a vintage circus birthday party Happy Friday! Another Friday means another Lovely Ever After post. Today I’m sharing my son Charlie’s 1st Birthday party, because it had lots of fun DIY to share.

Charlie turned 1 on 11/11/11, and I wanted to somehow incorporate that into the party theme. So I went with vintage circus and included on the invites to “step right up to see the boy who turns 1 on 11/11/11.” Sort of a play on that old school circus freak idea… I mostly decorated with vintage toys that already decorated Charlie’s room. Costumes were optional, and I provided clown noses as favors so everyone could participate. Charlie was a strongman. His “muscles” were a little saggy (just rubber balls put under his shirt sleeves), which he wasn’t happy about. I also made his barbell in the photo on the right by using black duct tape to cover a dowel rod, and tape black balloons to each end. Super easy!

a vintage circus birthday party a vintage circus birthday party a vintage circus birthday party a vintage circus birthday party Keep in mind we live in an apartment in LA, so space was limited. It also rained (one of the three days a year it does in LA!) so we were mostly inside. But I think you can do a fun party in small spaces. I made the fabric bunting by collecting fabrics I liked for a couple months, and followed this tutorial. You can find triangle templates (and a slightly different version of this DIY) here. I used pinking shears to cut out my fabric triangles, iron on adhesive (just follow the directions on the adhesive), and red 5/8″ red grosgrain ribbon. I loved how it turned out, and to be honest, it stayed up until we decorated for Christmas!

I also wanted to have a little photobooth, so I somehow convinced my husband to freestyle draw circus style props on construction paper, which I glued to skewers and put in a mason jar next to a sign and a camera. They would have been better if supported with some card stock, but this was a last minute project and were sort of “over” the DIY by this point. I got the cute straws, napkins, plates, extra big balloons, and cupcake liners from Shop Sweet Lulu and Hey YoYo. And I just put everything in my collection of mason jars. I made the signs and cupcake toppers myself, by using these digital papers, designing them in Photoshop, and printing them on cardstock. I then glued the cupcake toppers onto toothpicks.

a vintage circus birthday party a vintage circus birthday party a vintage circus birthday party a vintage circus birthday party

vintage circus party

a vintage circus birthday party a vintage circus birthday party I found the plastic popcorn tubs in the Target $1 bin a couple of months before, and I put old school candy, unshelled peanuts, popcorn, animal crackers, and other circus concessions in them. We also served corn dogs and soft pretzels (a circus party has the easiest food to serve!), and bottles of soda and Izze in our party colors (which were super yum!).  I also made a ring of fire, which was a big hit with the kiddos. I was inspired by Hello! Lucky and one of their son’s circus birthday party, and they provide a tutorial here. My husband drew & cut out the “fire” from yellow and orange felt and I glued it on to a small hula hoop.

a vintage circus birthday party a vintage circus birthday party I loved Charlie’s birthday party invitations, which were custom designed by Samantha of Papermints. She now sells them in her etsy shop and you can find them here, along with what the front of it looked like. I bought matching envelopes and address labels at Paper Source, and printed more of those digital papers above onto regular paper and cut them into envelope liners. Here is a photo of the back of the invite, which I displayed on the cake/cupcake table.

The last DIY to share were the party hats.  And I’m going to warn you, they were a pain in the youknowwhat!  They turned out cute, but I made one for every guest (kid and adult) and most didn’t get worn.  In fact, I have about 20 of them perfectly intact.  And they took a lot of time and work.  If I did it over again I would only make a few, but they were cute and made for some cute photos.  You can find the tutorial I used to make them on Oh Happy Day, along with a template.  I only used it for the template and decorated mine differently.  I also used a hole punch instead of an exacto knife to put the ribbon in to tie them on.  Again, I used the digital papers I linked to above and printed them on card stock.

a vintage circus birthday party a vintage circus birthday party a vintage circus birthday partyI also baked Charlie’s giant cupcake birthday cake (using this pan, in case you are interested). Biggest lesson learned: red velvet was a HUGE mistake. Charlie looked like he lost a fight with a circus animal.  And I was cleaning up red cake from my floor, rug, bathtub, etc. for days!

a vintage circus birthday party a vintage circus birthday partyBut all in all a great time was had by all and the party was a success! If I could offer any advice to you mommas who are getting super excited to plan their baby’s first birthday, it would be this: don’t over DIY! Pick a couple of projects, or just one if you aren’t really a DIY’er. I did a little too much, got a bit stressed about finishing them, and in the end scrapped making caramel apples and circus cut-out sugar cookies. But I didn’t need to make my own party hats or bunting — you can easily buy those and save yourself the trouble. I was also still dealing with postpartum depression (that’s another post) and I think I was trying to compensate for that but didn’t do myself any favors by adding to my stress.  Remember that the day is about celebrating how you survived that delivery a year ago and what a hard and fun time that first year was, and how your baby is already 1 year old!  Everything else will fall into place and everyone will have fun, even you!


*all photos by sosmithy design and property of Oh Lovely Day. This post contains affiliate links.