This year, I’ve been hunting for great carnival party ideas for my kindergartener’s birthday bash. The bright colors and State Fair-style food is a current favorite of kids and a nostalgic favorite of grown-ups. And here’s the thing: Carnival parties are perfect for the backyard, so I don’t have to spend a lot of money on a pricey venue — or worry about kids messing up my house.

See, our carnival party will be big. My girl has friends from soccer, preschool, and her new class, so lots of invites will be hitting mailboxes all over town. I want the party to be cute, but not too cutesy. I’m determined to get creative in making a party that’s fun for kids and parents¬†alike. Here, I’ve rounded up 11 carnival party ideas that are cool, not cheesy. Ready to get inspired? Check ’em out.