We had Annie’s birthday party on Saturday. For the last two weeks I have been fretting about the weather, but on the day of the party the weather was absolutely beautiful. And it was a good thing, because I gave those kids so much sugar that they needed the entire backyard to burn it off.

The theme for the party was Annabel’s 3 Ring Circus! I admit to influencing her party theme, mostly because I wanted something boys and girls could both enjoy, and also because way back in June, when I was planning my 33rd birthday party, I bought stuff for it knowing I would reuse it for Annie’s birthday. We have lots of time for princess parties, but now, while she has friends of both sexes that range in age from 0-8, a gender-neutral theme seemed like the best idea for her. I was happy with how it turned out, but most importantly, so was Annabel.

Like last year with her Yo Gabba Gabba party, I figured out my list of what I needed for her party far in advance – right before Christmas. I know, that’s an entire month in advance, but it saved me SO MUCH money. Since it was a circus theme, the colors of the party were red and white…you know, the two big colors of Christmas. I bought tons of decorations at 75% off, it was bananas. From now on every party I throw will have the color scheme of the most recent holiday. I did the vast majority of my shopping at Michael’s (coupons), Joann (COUPONS), Oriental Trading (bulk!), and Dollar Tree (I love this store). Our local Dollar Tree is amazing. I could live in it. Anything I couldn’t find at one of those four shops, I found on Amazon (free shipping via Prime). Oh, and I found stuff on Craig’s List, too. It almost became a game to see how cheap I could get something. I was maybe a little obsessed.

I also ended up making a LOT of things myself. My friends probably got really sick of me IMing them links to things with the comment, “I could make this for fifty cents and this person on Etsy is asking for ten dollars!” Okay I was a LOT obsessed with being under budget. Also I’m a sick pregnant chick who is forced into “taking it easy” most days, so I definitely had a lot of time on my hands to make things. I have a feeling that is not going to be the case for future parties.

Enough blabbing! Pictures:

When our guests arrived they were greeted by a welcome banner on the front of the house, and an Annie/Circus themed front table:

Entry table dedicated to the birthday girl
My mom found the antique circus drum at a flea market, it is adorable.

I strung together a big birthday sign and hung it above the fireplace in our family room:

Circus birthday banner

In our play room we had an awesome face painter that I’d found at the local church carnival. By the end of the party, almost every kid (and several adults) had been painted on.

Maddy getting her face painted

Reilly getting her face painted

Annie's Hello Kitty face
Hello Annie

The backyard was totally decked out by my cousin Leah and her fiancé Ted. I gave them all the stuff and told them “decorate!” and they did an awesome job.

the backyard

the big top

On the side of the house we set up a “midway” with five games for the kids to play. They got tickets for playing, and more tickets for winning.

the "midway"

They could trade their tickets in for prizes:

prize booth
The prize booth is where Dollar Tree and Oriental Trading came in *really* handy.

For food we put out hot dogs (Hebrew National, my favorite), turkey dogs, and corn dogs, and then a big table of SUGAR.


red and white candies, homemade candy pretzels, homemade candy circus lollipops

paper straws, lemonade, iced tea, red vines, cherry lollipops, popcorn

And of course, we had a Ringmaster…


…a clown…


…and a tightrope walker.

the birthday girl

My family helped out SO MUCH. I could not have done it without them. I paid them back by making them wear shirts I made, and clown noses.

carnie clowns
Not pictured: my friend Aza, who had the good sense to leave before I made her pose for this picture.

Mike was in charge of the cake, and did an awesome job:

the birthday cake
I love grocery store cakes that are delicious and cost like $0.40/person.

Annie LOVED the cake.

presenting the cake

Especially blowing out the candles, which she did before we were done singing.

blowing out her candles

It was pretty fun to put paint on a bunch of kids, load them with sugar, and give them a ton of toys. All the uneaten candy and unclaimed prizes were quickly stuffed into goody bags for the kids to take home. I made sure it allllllll left my house, maniacal laugh.

goodie bags

Annie has not been able to stop talking about her circus. She has been looking forward to her birthday party since the moment her last birthday party ended. She was in her element, surrounded by friends and family and birthday decorations. I truly enjoy putting together parties, but of course I do it all for her. Her happy face and frequent laugh were all the thanks I needed, but it didn’t hurt when hours after the party, she put her head on my shoulder and said, “I loved my party, Mama. I love you.”