Carnival Party - Circus Party Ideas
Party Resource Guide
Presented by Event & Wedding Planners
Under the Big Top Circus Party Ideas
Step into the Big
Top, come everyone;
for cotton candy, candy apples, and corn dogs. See animals, acrobats, clowns and lots of circus
Circus Photo Prop Each
Ticket Booth Each
Clown Photo Stand In Each
the excitement of a circus with a big top tent, animals doing tricks and
of course the clowns! This party planning guide is filled with fun
activities, decorating tips, and recipes to create a fun Circus or Clown party.
Start by bringing that excitement to your party with a fun clown and
circus party theme. Add all of the accessories you need to make yours the
best party under the big top.
The key to pulling off a coordinated
event: Evoke your theme throughout the affair, it should be the subtle thread that ties everything
together. Your location, invitations, flowers, menu, cake, and
favors should all cleverly reflect one common concept. Then, get as
creative as you can!
Remember that the
tops of your tables create a very large surface area and using a themed
tablecloth is the fastest and most economical way to change the look and
feel of your room. Add Circus plates, napkins, cups, cutlery and
centerpieces. Serve snacks & popcorn in plastic popcorn boxes and don't
forget to rent a popcorn machine. An ice cream bar is also a great addition to a Circus
Big Top Decorating & Party Tips:
Be the master of
ceremonies at your circus in an inexpensive black top hat and a tuxedo
Use a camping
canopy for a "Big Top".
streamers from the center of the room to the outside walls
to form a "Big Top".
with plastic circus animals, animal crackers & etc.
with small pennant flags can be used in various ways.
holding a balloon bouquet makes a fun centerpiece.
Use lots of
Balloons in decorating. Balloons are an economical ways to bring
a festive touch to any party. Our
balloon decorating tips
offer some fun ways to decorate with balloons and how-to
Create a tent-like appearance in any room by gathering gossamer at a central point in the ceiling and
draping it to the walls. Gossamer is available in a
variety of widths & lengths.
Ideas & Supplies
After deciding on a circus
theme for your party, choose a slogan to use in your invitations, and to
use in tying in decorations and personalized favors to your circus theme.
Find the perfect slogan for your party by trying one of the following, or
by thinking of one that suits your precious child
“We’ll be Clownin’
Around at Cara’s 4th Birthday Party!”
”Admit One to the Greatest Party on
Earth…McKenzie’s Birthday Bash!”
“Party Under the Big Top”
“Blake’s Big Top
Let your young guests know that
they’ll be missing the “Greatest Show on Earth” if they don’t make
it to the party:
Invitations can be tickets cut
from construction paper . Write on each invitation with colored markers:
Admit One to Mary Jones (your child's name) Circus, Saturday, May 8 at 3
p.m. & the address Or print computer generated invitations with clown
faces, a big top or a slogan like "Greatest Show on Earth". Send a
along with the party invitation: "Come join the
greatest show on earth at my birthday party…become a lion tamer, strong
man, clown, juggler or trapeze artist."
Games & Activities:
Don’t wait for
the Ringling Brothers™ to come to town. You can organize the
“Greatest Birthday on Earth” with the help of some willing friends and
family members and a few fun games and activities.
Hire a clown or
Hire a face
Make clown faces
on paper plates.
Make clown hats.
Have a peanut
to circus music.
Walk the tight
rope (tape a straight line on the floor).
Pin the nose on the clown or pin the trunk on the elephant.
Have a Circus
Parade with inflatable instruments, accompanied by circus
If the grown ups don’t want to dress in full clown
regalia, try a
CLOWN AFRO Wig and
for each one! Or how about a
Jumbo Clown Bowtie,
Crazy Foam Glasses or
Jumbo Sunglasses .
Let little guests wander from
booth to booth participating in whichever games or activities they choose,
and then bring the whole gang together for cake and ice cream, picture
taking, and a few group activities.
each child attending to come dressed as their favorite circus performer.
If you really want to have fun have each child come with a circus act that
they will perform or have a group of kids dress up as lions and another as
the lion tamer and do a pretend Big Cat Act - lions jumping through a ring
Give the Lion tamer a
BLACK TOP HAT and a whip made from a long paper roll (rolls
from gift wrap work well) with long crepe streamer stripes.
Other Circus Acts might
include a strongmen; flying trapeze; juggling; balancing.
Have children pretend to be prancing
horses (high stepping around the ring); bareback riders doing
in line (tails to trunks), moving very slowly, balancing on a beam or
out at side as they balance along a masking tape line on floor - doing
one legged turns, bows, etc. Add the balance beam and an umbrella.
backward rolls, cartwheels, splits etc).
and Tigers (jumping or stepping through hoops, prowling around the
cage - snarling and lunging at the trainer, jumping off
"barrels" pretend wrestling with each other).
Be the Ringmaster of the
circus with a
BLACK/WHITE TUXEDO VEST Add a
BLACK TOP HAT.
a Circus Parade
guests dress-up & decorate their bikes, wagons, scooters, big
wheel cars & etc. for a circus parade around the house or block. Fill a cardboard cage
with "Wild" Animals (stuffed animal
Take a smaller box for
each child and let them create their own wearable Circus Wagon. Cut a hole
in the bottom of a cardboard box large enough for the child to slip his
body through and slide down to waist level (Remove flaps and turn box over
so the hole is at the top). Cover the boxes with bright colored self
adhesive vinyl or paint boxes in bright circus colors (do this prior to
the party). Place a cutout figure of a circus animal on both sides of the
box (use coloring pages for the animals and have them blown up at a photo
copy center). Take strips made with construction paper and glue over the
top of the animals to form the bars for the cages. On other boxes just
glue circus figures like acrobats, trapeze artists, jugglers, a elephant
balancing on a stand, clowns & etc. The children can paint or color
the pictures prior to gluing them to the boxes. To make straps for the
kids to wear their circus wagons, staple a length of ribbon (or heavy
string) on both sides of the front of the box, extend these over the top
of the box and staple to the back of the box. Make sure the length of
ribbon is long enough so that the child can slip them over there shoulders
and the box will be a waist height. Criss Crossing the strips on the
shoulders will prevent them from slipping off. Now you are ready for a
Have an Air Band:
Band on the Run Kit
| This is one of the best ways to kick-off a party!
Hand-pick ten outgoing and enthusiastic people from your guest list to participate. These participants will be called to the front
at the beginning of your party or just prior to the dancing. They will be introduced one by one as great musicians to fanfare and adulation.
Each will be given
an inflatable instrument to "play", guitars, saxophones,
keyboards and even drums. The band will be asked to "warm-up" by
playing a song together. They won't know what they will be
playing until they hear the first few notes from the sound
system, but once they do, it's wild! Your audience will go crazy
watching and clapping along to your band (give it a catchy
name). By the end of the song, your entire group will be up on
their feet, and if you are having a dance, most will be on the
dance floor. Although you are only five minutes into the event
or dance time, your party will be in full swing.
For small children, give each
child an inflatable
instrument and let them march around and pretend to play their instruments
as you play Circus Music.
Game booths add to the décor and will provide the activities for the party
a face painting booth, palm reader, dunking tank, fishing game, cake walk
and other carnival type games set up. Be sure to have lots of help to run
the different booths.( neighborhood teens are a good to enlist for this).
Have lots of party favors for prizes at the booths.
Pulls are a fun activity. Purchase at least one large lollipop
( Blow pops or Tootsie pops) per guest. Decorate lollipops with clown
faces, animal faces, Circus characters & etc. Select one lollipop and
color the bottom of the stick "red". Stick all the lollipops
into a Styrofoam base, making sure the "red" tip of the special
lollipop is hidden. Set the base & lollipops on a table or in a booth.
In turn, have each child pull out one lollipop. If it is the special, red
tipped lollipop, the guest gets a prize. You can also make several special
lollipops with different colored tips to correspond to prizes hanging on
the wall with the same color code. For example: A green stuffed frog
hanging on the wall would go to the child who picks the lollipop with the
a clown to make balloon sculptures of animals for the kids. Jiggling is
also a fun activity to include.
Acts & Performers
Rather than hire a
performer you may be able to find a teenager who does magic tricks who
would come and do a few tricks for a few dollars. You can locate simple
magic tricks under party favors. Check with a gymnastics school and hire
some kids to come and do a routine or one of the kids attending the party
may be in gymnastics and could do a acrobat routine. Don't forget the kids that
take dance lessons, they could perform or those who play musical
instruments. Is there a child who doesn't like bike, skateboard, roller blade
tricks? Check with the moms of the party guests and find out if their
child has a special talent and would like to perform. The ideas for acts
for your Circus are limitless. I usually just tell the kids that we are
having a circus and that they can perform their act at the Circus, you
will be amazed at the things kids can come up with. Never require that a
child perform, some are very shy. That's fine, they are the audience,
along with the adults at the party.
a Peanut Relay. Give each child a spoon a roasted peanut in shell and see
who can be the first to cross the finish line. You can also have them push
the peanuts with their noses.
children pretend to be Mime's acting out animals, or circus characters for
the other kid's to guess. Place ideas on a piece of paper in a hat,
children pick a piece of paper, then imitate, without talking the animal
or character that was drawn.
player is selected to be the "Lion Tamer" and the other are the
"lions". The Lion Tamer holds the ring (hula hoop) and
wears a top hat. The game starts with the Lion Tamer holding the ring at
ground level for all the lions to climb though, after the last person has
climbed through the ring is raised slightly and the lions again must go
through the hoop. This continues until a lion cannot make it through the
hoop. That lion become the Lion Tamer and play starts again.
a tightrope on the ground using a 2 x 4 piece of lumber, have the children
walk the tightrope. To make the game more challenging, have them walk
holding an umbrella, with a book on their heads, holding the umbrella with
a book on their head, wearing sunglasses with a thin layer of Vaseline
smeared on the glass lens & etc.
someone who has animals ( dogs, talking birds, ponies & etc.) that do
tricks? Enlist them for a circus acts.
are usually Petting Zoo & Ponies listed in your yellow pages under
Games & Activities
Go to a real
Guess how many jelly beans in a jar.
Ball, coin or ring toss games.
Have a Balloon stomp.
Jump rope games.
These activities will work best with the whole gang together. Let
the birthday child pick his or her favorites prior to the party:
Invite the parents of the guests to return to the party 15 minutes prior
to the end. Line the kids up behind the tent, and get the video
camera rolling. Ask the ringmaster to announce the arrival of each
young clown, assigning a funny name to each, and have a clown parade
complete with marching music!
Tell the kids that you need help “seeing
the big picture”. Get one pair of
CRAZY FOAM GLASSES
and a long piece of yarn for each child at
the party. Tie a piece of yarn to each pair of glasses, and hide
them all around the circus, winding the string under, over and around
trees and bushes (or furniture if you are inside). Each child is
given the end of a string, and must follow it to find the hidden treasure.
They’re sure to “see” how much fun this hunt can be!
Listen to squeals of delight when the
kids are running old-fashioned sack or three-legged races.
Wrap a box of animal fruit snacks with
newspaper or butcher paper. Continue wrapping layer upon layer
around the package, so that the kids can unwrap it one sheet at a time.
After you have added approximately 12-15 layers, wrap the final layer with
real birthday paper and a fancy bow. Gather the kids in a circle,
play some music, and tell the kids that when the music stops, whoever is
holding the package gets to unwrap the package (be specific that they may
only open one layer.) Continue playing the game until the final
layer is removed. The winner gets to give each person a package of
the fruit snacks…so everyone wins!
Play this game using the same concept as
the classic game of musical chairs…one less nose than there are children
for each round. Place a pile of
Clown Noses on a table that the kids must walk around while the
music is playing. When the music is turned off, the kids must
scramble to grab a nose. The child without a nose must leave the game, and
the game continues with one less nose until there is one child remaining.
The kids will giggle when you proclaim to the winner, “Nobody knows
noses like you!”
The following activities are best set up as
booths or stations. Use Ticket Booths to set the stage
for a delightful carnival type atmosphere. Label each one with the
name of the booth, set them up in a courtyard type of arrangement, and
give the helpers lots of little prizes to give to the winners. Here
are a few ideas:
“Balloon Animals” –
use twist balloons for making clever twisty creations.
– Kids love to have their faces painted. Give the kids a choice of hearts, stars, flowers, or kooky clown faces.
“Ring Toss” – Toss rings
around 2-liter pop bottles. If you have time, paint the bottles with
bright acrylic paint. If you don’t, just remove the labels, and
fill the empty bottles with colored water.
“Lollipop Tree” – If a child
draws a sucker with a special marking on the end, she gets a special
prize. The consolation prize is the sucker!
“Duck Pond” – Use a kiddy pool
for this one.
“Ping Pong Potty” – You’ll
need to visit a home improvement store to purchase an extra potty, and
then watch out as kids try to pitch ping-pong balls into the empty potty.
“Treasure Box” – Blindfold
each child, then let him or her dig deep into a
Treasure Chest filled with goodies.
“Egg Hunt” – Bury
Eggs filled with small treats in a big tub of sand, and let the
kids dig for the buried treasure.
Suggested book titles for a Circus
Set up food "booths" by setting up the treats on small tables with striped table cloths like a circus tent. Decorate them with brightly colored balloons and put up signs indicating the food served at each "booth."
Popcorn ball clowns
Clown cupcakes decorated with sugar sprinkles or animal
Rent a cotton candy or popcorn machine or
up sweet treats just like at the circus.
Make your own treat station where children can compile their own candy
bag or ice cream sundae.
Fill tubs with ice and set up a soda bar.
Serve up sweet treats just like at the circus!
Rent a Cotton Candy Machine from a local party rental company.
Ball Clowns can be placed as favors at each place at the table. Prepare
Popcorn Balls ( recipe below). To make clown faces, press small candies
(life savers for eyes, red hot for nose & etc.) and nuts onto popcorn
balls. Attach ears of candied fruit slices with toothpicks. Stick
toothpick into the top of the popcorn ball; place an pointed ice cream
upside down over the toothpick for hat. ( press gumdrop slices onto cone)
Add a construction paper bow tie.
in large buttered bowl 7 cups of popped popcorn. In the bottom part of
double boiler, heat about 1 inch water to boiling. Place in top part of
double boiler, 3 cups miniature marshmallows, 2 tablespoons butter &
1/4 tsp. salt. Set over boiling water and stir until marshmallows are
melted. Tint pink by adding a few drops of red food coloring. Pour
marshmallow mixture over popcorn and stir gently to coat. Grease hands
well with butter and quickly shape popcorn into 10 medium-sized balls.
Makes 10 popcorn balls.
by using mini marshmallows, cut a slit in each one to make it look like
popcorn, then cover the top of the frosted cupcake with the marshmallow
Peel bananas and cut in half (across the middle). Push a Popsicle stick through the flat end, until it’s inserted at least halfway through each banana. Place bananas into freezer bags and place into freezer until party time. Dip frozen banana pops into yogurt or chocolate sauce and serve.
Clown Cone Sundaes
Scoop a large round ball of ice cream into each bowl. Add an upside-down sugar cone to each scoop as the clown hat. Next push gumdrops into the ice cream to form eyes and nose; also press 1 onto end of cone for a hat pompom. Cut a piece of licorice to form mouth. Drizzle sauce to form hair.
Big Top Lollipops
Put hard candies (bulk candy stores are great sources for this) in a variety of bright colors into plastic bag and crush into 1/4-inch chunks with hammer. Invite everyone to design their own Big Top in any color combination they wish by placing candy chunks together on foil-covered cookie sheets. (Keep each Big Top pile about 3 inches apart.) Bake in preheated oven at 350 degrees until candy melts together nicely (about 5-10 minutes). Remove from oven, immediately press end of a lollipop stick into bottom of the Big Top Lollipop. Cool and serve.
Circus Book Titles
If I Ran the Circus by Dr.
Seuss-Reading level: Ages 4-8
Walt Disney's Dumbo-Reading
The Circus of Words by Richard
Lederer, Dave Morice (Illustrator), Lederer Richard-Reading level:
Harold's Circus by Crockett
Johnson-Reading level: Baby-Preschool
Circus! : A Pop-Up Adventure by
Meg Davenport (Illustrator), Lisa V. Werenko, Andrew Baron
(Illustrator)-Reading level: Ages 4-8
Clifford at the Circus by Norman
Bridwell-Reading level: Ages 4-8
Circus Stickers (Dover Little
Activity Books) by Nina Barbaresi-Reading level: Ages 4-8
Felix Joins the Circus by
Annette Langen-Reading level: Ages 4-8
See the Circus (Lift the Flap
Series) by H. A. Rey-Reading level: Baby-Preschool
Morris and Boris at the Circus
(I Can Read) by Bernard Wiseman-Reading level: Ages 4-8
Circus Act (Nancy Drew
Notebooks, No 42) by Carolyn Keene-Reading level: Ages 4-8
Thomas Goes to the Circus
(Toddler Board Book) by Josie Yee- Reading level: Baby-Preschool