Circus / Carnival-Themed Third Birthday Party

For my son's first and second birthday, I kept things pretty simple.  For his first birthday, we had an amazing cake smash and a  festive joint party for 5 babies and the parents.  For his second birthday, we had a small family party and some cupcakes plus a frolic in the park on the actual date. 

Two months before his third birthday, he switched schools abruptly.  So, I thought a big party would be a great way to connect with his classmates' parents and strengthen his relationships with his new friends.  I'm also expecting a baby in a few months, so wanted to make his last birthday as an only child extra special.  

 The sweet table!

The sweet table!

I kind of went all out but have no regrets!  

 The kids' table!

The kids' table!

This post is easy to shop -- you can click through the hyperlinks and images to purchase the items featured.  The post includes affiliate links, which means I may make a commission when you click through and make a purchase. Please see the Disclosure page for additional information.

Circus Theme

I asked my son if he wanted a specific theme and he didn't seem to have a preference, so I chose the circus theme because I thought it would be fun, festive and relatively easy to pull off.  I did give him veto power, but he liked the idea.  I considered calling it a Cirque du Soirée, but decided that sounded too pretentious!  

The Venue

My son has been taking classes at New York Kids Club for a while and absolutely loves it.  He's also been to a few other parties there and he always has an incredible time.  I love that the space is immaculate and well-designed, and the staff really knows how to keep the party moving and upbeat. 

The venue does offer packages including everything from decor to goody bags.  I chose to bring in my own cake, paper goods, goody bags, balloons and other supplemental decor (photos and details below). 

NY Kids Club Promo: You should get $50 off your first semester of classes (gymnastics is our favorite) or your own party at NY Kids Club if you mention my name (Miriam Cohen) when booking.

The Planning Process

My son's birthday is mid-December.  Like most bloggers, the last quarter of the year is my busiest.  During this time, I put together multiple gift guides and post in my Facebook deals group non-stop. Diverting my focus to managing all the details of the party would have cost me a fair amount in profits. 

I hired Sarit Triger of both Inspired Events NYC (her event planning business) and Mrs. Trigers Bakery and it was the best decision!   I gave her a few half-baked ideas  and she transformed them into something magical! Plus her baked goods were gorgeous and delicious!

Run of Show

The party was called for 4:30-6:00.  

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When the kids arrived, they spent a few minutes coloring a mural / giant birthday card for my son in the foyer.  

 

 

 

Next the kids entered the gym. 

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Parents were able to be with their kids or step out to enjoy vegan sushi and adult beverages from the "savory table" (details below). 

Next the kids entered another room where they all enjoyed pizza followed by cake and other desserts!

On the way out, each child was handed a goody bag and a balloon.

Decor / Food

Entrance

We put up this sign from Zazzle to set the theme and welcome everyone. 

Zazzle is similar to Etsy in that independent designers can create custom designs, but Zazzle does all the printing and shipping, so the quality is consistent and dependable.  The quality is great, they are affordable, and they have a great refund policy in case anything goes wrong.   If you want to purchase the signs that I used, click here and contact the artist who will customize the design for you.  

Since my sign orders were custom, I can't link to them, so the sign links in this post are to the original listings, which I asked the artist to modify (she adjusted the tone of the blue and changed the name to my son's).

 NY Kids Club put a photo of my son on the screen in the lobby, which he loved!

NY Kids Club put a photo of my son on the screen in the lobby, which he loved!

 You can order the sign  here .  Mine was 39.00" x 30.33", Value Poster Paper (Matte).

You can order the sign here.  Mine was 39.00" x 30.33", Value Poster Paper (Matte).

Foyer

There is a foyer between the lobby and the gym.  This is where the kids colored the mural and where the adults tend to congregate while the kids are in the gym. 

I placed a life-like stuffed lion and tiger on the bench with a cute garland for photo opps.  Just before the kids transitioned from the gym to the pizza / cake room, we moved the animals to sit in front of the sweet table.  

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As a side note, when Sam saw the lion and tiger in our home for the first time in the days leading up to the party, he labeled them as "scary."  But within 10 minutes, he was dragging them around by the tails.  If you do have an easily frightened child, you may want to skip the animals.  

To purchase the lion, tiger and garland, click these images:

Savory Table

I set up the adult "savory table at the end of the foyer and put this sign above it.

 You can order the sign by contacting the artist on  this listing .  I asked her to use my son's name, and adjust the blue color.  Mine was Extra Large (55.00" x 40.00"), Value Poster Paper (Matte)

You can order the sign by contacting the artist on this listing.  I asked her to use my son's name, and adjust the blue color.  Mine was Extra Large (55.00" x 40.00"), Value Poster Paper (Matte)

Unfortunately, my photographer somehow didn't capture the savory table.  It had a blue tablecloth on it, a vegan sushi roll platter and vegan sushi piece platter, beer, wine and sparkling water in an acrylic drink tub, lemonade in a spouted mason jar, plastic cutlery and chopsticks in blue mason jars, red snack plates with a white border, red and white striped straws, white cocktail napkins and white cups

You can shop the savory table items by clicking through these images:

 We also placed small water bottles on the savory table, with labels designed by Sarit. You can design your own labels at  Zazzle  or  Oriental Trading .  You can find the  red and white plates     here . 

We also placed small water bottles on the savory table, with labels designed by Sarit. You can design your own labels at Zazzle or Oriental Trading.  You can find the red and white plates here

Kids' Table

For the kids' table, Sarit and I each did parts of the planning (though I bounced all of my ideas off of her).  We used blue tablecloths, burlap runners, marquee letters spelling my son's name, these adorable plates that are reminiscent of a circus big top, and balloons tied to each chair.

We also placed a small water bottle of water with the custom label at each place setting (scroll up for details). 

For dessert, we used these less expensive plates.  

You can shop the kid table items by clicking through these images:

Sweet Table

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Sarit did the most amazing job designing the sweet table!  I suggested the tule curtain backdrop and burlap table cloth and left everything to her.  The end product far exceeded my expectations! 

All of the baked goods were made by Sarit, other than the incredible truffles gifted to us by Mini Melanie.  Mini Melanie also made the blue ombre cake for my son's first birthday cake smash and I've gifted her truffles in the past.  She is a dream to work with and her desserts are unique and delicious!  

Sarit's custom cake, meringues and cookies were all gorgeous and enjoyed by all!

You can shop the sweet table items (or similar items) by clicking through these images (we didn't have the red star, but I think it's cute):

Goody Bag

Packaging

Sarit designed bags (including a custom label) and assembled them.  They came out adorable.  NY Kids Club set them up in tiers, which I really liked!

You can purchase the bags and a similar sticker (which can be customized to include your child's name) by clicking through these images:

 

Contents

I ordered the contents of the goody bag and shipped them to Sarit to assemble. 

For the goody bags, I tried to follow a less is more approach and included only three items:

 These scratchpads are great fun!  We use them at restaurants and on planes all the time!  Click  here  to purchase.  

These scratchpads are great fun!  We use them at restaurants and on planes all the time!  Click here to purchase.  

 These animal crackers were cute and on theme.   I used the ones in the snack bags because I wasn't sure the boxes would fit.  You can find either  here .  

These animal crackers were cute and on theme.   I used the ones in the snack bags because I wasn't sure the boxes would fit.  You can find either here.  

  These stickers  were really cute and inexpensive.  You can find them  here  and lots of  other options here . 

These stickers were really cute and inexpensive.  You can find them here and lots of other options here

 

Wardrobe

I got my son a personalized big top t-shirt at Zazzle (they have tons of options, including short-sleeved and more girly styles).  It wasn't very expensive and he has worn it many times since the party.   I found the top to run a bit big.  

 

I wore a really pretty and comfortable maternity dress from Seraphine.

You can click through these images to buy the shirt and dress:

 

Event Planner / Baker

Sarit was incredibly easy to work with. Her execution was everything I wanted but better than I could have envisioned! The cakes and treats that she prepared were all delicious and beautiful, and she added so many creative touches. The venue gave her a very short setup window and she was amazing under pressure. She really did all the lifting and allowed me to enjoy the day!

She was also incredibly accessible and a great sounding board even for aspects for which I took responsibility.  I would definitely work with her for future events in a heartbeat!

Photography

After the first five minutes of the party, I put my phone away and just enjoyed myself.  I hired Adele Z. Schelling, who took the majority of the photos in this post.  A couple of photos photos of the sweet table were taken by Adva Photo and provided by Sarit.

My Son's Impression

If you can't tell from the photos, Sam had an amazing time, which made the entire party worth it! For at least a week after his party he asked for another party every day! 

Between his birthday and the holidays, he got an overwhelming amount of gifts.  I made it a teachable moment -- the week before his party he chose a few toys to give to children who have less. 

Here are some of the favorites from gifts he received from friends and classmates:

 

For more gift ideas, check out my gift guide for 3-6 year olds and my recommended books for ages 2-6.  

What themes have you done for your kids' birthdays?