Today I’m just beyond thrilled to share this adorable and creative carnival party! My friend Karen, who’s been a faithful customer since the very earliest days of Chickabug, threw this party for her sons Benjamin and Jacob. This party is extra special to me personally because I helped with Benjamin’s first birthday, and here he’s turning 5, with his baby brother turning one!! My how time flies!

Benjamin and Jacob’s party was a fun- and game-filled day, with lots of prizes and sweets – and not to mention, a show-stopping birthday cake! It was photographed by Staples of Life Photography. Enjoy!!

Amazing carnival theme birthday cake!

Benjamin and Jacob’s amazing 3-tiered, domed cake was made by Cakes Plus in Tampa, Florida.

Carnival theme birthday party invitations and stickers from Chickabug

Karen sent out the most exciting invitations, complete with little packets of carnival tickets! (She knew how much the kids would love getting some tickets in advance!) The invitations and stickers are from Chickabug and the carnival stamps are from Zazzle. The glassine envelopes are from Paper Source, and the carnival tickets are from Target.

Carnival theme birthday outfits

Benjamin and Jacob posted for pre-party photographs wearing handmade ringmaster shirts from Little Gray & Co. (whom Karen highly recommends).

Carnival theme birthday party invitation from Chickabug

Large pinwheels from Hobby Lobby make a cute centerpiece. The birthday invitation from Chickabug is on display in a frame from Hobby Lobby.

Carnival theme birthday party invitation from Chickabug Carnival theme birthday party - custom party hats

The boys’ custom party hats are from Dainty Couture.

Carnival theme party - printable welcome sign from Chickabug

Printable welcome signs (resized to 11×17 on request) welcomed guests to the “Birthday Carnival Spectacular”!

Carnival theme party - printable welcome sign from Chickabug Carnival theme party - printable welcome sign from Chickabug Carnival theme party

The boys’ photos were displayed on the gift table. The red and blue frames are from Ikea.

Carnival theme party

The wonderful “Welcome to the Carnival” directional sign is from Oriental Trading.

Carnival theme party - sign from Oriental Trading Amazing carnival theme party!

The sweets table was set up in the middle of the action, with lots of rainbow-colored candy! You can see Benjamin and Jacob’s printable birthday banner in the background, too.

Amazing carnival theme party!

Painted wooden letters from Michaels spell out each of the kids’ names on the dessert table. The tablecloths used throughout the party are from Party on 7th.

Amazing carnival theme party! Carnival theme party favor bags - printables from Chickabug

Polka dotted favor bags from Party City were decorated with printable circles from Chickabug.

Carnival theme birthday party

Carnival theme party
Bags of popcorn and peanuts were served from big red tubs. The peanut bags are from Wink Events; the popcorn bags are from Outside the Box Papers; and the plastic popcorn containers are from Amazon.

Carnival theme party - bags of peanuts Carnival theme party

It was a beautiful day for an outdoor party!

Carnival theme games - printable signs from Chickabug

Printable 8×10 party signs marked each of the party game stations.

Carnival theme games - lots of ideas!

Karen says, “The ping pong fishing game was so easy, and it was loads of fun. I bought mini plastic fishbowls on Jillybeankids.com. I filled each one with a little bit of blue cellophane, and I put a little rubber fish (from Oriental Trading) in each bowl. Just like at a carnival, the kids got a bucket of ping pong balls and threw them into the fish bowls to win a fish! I briefly considered using live goldfish, but I decided against it because all the kids’ parents would hate me! ;)”

Carnival theme games - lots of ideas! Carnival theme games - lots of ideas!

Since the party was outdoors… bring on the pie toss!! The (brave) target of the pie toss was partially concealed by a “World’s Strongest Man” cutout from Oriental Trading.

Carnival theme games - lots of ideas! Carnival theme games - lots of ideas! Carnival theme games - lots of ideas!

A “Pee Wee Play Area” was set up for the tiniest kiddos. The mini circus tent is from Ikea.

Carnival theme party Carnival theme games - lots of ideas!

Other games included a disk drop game (like Plinko), a 3 in 1 game (like tic tac toe with balls), a carnival can bean bag toss, putt putt golf, ring toss, a baseball bean bag toss game, potato sack races, and batter up baseball.

Carnival theme games - lots of ideas!

Karen says, “The Duck Pond Game was really basic and easy! I filled a turquoise metal bucket with water and loads of plastic ducks. The ducks had numbers 1-10 on the bottoms and the kids picked ducks to find matches. As a variation, we also had the kids pick to find ducks with their ages. They loved it! All the plastic ducks came from Oriental Trading.

Carnival theme games - lots of ideas!

The boys’ “five” and “one” shirts came from Old Navy.

Carnival theme games - lots of ideas! Carnival theme photo booth

Karen set up a wonderful “Let’s Clown Around” photo booth area with all sorts of props! The fabric pennant banner decorating the booth is from Pearl and Jane.

Carnival theme photo booth

The hand props in the photo booth (glasses and mustaches on sticks) are from The Manic Moose. The 3-D props (clown shoes, ties, noses, hats, wig, barbell, etc.) are from Oriental Trading.

Carnival theme photo booth

Karen says, “The photo booth wasn’t easy, but it was so worth the effort! The stand was a photographer’s backdrop stand that I borrowed from a professional photographer. It was perfect because it allowed me to control the width and height – you want it to be tall enough so that it’s higher than the adults when they stand in front of it. The white backdrop was actually a photography prop (also borrowed), but I had originally planned to just use plain white fabric, or a big white king-sized sheet. The red curtains on the sides were regular house curtains from IKEA with matching pull backs ($20). In terms of setup, the white fabric was hanging from the top rod of the backdrop stand. The red side curtains were just draped over the top of that same rod and secured with a clip on both sides from behind. Then, I added the pennant banner from Pearl and Jane.”

Carnival theme photo booth Carnival theme party prize table - printable signs from Chickabug

The prize table was fully stocked with goodies from Oriental Trading, Dollar Tree, and Amazon. The striped favor bags are from Jillybeankids.com.

Carnival theme party prize table

Karen says, “I gave out tickets to children throughout the party just for playing the games – not based on winning.  I just wanted them to have fun playing. Benjamin absolutely loves collecting tickets and redeeming them at game centers and arcades, and I felt like that would add to the excitement at the party. At the end of the party, the children took their tickets to the prize table and each child got to choose 10 prizes (regardless of the number of tickets they had). It was a fun way to do party favors. They loved it!”

Carnival theme party

There’s a sweet story behind the party entertainer, Silly Sam the Music Man. Karen says, “He was awesome! Here’s the back story… One night earlier this year, Benjamin started crying for no apparent reason. When I asked him what was wrong, he said he was sad because he was not going to be able to see Silly Sam ever again. Silly Sam had come to his preschool every year he has been there (since he was 2), and Silly Sam had been at the school to perform that day. Apparently Silly Sam doesn’t go to the local kindergartens, so Benjamin was upset that since he is starting kindergarten next year, he won’t get to see Silly Sam again. The travesty! Well, I soothed him and wiped his tears and like any determined mother would do, I told him that I would look to see if I could find a way for him to see Silly Sam again. I googled the next morning, and the rest is history. Needless to say, Silly Sam was a hit at the party!”

Carnival theme party Carnival theme party Amazing carnival theme birthday cake! Amazing carnival theme birthday cake!

Benjamin is so excited about his amazing birthday cake…

Carnival theme birthday party

…and his baby brother can’t wait to dig into his first piece of cake!

Carnival theme birthday party

Jacob’s custom bib is from Dainty Couture.

Carnival theme birthday party Carnival theme birthday party

Thank you SO much for sharing, Karen! ♥ Happy birthday to Benjamin and Jacob!

Invitations, stickers, water labels & party printables – Chickabug
Glassine envelopes for invite inserts – Paper Source
Carnival stamps – Zazzle
Tickets – Target
Boys’ ringmaster shirts – Little Gray & Co.
Frames – Ikea (red and blue) and Hobby Lobby (yellow)
Tablecloths – Party on 7th
Cake – Cakes Plus in Tampa, FL
Painted wooden letters – Michaels
“Welcome to the Carnival” sign – Oriental Trading
“World’s Strongest Man” cutout – Oriental Trading
Rubber ducks – Oriental Trading
Large pinwheels – Hobby Lobby
Small pinwheels – Dollar Tree
Boys’ party hats and Jacob’s bib – Dainty Couture
Circus tent for Pee Wee Play area – Ikea
Boys’ age shirts – Old Navy
Peanut bags – Wink Events
Popcorn bags – Outside the Box Papers
Plastic popcorn containers – Amazon
Photo booth hand props – The Manic Moose
Photo booth pennant banner – Pearl and Jane
Photo booth accessories (clown shoes, ties, noses, hats, wig, and barbell, etc.) – Oriental TradingJillybeankids.com, Amazon, Party City
Prizes – Oriental Trading, Dollar Tree, Amazon
Polka Dot Favor Bags – Party City
Striped Favor Bags – Jillybeankids.com
Games – borrowed, or from Oriental Trading and Jillybeankids.com
Photo booth backdrop – stand and white backdrop were borrowed; red curtains from IKEA
Entertainer – Silly Sam the Music Man
Photography – Patricia Staples from Staples of Life Photography

Carnival or circus theme party paper goods & printables from Chickabug

Shop for personalized carnival and circus theme party paper goods and printables here.
Or, check out more carnival and circus theme party ideas on Pinterest or here on my blog!


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  1. 1
    Monday, June 2nd, 2014 at 9:51 am
    Aunt Vittie says:
    This party was so beyond words...it was just outstanding!!! Everything was super great and the children were all having a great time. Thank you for helping make their birthdays totally awesome!!!!!
    • 1.1
      Tuesday, June 3rd, 2014 at 2:49 pm
      Heather says:
      That is so sweet of you to say. Thank you so much! : )
  2. 2
    Tuesday, June 3rd, 2014 at 9:52 am
    Jen says:
    What a fantastic party! Where did you get the signs printed and where did you find the polka dot tablecloths? And of course, awesome job Heather/Chickabug!
    • 2.1
      Tuesday, June 3rd, 2014 at 3:21 pm
      Heather says:
      Thank you, Jen! You can purchase the "Welcome To The Carnival" signs at Oriental Trading. The other signs, like "Ping Pong Fishing" and "Pie Toss" were made right here at Chickabug! I'm not sure where Karen found the tablecloths but I'll see if I can find out. : )
      • 2.1.1
        Wednesday, June 4th, 2014 at 11:14 am
        Heather says:
        Hey Jen! I found out that Karen purchased the tablecloths at Party on 7th. Hope that helps! : )
  3. 3
    Tuesday, June 10th, 2014 at 10:06 pm
    Jessica says:
    Great party! Where in Michael's were the wooden letters? I could not find them. Also, where the stripe table cloths from Party on 7th?
    • 3.1
      Tuesday, June 17th, 2014 at 7:10 am
      Karen Mallin says:
      The wooden letters are in the section at Michaels where all the wood crafts are - the ones you can paint and decorate. Unfortunately not all of the Michael's stores in my area carried these specific letters. I had to call around (2 of the 4 stores in my area had them). The polka dot items from Party on 7th can be found here: http://www.partyon7th.com/podotpasu.html. :)
      • 3.1.1
        Wednesday, June 18th, 2014 at 3:31 pm
        Heather says:
        Thank you, Karen! : )
  4. 4
    Friday, July 24th, 2015 at 3:30 am
    Silva says:
    You have done an AMAZING job with your circus theme. My baby boy is turning 1 and this is the first party I am planning, and it is so overwhelming to get things done with a very hyper and active child. I've been ordering everything online..but I have a question on something I've been trying to find, and I cannot find anywhere. What kind of candy are those two next to the cake? The one to the right of the cake, all the way in the back, and the one to the left of the cake, all the way to the back. Both candy vases are sitting on blue and white stripped box. But, for the life of me, I cant find any kind of candy exactly the same as those. Your help is appreciated. Thanks!
  5. 5
    Tuesday, December 15th, 2015 at 7:38 pm
    Kimberly says:
    This is absolutely SO CUTE! I know it's a year old, but darned if it isn't one of the COOLEST parties I have ever seen! I have seen a lot of birthday parties, and have kids myself...I saw pictures recently for a carnival-themed birthday party just like this in Tampa, used a bounce house rental company, A & B Bounce Houses, and got a bounce house, inflatable slide, face painter and some concessions (cotton candy, popcorn etc)....it was so awesome looking.... You can see some pics of some of the different options, since you're in tampa abbouncehouses. com and I have to say, If I were a kid, I cannot imagine wanting to leave the party. It is really rare to have a birthday party idea so cool that the kids do not lose attention and interest. To maintain their interest is absolutely incredible...but to maintain their interest all in one, easy-to-watch spot, makes the party fun AND safe. It helps though for sure to get all of the different components of the carnival at the same place sometimes. Just a future idea, since your little ones are still little! -Kimberly
  6. 6
    Saturday, June 11th, 2016 at 3:56 pm
    Robin says:
    I love the red tables you used for your ping pong fishing and pie toss games, I am wondering where you bought them at?
    • 6.1
      Sunday, June 12th, 2016 at 10:04 am
      Heather says:
      Hi Robin! I'm sorry, I don't know where they're from!