Most people have the misconception that throwing a circus party needs to be an expensive proposition. With visions of a large tent, animals, jugglers and mounds of food, visions of growing dollar signs start to appear. But if your child has requested a circus theme for their next big event, know that there are ways to create the environment without breaking your bank. Here are just a few budget-conscious moves to consider:
Rather than buying customized, pre-made invitations, save money by making your own invitations. Use a simple computer program you might already have such as Microsoft Word to create an invitation you can print out on cardstock you buy at an office supply store. Design an invitation made to look like an entry ticket or a circus poster that includes all the event details. You can also design your own invitation using red and white crepe paper to create the look of a striped tent on one side of the card with the event details on the opposite side.
Don’t think you need to rent a tent for your party if it’s too expensive for your budget. Look at ways of creating the image of a tent with alternating strips of red and white streamers. If your party is outside, get a section of PVC pipe that’s about six feet tall and stick it in the ground. Then hang streamers from the top of the pipe down to the ground, securing them with tent stakes. For an indoor party you can create the same image by pinning the streamers to the ceiling and fanning them out in all directions and taping them down. You can also hang a mural of a circus tent or create your own mural by painting the image of a tent on an old white sheet.
Whatever you decide to serve, make sure you buy in bulk to save money. Rather than renting a commercial sized popcorn maker to pop fresh popcorn, buy bags of pre-popped corn and serve it up in plastic popcorn buckets. Popcorn itself can be pretty filling and stocking up on a variety of other snack foods can help keep your budget in line by minimizing the need for main dishes. The nice thing about a circus theme is that the food generally isn’t fancy so you can save on party expenses. Put snack stations around the party with things like peanuts, pretzels and chips so your party guests stay filled up. Along with these snacks, grill up hot dogs and hamburgers for your guests and decorate cupcakes to look like clown faces.
Use a large piece of cardboard to paint your own sign welcoming guests to the circus and use a balloon arch entryway or hang streamers to help frame the entryway. If you have pet kennels or can borrow them from friends, fill them with stuffed elephants, bears and lions and scatter them around the party. Buy various circus posters to hang around your party along with a lot of colorful streamers, crepe paper and balloons.
Rather than rent games or inflatable activities, put a call out to friends and family to borrow any backyard games they might have. Use items you already have to set up game stations like the egg toss and water balloon toss. Collect empty soda bottles and create your own ring toss game or get ping pong balls and several small fishbowls and set up a ping pong toss game. If you have super soaker water guns or paint ball guns you can set up a target shooting game against a fence.
If your budget doesn’t support hiring professional entertainment you can rent a clown suit and have an adult roam around the party entertaining children. Get a helium tank and fill up animal-shaped balloons for young guests to enjoy. Hire a face painter to spend a couple hours at your event and rent cardboard cutouts of clowns, lion tamers, trapeze artists and other circus “characters” that guests can pose behind to have their pictures taken.
Even though creating a circus scene can seem like an elaborate undertaking and duplicating the sensory overload of sights, sounds, smells and tastes can be fairly complex, it doesn’t have to be expensive. Once you have your event budget established, sit down and consider all the ways you can save money while still creating a fun, festive circus environment.