Idea No.


Big Top Party -5yr- Crackers the Clown



June 2009


Peggy in Harrisburg, PA  USA

Runner Up

Circus & Clown Party

Since I've submitted Ayanna's party for the past two years, I didn't want to miss this year, making it three in a row.  For her fifth birthday, we hosted a Big Top Birthday Party! 

To begin we printed invitations using a design I found on the Internet.  I used 5X7 heavy card stock to print.  The entire design had a yellow background with circus characters along each side and across the top.  They included a strong man, trapeze artists, elephants, lions and lion tamer, etc. and each was very colorful.  The wording for the invitation went in the center of the card.  We used a fun font and printed in red so it would show up against the yellow background. 

The invitation said: Please join us under the Big Top as we celebrate Ayanna XXX's 5th Birthday.   We'll have lots of circus fun.   Balloons*Games*Clown*Food. Show Time:  Date and time Montgomery Big Top Our address We hope to see you Ring Side Don't clown around!   Please RSVP the Ring Masters Russ or Peggy at our number. We used plain white envelopes to mail, but wrote the guests names with different colored markers and added a clown sticker on each envelope. 

The day of the party, we decorated the outside our house by having two clusters of balloons in red, blue and yellow on each side of our doorway. Each cluster was secured inside a plastic popcorn box. We then placed shiny yellow shredding at the top of each box.  Across the top of our doorway, we hung a poster (Oriental Trading) that had a circus print with a ring master and said, Welcome to the Big Top and Happy Birthday.  My husband, Russ, had downloaded a bunch of circus music and we had that playing on our music system throughout the house.  It was very fun and put everyone in the circus mood. 

As the guests arrived, we ushered them to our second floor family room, and kept the kids entertained by decorating and assembling Big Top, foam picture frames that we purchased from Oriental Trading.  We had pre-assembled some parts of the frames prior to the party because there were so many pieces and the children were between the ages of 4 and 6, we thought it would have been too much to try to accomplish in a short period of time.  We used glue dots instead of glue to avoid a lot of mess.  As they finished the frames, we added each child's name. 

Once all the guests were there, we asked the kids if they wanted to go to the circus.  Of course, they all yelled, YES!  We told them to go into the hallway where Ayanna was waiting behind a ticket booth.  Russ made the ticket booth fasade using thick foam insulation.  He cut it so the top was pointed (like a circus tent), and glued a huge blue circle on the top, which gave it a nice 3-D effect.  The triangular top was painted with red and white stripes, and the square bottom was painted white.  It had a hole cut in the center of the bottom square with a sign underneath that simply said tickets.  The ticket booth was held up using two braces that Russ made of wood they were held in place with Velcro.  It was adorable. 

As each child walked up to the booth, Ayanna handed them brightly colored gift bags in red, yellow, green or blue (bought very inexpensively at Michael's Craft store).  Each bag had a small tag attached to the handles with a multi-colored string.  One side of the tag had a picture of a circus elephant and the other side of the tag said, Thank you for helping Ayanna celebrate her Big Top 5th Birthday).  Ayanna's tag simply said, Happy Big Top 5th Birthday Ayanna.  We already had some balloons, stickers and a piece of candy in each bag.  Ayanna also gave each guest a string of tickets on a gimp necklace.  Each ticket on the necklace was a different primary color (cut from the Creative Memories tag maker). 

Everyone had one red, one orange, one yellow, one green, one blue, one purple and one multi-colored ticket.  We had laminated each of the tickets and placed a small slit from the end of the laminate to the hole at the top of each tag.  That allowed us to place the tags/tickets on the necklaces easily, and it allowed the kids to take the tickets off the necklace without trying to rip through the laminate or un-tie the necklace each time they needed a ticket.  We proceeded to our first floor where we have a larger family room, Ayanna's playroom and a reception room.  There were activities in each of those rooms, and we had friends manning each of the activities. 

In the family room, we had the Ring of Fire.  We had a poster painted with orange paint that boldly said, RING OF FIRE and we also had a cluster of 5 orange balloons at that spot.  The guests gave our friend, Justine, their orange ticket and they could play the game.  We used the color-coded system since many of the children were too young to read, but they all knew their colors.  We had a basket filled with small, stuffed circus lions.  Each child was given a lion, the Justine held up the ring of fire and the child would try to throw the lion through the ring.  The ring of fire was actually a light up, hula-hoop that I had hot glued gold metallic fringe around the edge.  Justine stood far enough away from the kids so it wasn't too easy to throw the lion through the hoop. 

Once they managed to get it through the hoop, they were permitted to keep the lion and put it in their goodie bag. They could play each of the activities as many times as they wished, but by turning in the ticket, the helpers weren't confused as to which kids had already received a prize.  You didn't get a prize unless you had a ticket. Also in that room was the popcorn stand.  We purchased popcorn bags at the Dollar Tree store and already had them filled with popcorn and sitting on the bar.  We had a purple Popcorn sign and a cluster or purple balloons here. 

Our friend, Brian, was the Popcorn man, and handed out one bag of popcorn in exchange for one purple ticket.  On to the playroom where we had our friend Rachel manning the Clown bean bag toss.  We used green balloons here and a poster sign painted with BEAN BAG TOSS in green paint.  Each child was given the chance to throw three beanbags through the small game (we purchased on-line very inexpensively).  No matter how many points they scored, each child was a winner and received a pair of clapping hands as a prize to add to their goodie bag.  In the reception room, we had Joelle painting faces.  This was the red balloon station, and the FACE PAINTING sign was painted in red.  After each child had their face painted to resemble a clown, they also received a clown nose, a red, yellow or blue kazoo, and a funny, polka dot, accordion hat (all purchased from Oriental Trading).

Also in this room was the biggest hit of the party - Crackers the Clown!  His sign was painted blue and yellow.  It said, CRACKERS and had blue and yellow dots all over it.  The balloon cluster next to Crackers was both blue and yellow.  The reason for this was that, for the blue ticket, Crackers made a wonderful balloon art for each child, and for the yellow ticket, my sister, Holly, took a picture of each child with Crackers.  As the children were finishing up with the games and face painting, Crackers entertained them with magic tricks.  He is an incredible clown and a fantastic magician, so he kept not only the attention of the kids, but the parents as well.  He was amazing!  Once everyone was finished with all the activities, we had them place their goodie bags on a table that we had against one wall in the reception room, and Crackers gave each of them a light up novelty toy similar to those you would buy at a circus. 

He then took them outside and led them on a parade down our street.  They were using their kazoos, and their spinning light up toys, marching and clapping their hand-clappers.  Cars going by were honking their horns and people were waving.  It was such fun for all the kids!  When they came back to the house, we had them all stand on the porch, under the Big Top sign for some nice pictures. The kids were told that they could get a hot dog for their multi-colored tickets.  They were anxious to turn those in and we headed back up to the second floor to our dining room.  We had fun decorating the dining room.  We had clusters of red, blue and yellow balloons everywhere. 

On the buffet table, we placed a large, tin tub filled with apples, and we had a sign on it that said, elephant food.  We used newspaper and plastic to fill the bottom of the tub, the placed a bag of yellow shredding, so we only needed one bag of apples to make it appear full.  Each child got one of the apples to take home when they left.  Also on that table was a plastic popcorn box filled with a cluster of three balloons (blue, red and yellow) and topped with yellow shiny shredding at the top of the popcorn box just like the two that we had at either side of our doorway outside.  It was very cute.  We covered the dining room table and an additional folding table with plastic, yellow tablecloths, and sprinkled multi colored balloon confetti all over the table.  At each child's place setting, we had a blue plate, red utensils and a circus napkin printed with pictures of a clown, lion and a ringmaster. 

Also at each place setting, was a hot dog holder (Oriental Trading) for their hot dog, a plastic keepsake cup shaped like a big top (each had a straw and I believe we purchased these from Party Express) with apple juice, a small tin tub lined with a cupcake paper and filled with a few carrots and celery sticks and a bit of ranch dip.  Each tub had a small sign on it.  I made the signs by cutting and laminating small ovals.  Each oval was printed with the words Elephant Food and a picture of a circus elephant.  I hot glued all the signs on the tubs.  We also had several medium-sized, tin tubs on the table filled with candy circus peanuts and shelled peanuts. 

The centerpiece for the table was a wonderful cake made by The Cake Baker (who is also a friend).  It was the shape of a circus tent and the small flag on top had a number 5 on it in icing.  The tent itself was red and white striped trimmed with white stars.  It was the exact replica of a circus tent.  It sat on another larger round cake and there were icing clowns positioned all around the tent.  Ayanna's name was printed on the side in icing.  It was awesome!  While everyone feasted on hotdogs and their other goodies, Holly used her portable printer to print the pictures of each guest with Crackers.  She then took the pictures downstairs and placed them in the appropriate frames that we had moved from the 2nd floor to the first floor reception room, and put them together on the table in the reception room along with the goodie bags. We finished eating with the traditional Happy Birthday song, ice cream and cake. 

Ayanna then opened her gifts to end the party.  When our guests left they took along their big top cups, their goodie bags full of stuff, the light up toys, their pictures in the frames, and at least one balloon.  This was a super fun party for Ayanna and all her friends. 

Our friends and Aunt Holly had fun, too.  Thanks for the many ideas that came from this sight!  We love!

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