Circus Party

My Kids' Joint Big Top Circus Carnival Birthday Party

1:54 PMC Riches

Big Top Circus Carnival Inspired Birthday Party Ideas and desserts table

As you probably know, my kiddies were born on the same day (two years apart) and as such, their birthdays are always somewhat a challenging affair...Moms of twins with be nodding in agreement at this point ;)

But I'm soooo happy (and relieved) that this year, we all collectively decided on a  "Big Top Circus" birthday party theme - What's not to like?! It's a really classic, fun and colorful theme, plus it's totally suited for any age group...

BUT I think what reeeeally "sealed the deal" for my kids, was the promise of a few carnival games as party activities! ;)

This is how it all turned out...

Big Top Circus Carnival Inspired Birthday Party Ideas and desserts table

Big Top Circus Carnival Inspired Birthday Party Ideas and desserts table

Big Top Circus Carnival Inspired Birthday Party: Printables Design and Inspiration

I designed the party printables to emulate the traditional circus colors red, white and blue, but added different pattern (polka dots, harlequin, stripes) to keep things fun and eclectic. This is one of those party themes that allows for bold use of pattern and colors, so I really went to town!

For the party invites I wanted  a "circus is in town poster" kind of look, and included confetti and printable carnival tickets in the envelopes. The printable tickets were personalized with my kids' names on, and had the details of the party too.

Big Top Circus Carnival Inspired Birthday Party Ideas and desserts table

Big Top Circus Carnival Inspired Birthday Party Ideas and Printables decorations

Big Top Circus Carnival Inspired Birthday Party: The Party Scene - Props and Decorations 

I always love using printable cut-out or party icons to embellish my dessert tables, and wanted to re-create a "3D" mini-circus as my main desserts table.

Using my kid's garden gazebo frame and a piece of MDF from my local hardware store for the table top, I created a bespoke mini circus tent to house the dessertsA yellow oil cloth fabric I had at home was perfect for the roof of the tent, which I pegged in place with double-sided tape and some plastic pegs at the bag (where it wouldn't be seen).

The gazebo frame is a simple system of pipes, and could be re-created using PVC piping similar to this example.

Big Top Circus Carnival Inspired Birthday Party Ideas and Printables decor

Big Top Circus Carnival Inspired Birthday Party Ideas and Printables desserts table

The 3-D cut out clown, seal, ring master and elephant from the printable collection were also glittered to help bring extra color and interest to the table - Glittering small space is NOT easy, but if you use small paintbrushes and apply just enough glue (too much will wrinkle your paper..) you should be ok!

Getting them to stand on the tables was quite simple: After glittering (and drying), I glued a piece of bamboo skewer to the back of each printable cut-out to make them sturdier,  then secured them to food cans wrapped in scrapbook paper (with double-sided tape or hot glue). These printable party cut outs really helped to bring the whole circus theme to life, and gave the table a "3-D" dimension.

Big Top Circus Carnival Inspired Birthday Party Ideas and Printables Cookies

Big Top Circus Carnival Inspired Birthday Party Ideas and Printables FAVORS

Little party hats from the printable collection were embellished with accordion paper rosettes made from yellow paper, and colored beads. These were used as much for decorations as they were for entertaining the kids and as photo props!

Colorful helium balloons, printable bunting and yellow paper rosettes adorned the "circus tent" desserts table, as well as the circus entrance, and all the carnival booths!

Big Top Circus Carnival Inspired Birthday Party Ideas and Printables candy

Big Top Circus Carnival Inspired Birthday Party: Food, Drinks, Desserts Table and Candy 

Circus or carnival food is fairly simple, so I relished the opportunity to make it part of the décor too! 

The monkey nuts were displayed in cute paper cones , which I made using the scrapbook paper from the printable collection, and embellished with beads.

The popcorn was displayed in the printable popcorn boxes from the "Big Top Circus" collection. The handmade sugar lollipops from a local artisan, were decorated with printable tags and displayed in a round gift box filled with candy balls.

The fabulous, decorated cookies from Sweet Dough tied in beautifully with the rest of the décor! They were also given out as favors.

Big Top Circus Carnival Inspired Birthday Party Ideas and Printables Cupcakes

Cupcakes were home-made vanilla sponge with vanilla buttercream, edible colorful sprinkles from Sweet Estelle and white fondant. Some were decorated with little clown cupcake toppers and a mini paper rosette. The other cupcakes were simply adorned with round cupcake toppers.

Big Top Circus Carnival Inspired Birthday Party Ideas and Printables Cake

The centerpiece of the desserts table was the fabulous cake! I emailed my friend Livy from La Lettre Gourmande about what I had in mind, and she matched it to perfection! It really was the star of the table, and I decorated the top with another paper rosette and a large party tag.

The cupcake/cake stand was a DIY job, created with a simple cake board, which sat on top of a large food can, wrapped in more scrapbook paper! 

Different flavor squashes were served in cute little soda bottles, but I kept the yellow ones for the table, which were wrapped with printable bottle wrappers. The cute stripped straws from Sweet Estelle finished them off beautifully!

Old-fashioned candy jars (from local "dollar" store) were filed with gum balls, jelly candies and "flying saucer" sweets from my local supermarket.

Big Top Circus Carnival Inspired Birthday Party Ideas and Printables Games

Big Top Circus Carnival Inspired Birthday Party: Party Activities and Carnival-Style Booths:

In-keeping with the theme, I created some carnival-style game booths in the garden. Well, thank goodness for Martha Stewart where I got most of my inspiration for these games from! The fun thing about these is that the kids helped me set it all up and we loved trying out each game before the party too! ;)

I designed the printable carnival signage for the booths, which I hung with string and wooden pegs to yellow garden posts. Tying them on top and bottom helped to keep the paper from flying in the wind.

Printable carnival-style, vintage tickets were given to each child before they started playing so everyone could trade in their tickets at the end in exchange for prizes! The carnival tickets were personalized with the names and ages (4c and 6c) of my kids and the birthday date on them.

My Kids' Joint Big Top Circus Carnival Birthday Party -

Big Top Circus Carnival Inspired Birthday Party Ideas and Printables Photo Booth

For booth that required some sort of table like the "tin can alley", I simply wrapped black tables (from my office) in red paper around the rim, and decorated the tops with punched out colored circles. I used different diameter punches, and punched out several circles from colored cardstock and scrapbook paper from the collection. You can stick them down with double-sided tape or glue dots too.

Big Top Circus Carnival Inspired Birthday Party Ideas and Printables Games and Activities

1) Clown Academy Booth 

This booth had juggling games, face-painting, wigs, masks, the printable photo props, balloon making kits, as well as fun hats so the kids got disguised as they wished. This booth was very conveniently placed right next to the photo booth ;)

2) Circus Photo Booth 

I used frame prop to emulate the table styling. I used a large wooden photo frame without the glass (from local thrifty store), and hot glued a piece of red fabric to the back to make the curtains. Then I decorated with a mini printable bunting and some more of those paper rosettes. I attached it to the metal garden poles and set 2 toadstool stools behind for the kiddies to sit on! These stool were on sale and each  was about $7 from my local home-ware store (Casa). My camera and tripod sat in front of the booth so I could capture all the  little clowns! :)

3) Carnival Game Ring Toss Booth

Tossing the rings to earn points, depending on which peg they land. Easy and effective! I got this game from my local thrifty store too, and was inspired by a similar one I saw on the Martha Stewart's site.

4) Carnival Game  Bouncy Ball Booth

I found his idea on Martha also - Little metal pails were decorated with party tags, and a color circle on the bottom to indicate the values of each pail. The idea here is to drop the ping pong balls from a height, and get them to land inside the pails. Sounds easier than it actually is! ;)

5) Carnival Game  Tin Can Alley

Empty food cans wrapped in scrapbook paper. The objective of the game is to try and knock down all the cans with only 3 balls. The soft balls were also from local thrifty store.

6) Carnival Game  Duck Pond Booth

My "invention" and fave game of all! The plastic ducks were from my local "dollar" store. I wrapped a bamboo rod with green and yellow electrical tape (you could also use ribbon) and tied a piece of string to the end. I then hot glue a very strong magnet (from craft stores) to the tip of the string. I pushed metal pins into the head of each duck to make them "magnetic" Filled an old wine barrel with water, attached the printable signage  to the barrel and set to play - Very happy to say that fun was had by adults and kids alike! :D

Big Top Circus Carnival Inspired Birthday Party Ideas and Printables Booths

Big Top Circus Carnival Inspired Birthday Party: Party Frocks and Favors

Each child got to take home a hand-made circus T-shirt - I simply printed the clown designs from the collection onto heat-transfer paper (from Amazon) and ironed them to white T-shirts. Both my children were actually wearing one each for the party, and my little girl was also wearing one of her gorgeous tutus by Cole Baby Tutus!

Before each child left, they redeemed their tickets for prizes at the "Prizes" booth. In fact, every child got to take home the same, because of the difference in age groups it wouldn't be fair otherwise, but they loved the idea of "choosing" their prizes! And just a like any carnival, they had plush toys to choose from.

The polka dot green gable boxes were also from Green Party Goods, and it included: 

* Homemade circus lollipops (using Wilton molds and candy melts).

* Homemade circus crayons (also using Wilton molds) - Using a craft knife, slice and cut the paper off your crayons. Put all pieces into an empty food can and melt in a  low oven. 
Pour into molds (do not use molds for edible lollipops!) and cool it in the fridge until set. Pop them into a clear bag and staple a party bag label on.

* Big Top Coloring Book: These were assembled from the printable coloring sheets from the collection. I hole-punched each sheets and tied with colored ribbons.

Circus Tent Favor Boxes: These were the boxes featured on the desserts table and filled with candy. I purchased papier maché boxes from my craft store (about 40 cents each) and painted the outside with acrylic paint. Then I cut a circle int he center of the spiral scrapbook paper from the collection to make the roof, and hot glued it to the lid of the little boxes along with a yellow pom pom (from craft stores)

Big Top Circus Carnival Inspired Birthday Party Ideas and Printables

Big Top Circus Carnival Inspired Birthday Party: Keeping it real 

Yes, real parties all have "unseen footage" like kids who don't like cake (???), or pick their noses at the photo booth (sigh...), mom who gets stressed at the last minute for not being able to find candy floss, and a certain degree of mad prepping beforehand (printing, cutting, assembling, glittering, printing, gluing, baking, frosting, cutting etc, etc, etc), but what matters is that my kids were extremely happy and we all had a blast, so I say it was all worth it in the end!! :)

My Kids' Joint Big Top Circus Carnival Birthday Party -

Hummmm.......I wonder what party theme we shall do next year?!! ;p

Big Top Circus Carnival Inspired Birthday Party: Vendors Credits

Party Printables, Styling and Photography: Bird's Party
Cake: La Lettre Gourmande
Decorated Cookies: Sweet Dough
Paper Straws: Bird's Party
Cupcake and Gable Boxes: Bird's Party
Tutu: Cole Baby Tutu
Drink Bottles: Bird's Party
Mini Candy Jars: Bird's Party

Click to see more Circus and Carnival inspired birthday party ideas, party decor and party printables on this theme!

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  1. This is absolutely amazing! LOVE every. single. detail!

  2. What a great party! What are those cute mini circus tents that are on the table? Are those party hats? Whatever they are, they are adorable!

    I have boy/girl twins so I know how difficult it can be to plan a party for children of different sex! But, as always, you have done so amazingly!

  3. Looks fab, so bright and love the photo booth idea with the frame. I loved throwing the CIrcus we had this SUmmer...Happy b'dy to your blessings!

  4. Brilliant + beautiful. I love the mix/match patterns-whimsical and utterly charming. So many ridiculously amazing deets. In love with the little clown. Freaking over all the glitta:) xo

  5. My sweet friends, I'm blushing now!! ;D

    Kristy, you are my "glitta" idol! :D

    Marcela, I made those. they are papier maché boxes painted with acrylic paint. I then cut a circle from one of the patterned papers from the printable collection, and glued to the lids of the boxes. They were used to fill with candy for gusts to take home! ;)

  6. PS It was KILLING me knowing that you were doing clowns and I wanted spotty clown printables... Don't ever let me in on a secret like that again! It was worth the wait - they are tre cute - you do cute clowns everywhere justice lol! Jane xx

  7. Oi, Cris,
    Esse tema é uma graça e você desenvolveu de forma maravilhosa! Amei as ideias tão fofas! Ah, quero te parabenizar pela revista incrível, vi a participação da Katinha Bonfa e adorei todas as festas!
    Muito sucesso! carinho, Simone

  8. Very nice party, I think it took a lot to organize all of this. But in final it was a success. Best regards !

  9. LOL Jane!! Glad my fave, gorgeous clown approves! ;D

  10. OMG, such awesome details!! I love the all the patterns and colors. I think circus/carnival themes are my fave themes. They're always so much fun!! Great job!!

  11. Love all the bright colors - perfect for boys and girls. What fun! You took lovely photos, too!

  12. Amazing like always! LOVE the bright and happy colors and graphics! So many perfect details! Your kiddies and you are the cutest! The photo booth is genius!

  13. There is too much cuteness--my head is exploding! Just precious!

  14. Love the colors and I enjoyed seeing every tiny detail! So fun! Lovethe pic of your son with the cookie and the two siblings looking so lovingly at each other! What a wonderful party!

  15. Bird, what an amazing party. You are so talented. I loved every detail. You're a true inspiration to the party blogging world. Love it!

  16. Simplesmente PERFEITA!!! Detalhes únicos e lindos! Parabéns Bird, amei essa festa!
    Circo é um tema que eu gosto muito... e fazer para os filhos, deve dar maior prazer ainda.
    Estou encantada!!
    Bjs, Jaque

  17. Clearly a lot of love and attention went into every single element of this party!! It's amazing! I especially love the circus tent shaped dessert table. Also loving those little tent boxes on the table, the photo booth and all the amazing games!!!

    1. You inspired me! ;) Will be showing a small tute for the boxes soon..

  18. LOVE and ADORE!!! Every single detail is just magnificent and magical! And I just love the photo booth and those adorable little clowns of yours! Uma festa maravilhosa, amiga! Parabens!!! ♥

    1. Well overdue, but thank you for the love my sweet friend!! :)

  19. Oh my gosh, thank you for sharing. This is amazing and I adore your photo booth. I love the vibrant colors and the fact that this theme could be used for a boy or a girl. It is awesome.

    1. Thanks so much for stopping by! So glad you like the booth! :)

  20. I absolutely LOVE everything. What a perfect circus! SO creative! Please tell me where did you find that fabulous polka dot multi-colored table cloth?

    1. HI Georgia, I found it on Ebay! :)

  21. omg thank you for the great ideas!

  22. Love this! Will be using you for inspiration for our kids korner at Relay for Life! Thanks for sharing!

  23. Hey! I love this! I'm planning a circus/carnival theme for my upcoming 1 year old! I wanted to know if you can give me an estimate on how much you spent. Sorry if it's too personal. Never done a party so I'm trying to figure it out.

    1. Hi Emily, I wasn't keeping count to be honest, but really apart from the fabrics, food and favors, the decor can be really affordable if you use printables! ;)
      The circus collection I used goes a long way to decorating the party in so many ways and you can find it here:

  24. Hi I was wondering where you got the polka dot table clothes? I have googled and googled and then googled some more. I can't find any on any website (besides a white table cover with polka dot borders)....thanks in advance

    1. I bought it online here:

      Not sure they deliver to US though...

  25. Hi My two Girl and Boy are 2 yrs and 1 day apart :) I am also thinking circus party! This looks fabulous!

  26. What a fun party! Love all the decorations, games, and food! Thanks for linking up at the Ultimate Pinterest Party last week - I loved your post and will be featuring it in this weeks party! Can't wait to see what you link up on Friday!


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