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The TRUTH About "Everybody Wins"

The TRUTH About "Everybody Wins"

Posted by Cathy Knight on Apr 30, 2019

Boy smiling outside with a super hero cape

The TRUTH About "Everyone Wins" Carnival Games...

You've probably heard about the controversy behind "everyone wins." Psychologists and parents alike are torn: is it a good or bad philosophy? There certainly seem to be pros and cons to both.

However, here at Carnival Savers, we recommend NOT planning carnival games where "everyone wins." 

Below are a few reasons why -- and the main reason is that they're BORING. Below, we also teach you how to radically change your "everyone wins" carnival games, so that they become fun, awesome, and even educational!  

nb-one.jpg First, What Is "Everyone Wins?" 

"Everyone wins" is the philosophy that all children playing games should equally win, no matter how well they perform or how skilled they are. 

Typically, at kids carnivals, children who play a game win a consolation prize, which is a fun and inexpensive toy designed to add to the carnival experience. Consolation prizes are NOT the same as top prizes; consolation prizes are given to all children playing, no matter how they do unless they win a top prize.

What do we think about consolation prizes? We LOVE them and here's why!

When a child receives a small prize for playing the game - that toy is added to a collection of goodies and other keepsakes from the carnival or festival.

Furthermore, consolation prizes are also like a child building their own treat bag one by one! 

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Are these small prizes kept forever and played with for hours? No probably not... but they part of the carnival experience and a important part of the "be there" fun for kids! Are you thinking consolation prizes sound like an extra expensive that you should not spend from your carnival budget?

Wait a minute and read below what we have to say about that! 

The above image shows golden mouse ears.

Have you ever visited Disney World or Disneyland? Did you purchase some Mickey Mouse Ears that are a "must have" while visiting and are just a memory hanging in the closet next year? Most likely yes - BUT those overpriced ears were loads of fun and added to your Disney experience even if you are not wearing them to the grocery store or to the dentist office!

nb-two.jpg Why We DON'T Like "Everyone Wins..." 

In a word - "Everybody Wins" games are BORING!! 

That's right! There's absolutely no excitement in playing a "skills" or "luck-based" game in which all players win the same prize. There is no prize motive for players to perform to the best of their ability.

To use an adult example, what if a neighbor invited you over for a game of cards. This new card game there was no winner, no teams and no way to do score better than the other players. When you simply ran out of cards the game was over. I think we all can agree you may not keep playing that card game for very long. And, you might choose to find another card game that allowed someone to actually be the winner! The same holds true for carnival games!

The above image shows the carnival game lollipop tree at a school carnival.

For an example, the Lollipop Tree game is a simple carnival game in which many lollipops are placed in a wooden tree cut-out. Sometimes the game is setup incorrectly where the children pick a lollipop and the lollipop they choose is their prize. Players already know exactly what they will receive, and there is no luck, excitement or mystery. In addition, you can be sure you will not have a line of kids wanting to play. Of course, we do not recommend this "everyone wins" setup for your Lollipop Tree. 

Instead, if you make one simple change, this traditional carnival game is now exciting!

If you set aside 10% of your lollipops and add a colored blue dot to the end of the lollipop stick (use an ink pad or sharpie) and tell the kids whatever lollipop they choose they can keep (the consolation prize) but SOME lollipops have a blue dot on the end.

If you happen to choose a blue dot you get a top prize along with your lollipop! This will get the kids get really excited about playing this game as they have a chance to win something awesome!

See our short video below showing a girl winning at the lollipop tree!

(Short Carnival Savers video/gif shows a boy at a carnival winning a prize and celebrating.)

nb-three.jpg Try these EASY Adjustments for ALL Your Games 

Tip #1 - Make sure each game has some challenge

Basically, you are setting up each game to have a chance for a player to win a top prize. Your game can be a "tossing type" game with skill involved like the basketball hoop toss or the game can be a "game of luck", where some folks win the top prize by chance. It is great a nice variety of carnival at your event, making it fun the kids of all ages!

For example, the carnival duck pond (gif below) has been a little boring for children as many times the ducks tip over and you can see what prize is won before you even choose a duck!

(Short Carnival Savers video/gif shows a kiddie pool with tipping over colored rubber duckies.)

Note: if you are having trouble with tipping ducks - see our blog post on "Tired of Tipping Ducks" where we tell you how to fix that ASAP!

We suggest the Matching Duck Game - this game is played like a traditional matching game where you turn over two ducks and look for matching numbers. We typically recommend giving children 2 - 3 three tries to find a match as this "game of luck" is not won easily! 

The above image shows a bucket of small stuffed animals for top carnival prizes.

Tip #2 - Label and Display Your Prizes

Here's our quick tip: simply provide 2 different prizes at each of your carnival games - one as a top prize, one as a consolation prize. Make sure to label your prizes - "Top Prize" and "Consolation Prize" with a simple sign. 

As in our example above, use a bucket, bin, or laundry basket to show off your prizes! For slightly larger stuffed animals, we love to hang them on a thin rope with clothespins so they are hanging in plain sight just like the professionals at a fairground do to entice folks to play their games! This one extra step gets the kids fired up about playing each game! 

This is guaranteed to make your carnival games significantly more fun, because kids will want to get back in line again and again to win the coveted stuffed animal or other fun toy! 

nb-four.jpg Still Don't Think Winning is Important?

Check out this adorable GIF below! A boy at a school carnival just won at the Cakewalk Carnival Booth! The cakes are inside the school cafeteria - he grabs his winning sticker and wastes no time running in the claim his favorite cake! Victory is sweet!


We hope we have convinced you to consider adjusting your carnival games to make them more amusing and enjoyable for all!  

Again, as a quick review: Make your Carnival Games more entertaining by making sure they are not "Everyone Wins" games.

Carnival games with ONLY consolation prizes are "everyone wins" games. 

Carnival games with top prizes that can be won by winners and consolation prize are NOT everyone wins games. 

Thank you for reading the Carnival Savers blog. Please feel free to check out more carnival hints and tips below!