her to set up a carnival that includes classic carnival decor, games and snacks, as well as other teen-friendly activities that will really put the party over the top.
Hang bunches of colorful balloons from trees and poles in your backyard or in the party area. String colorful pennants along fence posts. To make a midway game alley, stake a tall metal pole -- such as tennis net pole -- into the ground on one end of the backyard and another on the other end. Tie three long, thick ropes to one pole and tie the other ends of the ropes to the other stake. Drape old bed sheets over the ropes to create backdrops for the booths. Leave about 2 feet of space, then repeat the stakes, rope and sheets on the other side to create an alley. Use cardboard boxes and folding tables to create booths for various midway games along the alley. Make a snack area with a red and white striped or checkered tablecloth and red and white balloons.
Plan to have a variety of classic carnival foods for the teens such as popcorn, cotton candy and hot dogs. An old-fashioned popcorn maker is ideal for the party, but if you can't get one, offer the teens popcorn in striped, red and white popcorn bags. Rent a cotton candy machine or purchase bags of cotton candy. Have the grill fired up for the hot dogs and burgers. Include vintage candy such as rock candy, colorful lollipops and jelly beans at a separate candy bar.
Set up a variety of games and carnival activities in the different booths you create on the midway. For one booth, pin blown-up balloons to the bed sheet backdrop and have the teens use darts to try to pop the balloons. If a teen can pop three balloons in a row, offer her a prize. In another booth, stack tin cans in a triangular shape and have the teens try to knock them down. Set up a ring toss with old glass bottles and small plastic rings. Other booths can include a fortune teller, a booth with a magician doing card tricks and a kissing booth, with a guy and a girl giving out cheek kisses.
Other Carnival Activities
Have a dance floor so the teens can dance with their friends to songs from their favorite singers and bands. Have someone working the prize table where kids can redeem tickets for prizes. Hang a colorful sheet and give the kids goofy props and costumes for a makeshift photo booth. If you don't have a Polaroid camera, try to borrow one so that the teens can get their pictures instantly. Create an open area for wacky relay races where the kids have to race from one end to the other while doing things such as crab walking, throwing on oversized clothes or maneuvering tricycles around traffic cones. If the party is on a hot summer day, include an obstacle course where the teens can get wet running through sprinklers or sliding down a plastic sheet covered in both water and baby oil.