Carnival birthday party ideas

Table with tissue paper flowers, a top hat, a rainbow colored clown wig, and a hula hoop

Everybody loves a carnival!

And why not? They’re all about having a good time and being in the middle of all the action and fun.

carnival birthday party decorations

So what better way to celebrate the birthday of someone special than with a carnival themed birthday party? Whether you’re planning a party for a child, or you just want to bring out that inner child we all have no matter how old we are, turning your event into a carnival birthday party could be just the thing you need to make your celebration spectacular.

So step right up and behold the red and white color theme with pops of yellow and teal that will help you create an appealingly-festive atmosphere. You’ll find suggestions for treats, games, and activities, too, to help you pull off your own three-ring circus of bright colors, fun eats, and a memorable time for all.

Create a fun photo backdrop for your guests to enjoy:

All the world’s a stage in this photo backdrop worthy of the greatest show (make that the greatest PARTY) ever! We started with red and white crepe paper streamers to give it a carnival feeling and framed it with tissue paper pom poms , honeycomb balls, and balloons — all in our theme colors of red, white, yellow and teal. Then we added a variety of carnival-inspired props. Who wouldn’t have fun playing the magician with a hat and wand or hamming it up in a clown wig and oversized bowtie or delivering a virtuoso hula hoop performance for the camera and crowd?

tissue paper pom poms

Set up a fabulous gift table and seat of honor:

Your guest of honor will really appreciate your thoughtfulness in creating a festive and inviting place for them to open their gifts. Use plenty of balloons and more of those honeycomb balls and budget-friendly tissue paper pom poms. Make sure the chair is comfortable and placed so that everyone can watch as the gifts are opened. (Tip: Have the gift table in a location that’s easily seen by people entering the room, that way they’ll know where to take their gifts. If that’s not possible, designate someone to greet people at the entrance and run their presents to the gift table.)

festive party gift station

Providing a card basket helps guests know where to put their cards and gives the cards a special place of importance. Pick a basket you love, and reuse it for other parties you host. Make sure to save time and stress by taking advantage of our free carnival-themed printable card sign.

carnival party card basket

Idea: Consider arranging the gifts on the floor around the seat of honor, and have the table do double duty serving as both the gift basket holder and the drink station, as shown.

gift arrangement and carnival party setting

(Tip: Be sure to check out our tutorial on how to use reversible wrapping paper gifts!)

Make your drink table stand out:

What’s a carnival without lemonade? Carry the carnival birthday party theme through with a fun and festive drink table, complete with floating lemons in a clear plastic or glass beverage dispenser. (We particularly love dispensers that have a built-in bottom that elevates them off the table at just the right height to allow for easy filling of cups and glasses.)

carnival party lemonade stand

Other features adding to our carnival look are milk bottle glasses with paper straws — so nostalgic and retro!

retro carnival look with milk bottles and straws

Add tissue paper tassel banners and fan out a variety of solid-colored napkins in our theme colors to complete the look.

theme colored napkins

Wow everyone with an awesome dining table:

A plain red plastic tablecloth takes on a whole new look with a patterned wrapping paper runner. (We used our red reversible wrapping paper and cut it in half. One half was used for the food table and the other half for the dining table.)

easy table decor for carnival party

The carnival birthday party theme inspired our centerpieces, which are 32-ounce mason jars with a balloon weight in the center of each to anchor the balloon floating above. The jars are then filled with peanuts to complete the look.

carnival birthday party centerpieces

Party favors were placed in metal mini-buckets filled with tissue paper. Our free printable “Thank You” labels with a fun carnival ticket look are the perfect way to show your appreciation for your guests.

carnival party favors

Add a framed quote to the table by slipping a birthday greeting card (we used one of our PS Hello cards) into a white or other color-coordinated frame.

framed quote made with a greeting card

Make your food table a main attraction:

The food table is a place where you can really have fun playing with different carnival birthday party ideas. We’ve combined a lot of great, easy-to-do ideas here to create our table, starting with a white plastic tablecloth with a patterned wrapping paper runner. Above the table, we hung a pennant banner we made out of scrapbook paper hung on gold baker’s twine. Simple and inexpensive.

inexpensive carnival party food table

The candy bar features sweet treats that match the carnival birthday party theme: red and white gumballs, ice cream cones, animal crackers and lemon drops.

carnival candy bar theme

Little touches like stacking the plates in alternating colors of red, white, yellow and teal can add a lot to the carnival look of the table.

We’ve used reversible wrapping paper for our runner and placed some of the candy and display items on white crates to add height and interest. Another option is to add tissue paper tassels around the edge of the table.

The cupcakes are topped with pennants attached to toothpicks, and we’ve assembled a miniature version of the pennant wall banner on top of the cake.

carnival party cupcakes
party themed cake

Get playful with fun ideas like our can toss display, which is simply old cans wrapped in our patterned reversible wrapping paper.The cute “Can Toss” sign is available as a free printable.

reversible wrapping paper can toss activity

We also have a free printable “Soft Pretzels” food tent if you decide to add that to the menu.

soft pretzels

Our food table is rounded out with a couple of carnival faves — cotton candy and popcorn. We printed the “Cotton Candy” labels (again, one of our free printables) on sticker sheets, cut them out, and attached them to cellophane bags.

cotton candy and popcorn

The popcorn cups are our red solid paper cups spruced up with free printable labels printed on sticker sheets and attached. (Tip: Setting the popcorn cups out on a platter helps them stay in a picture-perfect row.)

carnival popcorn cups with free printable labels

Bring it all together with balloons and other decorations throughout the room

When it comes to balloons and other decorations, the more the merrier!

Use extra tissue paper and honeycomb balls and pom poms to add pops of color on the floor and tables. And if you’re looking to create maximum party atmosphere for a minimum cost, balloons are a great way to go. Clusters of balloons in your party’s colors add height to a room as well as festiveness.

If you don’t want to use helium, you can hang your balloons from the ceiling using tape and ribbon. You can also create your own customized confetti balloons.

balloons and lemonade stand
carnival party balloons

Try this: Use a hole punch to make your confetti from your coordinating tissue paper colors. Stuff clear un-inflated balloons by placing a funnel into the end of the balloon and pushing the confetti through with the eraser end of a pencil. Then blow up the balloons and presto! (Tip: To get the cleanest cut on your confetti, place the tissue paper between two sheets of regular computer paper when using the hole punch.)

And that’s it! Everything you need to host a carnival birthday party that 1) won’t break your budget, 2) will pack a lot of punch for the time it takes, and 3) will make your guest of honor feel really celebrated!

carnival birthday party themed decorations

Print at home

From your printer straight to their hearts! Print your own cards anytime, right when you want them. Add photos, fun art, and more to make it one-of-a-kind. 
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Party supplies

Easy party planning starts here. Set the perfect scene with décor, tableware, favors and more in the colors and characters you love. 
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Gift wrap

Wrap it with love for the ultimate wow factor, using tissue paper, gift bags, wrap, and bows in favorite themes and colors.
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