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Charlie’s Carnival 1st Birthday


A carnival party for Charlie's 1st Birthday

Design Inspiration

A cookie jar I bought at Target on clearance after Valentine's Day sparked the inspiration for everything. It was a circus tent so for a while I was debating between a circus or carnival party....carnival won. Plus I have always wanted to have a carnival party (ever since my eldest was small) but when my son was small, we had parties with Cars & planes.  Now that I have a 3rd baby, I knew it was time to have the carnival party!

Decorating Style

I like it when people take a theme and go all out! But I am very budget concious and I try to "go all out" without breaking the bank. I do a lot of DIY & try to be resourceful with things I already have at home.

Project Details

The Invitations | It was SO hard to find an invitation style I liked. I combed through pages and pages of Etsy stores but I only liked bits and pieces of other invitations. Then I finally stumbled upon the booklet invitation for this party & I went to work. I loved the booklet idea so I designed the entire booklet to make it sweet and playful. I printed it at Office Depot and assembled everything myself. I also designed a flyer style invite as well.

For Charlie's outfit on the invite, I found the onesie at Kohls right after 4th of July. I made her a tutu with cheap tulle from Walmart and I also made her a mini top hat with black cardstock, felt, fabric glue and other things I had around the house. SUPER EASY & way cheaper than ordering online!

The Decor | Oriental Trading for the stripe backgrounds/tablecovers. Mason jars are from Target. Flowers are from Costco. Streamers, balloons, & solid table covers from Walmart or Dollar Tree. The cake stand is made by Wilton & purchased with a coupon from Michael's. The Ferris Wheel stand was purchased from Amazon.

The Desserts | It's not a carnival party without having all the great carnival treats (minus the deep fried stuff but I did consider deep frying some oreos for fun). Here's a list of my desserts & where to find them:

  • Circus Animal cookies (Walmart $2.50)
  • Barnum animal crackers (Target $1.79)
  • Vanilla & Strawberry Wafer sticks (Dollar Tree)
  • Chocolate chip cookies (Von’s $5 for 50 cookies)
  • Circus Peanut Marshmallows (Walmart <$2)
  • Kettle Corn (local farmer’s market $10)
  • Mini Swirl pops (Oriental Trading $7.50)
  • Cotton candy (Ralphs $1 per bucket which I halfed and put into bags)
  • Gumballs (Dollar Tree)
  • Marshmallows dipped in red candy melts
  • Strawberry Shortcake trifle
  • Assorted chocolates (the big bag from Costco $15)
  • Funfetti cupcakes with Birthday Cake Oreos at the bottom
  • Big Top Cupcake
  • Krispy Kreme Doughnut tier ($30; used BOGO survery coupon)

Food | We had a taco guy cater the majority of the party. For guests that didn't want or didn't get a chance to have tacos, we served carnival style food inside: pulled pork sliders (Hawaiian bread with Trader Joe's bbq pulled pork), mini corndogs, dino nuggets, hot dogs, giant NY style pizza, pancit (Filipino culture says it's good luck to have noodles on your birthday), and fruit.

Fun stuff | Ducks (matching game from Oriental Trading). Can Toss (Walmart). Velcro darts (Walmart). Ring toss (DIY w/Coke bottles). Ladderball (Target clearance). A carousel jumper. A face painter (JoSee/Facing the Paint). Photobooth — which we didn’t get to use because there were too many people & it was too hot!

Favorite Items

I love the way her invitation turned out! Making a custom invite gives me the freedom to make it EXACTLY the way I want.

I also love the dessert table. It came out exactly the way I envisioned it! And of course, I love that I did the doughnut tier instead of cupcakes/cake. I have Krispy Kreme almost 3 times a week so the employees there were more than happy to help me redeem my survey's for Charlie's party. By the way, not a single doughnut was leftover! Not even the doughnuts I hid for myself survived this party.


Repurposing old decor saves a lot of money -- I used old mason jars, old ribbon, old pennants, old plastic table covers, etc. to decorate. I also think it's a good idea to think about what you're splurging on. If it's something you know you will use again, then get it & make it worth the money! But if you are breaking the bank just for one thing that you will probably never use again, let it go. Or wait for a sale. There are so many ways to make the party successful, not just ONE thing makes it great. It's all the small things & all the love you put into it!


Monday 10th of June 2019

Where did you get the large tiered donught holder from?

The Best 1st Birthday Party Food - Home Inspiration and DIY Crafts Ideas

Monday 10th of June 2019

[…] Best 1St Birthday Party Food from Charlie s Carnival 1st Birthday Project Nursery. Source Image: Visit this site for details: […]


Friday 6th of November 2015

Love all your ideas and I feel the same way about the invitations. I wanted to ask if you sell the temples or if you sell them on a site ? Thanks for the inspiration :)

Alison Mar

Wednesday 18th of September 2013

Such a nice party. That Ferris wheel cupcake holder is so cute!