Kara's Party Ideas Circus Train Big Top Vintage Carnival Carousel Themed Birthday Party Ideas

I’m so excited to feature my CIRCUS TRAIN BIG TOP CARNIVAL BIRTHDAY PARTY with you today! This party is one of my favorite parties from my book!

The moment I found a lovely carousel outside of City Hall in St. George, Utah my mind just couldn’t stop dreaming of all the fun things this Circus Train Birthday Party could include. I set the stage with three circus train cars, which I made out of baby cribs. I transformed the regular white cribs into a real life circus train by adding painted wooden scroll pieces and paper bunting for decoration, and fanned flowers to serve as wheels! I then connected the train cars using red and blue crepe paper. Each train car provided the perfect space to display much of the party food, treats and decor.

The beautiful photos were taken by Valerie Hart Photography.

All of the party items/decor used in this party are available in the Kara’s Party Shop.
{Full product list can be found at the bottom of this post}

Circus Tent Sugar Cookies—All Things Exquisite

Cake & Cupcakes— Dippidee

Clown Cake Pops—Autumn Lynn’s Chocolate Sin’s Online Shop

As the children moved through the various party activities, they collected tickets. Once they had enough tickets they were able to pick a prize off the prize wall. I made the prize wall using a wooden free-standing chalkboard that I covered in fabric and topped with a “prizes” sign. To make the prizes I filled clear cello bags with plastic balls, games, noise makers and yoyo’s. The bags were then sealed with striped wrapping paper and blue crepe paper streamers and pasted to the wall.

The guests also played the infamous carnival game “Ring Toss” using rope rings and some old “Pop Shop” glass bottles that I found at an antique shop.

The middle circus train car held a large faux cake that I made out of hat boxes and tickets. Next to the cake were cute three-ring circus train boxes and ceramic circus letters. I placed fun cups shaped like circus tents at the front of the table, and next to them, put a darling cupcake tower made with a kit from my shop. The cupcake tower was accented with fun silver cording, yellow pom ribbon, blue crepe paper, and a cute mini bunting banner. It was finished with a clown nose at the top! The circus clown cupcakes couldn’t have been cuter sitting there amongst ceramic circus figurines. The circus tent-shaped sugar cookies were a hit, as were the “peanut” cups filled with orange candy circus peanuts. Peeking out from the back of the train car was a darling vintage “Tiddlywinks” clown game and a “Circus Parade” book.

A drink station was situated in an old galvanized bucket. I used two long wooden dowels to hang the “Drinks” banner I made using an ornate circus font for the lettering. Inside the bucket were old fashioned-style soda bottles. There were also water bottles labeled “Circus Water”.

Paper tickets are so versatile and cute that I couldn’t resist using them a lot throughout this party! The first train car featured vintage suitcases covered in white tickets. The focal point of the middle train car was the ticket “cake” I made. On the food train car, I used them as napkin rings to secure forks to red and yellow polka dot napkins. Plus, I wrapped tickets around the ketchup and mustard bottles. As guests arrived at the party, they were greeted with a happy ceramic clown on top of stacked ticket rolls. I made a fun wreath out of clown noses and tickets to place on the table next to the clown. Guests also walked past a bright ticket booth. I made the booth with a wooden puppet stand, painted and decorated to match the circus theme and colors. To add to the ambiance, I strung a red, white, and yellow felt “celebrate” banner between the ticket booth and the “Welcome to the Carnival” sign.

The third circus train car held the majority of the food. I love the miniature electric hot dog warmer that I used to heat the hot dogs! I also had a matching popcorn machine full of the buttery yummy stuff on the opposite side of the table. In the center of the train car was a white metal tub with rubber duckies inside. There were also several sizes of apothecary jars that I filled with suckers, miniature rainbow candies, and red gumballs. I ordered the darling clown cake pops from an online Etsy Shop and they couldn’t have been cuter in the stacked silver milk bottles! I made “lion tamer whips” out of chocolate licorice and placed them in a clear shallow glass bowl. I also filled cute carnival treat boxes with cupcakes for the guests, just in case they didn’t get enough sweets!

The focal point of the first circus train car was the darling Balancing Elephant Cake. The other fun circus items surrounding the cake included: toy animals that I “dressed up” with paint and ribbon; a miniature metal Ferris Wheel dispenser with bowls full of toys and treats; a sweet vintage Humpty Dumpty Lumps penny candy tin; a rotating wooden container filled with colored paper straws, candy mustaches, bright party blow outs, and candy peanuts; strongman dumbbells made with striped straws and round suckers; animal crackers and more!

I arranged Mason jar glasses on a small beverage table. Behind the glasses was a fun lollipop display. I made the display using an old Coca-Cola crate, some Styrofoam, and various fun and colorful lollipops and jawbreaker pops. I strung a delicate bunting flag banner {made with tickets and silver pipe cleaner} between two glittery batons nestled in the back of the crate. There were also two glass apothecary jars on the table, filled with yummy cookies.

All of the party guests had a chance to have their picture taken at a festive carnival-themed photo booth! I made the booth using pvc pipe, hot glue, and colorful polka dot fabric. I strung a homemade, fabric “happy birthday” banner across the back of the booth. To the side of the booth was a gumball machine and balloons tied to a yellow ducky balloon weight. I found a vintage suitcase online and filled it with photo booth props like silly glasses, hats, noses, bow ties, gloves, a xylophone, and even a rubber chicken! I think that it looked just like a traveling circus clown’s suitcase would have.

Party items/decor used in this party available in the Kara’s Party Shop


Water Bottle Labels


Cupcake Toppers

Directional Carnival Sign

“Celebrate” Fabric Banner

Striped Fanned Flowers (wheels)


Circus Tent Cupcake Stand

Circus Tent–Shaped Cups

Silver Milk Bottles

Polka-Dot Napkins

Apothecary Jars


Ketchup/Mustard Containers

Rubber Duckies

Popcorn Bags

Circus Drink Labels

Hot Dog Containers

Tissue Bunting Flags

Clown Noses

Jumbo Bow Ties

Clown Gloves

Clown Hats

Candy Sticks

Party Blow Outs

Paper Straws

Carnival Gable Boxes

Cake Stands

Marshmallow Peanuts

Plastic Clown Cupcake Toppers

Embellished Paper Clown Toppers


Crepe Paper

Candy Mustaches

Gumballs, Balloons

Big Top Cupcake/Treat Boxes

Striped Cupcake Liners

Circus Tent Sugar Cookies—All Things Exquisite

Cake & Cupcakes— Dippidee

Clown Cake Pops—Autumn Lynn’s Chocolate Sin’s Online Shop

Leave a Reply

  1. Wendy says:

    Oh I just loved, and I mean LOVED when I saw this party in the book! I loved the creativity using the tickets, and the cake and cookies are adorable!!! I love your parties Kara!!

  2. Ana María lopez says:

    I love your page.
    My daughter wants a candy party
    for her 6th birthday, Any ideas

  3. Fabiana says:

    Meu Deus! Quanta criatividade! estou de boca aberta!!!

  4. Sandra Carvalho Concencio says:

    Encantada!!! Fantástico!!!

  5. Bobbi Jo says:

    I love how colorful this party is! I can’t wait until my kiddos are little bit bigger to enjoy a fun party like this! Definitely copying LOTS of ideas! Thanks for sharing!

  6. Jud says:

    Fantastic!!!, you are so good! I love your works.

  7. Kara Abrahamsen says:

    Kara this is AMAZING!!!! One of my favorite parties I have seen. You did a fantastic job!

  8. Me! says:

    Absolutely awesome! Love the detail… :)

  9. Tracy McCoy says:

    Hi Kara, I love everything about this party! You did an amazing job!! Where did the little girls clown costume come from?

  10. Dominique of Gusto & Grace Blog says:

    Thanks for the inspiration. I came back to this post several times when planning a circus themed baby shower: http://wp.me/p2nHNn-IX

  11. Melissa says:

    Where did you get the fabric used as the photo background? It would make a perfect tablecloth for my upcoming carousel party!

  12. Nancy says:

    Where did you get the scrolls you used to decorate the cribs? And are these regular cribs or toy cribs? They look smaller than a regular crib