Circus Party on a Budget

It's been a couple of weeks since my last post and I've been missing creating and writing here! I've been to NZ for a long weekend, organising a community knitting project for Stitches for Sisters, and organising my daughter's 7th birthday party.

My daughter is like me in many ways. She loves to plan, and party planning is just about as good as it gets. She's been thinking about her July birthday party since Christmas. One great thing is that she has very definite ideas about themes so we always have something exciting to organise every year. This year she decided she wanted a circus party. Circus/Carnival was such a fun theme to play around with and the party yesterday was a big success.

Sadly (I'm still quite devastated about this) the SD card in our camera corrupted yesterday of all days and we've lost all of the photos of the decorations and tables. You'll have to use your imagination a bit here to compensate for the lack of images. There's a short video below but unfortunately it was AFTER the carnage so the table is all messy. Of course none of this matters to anyone other than me but it still irks.

One of the big challenges is creating a magical themed party on a budget. This is our run down of expenses, I hope this gives you some ideas for your next party!

Hall hire from the city council $11 per hour

Tables - Red tablecloths from Uncle Bills with circus runner from Paper Eskimo, total $16

Yellow clown plastic bunting $2.40 from Uncle Bills

Dress up Photo Booth - wigs, hats, glasses $20


Plastic shot glasses with red jelly $3

Popcorn boxes $6 with homemade popcorn $2

Circus cupcake baking cups $5 with home made cupcakes

Mini hotdogs - small mini bread rolls $8 for 24 plus 2 packets of mini hotdog sausages $5

Mini chocolate bars with  home made circus wrappers $7.50

Water bottles $8 for 24 pack with home made Circus labels - we put a pen next to them and a place to write their name on the bottle which eliminated any lost drinks or sharing
Lollies in glass candy jars which I collected from Op shops $10 for 2


The day began with a circus themed treasure hunt around the grounds outside the hall. We set up 6 clues where the kids had to find things like circus animals hiding in the grass, a red nose, a circus ticket, and a toy lion.  It was a great way to begin the party because it got all of the kids excited and working together.

We wanted to do a carnival type game where the kids had to throw a ball at a tower of cans. We saw a plastic set at Spotlight for $24 and decided to make our own. We collected tins and removed the labels then covered them in red and white striped paper and stuck on some foam stars. This kids loved this game (especially the boys) and was only around $3 to make.

The biggest hit of the day was the face painting table. We bought some cheap mirrors ($3 each) and some face painting kits ($12 for 3 palettes and 2 sets of crayons). We stuck up some pictures of clown faces for inspiration and left them to it. We planned on booking a face painter but they were all around $180 so our DIY table was much cheaper, and really fun.

I used one of my 2nd hand glass jars for a "guess how many in the jar" game. I filled the jar with mini marshmallows then the kids wrote down their name and their guess. At the end of the party we gave the jar to the child who had the closest guess.

We also hired a toy library ring toss game - I highly recommend toy library outdoor toys for birthday parties. A small membership fee is much cheaper than buying a pile of toys you only want for one day.

On the courtyard we set up some skipping ropes and hula hoops which were also well used by all the kids.

Prizes were cheap party toys which I put into cellophane bags ($3.95 for 20) and pinned to a pinboard that I bought from an Op shop for $4. The kids chose which toy they wanted after the treasure hunt.


We downloaded some old style circus music from itunes for $11 which really set the mood for the party.

Overall it was a great afternoon in the winter sunshine and the kids had lots of fun.

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