What Are the Best Tips for Throwing a Circus-Themed Party?

Lori Kilchermann

A circus-themed party should reflect all the wonders, mystery and excitement associated with going to an actual circus. Exotic animals, the big top tent and colorful performers are key components to incorporate into the party. Food and fun are also main features of the circus, so it is important to offer appropriate activities and circus fare at a circus-themed party.

Clowns can be hired to perform at a circus party.
Clowns can be hired to perform at a circus party.

Party invitations should be sent out or hand-delivered and are the first step in setting the tone for the party. Invitations can be attached to circus-type food items, such as animal cookies or popcorn, or a red, rubber nose guests can wear to the event. Invitation wording can be reminiscent of old-time carnival barkers and use terms such as come to the "show," rather than to the party.

Hot dogs can be a good food choice for a circus-themed party.
Hot dogs can be a good food choice for a circus-themed party.

Decorations should be colorful and reminiscent of the circus, including a big-top circus tent. Ticket booths, a three-ring circus party area and performing clowns can help create a memorable atmosphere. Circus music can also be used to help set the party's mood. Stuffed animals, animal posters and cardboard animal standees of lions, tigers and elephants can be displayed. Toy clowns also can help promote the circus-themed party mood.

Popcorn and cotton candy are great snacks for a circus-themed party.
Popcorn and cotton candy are great snacks for a circus-themed party.

Food is a major feature at the circus, and circus-themed party food should be indicative of food served at the circus, including peanuts in the shell, popcorn and cotton candy. Other circus fare to consider serving includes corn dogs, ice cream sandwiches and root beer floats. Clown cupcakes and ice cream cones can be served, along with giant pretzels with cheese or mustard dipping sauce. "Concession stands" can be set up to help organize the task of serving assorted goodies to guests.

Some circus-themed party activities can include a beanbag, clown nose toss, clown face painting, and crafting animal masks. Party guests can also try performing simple circus stunts, such as juggling, somersaults and headstands. A circus clown or lion pinata can amuse guests, as well as a circus photo prop with a hole for guests to poke their faces through and have their photos taken. Each guest can also be given admission tickets, which can be redeemed for food, photos or prizes.

Party favors will help thank guests for attending the circus-themed party, and can include clown-face pinwheels, inflatable party shoes and zoo animal lollipops. Other favors with an appropriate circus theme include bubbles, water squirt toys and animal stickers. Clown noses, juggling balls and big top coloring books are also appropriate circus-themed party favors.

Hiring jugglers or other performers will lend a circus party some excitement.
Hiring jugglers or other performers will lend a circus party some excitement.

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Discussion Comments


@bythewell - That's really funny. I remember I had a teacher who was all about "magic" tricks and he had us all convinced he was a wizard. But, now that I think about, it was all prearranged stuff with other teachers and the adults assuring us it was magic, so we believed!

Personally, even as an adult I'd love a circus themed party as long as the food was right! There is nothing like cotton candy, corn dogs, and candy apples. Not the kind of food you'd eat every day, but if there is a party, you have a wonderful excuse to indulge!

And if you're the one making the treats, they are all easy to find or make.

In fact, this makes me want to have a circus themed party for my next birthday.


If you don't really want to hire someone, you might want to try doing a few tricks yourself (or, if you have older children "hire" them to do it). Juggling is the kind of thing that a lot of people want to learn one day, but never actually get around to doing it. And really, you can practice during the ad breaks on TV.

Magic tricks can also be very effective. You can just get a box of them from online for quite cheap, or even just look up some card tricks online.

Just remember to cater for the age of your audience. Five year olds aren't going to be very impressed by card tricks, but they will love it if you can find a piece of candy in their ear!

I remember when I was a kid my uncle did bunch of these sorts of tricks for my cousins' birthday and we were all blown away by it.

Now I suspect it was mostly his convincing tone of voice, rather than natural ability!


One thing you might consider is taking the kids on an outing to a petting zoo, if there is one nearby.

There's one in my city and I take my nephew there all the time. He just adores it. And I think it's very educational for him to be able to see farm animals up close. They occasionally have small demonstrations, like how to milk a cow, or hooking the donkeys up to carts and letting the kids have rides as well.

This isn't quite the same as elephants and lion tamers, but the kids will probably enjoy it even more. And this way you know the animals are being looked after properly, assuming that the petting zoo is well maintained!

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