My little guy turned three this week and, although it seems just like yesterday that he entered into my world, I can barely recall what life was before him.
To celebrate his big day we went BIG TOP! In honor of my own father and brother also having circus parties on their third birthdays, we knew this was the perfect year for it.
The invitation created by my amazing brother Josh:
Guests entered the Menoni Big Top through fun black and white striped curtains that typically serve as our outdoor glider curtains in the warm months.
They were greeted by a huge giraffe and a hanging trapeze lion.
Popcorn, animal crackers, brightly colored gumballs, mini Coca-colas with striped and polka dot straws, huge rainbow lollipops and rainbow ring pops.
Instead of a cake we opted for Popcorn cupcakes. (Marshmallows pinched with scissors and sprayed lightly with yellow food coloring to give the effect of real popcorn).We covered the concession stand table with red striped fabric from Ikea (a steal at only $7!), vintage-style Christmas lights and a variety of photos from our recent Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey circus trip.
(We saved our Barnum popcorn box which we used as decor and framed the photos in Ikea frames at only $1.99 each!)
(The adorable place cards were purchased from Lora Lang Designs on etsy.)
(The cupcakes were placed on an old beer box our friend Chris let us use. It was perfect since was labeled "Circus Boy" and "Magic Hat".)
And, what would a circus party be without themed outfits??!!
(My mom made this amazing ring master coat for Hunter out of a red sweatshirt, gold buttons and felt!)
(I was thrilled I managed to wriggle my pregnant belly into this animal cracker sundress from Lynn's Rags on etsy. The fun hat is from my friend Maria from Amarmi on etsy. Remember our hats from Emerson's tea in the city?)
My kids had been eyeing the party candy all week and I had promised them that if they held out until the day of the party they could eat until their little hearts were content. And that they did.
My mom and babysitter extraordinaire, Kathleen, helped make the magic happen and I couldn't have done it without them.
When Kathleen and I stumbled upon this tent at Ikea we wouldn't take no for an answer when they told us they were sold out. So, we took it to the top (pun intended) and talked the manager into selling us the floor model at 50% off!
Every time I walked by it during the party I would see multiple kids jumping inside of it as popcorn flew about.
(A must-have for $10!)
We served our delicious popcorn (a $1 from Wal-mart) in vintage style bags found at my favorite dollar store.
(The amazing invitation was designed by my uber-talented brother Josh Hunter.)
One of the best tips I can give as a party hostess is, label the bathrooms so guests aren't asking you every two minutes and stock plenty of toilet paper in each one!Upon entering the party guests were prompted to have their photo taken in the photo booth.
(The photo booth closed early to allow us time to get the guests' photos processed before they left.)
Plenty of photo booth props were stocked nearby--hats, boas, wigs, sunglasses galore.
....as well as fun quotable sayings; such as, "I just came for the cake" or, my personal favorite, "the queen has spoken".
(These fun conversation starters were purchased from Itty Bitty Wedding on etsy along with a chalkboard paint pen so I could personalize each one.)
(Another keepsake from our recent circus trip served as an ideal decorative addition.)
(Clearly my mom just wanted to come for the cake but I had other motives---sioux hostess!)
More photo booth fun:
(Hunter and our little friend Ryan.)
(Adorable Avery and Mia.)
(Kathleen. She's such a good sport!)
(This photo of my friend Sari is one of my favorites from the party! Only someone as gorgeous as her could pull off a crazy hat and sunglasses!)
(Our friend Alexis who wears an afro well!)
(Thomas the reindeer.)
(Our neighbors and a fun bunch!)
The craft table held Play-doh, circus-themed children's books and all the supplies one needed to make the perfect circus frame.
The kids also had the option of spending time in our playroom under the lighted circus tent.
(My beautiful friend Suzanne with her boys, Brendan and Ryan.)
(Yup. I think this photo best describes our parallel lives.)
(Our friend Gaina who was a huge helping hand in our 3-ring circus.)
(Debra, Carly, Allyson and Bradley.)
(Full participation is sometimes hard.)
(Hunter's favorite friend from school, Gabriella.)
(After the lollipop, the first thing Hunter asked for was popcorn.)
(He ate this entire box of it too.)
(Daddy taking a break from being photo booth photographer.)
(Our friend Stephanie who greeted the guests and gave each child their tickets which could be used for games or Circus Peanuts and Popcorn.)
(Our friends-really-like-family, Matt, Cathy, Gregg and Karen.)
We were fortunate enough to have the world's best face painter, Brianna.
Most of the kids got their faces painted and were very happy with the results.
(Our close friends Bob and (one of Hunter's favorites) "Bagel Sue".)
Although a little reluctant when I approached him about doing it, Dave truly stepped up to the plate as Game Host even taking two minutes to do a wardrobe change into his slacks and bow tie.
He put on his best circus game host voice and the kids went CRAZY!
He had them running, jumping and screaming when they spun for a prize or selected their winning floating duck.
(The dollar store had fantastic prize options for girls and boys.)
After the games we presented Hunter with his birthday cupcake and sang his favorite song.
(Hunter's circus T is from the Momma Fish and his fun birthday hat is from Bows and Holders, both on etsy.)
My only regret was not snapping a photo of the favor. We sent each child home with their own real goldfish and food. We housed them in old jelly jars with red-and-white gingham lids tied with ribbon and a circus-themed "thank you" tag.
Fortunately, we only ended up with two extra pets (Andrea? They're still here if you change your mind. Love ya!)
After the festivities ended, we sat down to eat left over High Wire Hot Dogs (pigs in a blanket) and watch a new found favorite Christmas classic, Frosty the Snowman.
I think Dave believes I'm crazy for all of the preparing, planning and time that I devote to my kids' parties but, I wouldn't have it any other way.
The process allows me to stay in touch with my creative side and brings me joy. This party in particular was the icing on the cake.
When I asked Hunter at bedtime if he had fun, a big smile slowly crept across his face and then he broke into a huge grin busting with laughter as he said, "yessss". And I knew. It truly was worth it.
Hunter, you are my sunshine and the light of my life. Three years ago you gave me my greatest gift to date--being a mommy. For that I'll be eternally grateful.
I love you buddy!