As the worldwide coronavirus pandemic forced the vast majority of Americans throughout the country to be ‘confined to barracks’, countless events, parties, celebrations, festivities, and vacations were unfortunately canceled or repeatedly postponed until it is safer for crowds to get together again.
Family get-togethers were impossible to arrange, and annual traditions of the all-American families everywhere simply never happened. One such tradition is the exciting and magical annual family visit to the circus; therefore, what better way to celebrate finally being able to see your loved ones again than to throw a stunning and visually impressive family-friendly, circus-themed garden party this summer.
1. Fancy Dress
Short of popping a pair of lion ears and a detachable mane atop of the family dog, the live animal performance element of the circus is frankly nigh on impossible to recreate.
Instead, when sending out your party invites, why not encourage your guests to dress as their favorite circus animal performer, thus setting your party up to be an aesthetically stunning vision, not to mention a more than a slightly hilarious event.
Imagine Grandpa dressed as an elephant in a tutu. Priceless.
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As the host of your very own circus extravaganza, it is your responsibility to provide the food and drink to set your party alight, and there are a host of fabulous ideas to really tie your overall circus theme in with the party buffet.
Cast your mind back to your childhood, your visits to the circus and fairgrounds, and the sights and smells your memories conjure up. For food, think fluffy candy floss (perfect, perhaps, as a welcome favor), hotdogs, burgers, and, most important of all, a wide selection of Gourmet Caramel Apples. Create a sensory experience with your food and arrange your wares on carnivalesque-inspired colored plates and serving platters.
If your carnival theme party is for a young child’s special day, such as a second birthday party, don’t forget the birthday cake. You can purchase a custom-made multi-tiered cake complete with a circus tent on top or make a simpler version at home. Betty Crocker has an easy-to-follow video on making a big top circus cake just using icing and a boxed cake mix.
You can also opt for cutesy circus cupcakes. If you’re hosting a circus-themed event for an older child, you can use edible glitter to make them look fancier. For younger children, animal cookies make great cupcake toppers.
Unless you or your partner is planning on embarking on a one-week intensive fire-eating course, actually circus performers at your party are probably a no-go. However, classic party games like pinatas and limbo competitions can be easily translated into a circus theme and, for extra hosting points, why not rent a coconut shy or hook-a-duck stall! Ensure your entire backyard is as colorful and tacky as possible.
Incessant and instrumental carnival music may become somewhat repetitive, so instead, opt for a Spotify playlist centered around quirky and bold performers such as Lady Gaga, Pink, Madonna, and The Artist Formerly Known as Prince.
4. Set Up Fair Games
Try your luck at fun fair games and reward guests with prizes. You can work with a party supply store or party planner to rent fair games complete with costumed staff, or you can create some of the best circus games right in your own backyard. You can also offer activities, such as face painting, for younger kids.
Here are some carnival game ideas to get you started:
- Ring toss: Choose a level area, and drive a stake into the ground. Measure 10 paces away, and put a cone or another marker where participants should stand. Guests can toss rings onto the stake, and whoever gets the most wins a prize, like a stuffed animal. You can also do a bean bag toss instead.
- Strongman: Show everyone you’re the strongest man or woman around with a strongman contest. You can set up a barbell and have guests lift as much weight as possible, being careful not to get hurt.
- Photo booth: Let guests snap memories of the lively “a-fair” in a photo booth. Add party decorations and character cutouts for guests to have fun with.
- Balloon shoot: One of the most famous carnival games, this activity involves balloons and darts. Simply blow up balloons, and hang them on a wall or your fence. Give guests darts, and reward them with a prize if they can pop the balloons.
- Go fishing: Another popular circus game is the one where you try to land a ping pong ball in a fishbowl. The winner usually walks away with a goldfish, but you can also choose betta fish if you prefer.
- Guess the jelly beans: Fill a jar with jelly beans and have guests write down how many they think are in the jar. The person who gets the closest without going over wins the jar of candy. You can also fill the jar with other items, such as small toys, different candies, or pacifiers if your circus event is for a baby shower.
- Axe throwing: If your circus party is an adults-only event, you can set up an axe-throwing activity. An old, soft stump makes for a great target, or you can order a target and hang it on a hay bale.
There is certainly no more exciting aspect of hosting a garden party with a clearly defined theme than the prospect of heading to the nearest party store and splashing out on fantastically tacky and garish decorations.
Contact a local bakery and commission a bespoke circus-themed cake for the centerpiece of the buffet table, multi-colored string lights through tree branches and across the perimeter of the yard, and get creative by making your own cardboard cutouts for your guests to pose for photographs.
Bring the Circus to Town With These Carnival Ideas
Whether you’re hosting a baby shower, kid’s birthday, or an adult get-together, a carnival theme party is a fun way to celebrate the special moment. Filled with bright colors, candies, and fun games, this party theme is a sure-fire way to have everyone enjoy a magical event. You’ll spend the day laughing and enjoying your loved ones, and you’ll make memories that will last a lifetime.