Step Right Up! It’s Shane’s Circus/Carnival Party

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Last year when American Horror Story: Freak Show debuted I got the idea to do a circus party at my house. While having a creepy party in the same vein as AHS: Freak Show is definitely my cup of tea, I decided a kid/family friendly one would be more popular with my friends.

I began by creating an invitation. I scoured the internet for some inspiration and settled on a design. When you’re having a party as big as the one I was creating, it’s hard to get all the pertinent information on the invite without it turning into a book!

Circus/Carnival party invitation

I broke the party down into three areas: circus, sideshow, and carnival. The circus was set up in the living room, the bathroom became a sideshow, and the carnival was in the backyard.

I love to decorate and make things, so putting on a party like this was a lot of fun but a ton of work. Here’s how each area of the party turned out.

The Circus: Under the Big Top

Circus party decor

I wanted the living room to have the suggestion of a circus tent so I bought a stack of dollar store plastic tablecloths and got to work. I tied a couple whites and a red one together on one end and attached them to the center of the room. Then I opened them out towards the wall and stapled them up. I continued like this around the room until about half of it was covered. I added another tablecloth from the ceiling to the floor to finish the sides of the “tent.”

DIY Circus marquee sign

The marquee was the other “big thing” I made for living room circus decor. It’s made from foam core board, poster board, string lights, and ping pong balls! I have a full tutorial here if you’d like to see how it was made.

Circus party food table

The last area of the circus was the treat table I put up in the dining area. I had popcorn, candy, cupcakes, peanuts, etc. laid out everywhere! I also decorated some animal toys to look like circus animals for some extra flair.

Circus/Carnival cupcakes

The special cupcakes I made for this party were pretty great how they turned out. One was a chocolate cupcake with peppermint buttercream frosting that sat in a cupcake carousel and the other was an orangesicle cupcake with vanilla buttercream frosting that sat in a ferris wheel. To learn how to make these adorable cupcakes check out this blog post.

As a fun addition to the party, I encouraged my friends to dress in themed costumes. Of course I was the Ringleader!

ringleader costume

The Sideshow: Strange but True!

When I was looking for circus decor for the party, I came across this shower curtain that says “Welcome to the Freak Show” on it, and my wheels began turning about a sideshow themed bathroom.Freak Show shower curtain

I found as many sideshow posters as I could find online, either of real acts or made up ones, and printed them out to frame.

Sideshow posters

My bathroom, which is usually stark and unfinished, came alive with color and images from a time gone by. I know real sideshows weren’t great for the performers, but neither are circuses for animals, so my party wasn’t really very PC from the get-go!

The Carnival: Step Right Up!

carnival games

The most popular part of my party was the carnival because it was more interactive. Surprisingly, fewer of my friends’ children showed up than I expected, but that didn’t seem to detract from the carnival games! A handful of adult guests were playing games for most of the party.

Carnival signs

I put together a few popular games such as Fish Bowl Toss, Bottle Ring Toss, Tin Can Alley, Balloon Darts, and Plinko (like from the Price is Right). Unfortunately, my little town was hit with some pretty strong winds the day of my party, so some of the games were constantly blowing over. Balloon Darts was by far the most popular because it was the least affected by the wind. Whew!

Balloon Darts at a Carnival party

I had a ton of prizes for people to buy with the tickets they won from the games and even had a raffle for some nicer prizes at the end of the party.

Prizes at a Carnival party

One attraction I really wanted to have at my party, and probably took me the longest to make, was a photo-op area with cut–out face holes. I’m not sure what it’s called. Photo booth? Anyway, I drew out the design on paper, gridded it out, and then scaled it up to a large piece of cardboard I made from two of those tri-fold display boards. With the help of a friend, I painted it and attached it to a metal clothing rack staked to the ground. Even still, the winds did a number on it. Ugh!

Photo-Op at a Circus/Carnival party

As people left, I gave my guests cute little carnival goldfish soaps I made from a fun tutorial I found on Pinterest.

Goldfish soap favors at a Carnival party

The party was such a huge undertaking, but also a great fun time! I imagine a party like this would be a blast for kids, but even my adult friends were having a good time. Have you ever thrown or been to a fun theme party? I’d love to hear about them.

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4 thoughts on “Step Right Up! It’s Shane’s Circus/Carnival Party

  1. Pingback: Circus/Carnival Cupcakes | Shane's Killer Cupcakes

  2. Pingback: How to Have an Ice Cream Social! | Shane's Killer Cupcakes

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