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How To Throw A Smashing Circus-Themed Birthday Party For Your Child – A Guide

For many of us, the circus conjures up enjoyable memories from our past. Who can forget the vivid sights and sounds of the circus? The mouth-watering scent of candy apples, the buttered popcorn, and sugary cotton candy? Who doesn’t love the circus? 

Why not create similar memories for your child with a fun twist? A circus theme is perfect for a child’s birthday party! There are so many excellent ideas for hosting a circus-style birthday party. 

And you don’t have to spend a lot of money. With a little creativity, you can go a long way even with a limited budget. We’ve made it easy for you. We’ve collected a list of fun circus party ideas that can be adapted for any budget. 

Circus Birthday Party 101

Circus Clowns

Bring in the clowns! You can hire a professional clown to entertain your guests. Hiring a clown is the more expensive option, but many professional clowns will also do tricks such as making balloons, magic, etc.

Note: Be aware that small children are often afraid of clowns. This is something to consider with very young children. You will have to make the call to see if such an option is appropriate for your audience.

You can also incorporate any number of different clown ideas for the party. Consider clown party-favors, clown table settings, clown birthday hats, balloons, and clown games. 

Circus DIY Costumes

circus birthday party

You can set up a dress-up station so that your little guests can dress up as clowns themselves.  Make a tent backdrop for photo ops. Have a collection of old silly clothes, outfits, hats, wigs, fake noses, glasses, and other props handy. Help them apply makeup to their faces if they want. After all, every good circus has clowns.

Circus Pinata

Have the birthday girl/boy select a circus styled pinata. Your local party store will have dozens of options including the obvious choice of a clown pinata. Fill the pinata with candies, stickers, and toys. As with all parties involving little children, supervise the game so that no one gets hurt. Take a hands-on approach during this game and provide necessary assistance as you think appropriate. 

Circus Theme Party Food

  • Popcorn: Again, you have options. You can rent a professional popcorn maker to give it that authentic vintage feel, or you can make some popcorn yourself and put it in those fun circus-themed containers. On a limited budget, you can find cheap novelty popcorn props to give the popcorn station that extra flair.
  • Cotton Candy: As with popcorn, you have options. A more expensive option is to rent a professional cotton candy machine. If this is out of the budget there are many quality brands of cotton candy on the market. You can even remove the popcorn from the bags and attach them to rolled-up cardboard holders just like in the circus. There you go. Professional style cotton-candy on a reasonable budget.

Tent/Tent Backdrop

If you have the budget and space, you can always rent a large outdoor circus tent for your backyard. Don’t get us wrong, it will do wonders for creating the overall feel of a circus. But we recognize that it’s out of the budget for most people. But don’t worry! There are many creative ways to turn your living room into a circus tent with the right use of color, streamers, fabric, balloons, wall hangings, etc. You will be astounded by the way you can transform your house into a real circus tent. 

Clown Music

circus birthday party

Download some classic clown music or other circus-themed music from the web. Turn on the speakers. Now you have your very own circus in your home.


Set up a raffle station where you distribute raffle tickets so that children can “pay for games”. Participants will also be able to win tickets for playing games. When they are done, they can exchange the tickets for prizes at the “gift shop”. These prizes can be little gag gifts like whoopie cushions, stickers, toys, action figures, dolls. Party stores are an excellent place to buy rolls of raffle tickets.

Circus Party Rentals

  • Jumping Castle/Inflatable Rides: This is another more expensive option but one which will certainly entertain your guests. There are many companies who specialize in children’s amusement for parties, such as jumping castles, climbing walls, etc. With a little imagination, you can create your own activity centers. For example, you can include “jousting sections” using safe pool noodles. You can also set up a section for trampolines, pogo sticks, etc.
  • Petting Zoo: If your budget permits, many companies will set up an actual petting-farm in your backyard. Other options include smaller vendors who will come to your house with a fun collection of smaller animals, such as rabbits, hamsters, gerbils, and mice. One benefit of having animals at the party is that aside from the smell of popcorn and cotton candy, the party will begin to smell like a zoo.

Circus Theme Party Games

There are a thousand circus games that you can set up. One fun idea is to have the various games set up as different stations running at the same time just like in an actual circus. Consider popular games such as ring toss, pin the tail on the donkey, and similar games. These are perfect for a circus. Adapt these games to the skills levels of the group. Smaller children will need hand-over-hand help. 

You can distribute prizes to players for winning games and good participation. Appropriate prizes can include small stuffed animals, little toys, novelty gag gifts, and balloons. 

We have done our best to collect some fun ideas to consider for your circus theme. Take a look at our list and see which of our party ideas (if any) you like. You don’t have to incorporate all of them. Select a few that suit your budget and vision. Above all, have fun with the creative process.