A Circus Themed Birthday Party on the Cheap

circus birthday invitations

Circus themed birthday parties are all the rage. With eye-popping primary colors, classic games, and yummy food options, a circus theme is certainly a hit with the kids. The question is, does it have to be a hit to your budget too? We don’t think so. That’s why we put together a few ideas to help you organize a circus themed birthday party without going broke. From affordable birthday invitations to cheap and easy circus party food, we’ve got you covered. Check it out!

DIY Circus Tent Decorations

The most essential part of a circus theme is making the inside of your home look like you’re inside a big top. Instead of buying pre-made decorations from a party store, you can save big by simply creating the decor yourself. Our favorite idea requires big rolls of primary colored crepe paper, some sturdy clear tape, maybe a ladder, and a little imagination. We love the DIY crepe paper circus tent idea below that we spotted over on the Schooling a Monkey blog. Not only does this idea make your home look like a circus, but it also creates a beautiful backdrop for a circus themed dessert table!

circus birthday party decorations
Crepe Paper Big Top Circus Tent via Schooling a Monkey

While the idea above will work well for a smaller area of the home, you might want to consider a whole ceiling DIY tent idea for a different room. A classic hula hoop — bought for cheap or easily borrowed from a friend — is the anchor for this next creative design featured below. You just suspend the hula hoop from the ceiling using a simple hook and string from your local hardware store to create the effect of a big top in your own living room like the example shown below.

circus themed birthday party
via PAK-ART Alaska

Cheap Circus Birthday Invitations

Circus birthday invitations don’t have to be expensive. Budget invitation stores like Invite Shop let you find great circus themed birthday invitations for cheap. We love the big top design of the invitation below, although if you have a specific design in mind, you can always design your own through Invite Shop as well!

circus birthday invitations
Red and White Circus Tent Kids Birthday Invite from Invite Shop

Decorate using free circus animal printables

circus themed birthday party
Vintage circus elephant free printable via The Graphics Fairy

Instead of buying expensive circus decor, decorate for free with vintage circus printables, which are widely available online. You can frame circus printables up in thrifted or borrowed photo frames for a vintage circus look. Some of our favorites, like the old-timey circus elephant above, are available in the circus section on the Graphics Fairy website. Choose a few that appeal to you and use them to dress up your cake table or to hang on your walls.

Create your own circus photo booth

Instead of renting a fancy photo booth, make your own circus themed photo backdrop and use an instant camera for instant memories for the birthday kid and their friends. We love the photo frame idea below that we spotted on the Bird’s Party blog, which uses a simple painted wood frame, some red fabric, and a few homemade embellishments for a makeshift photo frame fastened to garden posts. A less complicated option is a simple red and white striped tablecloth backdrop featuring a homemade pennant photo booth banner.

circus themed birthday party
DIY circus photo booth via Bird’s Party

You can help your kids create memories by having a bucket or bag handy with a wide variety of photo props, like oversized glasses, clown noses, colorful wigs, magic wands, top hats, and more. You can even make your own photo props. We love these ring master mustaches we found over at the Celebrations at Home blog.

circus themed birthday party
Ring master mustache props via Celebrations at Home

Circus food

A cheap red and white tablecloth (Target has them for $2.49 each) is all the setting you need for a flashy-yet-frugal array of circus party themed food. Glass jars filled with old fashioned circus peanuts candies, individual baggies of freshly popped popcorn, soft pretzels, hot dogs or corn dogs with all the fixins, and ice cold lemonade will have all your guests reminiscing about their last trip to the circus. You can also make simple cupcakes from a box and use animal crackers and colorful sprinkles for a simple treat in keeping with the circus theme.

circus themed birthday party
Animal cracker cupcakes via the Delighted Mama blog

While we love the classic Barnum & Bailey Animal Crackers in the little red boxes, they can get pricey when bought in bulk for guest party favors. We recommend buying a cheaper brand in bulk (plain or frosted) and wrapping them in little cellophane favor baggies. Better yet, you can make your own (here’s a great recipe for frosted animal crackers).

Then there’s the cake. Instead of paying a fortune for a circus themed cake, make a regular round layer cake, frost it simply, and adorn it with little plastic circus animals (you can even place tiny party hats on their heads using this fun DIY).

Circus Themed Birthday Party Games & Activities

circus themed birthday party
Bucket toss game via HowDoesShe.com

Bozo the Clown may have freaked you out as a child, but he sure had some great kids games. One of them is the famous ball toss game where a bunch of buckets are placed in a straight line and kids gather more and more points by being able to get the ball in the furthest bucket. This game is still a big hit among young children and super easy to replicate; all you need is a small ball and a few buckets.

An equally easy alternative to this game is a simple ring toss game using glass bottles, such as empty frappuccino bottles that have had their labels removed. Other options include:

  • Knocking over weighted tin cans with a ball
  • Three-legged races
  • Potato sack races
  • Face painting
  • Enlisting the help of a friend to make balloon animals for the kids

Come One, Come All

We hope this blog post inspired you to plan the ultimate circus themed birthday party. Now go forth and create the greatest party on earth!

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