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How to Throw a Cheap Circus Party for Kids

by Erica Loop, studioD

Gather the gang together under the big top and throw a circus-themed bash for your little one's special day. Whether you are celebrating your child's birthday, her kindergarten graduation or any other holiday, you don't have to break the bank on a kids' circus party. While you will have to nix ideas such as dancing elephants and professional tightrope walkers, you can still have a fun-filled day on a budget. With some do-it-yourself ingenuity and craftiness, you can throw a cheap circus party for kids with ease.

Pick a party place. Since you're on a budget, the most cost-friendly option is probably your own home. With no rental fees, your backyard is the ideal venue for your child's big day. If you don't have a yard, you can easily transform your living room, play room or other in-home space into a circus-worthy stage.

Buy inexpensive popcorn bags or make your own by decorating paper lunch sacks with stenciled lettering, to create gift or goodie bags for the kids to take home. Fill the bags with low-cost circus-themed treats such as boxes of animal crackers, plastic toy circus animals -- such as elephants -- or baggies of candy circus peanuts.

Make your own cake. Save a few dollars by whipping up your own creative circus concoction. Use your favorite cake recipe or buy a box of mix. Frost the cake with white icing. Turn the cake into a big top theme by adding red circus tent stripes. Line the bottom of the cake with candy circus peanuts and add a few plastic circus animals on top as decoration.

String red and white streamers or drape red and white scarves around your party area to recreate a circus tent, without actually having to buy your own big top. Tie helium-filled balloons around the space. Add in toy circus animals such as stuffed horses, monkeys and elephants.

Transform a large-sized box such as an appliance or electronics box into a pint-sized ticket booth. Cut a window out of the top of the box. Paint the outside bright circus colors such as yellow and red. Paint a sign that reads "tickets" on it to glue to the front. Stock the booth with homemade tickets. Have your child draw her own tickets onto index cards or pieces of cut card stock. Let your little one get in the booth at the party and hand out the tickets to use for games or to turn in for prizes.

Set up a table and stock it with flavored popcorn, circus candy, punch or animal crackers as refreshments. Cover the table with a fanciful polka-dot or striped cloth.

Splash on some costume store makeup, use a red foam ball as a nose and dress in a wacky mis-matched outfit. Entertain the kids with silly clown antics or hand out party favors as the children make their way out.

Act as the ring master -- putting on a costume top hat and a blazer -- and assign roles to each kid. Ask who wants to play the elephant trainer, acrobat or tightrope walker. Designate a circus ring space by lining it with streamers. Lay a rope on the ground to have tightrope walkers perform or give the kids scarves and streamers to wave around in an acrobatic act.

Items you will need
  •  Streamers
  •  Scarves
  •  Cardboard box
  •  Non-toxic craft paint
  •  Paintbrushes
  •  Lunch-sized paper bags
  •  Assorted circus-themed candy and snacks


  • Send the helium-filled balloons home with the guests as additional party favors.
  • Invite the kids to come dressed up as their favorite circus characters.


  • Always supervise the kids at all times. Never allow the kids to engage in any potentially unsafe acts such as over the top acrobatics.

About the Author

Based in Pittsburgh, Erica Loop has been writing education, child development and parenting articles since 2009. Her articles have appeared in "Pittsburgh Parent Magazine" and the website PBS Parents. She has a Master of Science in applied developmental psychology from the University of Pittsburgh's School of Education.

Photo Credits

  • Hemera Technologies/PhotoObjects.net/Getty Images