Come one, come all, for the amazing ONE Ring Circus! September may usually be filled with barbecue's and football but, the other thing you'll find a lot of September? Carnivals, fairs and circuses. When starting to plan our one year old son's first birthday, I immediately fell in love with this Circus themed birthday party, (mostly because our son is real life circus animal himself) and, as it turns out, it was so simple!
Planning a birthday party can feel so daunting and taxing, and I'm here to tell you, it doesn't have to be. This circus themed party is readily available and you can add as much or as little detail as you'd like!
More Fun Birthday Party Themes
Food, Food, Food
This circus themed party really centered around food for us! When you think of carnivals, fairs and circuses every inch of them are covered in easy-to-grab finger foods with wonderful smells, taste and textures. For our party, we chose Chili as the main course for an easy to serve lunch option. Don't skimp on the toppings! Chili lends itself well to being served in many ways too: straight up in a bowl, chili dogs, or "walking tacos" which we're fond of in the Mid-West.
Finger-foods and snacks are a must at any carnival, circus or fair and, as it turns out, a birthday party with small children! I knew I wanted popcorn for an easy to serve option, as well as the smell and aesthetic for this circus themed party. We also served peanuts, cupcakes, and cookies to balance out sweet and salty.
more food info if applicable
Cake and Desserts
Since this party was all about decorations and aesthetic, I simplified my life by going with a small store bought cake. I grabbed this cute little cake from Sprouts and it was the perfect smash cake for our big one year old! The name sign for the cake came from etsy and the shop I used was so friendly and quick!
The cookies were a perfect detail for both dessert and decoration and really pulled the circus theme together so nicely. We even had some extra left to take to daycare and share with all our friends who weren't able to come! I'd say the cookies were probably one of the highlights for all the kiddos. If you have a friend or know a bakery that does these cute sugar cookies, I'd highly recommend adding them to your party list! Claire made these for our party using her sugar cookie and royal icing recipes!
Red and White and Circus All Over
The decor for this party was the sweetest! Most everything came from Hobby Lobby and it was so easy to find and pick what I wanted. The popcorn bags, cups, snack boats, table cloth, circus tickets, streamers and arrow signs all came from there. I would also highly recommend investing in the balloon arch and picking up one of these balloon pumps. It makes life so much easier and adds so much fun to your party!
Our "Happy Birthday" Banner and Circus High Chair banner both came from etsy. But, you can easily search for "Circus themed banners" on amazon as well and find tons of options! Every party I do has a "focal point" or something I want to stand out and for this circus party, the streamer backdrop takes the cake!
Making A Streamer Backdrop
One of my favorite parts of this circus themed birthday was making this streamer backdrop to really give the appearance of a ticket booth. My main goal with this backdrop was to cover the mirrors that hang in our dining room. I first laid out the white streamer and cut the distance across the wall I wanted.
Once that was measured and cut, I rolled out the rolls of red and white streamers to match the length I wanted from the top of the backdrop down the wall. Then, cut them and taped them in an alternating color pattern across the back of the top streamer.
I would highly recommend doing this across a table or the floor, instead of doing it on the actual wall. Once you have all the streamers taped, you'll need a friend to help you hang each end and attach it to the wall! We used tape to secure it but you can use tacks or glue (if you're securing it to a piece of cardboard).
Favors and Activities
For favors, we sent kiddos home with these classic boxes of Barnum's Animal Crackers! I found these at Walgreens months before the party and knew this was a must-have party favor.
Tips for Throwing a Carnival Party
- Embrace all the bright colors! These days everything for parties is usually in muted or neutral tones. You won't find any of that in a circus or carnival so definitely embrace all the color and really lean into it. Once you commit, you won't regret it!
- Have a back-up plan for location. We originally had planned to have this outside in our backyard with yard games and other carnival activities. But, due to the pouring rain, we had to pivot back inside. Everything worked out great and our theme was still a hit!
- Pick one focal piece and let everything else revolve around that. We've all seen the Pinterest perfect parties where every detail is picturesque and every inch of the party is trendy from top to bottom. If you're planning a party on a budget, pick one thing you're really excited about whether it's party of the decor, or making the cake, and let that really shine and have all your other pieces be supporting.
If you're looking for a super cute and different birthday party theme, the Circus themed party has everything you could want. Late summer, early fall is such an ideal time for this party theme but can work really any time of year!
Let us know of any questions in the comments!