Carnival Party Ideas

Carnival Party Ideas

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Come one, come all, to the greatest birthday party of them all! Our carnival party ideas will transport your child and guests to a fun-filled carnival. Read on for suggestions for food, decorating, games, favors and more.

Shop our Carnival Party Supplies

Browse this guide:
Carnival Invitations
Carnival Decorations
Carnival Party Food
Carnival Party Favors
Carnival Games & Activities

Planning & Invitations

What Do I Need For the Party?

In addition to basic Carnival party supplies, like plates, cups, napkins and decorations, you may want to consider purchasing, borrowing or renting the following items for your Carnival party:

Carnival Party Invitation Ideas

If you'd like to purchase invitations with a personalized touch, consider our personalized Carnival party invitations. We'll include your child's name and all the party details on a background that complements your circus theme. Or check out our blank circus invitations and fill in the details yourself.

If you have time to make your own circus invitations, here are some creative carnival party ideas to get you started:
  • Attach a card-style invitation to one of our personalized circus party supplies or a box of animal crackers with a length of curling ribbon by punching a hole in one corner of the circus invitation. Hand-deliver your circus invitations to your guests.
  • Include a circus sticker and some confetti with each circus party invitation and seal the envelope with a personalized circus party sticker with party information or a fun message on it!
  • Create invitations that look like popcorn bags using red-striped paper. Fold the paper over and glue together to form a pocket, then used scalloped scissors to cut an edge at the top of the pocket. Write the party details on a piece of card stock and put it in the pocket.
  • Cut out the shape of a circus tent from red-striped paper and paste a white card in the middle with the party details.
  • Design your invitation to resemble a carnival ticket
  • Be creative with the wording of the party details. Here is an example:
Come one, come all
To Amy's 7th birthday carnival!
There will be food, games and lots of fun
And a special surprise for everyone
Gates open at noon on May 13th
at 1234 Carnival Way
RSVP for your VIP pass by contacting 555-1234

Decorating & Food Ideas

Carnival Party Decorating Ideas
  • Ticket Booth: Set up a ticket booth and have an adult or older child wearing a top hat hand each of your guests a string of tickets when they arrive. These tickets can later be redeemed for favors. You can print copies of our Carnival Tickets on cardstock or purchase rolls of tickets.
  • Carnival Colors: Think in colors like red, blue and yellow when selecting decorations and partyware.
  • Tent effect: Use colorful sheets and blankets or plastic tablecloths to make your party area look like the inside of a circus tent. You can hang them from ropes suspended from trees, tent poles, or from the ceiling. You can also drape red and white streamers from the ceiling to create a canopy.
  • Table Decorations: Decorate your tables with red, blue and yellow table covers. Use popcorn boxes tied to helium balloons as a centerpiece and tie balloons to the back of each chair.
  • Trapezes: String rope though empty paper towel tubes and hang them to create flying trapezes. Add a stuffed animal or doll to each trapeze.
  • Barbell: Make a fake barbell by gluing a plastic ball to each end of a wooden dowel. Spray paint the whole thing black, and add the words "500 lbs." to each end with a white paint pen from a craft store.
  • Clowns: If you'd rather not hire a clown, ask an older child or adult to dress as a clown and make balloon animals. If you don't know how to make balloon animals, check out our Balloon Animals Kit that comes with an instruction book, balloons, and a balloon inflator.
  • Photo booth: Get some silly props like clown noses, glasses, mustaches and hats, and take photos of the kids.
  • Face painting: Hire a face painter, or have an adult paint simple designs on children's faces with face paint. Check out our cheap and simple recipe to make your own face paint.

Carnival Party Food Ideas

A carnival theme party wouldn't be complete without great carnival food like:
  • Hot dogs, Corn dogs, Burgers, & Chicken fingers
  • Popcorn, Cotton candy, Peanuts & Cracker Jacks
  • French fries
  • Nachos
  • Soft pretzels
  • Lemonade in a circus theme plastic stadium cup with a silly straw
  • Snow cones & Ice cream
  • Caramel apples

Here are a few additional ideas for dessert:
  • Clown Cupcakes: Bake cupcakes and top with white frosting. Make each one look like a clown's face using a red gum drop for a nose, M&Ms for the eyes, a bit of red licorice for a mouth, and cotton candy for the hair.
  • Circus Cake: Bake a cake and cover it with white frosting. Use tubes of colored icing to add balloons in red, yellow and blue. Place toy animals around the edges.
  • Clown Ice Cream: Make clown heads using scoops of bright orange or raspberry sherbet topped with sugar cone "hats" surrounded by rings of icing "ruffles." Make faces using round, red candy for the noses (try gumballs), M&Ms for the eyes, and red licorice strings for the mouths. Make these ahead of time, and freeze them until you're ready to serve them to your guests.

Party Favor Ideas

Carnival Party Favor Ideas

Thank your guests with awesome party favors or pass favors out as prizes! To find a large variety of Carnival party favors, visit our Circus party page and click the "Party Favors" tab or the "More Fun Stuff" tab. Some of the favors we have include:
Also check out our complete circus party favor sets and circus personalized products such as zipper pulls, placemats, and stickers.

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Party Planning Toolbox

Use the links below to quickly find related theme party supplies, planning tips, printable checklists, and advice from our party planning experts.
  • Carnival Party Supplies: Includes paperware, invitations, personalized items, favors, and decorations for your party theme.
  • Carnival Personalized Items: Check out our exclusive personalized items including invitations, bookmarks, stickers, and more!
  • Party Planning 101: Our useful party planning guide includes cake ideas, party etiquette tips, a printable guest list, and much more.
  • Birthday Party Decorating Ideas: This guide will tell you how to decorate for your party theme, what to do with balloons and streamers, how to decorate with food, how to set the table, and how to make your own party decorations.
  • Parties Under $100: Use this guide to celebrate in style without breaking the bank!
  • Party Budget Estimator: Download this guide to help budget your expenses.
  • More Birthday Theme Ideas: Browse our list of over 130 themed party guides to find tips for your child's next birthday! Each guide includes ideas for invitations, decorations, food, favors, games and more.

Games and Activities

Carnival Games

Set up five carnival games that will show your guests a true circus atmosphere.

Face Painting Designs

Download our face painting idea sheet and then paint your guest's faces!

Walking the Tightrope

Children get to test out their skills on the "high-wire".

Strong Man Game

Guests team up and compete to see who's the strongest "strong man" at the party.

Peanut Relay Race

Parents and guests will love this hilariously-entertaining peanut race.

Clown Bag Craft

Let the children design their own clown face favor bags with this fun craft.

Circus Parade

Have a circus parade around the house or the block.

Circus Coloring Page

Print out copies of our circus coloring page, and let the children decorate them.