Idea No.


Circus Carnival -8yr- Ringling Bros Ring Toss



April 2002


Jeanie in Victoria, Texas, United States

Special Mention

Circus & Clown Party

Ever since my daughter arrived almost eight years ago, (DURING our big Memorial Day Weekend party,) we have tried to hold bigger and better birthday parties for her on that weekend, since she so obviously wanted to be a part of it. Almost two years ago, my son arrived only five days later, so we guessed he wanted to join in the fun as well! This year we are planning a circus/carnival theme party, all because I have leftover snow-cone syrup I bought for last years' PTO. I created the personalized invitations on my computer, they say "Ladies & Gentlemen, Children of all Ages...

Over the (Big) Top Entertainment,(a tongue in cheek jab at all those people who criticize me for going 'over the top')is proud to present... The (our last name) Family Circus! Performing one day only, the Birthday Celebration of its two Greatest Stars...(our kids' names)" Inside it reads... "See these two Fantastic Performers as they attempt amazing feats, such as...Turning a Year Older! Consuming Impossible Quantities of Junk Food! And the Fiery, Death Defying Birthday Candle Blow! Show date: ????  Performance Times: ?PM -?PM     on the River Valley Fairgrounds (we live by a river) at (our address)   Then I put "Don't Clown Around! RSVP to the Ringmaster at (our phone #)"

The whole thing is decorated with Home Publishing clip art and borders to resemble an actual old fashioned circus poster. I also printed a complimentary All Day Pass that looks like an old fashioned circus ticket, with our kids' pictures in the corners. For the party, we have rented a Fun Jump that looks like a clown, hired a clown to come perform, paint faces, and tie twisty balloons for an hour. We will have our pony give rides, (I think, I haven't consulted her about it yet...)I'm trying really hard to make everything look as authentic as possible. I'm setting up booths along the side of our house to resemble a game midway. As the kids arrive they will be given their goody bag that contains a clown nose and complimentary tickets (off the computer) for each game booth, where they will play for their prizes. We will play 'Feed the Lion'(Bean bag toss). I've painted a big lion on a refrigerator box with a hole for his mouth, and sewn bean bags out of felt (cheap!) to look like little steaks and chops.

 There is also 'Ringling Bros. Ring Toss', where I've painted a big elephant on a box with an old vacuum hose for his trunk to toss the rings on. (I used a wire coat hanger to hold the hose up with, but it sways a little, so it's more challenging.)A duck pond, just because I already have all the stuff, and my favorite, 'Bowling for Bozos' I decorated three of my sons plastic bowling pins to look like clowns, and created an alley out of a refrigerator box. Everybody can win at these games, from youngest to oldest, so it will be a lot of fun. The prizes are from Oriental Trading, mostly funny, clown related things like whoopee cushions, (parents are gonna love me!) plastic slinkys, juggling balls, big lollipops and inflatable animals. We've also rented a helium tank, so we can pass out free balloons all day, and I'll have a small booth for hair painting, to compliment the clown's face painting.

The food will be the usual circus fare. I'll have a serve yourself table set up with all the fixin's for chili cheese dogs and nachos. I even found containers just like the ones they serve them in at the carnival. There will be serve yourself soda and punch. I'm dressing my deck up as a concessions stand, and that is where we will serve the popcorn, snow-cones, and cotton candy from. (All rented machines.) I'm also making caramel apples and pretzels. We are roping off an area for "rides" for the toddlers, consisting of my son's and daughter's ride on and Power Wheels toys. (We had a bit of luck and found a Peg Perego ride on train and caboose with a huge track at our local K-Mart, which is closing down, for 70% off!) That's my son's big birthday present, and will also be a featured ride for the toddlers. We have a trampoline, which will probably be put to use by the older kids (with plenty of supervision.)

There will be calliope music playing outside the whole time, and for my elderly relatives who usually end up in the A/C inside, I'm renting the 3 1/2 hour long classic movie, The Greatest Show on Earth, to carry the theme all the way through. For the cake, I'm not sure what I'm doing yet, but I'm a cake decorator with my own business, so I'll come up with something grand. I'm thinking a huge wedding cake style, but VERY colorful! With tiny colorful balloons between all the tiers, topped with a clown, or circus animal. My son's plates and stuff are the 2 year old Birthday Circus from Birthday Express, (how perfect!) And I found CUTE clown partyware for my daughter online called Juggles the clown, and it's reduced! 

For misc. decorations I've collected all my kids' toys that are circus related to set around and tie balloon bouquets to. Like my son's Fisher Price Circus Train, and the Little People Fun Park set, and lots of stuffed animals. (This is also neat because these were presents he received at last year's birthday party, so the people that gave them will be able to see, they really have been played with!) He also had a thing for monkeys when he was a baby, so we have a collection of the stuffed monkeys with the Velcro hands, that I'll hang from trees outside and from "trapezes" in the house.

Most of the party will be held outside, with exception only for the cake, and it's windy here, but I want to use LOTS of balloons,  I just don't know how well they'll fare. I'll try my darndest, though. We have a small canopy tent that I'll set up, decorated as a big top with plastic pennants and crepe paper, for the present table. BRIGHT, BRIGHT primary colors everywhere. Red, blue, yellow, green, orange and purple. Color is the most important thing for decorating this theme. I've painted circus posters on posterboard to put up on the sides of the house, like See the Strongman, with a superimposed picture of my husband's face on a muscleman's body, and my picture on a poster for the Bearded Lady, (ha ha!) I've even used pics of some of our (very) good friends for sideshow advertisement, at least I hope they'll still be our friends. I've also talked my husband into performing a few of his magic tricks.

My daughter wants to dress up as a trapeze lady, so she'll be wearing one of her prettier leotards from last years' abandoned gymnastics phase, and I've made her a headband and skirty thing with feathers.  I'm dressing up as the Ringmaster, (just because I like top hats), my son will be a lion or a strongman, depending on which costume fits, and I found one of those tacky tuxedo T-shirts for Daddy to wear for his Magic Show. Even our dog will be costumed with her rainbow clown 'ruff' collar! I'm hoping the kids will get their faces painted like clowns, but just in case,

I'm providing inexpensive foam animal masks for everyone, so we'll take a group picture in costume and send it with thank you notes. We are expecting about thirty five kids ranging from babies up to thirteen. The older kids have been asked to help run the booths and watch the little ones, and a few grown-up friends with older or no kids have agreed to help out. I'm really excited about this year's party, but I'm stressed too. But things always seem to have a way of working themselves out!

A party like this takes months of preparation, not to mention months of saving your pennies, but it is SO worth it to give your kids and their friends memories that will last a lifetime! I KNOW this will be THE party to top all our previous ones, and I'm already trying to figure out how to outdo myself next year!

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