Archive for the 'Carnivals' Category

34 Basket Auction Ideas

A couple of years ago, I wrote an e-book called the School Carnival Money Making Guide. It’s 186 pages long and gives all sort of practical advice on how to earn more money for your school at your school carnival.

Here is an excerpt from the book about how to run a basket auction. If you enjoy it, check out the entire book at

Basket Auction

Another great way to make a significant sum of money at your carnival is to add in the element of a basket auction. This strategy of bundling together a group of related items into a beautifully wrapped package has become very popular at silent auctions. So, it’s easy to transfer the idea over to your carnival without too much difficulty.

Here are some very important things to consider when deciding to add a basket auction to your carnival:

You must let the people who will be attending the carnival know, well ahead of time, that you will be having a basket auction in addition to your carnival, since bidding on these items can easily stretch beyond what most people would plan on spending at the carnival alone. You want to make sure that people bring their check books or credit cards to access larger amounts than they might have in their purses or wallets.

You can do this by prominently proclaiming this on the fliers and other printed notifications that go home about the carnival. You could even go as far as to name your event “The ____________ School Carnival & Basket Auction”. It’s kind of hard to miss it then!

Since you will have to solicit the items that you place in the baskets, you will need to put a team together to do this. This is an involved process that requires the right amount of confidence, congeniality, tact, gumption, creativity, and drive from the people in charge. If the average basket has six items in it, and you decide you want to auction off 20 baskets, that’s 120 items your team will have to procure. That can take significant time and effort, but the reward could be well worth it.

Do not forget to properly record each item that is donated, as well as send a thank-you/recognition letter to the donor.

Click here to enroll in Jim Berigan’s FREE year-long school fundraising e-Course!

If your school has a separate auction at a different time of year, I don’t think it would hurt to have a small basket auction add-on to your carnival. However, you want to be careful not to over-burden your business supporters by going to them too many times per year. You may decide to use certain businesses for the carnival basket auction and different businesses for your regular silent/live auction event and not cross the two lists.

Overall, a basket auction will add to the excitement of the event and raise some extra dollars. If your school doesn’t have an auction though, this is a chance to really dip into that “auction” revenue pool.

You will have to make a decision as to whether the baskets will be sold in a silent auction, a live auction, or a combination of both. Since there will be so much else going on however, I’d recommend going with a silent auction format.

Other things to consider with a basket auction:

• To generate excitement for your Basket Auction, take attractive photos of the baskets once they are put together and put them on your school’s website and/or Facebook page. This is the best way for parent to find out what will be available.

• As I mentioned in an earlier chapter, the basket auction will benefit greatly from the use of an emcee. He/she can also serve as the auctioneer and really stir up the interest and the bidding in the baskets.

• You should have a goal in mind for what each basket will sell for. If you see that prices are not going in that direction, use the emcee to fire up the bidders.

Here are some suggestions for basket themes and contents.

1. New York Times Best-seller Basket

A selection of two or three top selling books from the NYT bestseller list, gift certificate to book store, reading lamp…

2. Arts & Crafts Basket
Paint, markers, crayons, scissors, easel, construction paper, craft kits… continue reading

Would You Like to Make More Money at Your Next School Carnival?

The following is information about an e-book written by Jim Berigan, the Top School Fundraisers primary blogger.  The owner of this site, FastTrack Fundraising, does receive an affiliate commission on each book sold through this site.

Would You Like to Make More Money at Your Next School Carnival?

Did you know that some people (school administrators & parent-teacher group leaders) don’t see the carnival as a real money making machine? (I couldn’t believe it, but it’s true!)

Did you know that many schools regularly leave hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars on the table each time they hold a carnival?

Did you know that from the minute a family walks into your school carnival, everything they see and experience must be tweaked tomaximize profit? Are you doing this?

Do you know how to respond to the mom who says “$15 to play some silly little games is ridiculous! Why can’t I just buy individual tickets? Come on, son, we’re going home.” (This is an actual quote I came across in an anti-school carnival blog post.)

The planning of a school carnival is absolutely filled with critical questions, just like these.

If you want to make sure you are doing everything you can to make as much money as possible for your school, you must be armed with knowledge and conviction. The conviction will come from your own heart. The knowledge, however, you can get from our

School Carnival Money Making Guide*This is an e-book, not a printed product.

School Carnival Money Making Guide

With 186 pages, this e-book is laid out in easy-to-read and easy to cross-reference chapters, you will find dozens of tips and strategieson the following topics:

  • The philosophy behind holding a school carnival
  • Planning
  • Marketing
  • How to monetize the event
  • Volunteers
  • Prizes
  • Games & Activities continue reading

School Halloween Carnival Game Ideas

Would you like to learn more about school carnivals?  Check out Jim Berigan’s “School Carnival Money Making Guide!  It’s 186 pages of advice, suggestions, and ideas that will help your school make the money it needs!

When planning a school Halloween carnival it’s important to include lots of fun games for the kids to play. Playing games, competitions and winning prizes make the event so much fun for the students.

Many times each grade or class will have their own game booth. The game idea that your group picks should be age appropriate. There are a wide variety of game ideas that are good for each age level.

There are some games that students will expect to see each year, such as the bean bag toss. Be sure to include the most popular games that your school carnival had last year. Students also like to find something new and different. So finding a few unique, fun Halloween carnival games will bring some new excitement to your event.

Traditional Games

Just about every carnival should include the traditional, tried and true games that everyone enjoys. Some of these are kids games and others can be for older siblings and adults.

Dunking Booth – Who can resist dunking their teacher, classmate or school principal. You just need to prepare for the logistics of hosting the booth, making sure it works properly and is safe. If you don’t want to build one, check with local rental companies.

Duck pond – This is great for toddlers to grade 1. Fill a galvanized tub with water and colorful plastic ducks. Each duck has a number on the bottom that corresponds to a prize with that same number. The child picks up a duck from the pond and the person working the booth awards the prize. Easy and fun for little ones.

Darts – You cannot have a carnival without the traditional balloon dart game!

High Tech Games

Why not incorporate technology into your Halloween carnival?

Wii games – Have a Wii set up to play one of the sports like bowling. Have a time limit!

Wii tournament – Even better have a Wii tournament.  Each player signs up for a time slot ahead of time, paying an entry fee.  Players come back to play one another in the tournament rounds to determine who the best player is.

Guitar Hero or Garage Band – These are other very popular games that kids enjoy.

Jeopardy – This long standing TV show is available as an interactive game.  Classroom Jeopardy is customizable with your own questions or you can just use one of the Jeopardy software programs for your game system.

Click here to enroll in Jim Berigan’s FREE year-long school fundraising e-Course!

Big Event Games

Draw a crowd — plus media attention and publicity ahead of time — with an unusual game.

Super-sized board games – Take your regular, old fashioned board game and make it BIG.  How about putting together lots of Twister sheets for the “world’s largest Twister game?”  One group found success with a life size checkers game.

Sports tournaments – Hold a tournament at the same location of your school Halloween carnival.  Great for teens who are “too old” for kiddie games and costumes.  You could have several age brackets to make it fair.  Start filling up the entry level brackets and times before the day of the carnival so people know when to be there.

Inflatables – There’s so much more to inflatables than just a simple bounce house!  Now there are activities like obstacle courses, bungee competitions, and slides.  Check with your local party rental place to see what’s available near you.

More Game Ideas

Here are several great websites that have more ideas to help you create fun carnival games:

A to Z Carnival Game List – Long list of many popular carnival games & variations

Muscular Dystrophy Association Carnival Game Ideas – Carnivals are held for MDA fundraisers. They offer some ideas that may be good for your Halloween carnival too.

Carnival Savers – Has a lot of ideas for Halloween carnivals – fast & easy games, build it yourself game booths, popular foods, petting zoos and other fun activities

These school Halloween game ideas should get you started on the right path. With some creativity you can probably come up with many other activities that your kids will love!   Is there an unusual game that’s worked for your school in the past?  Let us know in the comment box below:


Is it a Bad Idea to Use Teen-agers as Volunteers at Your School Carnival?


When planning your school carnival, you may find yourself in a situation where you’re having trouble coming up with enough volunteers, due to the high number needed. At this point, you may consider recruiting older children, perhaps middle school or high school age to fill the gaps.

I think this is a fine solution to your problem, as long as you are able to give the student-helpers strong direction and supervision. While this may be a stereotype against young people, many of them do not have extensive experience in customer service or even a work history whatsoever.

Be very clear in your instructions and expectations.

As a precaution, you should be very clear with them that while they are on duty, their first priority is the entertainment of the children. Therefore, no cell phones or other electronic devices may be used while they are “working”.

Also, instruction should be given on your expectations for how to talk to customers. Each worker should greet the children and their parents with a friendly hello and continue to be polite and welcoming throughout the families’ entire experience.

Ask the student helpers to put themselves in the place of the parents.

Explain to the student-helpers that if a parent feels his or her child is not being made to feel welcome, the parent may start to develop negative feelings about the entire event. As a result, that parent may spend less money at the carnival and could even leave early, before other money-spending opportunities, such as the basket auction, have even begun.
I would also insist on having a dress code for all the volunteers. If you apply the restrictions to everyone, the teens won’t feel singled out.

To be fair, I have worked with many young people who have had vastly superior customer service skills than most adults. So, please don’t get me wrong. Teenagers could be a terrific asset to your carnival. I’m only advising you not to assume too much and be prepared to teach some things that you might actually take for granted.

Your Turn

Do you have any ideas on the subject of letting teen-agers work for your school carnival?  What’s your experience been like?  Please share with us in our comment section!  Thanks!

Photo by: St Peter’s Community News

How to Calculate Profits from a Bounce House and Other Inflatables

This is a guest post written by Nate Jaehnig.  Nate is the owner of AZ Bounce Pro in Arizona, which rents inflatables for school carnivals in his local area.  With his experience in this field, Nate has become very knowledgeable about how many people can actually participate on individual inflatable per hour and how this effects your overall carnival income.  Not all “bouncy castles” have the same earning potential, so read carefully to make sure you are making wise financial decisions. – Jim Berigan

The primary goal of almost every school carnival or fundraiser event is to raise money for a specific cause or organization. Many carnival organizers do not realize one of the best and most effective ways to raise the most amount of money at a school carnival is by maximizing throughput at each ride or activity at their carnival.

What is ride throughput? Throughput is a simple measurement of the number of participants a certain ride, game, or activity can register per unit of time. Throughput is typically measured as a number of participants per hour. It is the single factor that can have the greatest impact on the profitability of a fundraiser or carnival.

You want throughput to be a high number in order to maximize profitability. A high throughput also results in shorter and faster lines at each activity!

When you are assessing which rides or activities to have at your school carnival, throughput should be at the top of your list when evaluating your ride choices. How many participants can you register per hour on any particular piece? Should you go for the inflatable slide or the sumo suits? Throughput will be your guide when you need to make decisions about which activities you want at your event. continue reading