Create a balloon arch. Simply tie balloons to a string and then mount the strings to the ground on each side of the walkway.

Ticket Booth
Have a ticket booth at the entrance to your party. As your guests arrive, hand each an admission ticket. You can purchase rolls of admission tickets or make your own. If Finley Fiscal is coming to your party, you will want that guest to hand out the tickets! 

You can use one of the designed signs for the Ticket Booth (included in mystery).

Directional sign
Create a very fun sign to point your guests in the right direction at the party! (Directions on how to make it, as well as the signs designs included in the mystery).


  • Included with the mystery, you will have three, full-color circus posters for the Hargrove Family Circus. Simply print and hang around your party space. If having the party for office, church, etc. You can hang the posters ahead of time to create the buzz!!!! {CLICK HERE to download all three designs!}

Create your own circus posters. Find a circus coloring book or print off circus coloring pages here. Enlarge the pictures at your local office store. Paint in the pictures with colorful paint. Hang in your party area.
Here are a few online circus coloring pages:

Authentic Posters: We found this book of 48 vintage posters online for less than $10. At 48¢/poster, that is quite a deal!

Traditional Circus sayings you can have printed out and about:
“Welcome to the Greatest Show On Earth”
“Step right this way…”
“Ladies and Gentlemen! Girls and Boys! Children of ALLLLL Ages!”
“If you will direct your attention to the center ring…”
“Come one! Come all!”

Fill your party area with colored pennants. These are great for outside and in! You can make them easily with felt, colored/patterned card stock paper or purchase them from a hardware store or internet.


We found these very cool ones on Etsy.

Creating the Big Top tent: 
• Use brightly-colored streamers to form a canopy over the center of the your room, simulating a circus tent. The streamers should cascade from a point in the middle (i.e. the center of the ceiling or a chandelier), down and out to the sides of the room. You can also hang red, blue, and yellow plastic table covers or sheets from the ceiling down over the walls of the party room to make it look like the inside of a circus tent.

•  Cover the walls with red, yellow and blue plastic tablecloths on the walls to make it appear as if the guests are inside a tent.

• Create a 3-ring circus by adding three rings (or simply a “center ring”) in the middle of your party area. You may want to outline it with colorful duct tape.


Hungry anyone?

Create a concession stand. Mount a concession sign (included with mystery), string some twine on a wall. Using clothespins, snap each of your concessions onto the twine for a self-serve concession stand!

Consider renting a vintage popcorn maker, a snow cone maker or a cotton candy maker. Not only would a popcorn maker look cool, but it provides food and smells that add to the ambiance of your party. OR, you can package your cotton candy in bags and hang them as a decoration as well. You can send each guest home with a bag or use them as prizes.  

See also our food ideas for ways to dress-up and decorate your food!

Sometimes the best decorations can also be props:

Bring in the clowns: A child's car can double as a clown car. Try seeing how many people you can fit in it!

Trapezes: Create flying trapezes by stringing rope though empty paper towel tubes or pvc pipe (can spray paint them black or silver) and hanging them throughout the party space. One host created their on silhouettes swinging from their trapezes!

Cannons for a Human Cannonball!

Strongman's Barbell or Dumbells: Make a fake barbell or dumbells by gluing a plastic ball to each end of a wooden dowel or pvc pipe. Spray paint the whole thing black. For the barbell, add "500 lbs." to each end with a white paint.

Don’t forget the animals!!!  

  • Have out ropes, bull whips, tubs placed upside down, hula hoops, over-sized balls, etc. arranged in and area for the animals.
  • You may consider making cages out of boxes and placing stuffed animals in them. 
  • If you have access to hay, you can accent the animal area by placing hay in or around it. 
  • Many guests have created their own animals and set them out among the party space.
  • Utilize the kid’s stuffed animals and have them decorate the party space.






Bull whip:
To make a bull whip out of duct tape, follow this instructional video or this website.

The Midway is a MUST!
Well, not really, but if you want to go the extra mile, a midway would be a fun addition to set up to the party. You could run simple, yet traditional games.
Pictured below: Duck Pond, Balloon Darts and Bottle Toss.

One hostess noted how it was fun to have these additional games so some of the guests can play while waiting for other guests to finish their objectives

Give your guests an unforgettable souvenier by setting up a photo area where they can capture a picture of themselves in character.

A few suggestions:

    • Pick a place where there will be good lighting.

    • You can make it as elaborate or simple as you want.

    • Accessories and decorations can make the difference. Have some extra props on hand that your guests can pose with.

    • An easy way to create a background is to use a "scene setter". These affordable rolls of images transform your room instantly and make for a good backdrop to your picture.

    • Make sure there is enough room to fit everyone in to the frame.

    • For individual shots of guests, designate someone to be in charge of pictures as your guests arrive.
    o Consider your character list and which character would fit the role of taking the picture. Ie, if you want mug shots, perhaps ask the investigator to be in charge of taking the pictures.

    • For a group picture, take one just before the introduction is read or right after the solution is read (before people may start heading out).
    o These are two times when you can count on everyone being around and attentive.

BACKDROP IDEAS for a circus and/or photo booth theme!

    • Use bright colors (red, blue, yellow) when creating your back drop.

    • Balloons, balloons, balloons! (and polka dots).

    • Take some white banner paper and paint your own circus background.

    • Create some animals to pose with/alongside (see the tiger picture above).

    • Have additional props for posing in pictures - large/clown sunglasses, wigs, mustache on a stick, giant toothbrushes, clown noses, feather boas, silly glasses, etc.

To order some circus decorations, please see below.
(If you cannot see images, please refresh page.)


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