Whether you just love the circus and all it’s trappings, or you’re searching for a theme you could do in a vintage style, let Miss Party throw this top hat into the ring, too –a vintage circus theme! It’s an exciting and timeless theme that isn’t just for kid’s parties. A sophisticated version of a vintage circus theme can have great energy and depending on the color palette chosen, could have a sexy, cabaret-style drama or a homespun, romantic vibe.
Anything and everything vintage is ‘en vogue’ and Miss Party loves it all. She also has a long-standing love affair with the American circus. The overwhelming sight of 50 exquisitely restored, vintage circus wagons; hundreds of fabulously costumed performers, and dozens of perfectly-groomed horses rolling down Milwaukee, Wisconsin, streets in The Great Circus Parade, made her a fan for life!
The vintage circus table and centerpieces that you see in the images above, were worked up for a Homecoming Dance that had a teeny, tiny budget. Some things were used because they were what was available, and not entirely because they were the ideal thing. The pictures get the theme across, though, and might give you an idea or two you can use.
Here are a few vintage circus theme variations to consider:
-vintage American circus (Barnum & Bailey Circus, since 1840s, Ringling Bros and Barnum & Bailey Circus, since 1871)
-retro 50s-60s era American circus
-vintage French cirque (since 1840s)
-vintage bohemian, Russian circus (The Great Moscow Circus, since 1880)
No matter what type of circus you want to create, choose a color palette of either deep, dramatic jewel tones or one of ice cream pastels. A ‘Cirque du Paris’ theme could be gorgeous done in muted, ballet pink and black, or dramatic, cabaret colors with black. Either way use a variety of luxurious fabrics, such as velvet, satin and tulle on tables, chairs and within centerpiece arrangements. Sequined stretch velvet comes in a variety of colors, doesn’t ravel and is perfect to add some sparkle. Take a look at this post ‘DIY No-sew Table Runners and Chair Back Covers’ made from Pashmina-style scarves for how to use the same idea with one of your circus fabrics. Or, ‘DIY No-sew Fabric Party Table Toppers and Runners‘ for making no-sew table coverings.
Ostrich plumes and peacock feathers are an iconic accessory on the costumes of the lovely female circus performers and beautiful horses, so include a few in your centerpieces, too. You’ll see a few other items in the pictures above of the centerpieces that, while not circus specific, are related and add to the drama and sparkle of the whole arrangement: crystal jewels and clear/colored acrylic ‘ice’ vase filler scattered for table confetti (see ‘Diamond-cut Crystal Jewels and Mirror Tile Garlands‘ for more information); mirror square, round or oval tiles (or try a framed mirror underneath your centerpiece), and feather boas of all colors. A handmade Venetian mask and a Victorian horsehair top hat are the main attractions in Miss Party’s centerpieces, but something like an elephant, horse, bear or merry-go-round horse figurine would be perfect, too.
A few other iconic items you might include in your overall decor:
Ostrich plumes; peacock feathers; boas in a variety of colors; vintage circus posters; mirrored tiles; black top hats (Ringmaster’s); elephant, horse, bear or other circus-related collectible objects; theatrical masks; parasols; red clown nose; white twinkle lights; red velvet fabric; red and white striped circus tent ceiling; balloons; gold and silver stars; a gold framed chalkboard on an easel with a welcome message or the menu; fabric or paper buntings (See post ‘DIY Fabric Bunting‘ or ‘DIY Paper Bunting‘ for instructions); filled vintage popcorn and peanut bags; Nabisco’s ‘Barnum’s Animal Crackers’ in the iconic circus wagon box, and vintage era candies scattered around the base of your centerpieces.
Typical Circus foods you might include: peanuts-in-the-shell (do NOT use if a guest has an airborne peanut allergy issue); popcorn; cotton candy; Cracker Jacks; era-specific candy, and typical concession-type foods like hot dogs, corn dogs or hamburgers.
Also, consider a few more of Miss Party’s ideas for party stations that work particularly well for the circus theme:
Pass the popcorn and peanuts, the greatest show on earth is about to begin! If you live in the midwest and are interested in an awesome circus experience, visit Circus World in Baraboo, Wisconsin. It’s worth the effort to get there!