Idea No.


Big Tent Party -4yr- Dad the Ringmaster



March 2007


Karen in Kemp, Tx USA

Honorable Mention

Circus & Clown Party

For my son's 4th birthday, we had a backyard Big Tent Circus" party. This party allowed the kids themselves to be the circus performers although they didn't know that until the show began!

We designed and printed circus tickets on the computer and sent them in envelopes the kids had decorated with stencil painted clowns. We borrowed some long flat benches from our church and a large canopy tent from a friend. We raised the big top in the yard with a "stage" at the front and the benches in rows all under the tent. The stage backdrop was decorated with three "circus" posters I painted. The signs read: "Welcome to the Greatest Show on Earth!" "Death defying!" "AMAZING!" etc.

One had a picture of a lady with a parasol walking a tightrope the other was a strong man. We rented a popcorn machine (there just isn't better popcorn on the planet!) and bought peanuts. My oldest son (7yrs) dressed in full clown attire (baggy 70s plaid pants rainbow suspenders sequined bowtie huge brightly painted tennis shoes a homemade yarn wig and funny hat) and acted as the refreshment vender as guests arrived and found seats in the tent. We made him a tray with a neck strap to carry around the popcorn and peanuts.

Once the guests were seated the show was underway... My husband was the ringmaster wearing a tux jacket with tails (bought at a thrift store) and a tophat. He would ask for a volunteer or two send them behind the scenes (to me) where I would dress them in a costume and tell them what their act was. The ringmaster entertained between acts with juggling simple magic tricks and funny encounters with my son the clown. The clown also had a couple of "acts" he woked up on his own... He LOVED helping plan the party!

The acts we had were: girl on the tightrope (wearing a tutu (over her shorts) and carrying a parasol). The tightrope was a jump rope laying on the ground. We helped the crowd imagine and respond to the tightrope walker pretending to climb WAY UP to the platform and walk very carefully all the way across! Then we had a boy and his father (actually my brother-in-law - aspiring actor- and my nephew be strong men. I had made a fake barbell from a dowl and paper mache painted it black and painted "500lbs" on each end.

Dad came out first and tries to lift the VERY HEAVY barbell but despite his strains and grunts he is unable. The child then comes out and picks the weight up easily and raises it over his head to a roar of applause! Next was the animal tamer! He wore a tan vest and a pith helmet and carried a piece of black rope with one end taped to be the handle and one end frayed as a whip.

We had a whole slew of LIONS TIGERS and BEARS (oh my!) wearing colored t-shirts to match the animal. The t-shirts simply read "LION" "TIGER" "BEAR". The bears dance. The tigers stand and lay down and roll over. The lions jumped through rings of FIRE! (hoola hoops with red and orange metalic fringe taped around the outside) And because our birthday boy wanted to be an ALLIGATOR in the circus our circus also had an ALLIGATOR into who's mouth the tamer placed his head. I made a large alligator snout and attatched it to a baseball cap and straped a tail on him. He was THRILLED! Then we had a butterfly dance! The rest of the girls who wanted to be in the circus dressed in tutus and wings danced around on the stage to "oohs and ahhs".

Last we had a circus parade with all the performers coming onto the stage and marching in a circle to thunderous applause! When the circus was over we played some games. There was pin the nose on the clown of course! Also we got large flexible plastic tubes from the hardwear store to be elephant trunks for our "peanut toss" game. Pairs of kids took turns being the elephant or the tosser trying to toss peanuts into the elephant's trunk! VERY FUN! Clowning lessons face painting more popcorn and then cake; we had an circus train cake and cupcakes my sister's contribution. Opening presents brought the party to an end. Our guests left with bags of candy clown noses and funny hats. It was great fun and not very expensive (except for popcorn machine rental).

The prep work is EXTENSIVE especially if you don't already have a costume collection (as I did) to pull from but it is WORTH IT!! "  I searched all over for a CD of circus music… Finally I found some calliope music to download on the computer! YEA! We played the calliope / circus music the whole time, although we did turn it down a bit during the show!! It really added to the effect!

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