Ideas for the Party Human

Circus Party

Posted on: October 21, 2009

THEME:  Circus, Clowns

INVITATIONS:  Shaped like a clown, perhaps holding an unfilled balloon that the child can keep.  Or, send a balloon invitation:  Blow up a jumbo balloon.  Pinch end closed with one hand; with the other, write your invitation around the sides of the balloon with a waterproof oil-based felt-tipped pen.  After the ink dries, let the air out.  Insert balloon in envelope and mail.  The guest blows up the balloon to read the message and keeps it as an early party favor.  Ask the children to come dressed as their favorite circus performers (including animals) and to be prepared to imitate that performer for 1-2 minutes.  This party is good for children aged 7-10.

MATERIALS FOR ACTIVITIES:  Circus “set” described in DECORATIONS section, perhaps a “fishing” booth and/or a silly fortune-telling tent, circus music, rented clown or magician (or capable parent disguised as such), favors (such as bags of peanuts or popcorn, small boxes of animal crackers, or circus-type souvenirs).

FOOD:  Birthday cake can be made in a special clown-shaped pan, or a sheet cake could be decorated with a frosting or plastic clown, holding balloons.  Another idea could be to make a round layer-cake into a Balloon Cake:  Decorate frosted cake with gumdrop balloons.  You will need 15-20 flat, round, fruit-flavored gumdrops.  Cut end of gumdrop off to give balloon a bright fresh color.  Arrange on cake, add short strands of black or red shoestring licorice for strings on each candy balloon.  To make the cake an exciting centerpiece, anchor strings of one or more colorful helium-filled balloons around it.  Or use a Bundt-shaped cake and anchor strings to center of cake.* 

            Perhaps the easiest thing, for those mothers who are not cake decorators, would be to buy small plastic figures of clowns and animals and place them on top of the cake.  Colorful ring-shaped candies make good birthday candle holders.  Neapolitan ice cream or the orange sherbet/vanilla ice cream combination might be good choices, if the birthday child agrees.  Drink pink lemonade (or child’s favorite punch).  If you’re going to serve an entire lunch–which might be a nice idea–what better than good ol’ hot dogs for a circus party?  Potato chips, carrot and celery sticks (with or without peanut butter) could round out the meal.

DECORATIONS:  This party is best given in the summer in a large, grassy backyard.  You can go as big as you want to with this; I’ll describe the biggest.  Hang bright-colored posters, flags, balloons and streamers on back of house, on fences and trees.  Have a sign at the entrance:  “Welcome to the Circus!”

            Involve other parents and big brothers and sisters and have them dress as various animals (complete disguise is not necessary), the bearded lady, the sword-swallower, etc.  They can sit at booths or in makeshift cages and do their impersonations as the children arrive.  Or, if you prefer, put family pets in cages and advertise them as ferocious, wild animals.  (You can  let them out when the party gets going.) 

            Booths and cages can be concocted from large appliance boxes or card tables.  A little paint, construction paper and streamers can transform them into circus originals.  You will also need an area for the audience to sit on chairs or benches and an area for the children to perform.  You could make three large rings out of strips of cardboard placed in the grass, but one would probably be sufficient.  Have on hand props for the circus “set” that the performers can use, like a beam of wood for a “tightrope,” a swing-set or tree swing for trapeze artists.  You can make barbells for a Strongman act using a cardboard tube with balloons on each end.  Write “1,000 pounds” on each balloon.*

BLOW-BY-BLOW:                         As the children arrive, they look at the “impersonators” in the booths and cages until everyone has come.  If you use pets in the cages, then the other helpers can dress as clowns and greet each child with a balloon.  The guests might be allowed to feed the animals something.  When everyone has arrived and seen the displays, they take their seats.  (The helpers can sit in the audience, too.) 

            You (or another parent) dress as the ringmaster and invite each child, one at a time, to come up and do his circus act, which you announce loudly and with great fanfare.  Play typical circus music in the background.  The helpers in the audience give support to the performer with cheers, whistles, applause and gasps at the death-defying feats.  When every child who wants to perform has done so, the birthday child opens the presents (if any) and serves the cake, ice cream and drinks.  As the children finish eating, the professional (or volunteer) clown or magician comes out to perform.  At the conclusion of his performance, give the guests their favors to take home.  If necessary, play a game like “Pin the Nose on the Clown” until parents arrive to take them home.

 Variations and Comments:        If you have a large rec room or other such area in your house, this party could conceivably be done indoors.  In this case, it would be possible to rent a video of a circus or magic show, which would probably be less expensive than hiring the performer.  Instead of the large cages with live “animals,” you could set out miniature ones on a table, made from animal cracker boxes.  The animals inside could be made with marshmallows, toothpicks and licorice.  There could be one for each child to take home as a favor.

            Another game the children could play instead of “Pin the Nose on the Clown” or one of the other activities is “Ringmaster.”  One child is chosen for Ringmaster.  The other players form a circle around the Ringmaster without holding hands.  The Ringmaster turns and moves around in the circle, calling the name of some animal.  The players in the circle immediately imitate the animal, both as to its movements and sounds.  For instance, for a monkey, they might walk swinging their arms and making noises like “ooh, ooh.”  The Ringmaster, at his discretion, may announce, “Join the circus parade!”  At this call, each player chooses some animal he would like to represent and gallops around the circle in characteristic movements.

                                                                          * * *


[1]From Today’s Tips for Easy Living, by Dian Thomas (Holladay, UT:  The Dian Thomas Company, 1982).

[2]From Today’s Tips for Easy Living, by Dian Thomas (Holladay, UT:  The Dian Thomas Company, 1982).


2 Responses to "Circus Party"

candle holders that are made of porcelain or brass are very nice looking but a bit expensive compared to cast iron-‘:

I’m confused by your comment. What does it have to do with this Circus Party? There are no candle holders of any kind mentioned.

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