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A Greatest Showman Birthday Party Done Right

When my kids were really young, I loved their birthday parties because I could come up with a theme they would like and one I could enjoy putting together. My son always had great ideas for parties and I welcomed the challenge. From a Wheel of Fortune party to the Hobbit… I went full-on Martha Stewart to create the perfect party.

My daughter was a different story. Somewhere around her pre-school years, she found her independence and insisted on having a birthday party theme based on the trend du jour.  I had to give up my vision for a perfectly instagramable party because my wee one was insisting on having the Paw Patrol paper plates and plastic tablecloths from Party City. After a while, I realized that a happy child was much more important than my grandiose plans. Now that she is older, I’m able to show her inspiration for other parties online and if she still wants a party based on a commercial trend (I’m looking at you L.O.L Surprise dolls), we are able to find a way to take that trend and make it personal. And a little less plastic.


Now if you are looking for examples on the right way to take something from pop culture such as a movie, tv show, or toy and translate it into a fun-filled party, look no further. When Channing turned 8, she couldn’t have dreamed of a better party than to transform the event into one of her favorite movies, The Greatest Showman, while transforming herself into her favorite character Anne Wheeler. Thankfully for her, mom Tara, is a Jill-of-all-trades and was able to handcraft everything to make Channing’s big top dreams come alive. Photographer Kelsey Hertzler was on hand to record the special day.


Dressed as Ringmaster, Tara, who runs Maven Studios in Maui, built the entire party around Anne’s character and the costume Channing would be wearing. She handmade everything from the food to the tents, the pinata, photo backdrop, and yes…even the costume. All the while, inspired by bright bursts of color with a nod to vintage carnivals.


In order to keep guests entertained, kids painted wild, fantastical circus animals, battled a pinata and ended the night watching a movie outside under the stars.


If you are struggling for ideas just remember these tips.

  • Find a simple color story to work with. Here, Tara stuck mostly with shades of red with a contrast of turquoise.
  • Have one statement piece. By tying some honeycomb balls together, Channing had a wonderful photo wall to help set the mood for the event.
  • Don’t go overboard on the food. While it looks like a lot, Channing’s party food was relatively easy to make. A batch of cupcakes topped with candy along with a simple cake with sprinkles. Some doughnuts and popcorn help round out the offerings. Don’t forget the animal crackers.
  • Have an activity. The kids had a blast painting the circus animals with wild colors and patterns. Not only do they leave with a keepsake but also the memories of making it.

So when your child’s next birthday rolls around, even if they come begging for a Baby Shark themed party (and for your sake, I hope they don’t), at least you’ll have a few tips to get you started.