carnival theme party ideas
By an Award-Winning Professional Party Planner
Get ideas for birthday party invitations, party food, decorations, games, and party supplies
If this is the first page you've landed on, let me give you a quick introduction. I'm Matt James, a professional party planner, and the purpose of this site is to show you the most creative way you can use regular, shop-bought party supplies that can be found in most stores.
Not everyone has the craft skills of Martha Stewart or the time to spend several days with a glue gun making things from scratch. It's fine to use shop-bought decorations and
supplies—as long as you choose them carefully and know the best way to put them all together. So I'll share a few simple tips and trade secrets that anyone can use to add
some creative touches to your party—whatever your budget.
Note: This site contains affiliate links to products. We may recieve a small commission on any sales (at no extra cost to you).
These birthday Carnival theme party ideas are inspired by the traditional travelling funfair with fairground rides, food booths, sideshows, side stalls and games (often just called a Funfair or Fairground outside of the US). I've also included one or two circus inspired ideas such as clowns, elephants and Big Tops as many people associate Circus with Carnival.
Below are some suggestions for invitations to go with these carnival theme party ideas:
I think it’s important to create a big first impression, so I always try to incorporate some sort of object with the invitations—rather than just relying on a traditional printed card (see examples here). This is a little trick that’s often used by professional party planners to make invitations stand out. People just love to receive unusual invitations. It really captures their imagination and gets them excited about the party.
Below are some drinks recipes to compliment these Carnival party ideas:
Always create a signature drink for your party—it’s one of the easiest things you can do to make your party unique. If your party has a theme, think about what flavors you can use in your signature drink that will convey it. Don’t forget about styling and presentation too. You could serve drinks in individual bottles or jars, add your own labels, use themed ice cubes, straws, drinks picks, or add a simple garnish. A sprig of berries or a single flower head on the rim of a glass can make a simple cocktail look really stylish.
Below are some of my favorite recipes to go with these Carnival birthday party ideas:
As a professional party planner, I’m lucky enough to be able to collaborate with some amazing chefs to create menus for my events. As I’m no chef myself and cannot create dishesfrom scratch, I’ve searched the web for recipes that I think would work well for this party theme. All credit goes to the talented people that have created these recipes - so please click through to their site for full details, methods, and in some cases step-by-step tutorials.
Whether you're making a birthday cake from scratch or just decorating it, below are some suggestions to go with these carnival theme party ideas:
Below are styling and decoration tips to create a themed buffet / dessert table to go with these carnival theme party ideas.
I always think it’s a good idea to concentrate the majority of your decorations around a buffet/dessert table. This will create a focal point in the room. Decorations often have to compete with existing room decor so they can get a bit lost if spread too thinly. I think you’re far better off creating one really well themed feature wall that everyone’s eye will be drawn to. You can then use a few general decorations around the rest of the room to tie everything together.
Below are some food styling and presentation tips to go with these carnival theme party ideas.
Below are some suggestions for how to style and decorate the dining table in keeping with these carnival theme party ideas:
If it’s a kid’s party, don’t feel as if you have to shy away from using character-branded tableware. I see a lot of kid’s parties that are so immaculately styled they look more like adult parties. It’s obvious the parents have designed it for themselves, rather than the child. If there’s one thing I’ve learned as a professional party planner it’s to design the party for your audience, not yourself. The reality is kids want their favorite characters to have a strong presence at their party; they don’t see this as too commercial, for them it’s just fun. Obviously, it’s important to get the balance right, so don’t go overboard. Character plates and cups work well if combined with a solid color table cover and napkins.
Below are tips and recommendations for general decorations to go with these carnival theme party ideas:
Matt James is a professional event planner and owner of event agency Left Field Productions, which has produced events for Elton John, Sarah Jessica Parker, Kevin Spacey, Stella McCartney, David LaChapelle, John Waters, and Elvis Costello & Diana Krall. Since 2004, Left Field Productions has won 30 industry awards for excellence including Production Company of the Year.
carnival theme party ideas
by an award-winning professional party planner