3-Ring Circus Party Ideas Make For Big Top Adventure!

Fun And Fabulous Circus Party Ideas
That Are Perfect For Your Grand Stand!

A circus party has certainly stood the test of time. It has long been a favorite theme among kids of various ages for decades. It's a great option as it allows everyone to dress up and have a wonderful time while being silly as can be. It affords the opportunity to use lots of fun primary colors for decorations, and there are oodles of games from which to select.

So, if you are considering a circus theme party just for fun or for your child's birthday, I have put together a lot of options for your invites, decor, games and activities, along with fun circus party food ideas, cakes, and favors. Because there are so many options for creating a circus party, it would be very easy to go overboard or become overwhelmed. To keep this from happening, just go item by item and make a list of your choices; this way you won't end up "juggling" too many tasks at one.

circus party ideas
Photo courtesy of: D'Arcy Norman

Here are some fun circus ideas to help you turn your child's birthday party into a Big Top Adventure. Come one, come all, the circus is in town. Well, actually it's in your backyard. Create a 3-ring circus complete with a fun carnival atmosphere, game booths, a Bounce House, clowns, a petting zoo and much more!


IN-PERSON CLOWN INVITES - Have someone dress up in full clown garb and delivery the party invites. The clown could do a simple juggling trick, tell some silly jokes, use puppets, do some slapstick, etc. to add to the delivery of the fun invite.

CIRCUS POSTCARD INVITES - Here's some circus party ideas to help you turn postcards that have various circus pictures or circus animals on them into fun birthday invites. Put the details of the party on the reverse side. Say something like:

Lions, And Tigers, And Bears, Oh My!
Join Me For Some Big Top Fun At My 5th Birthday! show Time & Date:
Location: Big Top At: (Address)
R.S.V.P. To Ringmaster: (Name & Phone#)
Wear Your Circus Best!

CIRCUS PARTY IDEAS FOR BALLOON INVITES - Write your party info onto big colorful balloons that are blown up. Then deflate the balloons, pop them into a colorful envelope and send them on their way. Include a note instructing the recipient to blow up the balloon for party instructions.

CIRCUS PARTY IDEAS FOR ADMISSION TICKET INVITES - Cut red or yellow cardstock into rectangle-shape that will fit into the envelope you use. On one side write, "ADMIT ONE" in big black letters. On the reverse side write:

The Greatest Show On Earth
(Name's) Circus Birthday Party
Show Time & Date:
Location: Big Top at (Address)
R.S.V.P. To Ringmaster: (Name & Phone #)
Costume Required.

POPCORN BAG INVITES - Across the top of a popcorn bag write:

(Name's) Circus Birthday Party
Costume Required.

Then add below:

Come One, Come All,
For A Poppin' Good Time.
It's My (#) Birthday,
So You Must Come By.

Show Time & Date:
Location: Big Top at (Address)
R.S.V.P. To Ringmaster: (Name & Phone #)

CIRCUS PARTY IDEAS FOR ANIMAL CRACKER INVITES - Cut 8 1/2" x 11" colorful cardstock into four pieces using decorative scissors. Write the following on one side:

Under The Big Top You Will Find,
Lions, Tigers, And Bears, Oh! My.
What A Birthday Party It'll Be,
Come Over And Celebrate with Me!

On the reverse side write:

(Name's) Circus Birthday Party
Show Time & Date:
Big Top At: (Address)
Don't Clown Around, R.S.V.P. To Ringmaster: (Name & Phone #)
Costume Required.

Decorate with circus stickers and laminate the invites. Hole-punch the upper left corner, thread a ribbon through, and tie it to a box of animal crackers. Hand-deliver invitations.

BALLOON BOUQUET INVITES - Using various colored cardstock, create circles or ovals to represent the balloons. Glue several of them to a piece of white cardstock to form a bouquet. Then using various colored curling ribbons, glue pieces of ribbon to the bottom of each balloon or draw "ribbons" using markers. Place a clown sticker at the bottom of the balloon bouquet as if the clown is holding the bouquet. Put all of your party details on the various balloons or on the back of the cardstock.

EMBELLISH READY-MADE CIRCUS BIRTHDAY PARTY INVITES - Buy ready-made circus theme invites and jazz up the picture with glitter, sequins, etc.


Be sure to have your guests wear circus-related costumes; they could dress up like their favorite circus animal or clown. Otherwise, you might tell everyone to just wear some clown-like clothing that is extra baggy, perhaps something from the Mom or Dad collection, and give them a clown-lift when they arrive with some face paint, oversized ties, funny hats, and big clown noses.

If you're in the market to buy a Circus Themed Costume, here are a few choice clown outfits to check out.

For some more clown inspiration, check out our CLOWN COSTUME IDEAS and photos and see if you can find yourself clowning around in any of these fun costumes!

For some popcorn costumes, check out our POPCORN COSTUMES photos and how-to tips. Lots of creative people out there!


Create a circus atmosphere using primary colors with some of the following ideas:
  • Liven up your walkway by placing colorful clusters of balloons on tall stakes, placed in the ground all along the walk.

  • Either make a colorful garland of different colored flag pennants out of felt or buy the plastic pennant flags, like you see at grand openings and line your walkway with them. You can also hang them along your roof line.

  • Accent your front door by hanging a fun circus sign on it that says, "Welcome To (Name's> Big Top Birthday Adventure."

  • Use your mailbox to let everyone know the location of the party by attaching a balloon bouquet to it. If you don't have a mailbox in front of your house, then use your car antenna or perhaps a tree.

  • For a great theme entrance to your party, you might want to consider setting up a circus tent. It could also double as a great photo-op.

  • Create circus tents in your yard that will host various activities. Use brightly colored sheets, a parachute, or huge colorful tents.

  • Cover the entire ceiling with brightly colored streamers to make your Big Top arena. Twist and hang them from the ceiling's center going outward to the corners of the room and then filling in from the center to all the other ceiling edges.

  • Place colorful clusters of balloons with brightly colored curling ribbons hanging from the clusters all around your party room.

  • Place a fun carnival booth at your driveway entrance with a clown to hand out tickets for your guests to gain admittance. You can also personalize it with your child's name.

  • If the party is being held outside, you might consider buying or renting a canopy type of a tent.

  • Great circus party ideas must include decorating the party room with lots of stuffed animals, if they are circus related, all the better. Be sure to bring your circus festivities to your animal friends by attaching balloons and placing party hats on the animals.

  • Hang posters of clowns and circus animals on the walls. You can also hang these on any tent walls.

  • Accent the walls with some circus themed signs that say "Greatest Show On Earth" and "Ladies and Gentlemen, Children of All Ages..."

  • Adorn the walls with some reusable circus decals. When the party concludes and you recover from the festivities, put the decals on your kids' bedroom walls.

  • A circus atmosphere wouldn't be complete without a ticket booth. Paint a refrigerator box in primary colors and decorate it with lots of colorful streamers and balloons.

  • Cover tables with brightly colored tablecloths and tie off corners with curling ribbons.

  • Great circus party ideas always include fun circus centerpieces. Create a circus centerpiece using a ringmaster's hat. Weight it down with a Ziploc bag filled with dry beans. Place a piece of florist foam in the bottom of the hat as your base. Arrange balloons and large suckers on sticks as you would flowers. Tie multiple strands of curling ribbons to the sticks and insert into the foam. Add some party horns and blowers. Fill in the top of the container with crumpled, circus printed tissue.

  • Hang brightly colored streamers in all your archways and doorways.

  • Another fun circus photo op would be to use a standee that shows the kids being shot out of a cannon and flying through the air.

  • If you're looking for a different kind of photo-op, here's a great Circus Photo Prop that will look like the kids have been shot out of a cannon and are flying through the air.

  • Use circus-theme party ware to bring the excitement of the circus to your table. Disposable tablecloths, plates, cups, napkins, and centerpieces will instantly jazz up your table. Add some party hats, and circus cutouts and you'll have instant circus fun!

  • Carnival booths are great circus party ideas for holding your games and activities. Start by covering a card table with a colorful tablecloth. You can make the frame with scrap wood or PVC pipe taped together. Paint the frame and decorate it with colorful streamers and balloons. Hang a sign on each booth identifying the activity at that particular booth. For example, Bean Bag Toss, Face Painting, Catch A fish, Hot Dogs, etc.


When the time has come for you to provide entertainment, circus themed party games are the answer. No need to scratch your head for ideas, just pop on over to my Circus Party Games and Activities page and pick and choose from any of the following games:
  • Circus Animal Noises And Gestures
  • Follow The Clown
  • Fabulous Circus Stunt Competition
  • Circus Balloon Pop Game
  • Clown Act Competition
  • The Mystery Box
  • Circus Party Ideas For Clowns
  • Ball Toss
  • Ring Toss
  • Water Gun Shooting Gallery
  • Feed The Wild Animals
  • Animal Tricks
  • Clown Pinata
  • Circus Party Ideas for Ticket Redemption

PRINTABLE GAMES - When it's time to cease the clowning around and you need to wind everyone down, you can begin the process of turning run around circus game time into table top game time with a printable game. Here's a site that offers lots of choices:

Printable Birthday Games Ages 3-5
Printable Birthday Games Ages 6-7
Printable Birthday Games Ages 8-9
Printable Birthday Games Ages 10+


Here are a few fun circus food ideas that are always a yummy welcome with little guests:
  • Corn on the cob
  • Corn Dogs wrapped in foil
  • Hotdogs served in red & white plastic hotdog holders.
  • Nachos
  • Pizza
  • Animal crackers
  • Candied or caramel apples
  • Cotton candy (Consider renting a machine)
  • Cracker Jacks
  • Giant lollipop
  • Lemonade
  • Peanuts - Put into individual bag with "Peanuts" label.
  • Popcorn in red & white bags (Consider renting a machine)
  • Snow cones (Consider renting a machine)
  • Soft pretzels


circus party
Photo courtesy of: Wilton

CIRCUS CUPCAKES - Make white cupcakes and frost them white. Place an animal cracker in the middle and cage it in using black icing.

CIRCUS SHEET CAKE - Bake white sheet cake and frost it white. Decorate it with plastic circus toppers, animals, a train, etc.

POPCORN BOX BIRTHDAY CAKE - Place a sheet cake in the freezer. The night before the party, remove it from the freezer and decorate it. Place the cake in a vertical position and cut each size on the diagonal to create the popcorn box. Frost the cake white. Make a red box in the middle of the cake using red gel. Write "Happy Birthday" in the box using black or red gel. Lay red licorice strings vertically along the cake to form the red stripes on the popcorn box.

Melt caramel candies. Pop a bag of popcorn. Place wax paper on a cookie sheet. Lay the popcorn on the wax paper. Spoon the caramel over the popcorn. Let cool. Place the popcorn on top of the frosting covering the upper one-third of the cake.

CAROUSEL CAKE - Decorate animal crackers with tinted icing and let dry. Bake two round cakes, stack, and frost them with white frosting. To create the carousel, place peppermint sticks around the perimeter of the cake. Place the animal crackers next to the sticks. Place Jelly Belly's or jelly beans around the bottom edge of the cake. Decorate the sides with frosting piped out in red, green, and yellow stripes. Make a canopy by tracing a dinner plate onto a heavy piece of scrapbook paper. Cut out the circle and make a cut from 1 edge to the center. Overlap the edges and glue to make it into a cone-shape. Set the paper on top of the peppermint sticks.

CLOWN CAKE - Bake two round cakes. Cut the sides off one cake to make it into the shape of a clown hat. Lay it next to the round cake, which is the clown's head. Frost the round cake with white or cream colored frosting. Tint the remaining frosting blue and use it to frost the hat. Decorate the center of the hat with large nonpareils and put M&M's around the hat edges.

Create the eyes using round chocolate wafer cookies. Put a dab of frosting in the center of each wafer and a skittle on top of the frosting to create the eyeball. Place red skittles in a curve-shape to create the mouth. Put a red plastic ball on the cake for the nose. Place red string licorice around the sides for make the clown hair. Use colored marshmallows around the bottom of the cake to create the clown's collar.

If you need some more CIRCUS BIRTHDAY CAKE inspiration, here are some great cake photos to feast upon.

If the idea of CLOWN CAKES makes you smile, then you'll want to take a gander at these photos and see if anything inspires the clown in you to create a culinary masterpiece.

If POPCORN CAKES are in the realm of possibilities, then you're sure to enjoy these photos--they are wonderful works of art!


You can either handout favor bags or set-up a prize booth and let the kids cash in their winning tickets for prizes. Circus birthday party favors might include circus animal stickers, bubbles, whistles, stuffed animals, safari sunglasses or rings; party blowers, circus pencils, finger puppets; circus activity books, markers or crayons; jumbo nose or bowtie; animal crackers, teddy grahams, or goldfish crackers.

YOUR Favorite Circus Party Ideas, Cakes & Costumes

Do you have some favorite circus party ideas, cakes and costumes? Do tell! Please share all your party tips and ideas for invitations, decorations, games, etc., along with your circus cakes and costumes.

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