Step Right Up: Big Top Tips for Planning a Circus Party


If you’re hoping to plan a circus party worthy of the Big Top, you’ve come to the right place. We’re sharing our best circus party ideas for one show-stopping celebration!  Step right up for ideas on invitations, Big Top decorations, circus and carnival games and over-the-top desserts and snacks!  Read on for all of the fun and excitement.

Invite your guests to the greatest party in town by sending a creative invitation. A circus or carnival style ticket invitation with clever details inviting guests to come “clown around” or “step right up and celebrate” can help generate loads of excitement. Consider attaching your invitation to a colorful bag of peanuts or popcorn, or perhaps a clown nose or oversized glasses. If a custom designed invitation is more your style, many exciting options are available for purchase online. 

Create a circus atmosphere by using a Big Top style tent, or create the allusion of a tented ceiling using draped streamers, tulle or plastic tablecloths in bright colors. Add balloons, marquee style lights (or inexpensive DIY faux marquee lights), and fun circus props using common household items.  Strong man barbells can be created from Styrofoam balls, wooden dowels and a little paint.  Plastic tubs turned upside down with added paper embellishments can be perfect ringmaster style stages for stuffed animals. Consider setting up themed circus stations such as a ticket counter, concession area and 3-ring circus animal arena using hula hoops.

Add in fun circus and carnival-style activities. Invite guests to clown around and dress up with simple clown costume items. Perhaps a real clown could be invited to entertain attendees with a circus act or balloon animals. Include a face painting station where guests can choose from animal or circus clown designs.  Incorporate popular carnival games like a ring toss, peanut relay race, pin-the-nose on the clown or a small duck pond. A photo booth would be an excellent choice with circus themed props and costumes.

A Big Top celebration definitely calls for over-the-top desserts and snacks. This is a perfect time to bring in fun concession style machinery, including a popcorn machine, snow cone maker or cotton candy machine. If renting or borrowing these machines is not possible, consider pre-cooked and individually portioned servings of popcorn, cotton candy and an alternate ice cream treat.  Pretzels, hot dogs, peanuts and boxes of animal crackers are other fun options, in addition to colorful lollipops, licorice ropes and taffy. And if you really want the dessert table to steal the show, how about ordering a cake with toy animals as toppers? Cupcakes with small animal toppers (fondant or toy) would also be show-stoppers!

A well-planned circus party is always festive and fun and makes for a beloved event. Your circus celebration is sure to be prize winning if you keep these Big Top tips in mind!


  1. I love the idea of having a circus themed party! That multi colored cake adds the PERFECT circus touch!

  2. A circus party is such a classic idea that people don't do much anymore. So, classic, reinvented!! Love it!

  3. massholemommy says

    That is such a cute idea. I might do that for my kids next year!

  4. Kelly Hutchinson says

    I have never seen a Big Top theme for a party. I love the layer colorful!

  5. A circus party would be so much fun. We had a magic party one year for the kids birthday.

  6. This sounds like such a fun project to do with the little ones. I love it!
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  7. crazybloggingmom says

    Cute idea for a Big Top Party! 🙁 My boys are too old for stuff like this!

  8. I really love that cake! I think a circus party would be so much fun!
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  9. I've been SO tempted to try making a rainbow cake like that. They're SO colorful and fun. I bet it tastes delicious too.

  10. jennyatdapperhouse says

    I absolutely love CIRCUS theme! These are great ideas that I want to use!
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  11. Cute idea for the little ones. You'd definitely have to have balloons and stuffed animals… and prizes!

  12. This would be a great theme for a party. I would have loved to have one for my kids when they were little.

  13. These are all great ideas. This would be an awesome birthday party for a kid.
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  14. How creative and adorable! Oh this looks just darling!

  15. These are so much fun. We haven't come up with a theme for my Little Man's party yet, but this would be awesome.

  16. Our Circus party was a success. All the Kids loved it.

  17. What wonderful ideas! I know exactly what kind of birthday party to throw for my kids on their birthday! Thanks!
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  18. I love the cake. Lots of colours though I imagine a pain to make.

  19. Love that cute layered cake. I think themed parties are so much fun to plan, weird I know.

  20. What a fun idea. Thanks for sharing these tips.
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  21. Big Top understands my party needs. Everyone will surely enjoy.
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  22. What a great idea for your child, everyone would have so much fun

  23. What great ideas!

  24. Tom Raymond says

    Just a thought — if you hire a professional clown for your birthday party, have him come in costume — but not makeup. He can put on a simple version of his clown makeup in front of the children, so that they can see there’s nothing to be afraid of.

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