Below are some tips to help make sure your DIY carnival has an excellent selection of prizes. It will be easier if you can answer these questions first:
- Will your event be open to the public or private?
- Will it be indoors or outside?
- Will it be hot, cold, rainy, or loud?
- Will you charge admission?
- Will people be charged to participate in games and activities?
- Will they be charged for refreshments?
- Will donations be accepted?
- Where will any proceeds go?
# 1. Know your audience (age-range and interests)
Prizes for toddlers should have a focus on safety. Pay extra attention to size, durability, and source. Think balls, stuffed animals, and plastic animals. With adequate supervision you can also consider toy cars, crayons, bubbles, and inflatables. Focusing on safety will make toddler prizes more expensive. You may opt to let them earn one or two prizes for the entire event instead of allowing one prize per activity.
Older kids can enjoy the same type toy listed for toddlers. But think smaller hotwheels type cars and silly pens instead of crayons. Pay attention to popular themes such as Smileys. You may also want to add simple games (cards) and friendly posters.
# 2. Estimate your audience size
Make sure you have enough prizes to go around! Keep in mind that carnival-type prizes tend to be lower quality. Inflatables will leak, stuffed animals will have bad seams. You will want to have a few extras to replace the defective toys. Also know that some items will be more popular than others.
# 3. Know your budget
You can find a wide assortment of toys and prizes online, from the 10-cent plastic gadgets that look like they belong in a trick or treat bucket to the $20 oversized stuffed animal.
Private organizations having a fun evening with a set number of kids can splurge on making sure everybody gets a nice $2-$5 prize. For community events that are open to the public, you will want a variety from 5-cent giveaways to harder to win expensive prizes.
# 4. How will prizes be paid for?
It is common for big events to give prizes on the spot that can be traded up as you win more. This requires the people running things to have a large stock of little prizes and it requires the participants to keep up with stuff until they have enough to trade.
If you want to keep your guests hands free, or if you want to help young kids focus on participation vs obsessing over their new little toy, you can have a system where they collect tickets, tokens, punches, stickers, or stamps.
Daycares may want to give each kid a fun hat or necklace that gets stamped with each "participation" award.
# 5. Being politically correct
If you do not know our audience well, try to stick with less objectionable toys. Water guns and swords can be seen as "war games".
ton of little prizes vs a few big
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