Thinking about throwing a carnival or circus birthday party outdoors? If you know me, you know I don’t shy away from throwing parties, and for my daughter’s second birthday I wanted to go all out. Call it mom-guilt, I certainly felt a twinge of sympathy that my little toddler had to contend with a new baby brother just a few months before her second birthday. Still in diapers, Ava was now the older sibling and saw family and friends hold and coo over the baby. So yes, I decided Ava deserved all the bells and whistles of her very own carnival! Please read along if you’d like some inspiration to create your own magical birthday circus!
Ava’s birthday is in April, which can be a toss up weather-wise. The forecast predicted rain and sun, so we decided to rent a tent for the backyard just in case. I called around, and went with Frank Bee; they had circus tents with strings of lights and they also set everything up the day prior.
To ensure the party felt like a true carnival or circus, I decided to incorporate carnival games. Frank Bee’s also rents out carnival games with canopies. We had little prizes and tickets for each player to make the experience more authentic.
Being a baker at heart, I just love having a candy station at the center of every party. For little Ava’s carnival, I made the dessert table a breeze by ordering cupcakes at Wholefoods, and I requested the bakers to put the cupcake decorative wrapping on each cake. I debated whether or not to make a cake or the cupcakes myself, but decided to minimize the work where possible for this party. Wholefoods to the rescue!
I ordered my dessert-table backdrop from shindigz.com. I really try to shop around for the best deals and make sure I subscribe to multiple companies’ email distributions. I think I received 25% off of Shindigz–it really adds up!
As for the cupcake stands and wrappers, all these carnival-theme dessert holders I ordered off Amazon. There are a lot of options, and you can certainly shop around for the best prices.
Speaking of desserts, have you caved in to the whole doughnut-hype? I can’t tell you how much our family loves doughnuts, and I just had to incorporate them in this party somehow. I picked up these beautiful (and affordable) doughnut stands from Joann Fabrics. Using a coupon I believe I spent maybe $15? The best!
While some may say “why go all out for birthdays especially when these kiddies probably won’t remember them anyway?” It’s just something I’ve always felt strongly about…
After all, birthdays are a celebration of who we are, its a celebration of our birth. Call me crazy, but I think everyone should have a totally rocking birthday. Honestly, I think it probably goes back to something my mom told me when I was little. My Dad’s birthday is on Christmas, and he used to tell my mom how badly he felt that no one ever celebrated his birthday when he was growing up. No extra presents, no special birthday cake. I felt terrible! So we always tried to make sure he felt extra special on his birthday, wrapping extra gifts in birthday wrapping paper and making a special cake. Well let’s say my kids will never say their parents didn’t try!!!
Back to the party. So it’s not a party if there’s no entertainment right? A little background story…a few months prior to planning Ava’s 2nd birthday we attended my dear friend (and life coach I must add!) Liz Strom’s wedding. Her wedding was absolutely amazing and so much fun; she had two caricaturists draw portraits for all her guests as wedding favors! Isn’t that the best wedding favor ever? I just had to incorporate this into little Ava’s party. I guess when you go big, might as well go to the circus!!
I found our caricaturist, Alison Glebson, on Gigsalad.com. Gigsalad.com is one of several websites that links you with entertainment and party vendors directly, providing a quote within a few minutes. We got very lucky with Alison when trying to find a local caricaturist!
How cute is that direction sign? We ordered that off Shindigz.com as well!
For the table runners, I picked up patriotic fabric from Joann’s Fabrics and cut them to size. I filled pretty bridal tins with salted peanuts and stuck a rainbow lolly and a bright pinwheel into each tin. So simple and cute! Love attention to details.
Frankie Be’s threw in a circus stand-up for photo-ops after some negotiation–this was a big hit with the kiddos at the party!
Here are a few more moments captured from the day!
Happy party planning!