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Bright & Colorful Big Top Birthday {Circus Animals}

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Circus First Birthday Party smash cake & high chair

Last fall, I designed a Big Top First Birthday Party for Fisher-Price, and it just went live on their site this week, so I’m super excited to finally share it with you!

This theme was inspired by their adorable new Lion, Elephant, & Zebra Clicker Pals™. These toys are part of their Spring 2015 collection and are seriously just as CUTE as can be. I mean, circus-inspired baby animal toys with sweet faces and rainbow feet? Yes, please! ;)

There are lots of different ideas to take in here, from centerpieces and homemade desserts to accent decor, but the great thing is that everything is already broken down in organized detail over on the Fisher-Price website. You’ll find more images of the party with descriptions, plus free printables and 7 DIY tutorials that we shot in addition to the main theme.

Speaking of DIY, my 2 very favorite projects from this party are both pictured in the image below… the Ring of Fire centerpiece (more on this later) and the Circus Animal Pedestals, which are made from $1 Ikea pails turned upside down + colored duct tape!

Circus Birthday Party Kids Table

Rainbow triangle bunting (in various sizes) also played a big role in this party. I opted for bright fabrics with a shiny finish – kind of like a “kite” material– to best match the look of the toys.

The fabric bunting was pinned & swagged around both the kids table and the dessert table:

Circus Birthday Party Dessert Table

The dessert table backdrop was made from white curtains ($12/pair at Ikea) + a few long strands of colored ribbon. I originally wanted to make “curtains” entirely out of ribbon for this backdrop, but quickly realized that was going to cost a small fortune. This was much more doable. :)

We also made a big foam core “1st” Sign to put in the middle of the curtains. It was designed to match the “1” in the circus partyware collection.

Circus Elephant Desserts

All of the treats were a combo of grocery store-bought and homemade, but my favorite one was also the very easiest: “Strongman Barbells” made from donut holes + jumbo stripey straws! Even the Elephant Clicker Pal had some fun with these (see above). ;)

DIY Donut Barbell Circus Treats

Regular sized stripey straws were also used as sticks for printable decorative flags. I attached them to the toy animals with a strip of colored duct tape:

Circus Birthday Party Decorations

Here’s a closer look at the aforementioned Ring of Fire Centerpiece… do the stands look familiar at all?

DIY Ring of Fire Centerpiece - Circus Birthday

The stands are actually made from the bottom portion of Ikea’s $1 Tolsby frames + a really thick wooden dowel! I spray painted the dowels white to match, then hot glued them to the back of the “fire” ring. View the complete tutorial right here.

The Lion Clicker Pal toy is sitting on an upside down clear plastic cup (purchased at Party City). I added colored duct tape “diamonds” to the cup to dress it up a bit.

These DIY Big Top Cups were another fun project. They’re made from a printable  “tent top” template + kid-sized “to go” plastic cups (purchased at Target).

DIY Big Top Tent Cups and Circus Party Plates

Tissue-fringe is always a go-to for inexpensive embellishments. I used glue dots to attach short strips of them to the wooden folding chairs, as seen here:

Circus Party Chair Decorations

You’ll see tissue fringe accents used throughout the rest of the party too, including in this Elephant Mask Photo Prop, which was designed to match the Elephant Clicker Pal toy and his signature big red ears!

Circus First Birthday Photo Backdrop and Props

I’ve been having a lot of fun with Plastic Ball Garlands lately, and for this party I hung them vertically to create a fun photo wall backdrop! Very fitting for a toy-inspired party, right? ;)

The Lion Clicker Pal toy was also a key muse for this party, inspiring these Circus Lion Cookies and Circus Lion Photo Prop Mask:

Circus Lion Party Ideas - Cookies and Photo Props

ROAR! That’s my youngest daughter, Rylie. :)

colorful circus birthday decortations

For the main party cake, which was also the centerpiece of the dessert table, I went super budget-friendly but still love how it turned out!

DIy circus party cake with colorful flag toppers

This was a $9 grocery store cake… I asked them to keep the frosting simple & add fondant circles in red, aqua, and yellow. Colored duct tape “flags” + stripey straws made for a fun DIY cake topper, and Rock-a-Stack® rings stacked inside an upside down jumbo plastic cup created a fun pedestal for the cake stand.

I rolled store-bought chocolate donut holes in sprinkles for the 2nd tier of the stand. The bottom acrylic portion of the stand is actually a wine rack (from Target) with more Rock-a-Stack rings crazy-glued to the front. (Note: you have to use crazy glue for this…  hot glue doesn’t stick to the rings for some reason!)

Didn’t want the cute little zebra to feel left out, so she got her own “Rainbow Zebra” Brownie bites… the sprinkles are inspired by the tiny little rainbow balls inside the nose of the toy.

rainbow zebra brownies - circus party treats

Another super easy dessert trick: hot glue jumbo table confetti to toothpicks for instant cupcake toppers. Striped baking cups also make them feel extra circus-y!

circus party cupcakes with DIY toppers

These circus banana parfaits are quick & easy too… just layer banana pudding with crushed cookies and rainbow mini chips or sprinkles. I brushed mini Nilla Wafers with a stripe of Karo Syrup & rainbow nonpareils for a colorful garnish.

Monkey Parfaits - Circus Party Dessert

The mini rainbow bunting pictured above is made from colored duct tape. Just put strips of duct tape onto cardstock then cut small triangles out & hot glue them to baker’s twine!

Circus Party Decorations

Of course it wouldn’t be a first birthday without a SMASH CAKE! This homemade 6″ rainbow smash cake is decorated with a border of rainbow mini chips + some nonpareils. I topped it with one of the paper cut outs from the Fisher-Price 1st Birthday collection + a small printable banner I designed. (You can download it on the FP site.)

Smash cakes mean messy hands, messy faces, and super fun photos! :) How cute is our little birthday boy….

rainbow smash cake - circus birthday party

For a fun favor/activity idea, we set up an “Elephant Adoption Station” with plush elephant toys from the FP Party City collection…

circus party favors - elephant adoption station

I also designed some “Elephant Adoption Certificates”. Macy named her elephant Lollipop. I have no idea why, but thought it was cute. :)

circus party activity - stuffed elephant adoption

That’s it for now – visit this party on the FP website for more details, or feel free to ask me questions in the comment section below!

Vendor Credit
By |2018-02-15T11:52:08-07:00February 5th, 2015|First Birthday, Kids Birthday, Styled by Jenn|

About the Author:

Jennifer Sbranti is the founder of Hostess with the Mostess®, a creative living and party planning resource established in 2006. She lives in Northern California with her husband, Sonny, and daughters Macy (9) and Rylie (7). Sbranti’s work has been featured in media outlets such as Good Morning America, The Today Show, Real Simple, People, InStyle Weddings, and Extra! TV. She has designed creative content and unique live events for several well-respected brands, including Mattel, Coca-Cola, The Hershey Company, Toys”R”Us, Pottery Barn Kids, and Starbucks.


  1. @honestywedding February 5, 2015 at 7:06 pm

    Bright & Colorful Big Top Birthday {Circus Animals} #catering #wedding http://t.co/Jhw7o4glok

  2. @JSGEvents February 5, 2015 at 9:00 pm

    Bright & Colorful Big Top Birthday {Circus Animals} http://t.co/xGYFEWpY5i

  3. Cheryl February 8, 2015 at 4:03 pm

    What a beautiful party. Looks like he enjoined the cake!

  4. Michelle Knox - Ellery Designs February 9, 2015 at 8:33 am

    So bright, cheery and fun!! Love it!

  5. Jordan February 10, 2015 at 7:36 am

    So precious! All of the colors looks magnificent – and so does the cake… or what’s left of it!

  6. Chelsea Hobbs February 11, 2015 at 5:45 am

    Looks so yummy! I will try them for a Valentines Day! My friends will be so happy to taste this piece of art :)

  7. Robert J Lewis February 13, 2015 at 6:56 am

    Such a beautiful party! So colourful, so bright and this young man looks so happy!

  8. @TidesEvents February 15, 2015 at 2:55 am

    Gorgeous bright & colorful Big Top birthday party {Circus Animals} http://www.hwtm.com/2015/02/circus-first-birthday-party-ideas-lion-elephant-zebra/

  9. @TheZooFactory February 15, 2015 at 2:41 pm

    Bright & Colorful Big Top Birthday {Circus Animals}

  10. Shravs February 26, 2015 at 5:47 pm

    Can I get links for ring and other items where you bought?

    • jenn s. February 28, 2015 at 6:32 pm

      Hi Shravs –
      I actually made the Ring of Fire… you can find my DIY Tutorial for it over on the Fisher-Price website. You’ll also find lots more detailed info on this party over there. :)

  11. Shravs February 26, 2015 at 6:09 pm

    Where did you get elephant , lion toys?

    • jenn s. February 28, 2015 at 6:34 pm

      They’re made by Fisher-Price, and you can find them on Amazon. Here are links to the Lion , Elephant, and Zebra.

  12. […] Fotos Hostess With The Mostess de um aniversário com o tema animais do circo […]

  13. Festa do Circo Infantil March 9, 2015 at 6:00 am

    […] Fonte: Homess with the Mostess […]

  14. Mikaela April 14, 2015 at 5:36 pm

    Where did you get the stuffed elephants?

  15. Ornella April 28, 2015 at 9:38 pm

    Hi there! Could you please give us the direct link to the Fisher Price printables you say you got from the website? I could not find them anywhere and they’re awesome! Thx!

    • jenn s. April 29, 2015 at 7:58 am

      Hi Ornella –
      So glad you like the printables! I actually designed them for Fisher-Price :) You can find the links to download them within the captions on the slideshow for this party theme over there. (Click here to go there now.) If you have trouble finding something specific though, just let me know and I’d be happy to give you the direct download link for that item. Hope that helps & good luck with the party!

  16. deniseissa1 May 25, 2015 at 7:09 pm

    Can you tell me what was in the elephant care package and do you have the adoption certificate as a printable? This whole party was so adorable. :)

    • jenn s. August 5, 2015 at 6:26 am

      Hi Denise – Sorry I’m just now seeing your comment! You can click here to download the elephant adoption certificates, and we just used Nutter Butter cookies in the treat bags, but any sort of peanut butter treat would do – or even those big orange “circus peanut” candies shaped like peanuts. :)

  17. Samantha August 5, 2015 at 6:10 am

    Do you have the template for the elephant adoption ?

    • jenn s. August 5, 2015 at 6:23 am

      Yep! You can click here to download the elephant adoption certificates. :)

  18. sury September 21, 2015 at 10:13 am

    donde consigo los elefantes de peluche??

  19. sury September 21, 2015 at 10:14 am

    Where i get elephant stuffed animal?

  20. Crista January 21, 2016 at 1:16 pm

    Do you have a link to the printable food cards shown?

    • jenn s. January 22, 2016 at 6:18 pm

      Hi Crista – Yep! You can download the printable food cards right here. :)

  21. Teyana White March 3, 2016 at 6:58 pm

    Where did you get the jumbo confetti ?

  22. Naya March 3, 2016 at 1:28 pm

    Where can I fine the jumbo confetti ?

    • jenn s. March 4, 2016 at 7:04 am

      Hi Naya – I usually buy the large tissue confetti at The Flair Exchange or The TomKat Studio :)

  23. Stephanye April 1, 2016 at 7:26 pm

    Hey! I’m not sure where I can buy the plush elephants for the elephant adoption, where would I find them? Thanks!

    • jenn s. April 4, 2016 at 11:52 am

      Hi Stephanye – I don’t see them at Party City anymore, but did find them on this website. Hope that helps! :)

  24. Jodi April 8, 2016 at 5:47 am

    Did you make the elephant and lion props where the kids put their faces in the middle? Those are so cute! What are the ears and stiff outer parts made of?

    • Jodi April 8, 2016 at 5:54 am

      Nevermind! I went through the page again and found the link to the tutorial. Thanks for sharing this! Gorgeous party!

  25. Kelly September 13, 2016 at 11:06 am

    Love! Where did you get the stuffed elephants for adoption??

    • jenn s. September 26, 2016 at 3:26 pm

      Thanks, Kelly! I got the blue elephants from Party City, but it was a while back and looks like the product is discontinued. :( I did a quick google search for “small elephant plush” and there are some other cute designs that are in the $5 to $8 range though. There was nothing blue like these were, but hopefully you can still find something you like… good luck!

  26. Chelsea Jackson September 19, 2016 at 9:26 am

    Hi, where did you find the cupcake toppers?

    • jenn s. October 1, 2016 at 7:07 am

      Hi Chelsea –
      The cupcake toppers were actually “jumbo confetti” and were part of a decorating kit that Party City sold. However it doesn’t look like that have that exact product anymore. :( That’s one of the frustrating things when it comes to using store-bought products – you never know how long they’ll be stocked for… sorry I can’t be of more help! I did a quick google search for “jumbo circus confetti” and found a similar product that might help. Good luck!

  27. Conni September 30, 2016 at 4:07 pm

    Hi, fabulous work! I too would like to know where I can find the cupcake toppers/confetti? Thanks in advance

    • jenn s. October 1, 2016 at 7:08 am

      Hi Conni –
      Please see answer above in my reply to Chelsea. Thank you! :)

  28. Tony Webster January 13, 2017 at 1:22 pm

    You just gave me a few great ideas for my neice’s birthday party this spring!

    • jenn s. January 14, 2017 at 9:17 am

      So happy to hear that, Tony! Good luck with the party! :)

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