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How to Host a Carnival-Themed Backyard Party

Turn Your Backyard Into a Carnival With This Ultra-Fun Summer Party Idea

Just because backyard barbecues, beach vacations, and rooftop hangs often include alcohol doesn't mean you have to drink to have a fun summer. In fact, more and more people are starting to explore sober-curious and lower-alcohol lifestyles, with recent data revealing that the number of adults who drink are declining.

All it takes is one great booze-free hang to show your friend group that not every get-together has to include alcohol. Take this carnival-themed backyard party idea, for example: your guests will be having such a good time playing outdoor games and indulging in nostalgia-filled snacks, they won't give a second thought to the drinks (or lack thereof). Here's how to create your own backyard carnival — and cheers to good, clean fun.

Refresh Your Childhood Favorites

Listen, you're never too old for mini golf — or a water-balloon fight, or any number of the games you used to love as a child. Pick one of your favorite childhood activities, and re-create it in your backyard. Think: a super-miniature three-hole mini-golf course, an amped-up game of tag with water balloons, or a temporary-tattoo station with a wide range of options.

Set Out Nostalgic Snacks

You can't have a carnival without cotton candy, corn dogs, and kettle corn — it just wouldn't be the same. Instead of ordering pizza when people get hungry, stock up on all kinds of nostalgic carnival foods and set up a smorgasbord of snack options. If you do want something ice cold to sip on, stock up on Heineken 0.0. It's alcohol-free and only 69 calories, but it has all the refreshing beer flavor you know and love.

Make a Mess on Purpose

Don't overlook the appeal of craft time — especially one that allows your friends to make a bit of a mess. Set up a classic Y2K DIY: the balloon splatter painting. Fill balloons with different colors of paint, and attach them to a canvas. Set it up somewhere you don't mind getting a little messy, then go wild bursting balloons with darts. Once you've popped all the balloons, you'll have your very own pop-art masterpiece (pun intended). Work on one large communal artwork, or give each of your friends their own canvas to make individual pieces.

Don't Forget After-Dark Activities

No need to shut down the party when the sun goes down — just get creative with after-dark activities. A warm summer night is a perfect opportunity for glow-in-the-dark lawn games, powered by some good old-fashioned glow sticks. Fill empty Heineken 0.0 bottles with lit glow sticks to make your own ring-toss game, or hide different-colored glow sticks around the yard for a scavenger hunt. Either way, your night will be much more memorable than one spent at the local bar.

Must be 21+ to purchase; please drink responsibly.

Illustrations: Katie Smith