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I happened to have a day off from both of my jobs, on a Friday nonetheless, and decided it was time for some family fun. I asked the kids what they wanted to do, and my daughter comes up with going to see a movie. I sent them off to school and started researching (it's been since last Easter that I've been to a movie theater). $10 for each adult ticket, $7.50 for each child. Wtf?? Maybe if we went directly after school, matinees are any showing before 5, right? First off, no, matinees are now any showing before 3, and even then the matinee prices were $7.50 for each adult, $6.00 for each kid. You have GOT to be kidding me. Tickets alone for us (my 2 kids, my sister, her boyfriend and I): $45, popcorn, drinks, candy... not going to happen.

So we started brainstorming. The result ended up being one of the most fun nights my family had ever had. The initial start up cost was a bit consuming (still better in my eyes than spending that money on 2 hours of a movie and not having much when that movie is done except a belly ache from popcorn and candy and the memory of having watched it), but now that the initial costs are out of the way, it'll be cheap from here out.

The Prizes
The Straight to My Butt Food

We planned a Carnival Night. Headed to the local used game store and bought a used copy of Carnival Games for the Wii, which is amazing. Darts, SkeeBall, Dunking Booth, Ring Toss- everything you'd find at a fair. Then we headed to the dollar store and bought tickets (you can find them in the party decorations aisle), some balloons and some streamers. Then came the fun part- we have a Five Below here (if you have one near you, I definitely recommend shopping there- frequently), so we went and dropped a total of $35 on "prizes". For that $35, we had 4 levels of gifts (the top level, for 30 tickets each, contained a board game and a DVD- I love Five Below) that contained 2 prizes per level (one for each kid) and 2 levels that had miscellaneous candy. We labeled each level of prizes a certain number of tickets (yes, after calculating how many tickets we had vs. how many tickets it would take for each kid to get a prize out of each level), and not only decorated the apartment with the balloons and streamers, but bought fair foods like kettle corn, cotton candy (found at the dollar store, by the way- we drove around everywhere trying to find it, so there's a heads up if you decide to create a Carnival Night for your family) and cake balls (okay, so those might have been to help me satisfy a craving I had at the time).

We took the kids out for burgers and fries when they got out of school (though I think next time we're going to have a dinner of fair foods- corn dogs, sausages and peppers, homemade potato chips, etc), and when they came into the house, their eyes popped out of their heads. It was awesome. The rules of the night were explained quickly, and the fun began.

Ticket Cashing Time!

Carnival Games has a competition section, which we realized at the end of the night would have been easier to use to calculate tickets out, but for the first time doing this, we just let the kids have fun, go head to head on different games, and my sister and I gave out tickets accordingly. We set up ticket cashing points every 30 minutes, so the kids could choose to trade in some of their tickets then for smaller prizes or save up for bigger prizes (they had no idea they were going to end up with all of the prizes at the end of the night, as we had divided the tickets to do so). We played for hours, had so much fun, and yes, the adults got up every now and then to try our hands at darts (my favorite) or SkeeBall (my other favorite), or the strong man competition (which apparently causes sore arms the next morning). Because we were using a Wii, the kids weren't sitting on their butts consuming popcorn and watching a movie; they were up, moving, laughing, having a great time.

This is definitely something we will be doing again. If you were to omit the decorations, and head to the dollar store for your prizes, this night could be done for as cheap as $10 or $20, depending on the number of kids you have (after buying the game, of course), and I can honestly say that even the crazy amount of money I spent on the evening (may have gone a little overboard), it's definitely worth it.

Even I got hyped up on some sugar and my zany side came out. And, yes, I know, these glasses look hot on me. (Prize level 3, 15 tickets (cost at Five Below was $2.50), won by my daughter who let me try them out.)

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