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Plan a FUN Senior Citizen Carnival...

Plan a FUN Senior Citizen Carnival...

Posted by Cathy Knight on Jun 14, 2019

Two Senior Citizens smiling holding balloons at a carnival

Perfect for ALL Ages - Senior Citizens Get a Kick out of Carnivals too!

Many people believe carnivals are only ideal for young children. However, we've discovered that this absolutely isn't the case! We have had nursing homes, elderly care centers and senior living facilities call us for adult carnival game ideas and looking for carnival prize  suggestions as well.

After a few of our team members volunteered to help plan a carnival hosted for at senior day care center, we decided to write this blog post and share our experience in hopes of helping others who are planning an adult carnival!

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Below are 5 tips to host a safe and fun carnival event for senior citizens which is great fun for adults at nursing homes, adult care center or for folks residing at a retirement home too! 

nb-one.jpg Biggest Tip: Keep Games Simple!

Our first tip hint for hosting a senior citizen carnival event is to keep all games simple!  This allows adults with different physical and mental abilities to ALL enjoy themselves and have fun.

Plus, while carnivals are designed to be simple fun for kids, they can also be an easy break from reality for older adults. It is an excellent way for everyone to relive some happy moments of childhood. 

Leap Frog Carnival Game - Great for Adults or Seniors
The above image shows the Leap Frog Carnival Game. 

In the example above, we show a Bean Bag Leap Frog Carnival Game that we set up on a plastic blue tablecloth. In this game the players toss bean bags that have a frog design to land on lily pads with different values. This game was easy enough for all abilities - folks with walking canes, wheelchairs and even walkers were able to enjoy a try at this fun indoor carnival game.  

nb-two.jpg Have A Carnival Buddy With Every Senior 

Elderly adults should each have a volunteer Buddy or Pal with them at your senior carnival. These Carnival Buddies will assist them in moving around the carnival, helping them by explaining how to play each game and enjoying carnival games with them. Carnival Buddies can be volunteers from nearby colleges, high-schools, and churches.

Teens need a lot of volunteer hours these days, so being a Carnival Buddy is an excellent way for them to share moments of joy and laughter with an older adult. 

Elderly man at carnival with happy clown
The above image shows an elderly man having fun with a carnival clown.

We show a enthusiastic "carnival buddy" in our photo above who dressed up as a clown the day she volunteered - but not all buddies need to feel the need to dress up. 

One more thing for your "carnival pals" to understand is that every senior is a unique individual with varying abilities and needs. Some of the elderly may be in wheelchairs with cognitive disabilities. Others might need just a little help with learning the rules of a new carnival game but can toss the bean bags independently and will love the challenge of winning a game! 

As mentioned above, match each senior with a volunteer who is aware of their needs, and is able to assist them throughout the senior carnival.  

nb-three.jpg An Indoor Carnival Is Best

One way to ensure everyone can participate is to host an indoor carnival for your mature carnival goers. 

An indoor funfair is much easier for elderly folks using canes, walkers or wheelchairs to easily enjoy each game without concern about different walkways and steps that are found outdoors.  

A big bonus to hosting an indoor carnivals is that there is no need to worry about rainy weather, gusty breezes or the sun being too hot on a sunny day. In addition, there are so many fun and colorful decorations for inside that can be used for your carnival and enjoyed year after year!

Indoor carnival decorations at carnival for elderly adults
The above image shows indoor hanging carnival decorations.

For example, at the senior carnival we participated in recently, we loved how the volunteers used all types of decorations to add color and fun to the daily meeting room!

They hung carnival decorations from the ceiling, colorful pennant banners around the edges of the room, red and white striped tablecloths for the tables, a cheery carnival sign and an adorable hanging carnival tent in the corner for a photo booth with a fun strike a pose sign! This transformed the meeting room from ordinary into a festive carnival scene! 

nb-four.jpg Place Most Carnival Games On Tables

Older adults cannot easily bend over (to be fair, many adults - senior citizen or not - cannot easily bend over!) Many seniors in retirement homes are also in wheelchairs. This is why carnival games for seniors cannot involve any bending down or serious dexterity. 

Instead, put most of your carnival games on tables or even adjust games to be played while sitting so that seniors can easily reach them without straining and aching. Senior carnivals must be accessible for all ages and all abilities! 

Be aware of any potential disabilities of the seniors you know who are attending your event as you plan and set up your carnival, as it must be accessible to everyone!

duck matching carnival game for nursing home
The above image shows the duck matching carnival game on a table top with striped tablecloth.

nb-five.jpg Let Seniors Play Until They Win!

Senior Carnivals are fun for everyone only when they include SERIOUS competition and a dog-eat-dog environment... just kidding! 

Nope, crazy amounts of competition just won't work for senior carnivals. We recommend instead letting seniors play until they win prizes. If a few elderly folks are struggling with their coordination or are inhibited by a disability, their Carnival Buddy volunteers can assist them. Also tell all of your carnival volunteers to give out prizes if they notice a carnival attendee greatly struggling with a game, or attempting multiple times and not quite winning the game.

This also means you'll need to stock up on enough carnival prizes to allow each senior in the retirement home to win at least one prize from each game. So, if you have 100 residents and 9 different booths, plan on ordering 900 individual prizes as a minimum.

By the way... When we were at our last senior citizen carnival, we were charmed by this adorable older woman (shown below). She got SO excited when she won prizes with her Carnival Buddy! She chose the green prizes every time to match her all-green outfit!

nb-six.jpg PLUS: Coming Soon...

...We will have some great game ideas (plus the best carnival prizes) for Senior carnivals. In the meantime, just know that some of the best prizes for seniors can be some fun items to wear and a few to add color their apartment or room in the retirement home. Stay tuned! 

Thank you for checking out the Carnival Savers blog! We have a few blog posts published a few times a month, so be sure to sign up for our Newsletter if you find this information helpful!