Under the Big Top Party 3yr
Dana in Lees Summit, MO USA
The theme for my son's 3rd birthday was Under The Big Top Birthday Circus and Carnival. Seven weeks before the party I sent out a save the date to each guest. I filled clear goodie bags with popped popcorn tied with blue, red and white curling ribbon and put them in fold out popcorn boxes. I found a printable ticket online and customized it. The two vertical boxes said Save The Date! The center of the ticket said Admit One Appearing One Day Only! Alex's Birthday Circus And Carnival Details Coming Soon! You Don't Want To Miss It! I printed these on golden yellow cardstock, cut them out and notched the corners so it looked like a real ticket. I tucked these in the boxes behind the popcorn. I made the invitations using a circus flyer I found online that had seven sections in the color red, yellow, white and blue. I used my photo software to fill in the original wording with the color o
f the section, inserted text boxes and my own custom wording. It read BARNUM'S PRODUCTIONS PROUDLY PRESENTS THE GREATEST SHOW ON EARTH! The third section already had the word CIRCUS with an elephant head above it with the trunk hanging down over the word so I placed ALEX'S on the top left of the elephant head and BIRTHDAY on the top right of the elephant. Under the word CIRCUS I placed the words AND CARNIVAL so it read ALEX'S BIRTHDAY CIRCUS AND CARNIVAL. APPEARING ONE DAY ONLY! The next section had a clown on the right side. I typed the party information:Sat. Nov. 15th, 2008 Under The Big Top ~ YMCA 1111 E Anytown HWY Show Time ~ 3:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Don't Clown Around! RSVP To The Ringmaster. The next section said YOU DON'T WANT TO MISS IT! The final section COME AND SEE THE AMAZING ALEX AS HE TURNS ANOTHER YEAR OLDER, CONSUMES HEAPING AMOUNTS OF FOOD AND ICE CREAM AND BLOWS OUT THE DEATH DEFYING BIRTHDAY CANDLES! I printed these on premium photo paper and mounted them on black cardstock. When guests arrived they were greeted outside the doors by my niece sitting behind a ticket booth that my brother in law made for me out of mdf. I painted the main part white and the trim and shelf red. I painted the top part red and yellow to resemble a big top tent. Three mdf circles were painted silver with a blue star in the middle. I glued one to the top and two on the window opening. Balloons were tied to the ticket booth. I had my niece hand each child guest a colorful bag with tickets inside to play the games. I glued each child's name using letters in a circus print to the front of the bags and tied several colors of curling ribbon to the handle of the bag. The bag was for them to put their prizes in as they played the carnival games. The child came to me and I put a circus carnival wrist band on them and explained how to use their tickets to play the games, told them about the concession stand and said Welcome to the Circus! As the guests walked through the door there was a personalized banner in a circus theme that read COME ONE!! COME ALL!! WELCOME TO ALEX'S BIRTHDAY CIRCUS AND CARNIVAL. When guests entered the room there was circus music that was downloaded to my iPod and playing through the system they had set up in the room. Before the party I popped a couple bags of popcorn and opened them so the smell would be in the room. For the food we had a concession stand open with all the great circus/carnival food. There was a kitchen in the room with a large window opening so it was perfect for the concession stand. Using poster board, balloon borders and colorful letters I made a sign showing all the food we had and hung it at the window opening. In the top and under the window I hung red and white bunting. There was a group of helium filled balloons tied to a small bubble gum machine filled with gumballs sitting in the window. We served hot dogs, nachos, cotton candy, popcorn, pop and juice boxes. I purchased hot dog trays and nachos trays just like the ones at the real concession stands. There was a red and white stripped box that said Big Top sitting on the window counter filled with cotton candy I purchased online. The cups said Welcome To The Circus and had different performers on them and plain orange cups as well. The napkins matched the cups. There were also red and white stripped napkins that said Popcorn on them. To save time and money I purchased microwavable popcorn and popcorn bags, popped the popcorn at home and filled the bags before the party. I placed the filled bags in a free standing popcorn machine that I borrowed to keep it warm and the guests served themselves. I tied a bunch of different colored balloons and a balloon shaped like a bag of popcorn to the machine. For an added touch to the circus/carnival food I carried around a food tray like the ones they have at events. I used the lid from a Xerox box, wrapped it in balloon wrapping paper and lined the bottom with black felt. I made a hole on each side and tied a red ribbon through the holes making it long enough so I could put it around my neck and the tray at my waist line. The tray was filled with animal crackers,candy bars,cotton candy and circus peanuts. For the circus peanuts I found a printable peanut bag topper online, printed them on white cardstock, cut them out and used markers to color them in. I colored the peanuts orange to match the color of circus peanuts. I filled snack size bags with the circus peanuts and stapled the bag topper to the top of the bag. To give the feeling of being under a big top tent I constructed a tent canopy using a hula hoop and rolls of red and yellow plastic table cloths. A week before the party my sister and I went to the party location to measure for the canopy. We found the center of the room and suspended the hula hoop using hooks from the drop ceiling. We tied yarn around the hula hoop and extended it to the corners of the room, then between the corners. I labeled the strings from 1 to 14 and took the hula hoop down. I went home and rolled the table cloth out. I cut each piece of marked string from the hula hoop and used them to gage the length of the tablecloth needed. I labeled each piece and attached each one to the hula hoop by folding it over the hoop using clear packing tape to secure it. The day of the party all we had to do was attach the hula hoop to the drop ceiling using zip ties, extend each piece of the canopy to the edge of the room and tuck them under the panels of the drop ceiling alternating red and yellow to give the illusion of a big top tent. We filled the center with several different colors of helium balloons letting them float to the ceiling inside the hula hoop.It turned out perfect and really made you feel like you were in a circus tent! We also hung paper balls from the ceiling that had crazy colors and polka dots on them. Five tables were set up in the center of the room for the guest covered in orange table cloths. I purchased tablecloths with balloons all over them, cut them in half, and placed them on each table as a table runner. I placed a bubble gum machine with balloons tied to it on two of the tables. For the other three tables I made centerpieces using a ceramic base that looked like a popcorn box. I put a foam block in the bottom of each one then covered them with yellow and orange tissue paper. I cut several lengths of wired garland(happy bday, balloons, party hats)and stuck them in the foam. I stuck two curling ribbon bows to the inside of the base on the tissue paper and inserted a happy birthday balloon on a stick, party horns, a large sucker and several small suckers shaped like balloons. Using double stick tape I attached circus animals(elephant, tiger, lion)to the edge of the base on top of the tissue paper. Happy bday confetti was sprinkled on the tables. I randomly placed small circus games and characters on each table. There was the strong man, ring toss, circus clowns on bikes and circus animals. Two paper carnival megaphones from OT were placed on each table. They said things like STEP RIGHT UP! COME ONE! COME ALL! WELCOME TO THE CIRCUS! I purchased two helium tanks that came with 30 balloons replacing the black ones with ones that said Happy Bday. I purchased three mylar balloons that had a clown on them and said Happy Bday. The balloons were held down by colorful fun weights and boxes of Circus Gummies. The groups of balloons were placed all over the room on tables and on the floor. We blew up some crazy balloons and put them all over the floor. At the back of the room I placed two blow up bop around clowns in each corner. To pull the Circus/Carnival theme together I came up with nine carnival games that were circus themed. Lining the walls on the left and right of the room were tables set up with the games. To keep with the feeling of a circus tent I purchased red and yellow table cloths cut them in strips and used double stick tape to attach them together alternating red and yellow. I attached these to the sides of the tables as table skirting. I covered the tables in blue tablecloths and attached Happy Bday pennant banners on the outside edge of the tables. For each game I purchased a three panel science project board and covered them in wrapping paper that had bright colors, stars and said Happy Bday. I cut a piece of white foamboard in half and cut two slits 3 long on the bottom edge of the boards. I covered the boards in red and yellow tablecloths made the same way as the table skirting. I used the Circus font on my computer, printed the name of each game in different colors, cut each letter out and glued them to the red/yellow topper. I printed the number of tickets needed to play each game on white cardstock,cut them out in a star pattern, glued these to a balloon cutout then glued that to the upper right hand corner of each game topper. I placed each topper on the project boards by using the slits I had cut in the topper sliding the project board into them. Each game had one of these made especially for it. It gave the illusion of carnival booths. The first game was Face Painting/Tattoos. I attached a sample of each tattoo onto white cardstock and printed the name of each one underneath. My daughter did the face painting so she painted several samples (all circus themed) onto white cardstock. I attached these to the front of the board. I purchased two small yellow baskets. One held the paints for the face painting, the other the tattoos. I purchased two sets of paints, brushes, a colorful bowl to hold water for the tattoos, a sponge to apply the tattoos and circus tattoos. The second game booth was Make A Clown Hat. Using plain party hats in different colors I hot glued different color pom poms to the bottom edge of each hat and one to the top. I sat these in front of the booth along with different kinds of peel and stick shapes and sharpies. After they finished their hat they picked out a pair of fun sunglasses and a clown nose. The next booth was the Duck Pond. I purchased a large orange tub, filled it with water and placed it in front of the booth. I filled it with ducks that were dressed as circus acts and numbered the bottom of the ducks with a 1, 2 or 3. Sitting to the right of the tub were three square buckets red yellow and blue, numbered 1, 2 and 3 filled with several different prizes accumulated scouring the clearance isles of every store visited. The children pulled a duck from the pond and picked out a prize from the bucket matching the number on their duck. The next and last booth on that side was Walk The Tightrope. There was another square bucket set up next to the booth with playdoh and bubbles for prizes. On the floor to the right of the table was a tightrope for the children to walk on. My brother in law used a 2x3,cut it to length, cut a groove down the middle of the board and attached footers to each end. I painted it red then took yellow, white and bright green paint and splattered it all over the painted board. I put liquid nail in the groove and pushed a bright yellow rope into it.The right side of the room had two tables decorated using the red and yellow skirting, blue table cloths and happy birthday banner pennants that were used on the left side. The game booths were made the same way as the ones on the left. The first game booth was the Ring Of Fire. I made it using a hula hoop and red and gold metallic basket filler. I took three strands of red and three strands of the gold filler and double tied them around the hula hoop. I repeated the process over and over until the whole hula hoop was full. It took me about 7 hours to complete it but it really looked like a ring of fire! I purchased three tigers for the kids to throw through the ring of fire. I suspended the ring of fire from the ceiling using fishing line. After they played the game they got their prize from a square bucket filled with tiger shaped whistles and carnival pencils. The next booth was the Clown Fish Pond. It was a free standing game booth that didn't required a table or special booth topper. I purchased pvc pipe and my brother in law built me a three sided frame. I spray painted the frame black and attached velcro to the edges. I purchased some material on clearance that resembled water, cut it to fit the frame, hemmed the edges and sewed the other side of the velcro to the edges. I attached the material to the frame using the velcro. I used different color foam sheets and cut out triangle pennants for the wording. I printed CLOWN FISH POND on white cardstock using the same circus font I used on the booth toppers, cut the letters out and glued them to the foam pennants. I glued the pennants to yellow ric rac and hung the wording on the front of the game in two sections. The first one said CLOWN. The second said FISH then it had a foam fish that I doctored up with glitter glue, cut out a clown hat with a pom pom ball glued on the top and attached it to the head of the fish. The fish had a small red pom pom glued to his nose to make him look like a clown. After the fish was the word POND. I made three more fish like that one using different colors and attached them on the material beneath the wording. Using a toy fishing pole the kids threw their line over the top of the pond and reeled in a treat bag with polka dots all over it filled with pixie sticks, starburst, tootsie rolls, skittles and peppermint patties. The next booth was set up on a table with the skirting, blue tablecloth and happy birthday pennants. It was called Trunk Toss. I purchased a blow up elephant head and attached it to the booth board. The object of the game was to throw three golden hoops on the trunk of the elephant. Once they played the game they chose a prize from the square bucket filled with mini Frisbees and crazy straws. On the table in front of each game booth was a ceramic circus train piggy bank that I found at the $1 store. To play each game, the kids put in the number of tickets it said on the game booth topper then played the game and got their prize to put in their bag. It made them feel like they were at a real carnival! To the right of the last game booth was a stand up circus performers that you put your head in to take a picture purchased from OT. It was just a plastic sheet with the circus performers printed on it so I attached it to white foam board cut to size using spray adhesive. I cut holes out for the faces. My brother in law made a frame for the board to attach to so I could be sturdy and stand up on its own. At the back of the room was the gift table with the same red and yellow skirting with a happy bday/balloon tablecloth. There was a Happy Bday banner hanging above it. On the table was a sign for the clown we hired for the party. I used the same type of science project board covered in the happy bday paper. I used a piece of white foam board and covered the edges with balloon borders. Using my Cricut machine I cut the letters out of different color cardstock. The sign read SHOW TIME 5:00 STARRING PINKY LEE THE CLOWN! The clown did a 30 minute act and made balloon animals for all the kids. As she was making the balloons we served icecream in waffle bowls placed on plates that had circus acts on them and said Welcome To The Circus! We invited the guests to come to the concession stand to add their toppings. Sprinkles, chocolate, strawberry and caramel toppings, whipped cream and cherries. As the guests were finishing up their sundaes the birthday boy opened his gifts. Favors: I purchased circus themed gable boxes and filled them with circus themed items. There was a grow a circus animal, ringmaster, popcorn or cotton candy,itty bitty circus animal cookies, a clown sucker,gummi hot dogs,sixlets and an ice cream cone popper. For the thank you notes I sent a customized online greeting from Smile Box to each guest. For each guest I inserted pictures of them or the birthday boy having fun at the party. I then typed a special thank you. People called and emailed to let me know how much they appreciated all I put into the party and for the special pictures of them and their children enjoying themselves. I couldn't have pulled it off without my special helpers who helped me set up the party and manned each game to make sure the kids really felt like they were at a Circus Carnival.
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