Is your little one a fan of circuses and carnivals? Then throw your child an entertaining birthday bash worthy of the Big Top with our Circus Party Ideas! We offer suggestions for everything from circus invitations to carnival party games. So read on and let the show begin!
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Planning & Invitations
What Do I Need For the Party?
In addition to basic Circus party supplies, like plates, cups, napkins and decorations, you may want to consider purchasing, borrowing or renting the following items for your Circus party:
- Clown costumes
- A popcorn machine
- A bubble Machine
- Snow cone or cotton candy makers
- Prizes for the party games
- Disposable cameras
Creative invitations build excitement and can increase attendance at your party. If you have time to make your own, here are some ideas to get you started:
- Design each invitation to resemble a circus ticket.
- Make clown faces out of paper bags and write the invitation information on the back. Add a few pieces of candy to the envelope before sending.
- Attach a card-style invitation to a bag of circus peanuts or a box of animal crackers and hand-deliver them to your guests.
- Attach a card-style invitation to a big red nose and ask your guests to wear the nose to the party.
- Send each invitation inside a flattened popcorn bag.
- Be creative with the party details! Here is an example of a poem you can use:
Come one, come all to the greatest show in town,
Join Taylor on his birthday and prepare to clown around.
We’ll play carnival games and eat yummy food too,
A whole day of excitement is in store for you!
If you would rather not make your own invitations, but would still like a personalized touch, consider our personalized 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.
- Circus Tent: Use brightly-colored streamers to form a canopy over the center of the table, simulating a circus tent. The streamers should cascade from a point in the middle (i.e. the center of the ceiling or a chandelier), down and out to the sides of the room. You can also hang red, blue, and yellow plastic table covers from the ceiling down over the walls of the party room to make it look like the inside of a circus tent.
- Circus Table Decorations: Decorate the party tables with red, blue and yellow table covers topped with centerpieces made from clusters of your child’s stuffed animals. You could also make centerpieces using tall popcorn boxes with balloons and streamers coming out of the center of each box.
- Trapezes: Create flying trapezes by stringing rope though empty paper towel tubes and hanging them throughout the party space. Then, set one of your own stuffed animals on each trapeze.
- Admission Tickets: As your guests arrive, hand each an admission ticket. You can purchase rolls of admission tickets, make your own, or print copies of our Carnival Tickets on cardstock and cut them out.
- Easy Clown Costumes: Provide each guest with a red clown nose and a Clown Hat as they arrive.
- Strongman’s 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.
- Circus Posters: Make easy circus posters using pages from any circus coloring book. Just enlarge the pages at an office supply store, and then color them yourself with craft paint or watercolor crayons, which cover large areas easily. Or, create circus signs with craft paint and poster board. Include wording such as: “Welcome to the Greatest Show on Earth!”, “Under the Big Top!”, or “AMAZING!” Hang the posters on the walls throughout the party space.
- Circus Pinata: We offer a selection of traditional and pull-string pinatas, but any traditional pinata can be converted to a pull-string using our easy instructions.
- Ticket Booth: Set up a ticket booth at the front door or at the entrance to the party area. Have an adult wearing a top hat or clown outfit manage the ticket booth. He or she can distribute carnival tickets, which your guests can exchange for candy or prizes.
- Three-Ring Circus: Use three hula hoops to form a “three-ring circus” in the party area. Flip a small, cylindrical trashcan upside down to make a stand in one of the circles, and set a stuffed elephant, lion or other circus animal on top.
- Clowning Around: Ask an older child or adult to dress as a clown and make balloon animals for the children. Use our easy Balloon Animal Kit that includes an instruction book, balloons, and a balloon inflator. There’s no need to master the entire book! One or two basic shapes will delight your guests.
- Circus Music: Circus, carnival, or other peppy music will add to the atmosphere. Check the Internet, a local book or music store, or a library for CDs or tapes with appropriate songs like “Elephant’s March.”
When it comes to food, partygoers are usually perfectly content to eat pizza or hotdogs, which is certainly much easier on the hosts! However, if you have the time and would like to serve up some more interesting treats, consider these ideas:
- Traditional Circus Fare: Offer food the kids might find at the circus, such as corn dogs, cotton candy, popcorn, cracker jacks, pretzels, peanuts in the shell, lemonade, and cola or root beer floats.
- 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.
- Concession Stand : Make a poster for the food area that says “Concession Stand”, and include pictures of the snacks you’ll be serving. If desired, you can give the kids a few additional tickets that they can use to “buy” party food. For added fun, ask an older sibling or neighbor to dress as a clown and hand out the snacks.
- Fun Drinks: Add a shaped silly straw to each guest’s drink.
- Fresh Popcorn: Consider renting a commercial popcorn machine to give your circus an authentic feel. Everyone loves freshly-popped popcorn! For added fun, serve the popcorn in red- and white-striped popcorn bags.
- Sweet Circus Treats: Make sweet circus treats for your guests using a borrowed, rented or purchased snow cone maker or cotton candy machine.
- Ice Cream Surprise: Ask a local ice cream truck to make a stop at the party.
- Funny Fruit: Display a fruit tray in the shape of a clown face. Try using apple slices to form the face, strawberries for the red hair and nose, red grapes for the eyes and the smile, and blueberries for a hat. (Tip: Soak the apple slices in lemon juice and water and they will be less likely to brown.)
- Animal Crackers: Serve animal crackers right out of the box!
- A Fun Bagged Lunch: Serve your guests their snacks in popcorn bags. Fill each bag with a hotdog wrapped in foil, ketchup and mustard packets, animal cracker cookies, and a juice box.
Party Favor Ideas
Thank your guests for attending your child’s Circus Party by giving them fun party favors like
- Silly straws
- Animal crackers
- Animal stickers and temporary tattoos
- Water squirt toys
- A swirl pop, bag of cotton candy or bag of popcorn
Also check out our complete favor sets and personalized products such as zipper pulls, placemats, and stickers.
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.
- Circus Party Supplies: Includes paperware, invitations, personalized items, favors, and decorations for your party theme.
- Circus Personalized Items: Check out our exclusive personalized items including invitations, bookmarks, stickers, and 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
Children can’t speak while they imitate a character for the rest of the group.
Guests take turns trying to “feed the elephant” as many peanuts as possible.
Download our face painting idea sheet and then paint your guest’s faces!
Parents and guests will love this hilariously-entertaining peanut race.
Have a circus parade around the house or the block.
Children get to test out their skills on the “high-wire”.
Guests take turns being the Lion Tamer in this fun game.
Kids will have a blast playing with the “big top” circus tent.
Set up five carnival games that will show your guests a true circus atmosphere.
Guests team up and compete to see who’s the strongest “strong man” at the party.
Team up players and send them on a search for circus animals.
Let the children design their own clown face favor bags with this fun craft.
Partygoers can decorate their own clown hats to wear during the party.
Print out copies of our circus coloring page, and let the children decorate them.