Your li’l tyke deserves only the best for their birthday bash. This year, throw them a circus-themed birthday party to really put on a show. With bright colors, tasty treats and flashy prizes, a circus theme is THE way to go. Whether you choose to feature stuffed circus animals or invite over some real ones, there are so many ways to bring a carnival-inspired brouhaha to the celebration. Bust out the cotton candy machine and marquee lights, because here are 18 modern circus birthday party ideas your kiddo is sure to love.


1. DIY Circus-Themed Cupcake Toppers: Dress up cupcakes with circus-themed cupcake toppers. You can buy them or make your own like these cool DIY ones made of jumbo table confetti and toothpicks. Pro tip: Use red and white striped cupcake liners to give your desserts an extra festive touch. (via Hostess With the Mostess)


2. Prizes Booth: Scour the dollar store for cheap toy prizes to supply your prizes booth. Think: water guns, bubbles, beach balls, coloring books, etc. You can even ask parents to donate toys as well. (via Hostess With the Mostess)


3. Cotton Candy Party Favors: These cotton candy party favors are as easy to make as they are yummy. All you’ll need are clear party treat bags, cotton candy and wafer ice cream cones — though waffle cones work just as well! (via Modern Mom Life)


4. DIY Circus Animal Cookie Pillows: These circus animal cookie pillows will look so good after you make them that you’ll *almost* be tempted to take a bite. (You might want to keep an eye out for the kids though, in case they do.) If you’ll be setting up a lounge area, spruce up the decor with these DIY pillows. (via Studio DIY)


5. Circus-Themed Table Setting: If you’ve got a lot going on with your table setting in terms of colors and patterns, tone it down with a simple white tablecloth. You can even opt for similar acrylic chairs for a classy, modern touch. (via Apartment Therapy)


6. Tin Can Knock Down Game: From balloon shoot to ping pong toss, the circus is chock-full of fun games. One classic game is the tin can knock down. To make your own, upcycle empty soup cans and fill balloons with corn kernels, beans or uncooked rice. (via Lizon)


7. Animal-Topped Favor Jars: Dollar store animal toys, spray paint and mini jars are all that’s needed to construct these creative party favors. After making the animal-topped favor jars, fill ‘em up with a small toy or a handful of sweets. (via Kara’s Party Ideas)


8. Invitations and Tickets: Include ticket stubs with the party invitations to clue the little ones in on all the fun and games in store. Stock up your prizes booth with dollar store toys you can buy or ask parents to donate. (via Apartment Therapy)


9. Circus Animal Cookie Birthday Cake: Make this adorable cake using a bag of colorful circus animal cookies and frosting. To have the cake match its colorful sprinkled exterior, buy or bake up a funfetti cake. (via A Subtle Revelry)


10. Ring of Fire Cupcakes: Turn up the heat on your dessert decorations with a ring of fire cupcake topper. Secure a red and gold pipe cleaner in a loop, stick it into the frosting and pipe a dollop of frosting onto the bottom center, then place a gold toy lion on top. If you can’t find a gold lion, check your dollar store for a regular toy lion and spray paint it gold. (via Proper)


11. DIY Circus Wagon: Whether you choose to keep it a prop or give kids a ride as a functional wagon, this wagon’s circus makeover will definitely be a hit at your party. If you’re planning on turning it into a prop, spruce it up with a stuffed animal or two. (via Ruth Eileen Photography / Style Me Pretty)


12. Circus Animal Toys: Give toy animals the circus treatment by putting pleated satin ribbons around their necks. It’s reminiscent of the neck ruffles from clown costumes, which’ll amp up your circus-themed party decor. (via Minted)


13. Circus-Themed Cake: If you don’t mind fondant, go big or go home with the cake decorations. For a spectacular circus cake like this one, ask the cake decorator for an argyle and striped cake with a giant red ball and tiny fondant elephant. (via Hostess With the Mostess)


14. Face Painting Booth: Set up a face painting booth for an activity parents and children alike can enjoy. Thanks to BHG’s activity sign downloads, your booth can look as #legit as the one pictured here. Throw in a selection of glitter paints for extra *pizzazz.* (via Better Homes and Gardens)


15. Lion Cookies: Once you bake and decorate these super cute lion cookies, they’ll definitely make the kids roar for more! To make, cover regular sugar cookies with decorations made of fondant. (via Apartment Therapy)


16. Popcorn Balloon Arch: Create the coolest party entryway with a popcorn balloon arch. Use both bright and pale yellow balloons to create the arch and complete the look by having each end come out from large plywood popcorn boxes. (via Lola, Tangled)

Did any of these fun ideas inspire you to add some circus elements to your little one’s birthday bash? Follow us on Pinterest for more birthday party themes for your kid!