My baby turned one this month. I’m not crying, YOU’RE crying. Ok, I lied, I’m definitely crying. I cannot believe I hosted my very last, first birthday party.
If you’ve been following me for awhile then you already know that I love to plan themed birthday parties for my kids, but I’m especially *extra* when it comes to their first birthday. I figure if I get nothing else right as a parent, at least each one of my kids will be able to say, “I did have a pretty amazing first birthday party, though!” Lol.
Anyway, because of the hours I’ve spent scrolling Pinterest over the years, there are a lot of themes that I’ve got “tucked away” for the future with each of the kids in mind – and of course, now as they are getting older, their personal preferences come into play as well. But the FIRST birthday – that one still gets to be my creative brainchild alone. 😉
So, for Nora, being that she is our fourth and last baby; the final instalment of our busy crew, I knew I wanted to do a vintage circus theme, because this IS my circus, and yes, these ARE my monkeys!
Once again, I describe my party-planning style as “2 Parts DIY and 1 Part BUY”, which usually means I can either make or buy whatever I need for a fun, but reasonable, party. So if you’re thinking you can’t do this – I assure you, you can!
Vintage Circus Decor
I kept the decor fairly classic for this vintage circus theme: balloons and streamers! I purchased five rolls of streamers: light turquoise, baby pink, white, mint green, and red. These colours felt very “circus” to me, and I love how they look together. I created a feature wall of streamers over our bookshelves for a statement piece, and the backdrop for the party space. I also purchased some additional special pieces – the pink triangular bunting, and also the iridescent streamers, from HomeSense (they have a really cute party section, although it’s constantly changing, so you have to grab the cute items when you see them!)
I’m also a huge sucker for a pretty cluster of balloons, so I went to PartyCity in Saskatoon and got a #1 balloon, along with some other balloons in the same colour palette as the streamers. I think balloons are so classic for birthday parties, and in this case, they also fit really well with the theme of a circus, and would make a great take-home party favour.
The table decor is also worth mentioning, because I’m so pleased with how it came together. Little touches included the twinkle lights, the patterned straws, and the animal figurines on the cake. The simple, black and white checked table runner also brightened the space and worked perfectly with the theme of a vintage circus.
Eats & Treats
The other aspect of this birthday party that really brought the theme to life was the food. I knew right away I wanted to have foods you would find at a circus, but kid-friendly versions. So, we went with popcorn – served in the cutest little popcorn boxes I found at PartyCity, along with lots of colour-coordinated candy for the table.
I really wanted to serve hot dogs and caramel apples, but I decided to keep these simple as well and instead did “piggies in a blanket” served with mustard, and apple slices with caramel dip. I still think real caramel apples would have been amazing, but for our purposes, this worked great, and was something Nora could actually enjoy.
To satisfy everyone’s sweet tooth, and to really ramp up the theme, I made rainbow chip cupcakes, and we had JaeCreatez make us circus-themed cookies. Once again she outdid herself, and I had trouble actually letting people eat these gorgeous cookies! Lol!
I would have to say, though, my favourite feature (and probably the one I’m most proud of as well) would be Nora’s birthday cake. I have always wanted to do a birthday cake with little animals wearing party hats. I can’t take credit for this idea – I saw it on Pinterest years ago – but I knew it would be perfect for this vintage circus themed birthday party.
I ended up making the cake myself. It was a three layer rainbow chip cake with buttercream vanilla icing between each layer. I originally wanted to have smooth buttercream icing on the outside of the cake as well… but it turns out smoothing buttercream is ridiculously hard, LOL, so I decided to do a naked cake instead (seriously, I am so thankful that naked cakes are a thing!)
To decorate the cake I literally had my kids scour the toy room for small, plastic circus animals. They scrounged up several options, and once I had a few that would work perfectly, I made tiny little party hats out of spare wrapping paper. I used a hot glue gun to attach the hats to the animals, and then added a little pom to the top of each party hat as well.
I also made the “NORA” banner using two wooden BBQ skewers. The skewers ended up working great because I was able to push them all the way to the bottom of the cake for added support, and the height was still perfect. The banner itself was a simple piece of suede ribbon I found in my craft bin. I cut the triangular pieces out of some scrapbook paper, and added stickers I already had to spell out NORA. This entire project was literally done with items I already had lying around my home, and I’m just so pleased with how it turned out!
The cake was surprisingly delicious! Honestly, I was kind of shocked it worked as well as it did; I have mad respect for women who do this for a living! And, by the looks of it, I think the birthday cake was Nora’s favourite part as well! 😉
So there you have it! My take on a vintage circus themed birthday party for our “Little Wild One”. I didn’t include an activities section, because the truth is, the activities basically consisted of eating and visiting, but I think if you decided to do this theme with an older group of kids, there would be tons and tons of fun ideas out there!
I absolutely love throwing these special themed parties for my kids, and I hope it’s something they remember with fondness when they look back on their childhoods. What birthday party theme would you love to try out one day?