Inspiration: a Carnival Themed Birthday Party

Meet Farris.

photo by Gray Benko

photo by Gray Benko

My little muse had just turned 3 in this picture. Her mommy is an amazing photographer, and one of my best friends. This picture sits in their foyer, on top of an heirloom table that I love. (You know I’m a sucker for an heirloom). Anyway, I’ve always been inspired by this photograph. Let’s have a carnival party, shall we?

Carnival, Circus, Fair Party Inspiration and Ideas | the Maypop

Clockwise from the upper left: Candy apples / Popcorn / Cotton candy / Fair food photo / Goldfish game (cute read; the source post author is actually boycotting them) / Goldfish soap (as an alternative) / Pony rides! / Facepainting / Carnival masks / facepainting kit / Dart and balloon game / neon gorilla prizes / Vintage food baskets (I saw some at Hobby Lobby in turquoise and melon too) / Felt corn dog and snowcone (how fun are these? don’t miss her green eggs and ham too) / Lemonade stand banner / Invitation (center photo)

Funny thing is, I’ve had this post sitting in my drafts folder for months, collage and everything ready to go. I suppose I was hesitating to post it, just in case I could share this idea with a friend first. I’m so glad I waited too, because just this weekend, a friend contacted me for help planning her daughter’s 4th birthday party. Serendipity!

She emailed me saying she was wanted “pony rides for the kids” and “something adorable and non-commercialized”. Plus, she mentioned she is a self-professed “sucker for Hawaii and all things luau-ish without being cheesy”.

So I suggested a carnival, Hawaiian style! That’s right – we’re going to put a tropical island twist on this Carnival. I think it will be the perfect way for her to blend the pony rides and backyard games with her passion for Hawaii.

To keep it from being too cheesy, I suggested a sophisticated color scheme, steering clear of red, yellow, and blue. Maybe melon and aqua?

Obviously, we’ll use some of the same things from the carnival inspiration board above, such as the food baskets and face painting. But, we’ll put a twist on things – think pineapple snow cones, rainbow cotton candy, coconut-covered candy apples, and maybe a tropical Betta fish instead of goldfish?

Here is another Carnival inspiration board, this time with a Hawaiian twist.

Carnival, Fair, Circus, Hawaiian Party Inspiration and Ideas | the Maypop

Clockwise from left: rainbow cotton candy / ticket invitation / hibiscus leis (of course!) / bean bag toss game /tropical snowcones, (pineapple flavoring is a must for this party) / hibiscus print* / color inspiration / Alba Botanica sunscreen (the birthday girl’s name is Alba; tell me these aren’t perfect for favors or in a basket on a table) / pony rides / goldfish soap for games or as favors

*(For the hibiscus print, I envision it striped like a circus tent as an accent or backdrop for invitations. I added the stripes. I’m not a graphic designer, but I think you get the idea.)

We’re just starting to plan this event. I can’t wait to see how this little backyard soiree unfolds! I promise to keep you posted.

PS – this party is in Washington state, where the weather is “beautiful in August” according to my friend. I’m super jealous. August in Charleston is just hot and humid, so hot and humid you almost don’t want to move at all, much less have a party in the backyard. Did I mention I”ll be 8 months pregnant then? :)


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  1. Please keep us up to date like this. Thanks for sharing.


  1. […] you remember Farris, my Carnival Party muse? Well, I had the pleasure of planning a spooky soiree for her fifth birthday recently, and […]