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For a creepy circus-themed mystery party, the decor plays a crucial role in setting the mood and immersing your guests in the eerie ambiance. Imagine a one-of-a-kind party with a creepy circus-carnival theme, all set under the iconic Big Top. Get creative with bold red, yellow, and white striped party décor, from streamers to an abundance of festive balloons. With this theme, you can never have too many balloons, and they're a budget-friendly way to amp up the atmosphere! Want to creep them up? Take them outside and splatter some fake vampire blood on them for an eerie effect (allow them to dry before bringing them back inside). Here are additional tips focusing on decorations to elevate your party's atmosphere:

ENTRANCE:  Welcome guests through a makeshift circus tent entrance. Use striped fabric (red and white or black and white), dim lighting, and eerie music to set the tone. 

CREATE A BIG TOP: Pick a center point on the ceiling and attach streamers (or tulle, satin, etc.) from the center point to the walls to create a Big Top tent effect.

Tables: For any tables where guests will sit, consider centerpieces that incorporate circus-themed items like miniature tents, vintage circus animal figurines, or magic tricks gone wrong (a deck of cards spilling out with fake blood on some cards). Add a layer of creepiness with fake spider webs, small skulls, or candles for dim lighting.

PROPS: Make Strong Man dumbbells out of PVC pipe (painted silver) and attach them to two black balloons on either end.

Mirrors: Use mirrors strategically to distort appearances or amplify the spooky atmosphere. A funhouse mirror section could be both thematic and unnerving.

Cages and Crates: Scatter old, worn-out cages or wooden crates around, suggesting the transportation of circus animals or equipment. You can place eerie objects inside like fake bones or mysterious artifacts.

THEMED ZONES: Freak Show Corner: Create a corner or area dedicated to the 'freak show' aspect of old circuses. Use mannequins or dolls to represent performers like the bearded lady, the strongman, and other characters, each with a spooky twist.

Haunted Ring: Set up a small ring or stage area where your live performances or main events will happen. This is a perfect space to read the player instructions, present the forensic report, and have your players present their solutions in round three. Decorate it with vintage circus elements like a small podium, ringmaster's hat, and cane, but ensure everything has a layer of eeriness, like fake blood stains or mysterious inscriptions.

FLOOR DECOR: Pathways: Create pathways with straw or sawdust on the floor leading guests through different areas of your party, reminiscent of a circus tent or carnival ground. Sprinkle in some glow-in-the-dark paint or pebbles to add an eerie luminescence. If you are hosting this in your home, skip this :) you'd be picking this up for months.

LIGHTINGSoft, Uneasy Lighting: Use string lights with a warm, dim glow draped around the area or over tables. Consider using bulbs that flicker or have an uneven light to create an unsettling vibe. Black lights can also add an otherworldly glow to white or fluorescent decorations.

Spotlights: Mimic the circus spotlight with a few directed beams of light. You could have a spotlight randomly moving or fixed on something eerie, like a lone, creepy clown doll sitting in a chair.

THEMED SNACKS: Upon entry, you could also have cotton candy, popcorn, and peanuts (check for guests’ allergies on your invitation) available. 

FINISHING TOUCHES: Utilize a combination of circus and horror elements. Hang vintage circus posters with a creepy edit (eyes crossed out, etc.), dim or colored lighting, fake cobwebs, and strategically placed mirrors to distort reflections.

Creepy Portraits: Hang portraits of circus performers that are altered to look haunted—eyes that follow you, exaggerated sinister smiles, or pictures that have been aged and look like they're from a bygone era.

Curtains of Mystery: Hang red and black curtains or fabric strips from the ceiling to create a partition or just to add to the vibe. You can also use these curtains to hide certain areas until it's time for their reveal.

SOUNDSCAPES: Play background music that combines circus tunes with haunting melodies or occasional unexpected sounds (like distant laughter or whispers).

Mysterious Sounds: Hide small speakers in decor elements that periodically emit creepy sounds like distant circus music, laughter, or animal noises, enhancing the ambiance and keeping guests on their toes.

Incorporating these decoration ideas can create an immersive experience that transports your guests directly into the mysterious world of your creepy circus-themed party. The key is to blend the whimsical and nostalgic aspects of the circus with elements of mystery and horror, making for an unforgettable event.

You can get a start on your decor with this fun Circus Decor Kit. 


Always ask for nutritional requirements of your guests with the RSVPs to determine if they have any allergies or objections to particular ingredients.

Recipes courtesy of the Halloween Party Host Handbook





Hot popcorn

Set up a ‘bar’ with multiple bowls of flavored popcorn.

Brown Butter Lemon: cook 6 Tbsp. butter in a skillet until browned (7 minutes), add 1.5 tsp. grated lemon zest and drizzle over hot popcorn

Ranch: melt 4 tbsp. of butter with 1 oz. ranch seasoning mix. Toss the hot popcorn with the butter mix and fresh chopped chives.

Truffle: 6 Tbsp. melted butter, 1.5 Tbsp. truffle oil, ¼ cup grated parmesan, salt and pepper to taste.  Toss hot popcorn with mixture.

Traditional circus: melt 1 stick of butter over low heat – removing foam. Toss with hot popcorn and salt, pepper to taste.

Pepperoni Pizza: Cook 1 cup minced pepperoni in 1 Tbsp. olive oil until crisp. Drain, soak up oil on paper towels, but save some of the drippings. Add 1 cup shredded mozzarella, .5 cup parmesan (grated), 2 Tbsp. olive oil, ½ tsp. garlic salt, and ½ tsp. Italian seasoning. Toss mix with hot popcorn.

Chipotle: Melt 4 Tbsp. butter with 2 Tbsp. chipotle hot sauce, 1 Tbsp. chipotle chile powder. Toss with 2 cups of corn nuts and hot popcorn. Season with salt, pepper to taste.

French Onion: Melt 6 Tbsp. butter with 1 oz. packet French onion soup mix. Toss with hot popcorn and a 6 oz. package of fried onions.

Barbecue: Melt 4 Tbsp. of butter with 1 tsp. each of cumin, paprika, granulated garlic, chili powder, and barbecue sauce.  Add a touch of cayenne if you wanna kick it up a notch. Toss with hot popcorn and 2 cups of crushed BBQ potato chips.

Salt & Vinegar: Combine ¼ malt vinegar and 2 tsp. kosher salt in a small spray bottle and shake to dissolve the salt in the vinegar. Spray over hot popcorn.




2 large eggs

1 cup cornmeal

2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour

1 tsp. salt

1 cup buttermilk

¾ tsp. black pepper (ground)

1 cup veggie oil for frying

½ tsp. cayenne pepper (optional)

¼ tsp. seasoning salt

Salt, pepper to taste

¼ tsp. garlic powder

1 jar of dill pickle slices (32 oz.)

Ranch dressing for dipping.


In a mixing bowl, combine the batter ingredients (eggs, ¼ cup of the flour, buttermilk, seasonings) and mix until homogenous. In a separate bowl, add 2 cups flower, cornmeal, salt, pepper to taste.

Preheat the oil in a pan to 365 F. Drain the sliced pickles and coat with batter before dredging in the flour mixture. Deep fry the battered pickles until golden brown. Remove from oil and place on a paper towel. Salt, pepper to taste. Serve with ranch dressing.  Put a sign that says ‘double dippers will be removed from the fairground.’


Ingredients for ~ 12 servings

Italian hoagie rolls, sliced into slider-size buns

2.5 lbs. Italian sausage links

1 cans (28oz) whole peeled tomatoes

1/2 can crushed tomatoes (28 oz.)

1/2 can tomato sauce (28 oz.)

1/6 cup grated parmesan cheese

½ Tbsp. garlic powder

½ Tbsp. Italian seasoning

½ Tbsp. p white granulated sugar

½ Tbsp. onion powder

2 large green bell peppers, sliced

2 large yellow sweet onions, sliced


In a large skillet on medium heat, brown the sausage on all sides. Set aside and keep drippings. Pour the tomatoes (whole, crushed, sauce) into a large pot with a lid. Stir in remaining ingredients (besides rolls) and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer until veggies are tender and sauce has thickened (about 6 hours). Cut sausage links to fit on the size buns you have. Spoon mix on buns and serve.





Ingredients for 8 servings:

4 1/4 cups Funnel Cake Mix 

1 3/4 cups) water

8 (4-5 oz.) burger patties (turkey, beef, etc.)

Green lettuce – your choice of shredded or leaf

8 sliced Roma or beefsteak tomatoes

8 slices of mild red onion

8 slices of mild cheddar cheese

Mayo, mustard, ketchup

Powdered sugar


Heat oil in a medium sauce pan to 350F. Prepare the funnel cake mix with a wire whisk according to the directions on the box (add water) until well-blended. Pour 1/4 cup of batter into oil in full circle. Fill the circle with batter in a desired pattern. Fry for 30 seconds, turn over and fry until golden brown (~ 30 seconds). Remove from fryer and drain off excess oil. Cook burger patties until done (use meat thermometer to check internal temp).  Assemble burgers with funnel cakes as the buns. Sprinkle lightly with powdered sugar.




Ingredients for 8 servings:


1 cup milk

2 Tbsp. honey

1 packet active dry yeast

¼ cup brown sugar (light)

2 Tbsp. unsalted butter

1 clove of garlic, grated

3 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup bread flour

½ cup baking soda

Coarse ground sea salt for the topping

Rest of the ingredients:

Hot dogs – your choice of which kind




Diced yellow onions.


Pretzel Buns: Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.  In a saucepan, heat the 0.5 cup water, milk, brown sugar, and honey to 110 F. Once heated, pour into a bowl of a stand mixer and sprinkle the yeast, waiting 15 minutes for the yeast to activate. In a separate saucepan (medium heat), cook the garlic with the butter for 3 minutes. In a mixing bowl, add all-purpose flour and bread flour and mix before adding to the yeast mixture. Next, add the garlic with butter and mix on medium speed until the dough is smooth yet elastic. The dough should pull away from the bowl. This takes about 7 minutes of mixing.  Line a couple of regular size baking sheets with silicone mats or parchment paper. Dust a cutting board with flour and roll the dough out, forming it into a ball. Slice the dough into 8 equal pieces. Roll each of the 8 pieces into a ball and cover with a cloth, allowing resting for 15 minutes.

When ready, roll the balls into bun-shaped cylinders and place on prepared baking sheet. Allow the dough to rest again for another 30-40 minutes (choose a warm spot).

In a pot, boil 8 cups of water and then add the baking soda. One at a time, place the dough in the boiling water and cook for 30 seconds, turning to cook each side. Remove from the water (draining the water with a slotted spatula), and place onto the prepared baking sheets. Sprinkle with the ground sea salt. Slice 3-4 diagonal slits across the top superficial portion of the dough. Bake for ~13 minutes. Since you have two trays – you most likely used top/bottom racks. If so, rotate the buns midway through your time to cook them evenly. Once golden brown, remove from oven and allow cooling.  Slice the rolls in the center on one side and insert a cooked hot dog.  Serve with a condiment buffet.





Ingredients for ~15 servings:

1 large can crushed pineapple, drained (set juice aside for boiled water)

1 6-oz package orange-flavored Jell-O

2 cups boiling water with the drained pineapple juice added

30 circus peanuts cut into thirds

2 cups boiling water

1 tub of Cool Whip


Mix Jell-O and the boiled 2 cups water/pineapple juice and stir until dissolved. Put circus peanuts in a different bowl. Pour the second 2 cups of boiling water over them and stir until dissolved ‘near’ thoroughly. Combine the two bowls and stir. Add in the crushed pineapple and stir again. Place in refrigerator to thicken.  Once the mixture is set, add the Cool Whip topping and mix thoroughly. Garnish with a dollop of Cool Whip and intact circus peanut on top.



Ingredients for 8 servings:

8 Popsicle sticks

8 green apples

Semi-sweet and white chocolate chips

Chopped nuts, mini M&Ms, candy sprinkles, etc. (your choice of toppings)

45 caramels (get ones made with milk)


Melt the caramels in a sauce pan with about 5 Tbsp. of water. Stir frequently – even though it will be annoying to get it smooth. Insert the Popsicle sticks into apple (it might be useful to get a hammer to lightly tap the end of the stick until it jams in there.  Line out parchment paper lined with buttered plastic wrap (again, another frustrating thing to prepare). In 8 piles, prepare a pile of your chosen toppings. Once the caramel is smooth, hold the stick of the apple and dunk into the caramel, rotating it to ensure the entire apple is coated. Swiftly transfer your apple to the pile of goodies you’ve chosen and roll it around to coat it.  Repeat with the remainder of the apples and then allow cooling. In two small sauce pans, melt the chocolate and white chocolate chips separately. Once smooth and melted, place in a Ziploc bag and snip the end with clean scissors. Over the caramel of each apple, add stripes of the two flavors of chocolate for more heavens to Betsy goodness.



Ingredients for 8 servings:

Any cupcake/cake mix & the required ingredients for the cake box (oil, water, egg)

White frosting

Bag of mini marshmallows

Yellow food coloring


Cook the cupcakes according to the instructions on the box. Allow cooling and top with the white frosting.  To create the popcorn effect, cut a mini marshmallow in half and use the sticky end to attach to a whole marshmallow. Repeat the process and create a mound of ‘popcorn’ and place on top of the white frosting. To create a buttery popcorn effect, lightly drizzle a few drops of yellow food coloring on top.  Either purchase red and white striped cupcake liners or download our cupcake liner template from your available downloads.




Ingredients for 4-5 cocktails:

Pink cotton candy

Bubbly Prosecco


Pinch off a palm-sized puff of cotton candy and place into a champagne glass. Pour the Prosecco over and serve!



Ingredients for 1 cocktail:

4 oz. pineapple juice

8 oz. strawberries, fresh and pureed

Whipped topping

Splash of club soda (or diet sprite)


1.5 oz. Bacardi Rum


Using a cocktail shaker, fill with ice, strawberries, pineapple juice, rum and whipped cream. Shake until smooth and garnish with whipped cream on top.



Ingredients for 1 cocktail:

1.5 oz. vodka (any brand)

.5 oz. lime juice

3 oz. Tomato juice or v8 juice

1 dash of salt

1 dash of Tabasco sauce

1 dash of Worcestershire sauce


Mix in a highball glass and garnish with chilled celery and a lime wedge on the rim.



Ingredients for 1 cocktail:

1.5 oz. Vodka of your choice

1 oz. limoncello

1 oz. cranberry juice

1 wedge lime

Lime wheel for garnish


Put Vodka and juices in a cocktail shaker with ice and mix until chilled. Pour into a martini glass and juice a lime wedge on top. Serve with a lime wheel garnish.





Objective: to guess the number of jelly beans in a jar.

Rules: have a jar of jelly beans pre-counted and on display in your party room. Have guess ballots and a pen available for your guests to place their guess into a container (remind them to put their name on their guesses). At the end of the night, the player who guessed the correct amount will win.  If nobody guesses the correct amount, it would be the person who guesses the closest without going over the # in the jar.

Props needed: jar, jelly beans, ballots for guessing, and a pen

Playing time: as players arrive, 5 minutes for determining the winner.



Objective: to get the most plastic rings around the bottle necks.

Rules: in a milk crate or other container that can hold at least 16 bottles (Corona bottles work great), place the bottles in a grid and place waist-high about 5 feet away from the throw line. You need the milk crate to prevent the bottles from being knocked over. Have five 2-3” plastic rings for the players to toss in an attempt to get the ring around the bottle neck.  Test before the party for challenge level and to determine if your height and distance is appropriate.  Allow each player to toss the five rings. In the event of a tie – have a tiebreaking round and so on until a winner is declared. If you can’t get a winner, either back up or move the throw line forward.

Props needed: at least 14 beverage bottles. Spray paint them with bright colors and allow drying before the party for a cleaner look.  A milk crate or other container to hold the bottles in place (or you could simply rope them together).  Five 2-3” diameter plastic rings to toss at the bottles.

Playing time: ~ 15 minutes.


Courtesy of the Halloween Party Host Handbook

Objective: to be the most awesome dancers at the party!

Rules: pair the players into groups of two or three. Print your dance type slips, cut out, fold them, and place into any container. Each team is to draw a type of dance. Give the teams ten minutes (or more) to create a unique 30-second dance routine in their type of dance that they drew to be performed to any dance song of your choice. Play the song repeatedly in the background so the teams have ample time to practice with the music. If the team doesn’t know the style of dance - they can re-draw, trade with someone who does…or just give it their best shot!

When the time is up, and/or the players are finished creating their routines, one at a time, the players are to perform their routines for the other players. The host will judge who came up with the best interpretation of the dance style and fit it best with the music. The players can vote via a ballot for the best dance routine (and they cannot vote for themselves). In the case of a tie, the host will be the tie-breaker.

Props needed: any music playing source and a dance song. There are example dance type strips below – print them, fold them individually and place into any container for your players to draw one for each team.

Playing time: ~ 30 minutes.




The robot

Hip hop



7th grade couple5

‘80s dance

‘70s disco

Pop & Lock

Tap dance




Paso doble



Courtesy of the Halloween Party Host Handbook

Objective: is to win the prize in the middle.

Rules: arrange your players in a circle and have them link arms at the elbow, facing outward from the middle of the circle. Place a prize – it can be absolutely anything the players will want - in the center of the circle. When you say go, the first person to get the prize in the middle gets to keep it and will be declared the winner. Note – the players are not allowed to unlink their arms at any time during the game, or they are out, the game is frozen (everybody freezes in place), the chain is re-linked, and circle is reset. Cheaters do not return to the circle.

Props needed: a prize. Depending on your group will depend on what prize to put in the middle of the circle. Kids may want a Carnival style stuffed animal toy – adults may want a gift card to iTunes or something else.

Playing time: ~ 10 minutes.


Courtesy of the Halloween Party Host Handbook

Objective: to be the most talented rapping duo at the party! 

Rules: pair the guests into groups of 2.  Give the teams 10 minutes (or more) to create a unique 30-second rap routine to be performed in front of the group.  The teams are to write lyrics about their character role in the mystery game.  Play any rap beats repeatedly in the background, so the teams have ample time to practice with the music.

When the time is up and/or the guests are finished creating their routines, one at a time, the guests are to perform their rap routines for the other guests.  The host will judge, or the guests will vote via a ballot for the best rap routine.  In the case of a tie, the host will be the tiebreaker.

Props needed: any rap beats and a music source to play them.  (There are rap beat tracks (mp3s) available for purchase and instant download on within the Mystery Prop Emporium section.)

Playing time: approximately 30 minutes.

Courtesy of the Halloween Party Host Handbook

Objective: to be the team that finds the bones to your skeleton the fastest.

Rules: purchase two bags of detached skeleton bones making up a full skeleton at any Halloween/party store. Assemble them on any surface, snap a picture, and print this picture for each team. Hide both skeletons in a backyard area or other designated area – but whatever you do – tell your teams the boundaries. When the host says go, the teams set out searching for the bones. When a player finds a bone, they must run back to home base to assemble the bone in their skeleton. If the bone is not needed for their team’s skeleton because the bone(s) have already been found, they can re-hide it within the boundaries wherever they wish. However, please note, the other team may be watching so it would be smart to know what you are looking for and not touch a bone you don’t need! The first team to assemble their skeleton resembling the picture wins.

Props needed: two bags of bones of a skeleton, a printed copy of the skeleton arranged correctly, and a large area.

Playing time: ~ 15 minutes.


Courtesy of the Halloween Party Host Handbook

Objective: to have the most gold coins / money at the end of the mystery game when the murderer confesses.

Rules: Give each player the same denomination of bills/coins at the start of the game inside of their Round One envelope. They are to use this money in any way during the game – such as to bribe the other players to tell them their secrets (i.e. conceal clues) and openly reveal general information about their character (i.e. reveal clues) during the game rounds 1 and 2. They can do anything possible to get other player’s money (i.e. stealing, bribing, begging, etc.) Skilled spies and negotiators won’t have to use money at all to find out their information! You can give an optional prize to the winner of the money challenge. Immediately after the murderer confesses, have the guests count how much money they have. In the event of a tie – they are to choose a number from 1-10, and the number 7 always wins!

Props needed: any kind of fake money (host supplied). You can pick this up at a party store, or any toy store. You can use coins or paper money of any kind.  We do have a play money pack at our prop store.

Playing time: the game duration. Call the time as soon as the murderer confesses.



Objective: to pick the prize-winning duck

Rules: purchase a cheap kiddie pool (blow up, or plastic) and fill with a few inches of water. Purchase multiple small floating duckies and write a designated prize or # of a prize on the bottom of one duck.  Have the guests take turns picking one duck until the winning duck is found.

Props needed: a kiddie pool filled with water, floating ducks (at least 20), and a prize for the winning duck.

Playing time: ~ 5 minutes.



Objective: to be the first one to knock all of your water bottles over by swinging a pantyhose wrecking ball from your head.

Rules: This is a one-on-one challenge that you can play tournament style to declare an overall winner. Set up two lanes of 8 water bottles. Each contestant will put a pair of pantyhose (or tights) on their head with a baseball in the footed part of the hose as a wrecking ball. The other end of the pantyhose should be worn like a beanie on the head.  When the host says go, the contestants will swing their ball back and forth and knock down the water bottles.  The first one to knock all water balls down with only contacting the water bottles with the pantyhose wrecking ball is the winner.

Props needed: two pairs of pantyhose, two baseballs, 16 water bottles (unopened).

Playing time: ~ 25 minutes – you’ll do it in rounds until you get a winner.

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