How to Host A Carnival

Posted in Just A Thought at 8:48 am

Several posts are flying around my head but the most urgent is based on a comment in this week’s Carnival of Family Life by next week’s hostess Little Mummy– she’s understandably nervous at hosting her first carnival.

Hosting is fun and easy (we all write don’t we?) but takes a lot of time. If you follow a few simple rules and stay on top of each day’s submissions you’ll have a great carnival.


The week before your carnival, put up a post so your regular readers know you’re hosting next week. Maybe your friends will discover carnivals through you.  


Kailani (or the person who maintains the carnival) forwards emails – one for each submission, usually in a batch, once per day.  Each email contains the url for the post, the originating website, remarks, usually the name of the submitter and an email in case you have questions. The emails are each labeled with a totally useless (to you) tracking number.

I strongly recommend you do the following as soon as you can after you get emails:

Open 1 (don’t open all planning to shut down as you process them.)

Read the submitted post. (duhhhh)

Problems – Every carnival there are a couple of problematic posts – they might be very thinly disguised ads, way way off topic or advocacy posts. Let the person who maintains the carnival know about your problem. Kailini generally leaves whether or not to include the post up to the host but does give a little guidance. (I dump ads and advocacy if it looks like someone was just trying to publicize a cause. If the submitter made the effort to tie their cause into the carnival format and theme I take it.)

Duplicates – every so often someone submits right after the deadline and the again later in the week. If you have a clear preference take the one you like best. If they do it early enough and you feel like investing the time, email & ask which they meant to use. At the very least forward a copy of the submission you are dropping and let them know why you’re not including it.

Disagreeing with the content of the post isn’t a problem – you can always note your reservations in comments. (Do you know that there are people who don’t hold the same political views I do? They still have wonderful things to say. Amazing.)

So the Post is Wonderful

Write a teaser for the post that includes a link to the post and to the submitting blog. Try not to reveal the punchline or just summarize – you want to give enough information to make sure no one skips over a post that they’d like but not so much that they feel they already know what it says.

For each link be sure to specify that it opens in a new window (or your readers will get lost in a journey of discovery and may not see the rest of the posts) and that you have typed in the description that appears when your mouse hovers over the link. (if you don’t have the second your page will generate errors.)

Time-Saver Caution – BlogCarnival includes code that you could cut and paste into your carnival and it would give you a listing. Not only does it not have the best format for the links (no new window; no description on hover), the format is not inviting.  If you get a couple of last-minute posts that you just don’t have time to address properly you could use the cut & paste, but I’d really try not to.

Label the email

I cannot stress this one enough. I like to change forward to Done and add the post blogger at the end of the tracking number in the subject line. Be careful to label Kailani’s email, not the attachment.

You skip this step at your peril. Some time during the week I get distracted and leave a half-finished post in my draft. Worse yet, if you have a crash and loose 10 minutes of posting its not a big deal if you can see which posts didn’t survive. Having to go through 60 emails, opening 60 attachments looking for the lost post kills enormous amounts of time.


Somewhere 2/3 of the way through the carnival (Thursday for the Carnival of Family Life) themes emerge.  I usually have ‘stories’ first – those posts that are closest to the stated intent of the carnival. Advice is a perennial favorite – the volume of good ideas out there is amazing. Set up your categories as headers.

I like to start each category with the code <h4> and end it with </h4>. (the ending is not a like – you must have it if you don’t want the rest of your post to be a header.) Be sure you’re adding the labels when you’re in code mode.

Post Order

This is very subjective. I try to put the posts that I like the most at the beginning of the category but I try to mix up serious and funny posts. For some reason the grimmest posts seem to come in early (they often are among the most worthwhile to read but they can be draining.)


I like to include mention of Kailani (of course), last week’s host and a reminder to submit entries for next week.

Housekeeping – It’s Almost Over

Don’t forget to spell check the post. I love WordPress but their spell checker is beyond feeble. I:

  • switch to code mode,
  • copy the post to my word processing program,
  • make my corrections
  • past back over the original draft.

Be careful not to lose your links! If something goes wrong Ctrl z (undo) is a wonderful thing.

Check the page for errors at the W3 validator .  Just paste the url of your draft in the box and submit. If you didn’t set up your links correctly it makes the page take longer to load. After you and all the posters have put in so much time you don’t want to lose anyone because the site is slow.

Finally, I like to send a copy of the draft over to Kailani before I publish (optional). It’s great to have someone else count the entries & match against the number of submissions. I also have the almost completely baseless fear that my site will go down the week I am host. I figure sending Kailani a copy will work like carrying an umbrella – if she could put it up, she’ll never need to.

Carnivals are fun – just stay relaxed and enjoy.


  1. Grace said,

    07.23.07 at 1:17 am

    This is very helpful. I am trying to be brave enough to host the carnival someday. I will read this again now. 😉

  2. Christine said,

    07.23.07 at 7:49 am

    As long as you have a week with a fair amount of free time go for it. It’s lots of fun. If something dreadful happens (like you’re hit by a stomach flu) – don’t panic. Cutting and pasting the BlogCarnival suggested code is fast and you won’t be the first one it happened to.