A good friend of mine is starting to plan her child's 5th birthday party and asked me to pull together an inspiration board full of ideas for her beautiful girl's bash.
Knowing first-hand that the birthday gal is quite the girly-girl (think princesses, ballet and the color pink), I based this inspiration board off a palette full of pastel colors instead of the bright and bold primary shades of a more circus centered carnival.
The polka-dot border, ferris wheel and striped cabanas on this invitation set the tone for a carnival-themed bash -- FineStationery
Decorate the party space with plenty of high-flying balloon clusters and consider hiring someone to make balloon art for the party guests -- Green Wedding Shoes Blog
Place a bag of cotton candy at each party guest's place setting -- The Miniature Cake Shop
Serve cupcakes in place of traditional birthday cake and use these adorable carnival stripe liners -- Cupcake House
If hosting the party outdoors, consider setting up a striped umbrella (could just be a colorful beach umbrella) over each table for added appeal. This can take the place of cabana striped booths one might find at a carnival and still add a bit of festive flair -- Martha Stewart
Set up carnival games like a bean-bag toss, a balloon board and ducky pool. Issue tickets to children who play the games and allow them to use the tickets to "purchase" candy at the treat table. This will not only give them the initiative to play the games, but will also limit the amount of candy the little ones will ingest -- Green Wedding Shoes Blog & Tickets via Century Novelty
Set up a face painting and tattoo station and ask an artistic friend to fill in as face-painter extraordinaire -- Imagination Party Creations