Children, Creative Ideas, Family

Under the Big Top!

So, you get approached to volunteer your trunk for the church Trunk or Treat event and you say ‘Sure!’, thinking that’ll be easy…just throw some decorations in the trunk and pass out candy.

But in the mind of a creative person, something starts gurgling around in the idea closet of the brain. Soon that gurgling becomes some actual thoughts and those thoughts turn into mental images and eventually those images get sketched into the idea book. Once the sketches are in the idea book and are visual…there’s no turning back.

And that’s how our Under the Big Top trunk was born:




It turned out great…but to be honest, it may have gotten away from me a little bit. Trouble is, I didn’t realize it had gotten away from me until I was neck-deep in supplies and tasks. Obviously, there’s no turning back now so I hunkered down and plowed through.

The trouble with a creative mind is that the final product has to look pretty darn close to the imagined result. Less than that simply will not do. And that’s where being a creative-minded person becomes exhausting. But, this is my reality so I am used to it.

In the design and preparation, not only did I have to create this imagined scene, I had to design it in a way that made it portable and “easy” to assemble in the church parking lot.

So, without further ado, here’s the break-down of our Under the Big Top design (keep in mind this was for a SUV so we had a nice hatch to utilize):

Items to be created:

  1. Tent for top of the hatch
  2. Audience inside car
  3. Tiger jumping through fiery hoop (i know, right?!)
  4. Lolli-pop ring toss
  5. Feed the tigers bean bag toss (this game was a HUGE hit…huge!)


  • 2 Red & 3 White poster board
  • Gluesticks
  • Duct tape (a ton of it!)
  • Tiger posters (we found a long poster that had three tiger faces on it and also a tiger running through flames poster)
  • Scissors, twine
  • Bamboo skewers
  • Cardboard/ 3 project display boards
  • Wire hangers
  • Floral foam
  • Straws
  • Carnival/ circus accent designs bought at Hobby Lobby


Tent: 2 red posters cut into tent sides (cut diagonal and taped together to make a solid triangle-shaped tent). 1 White poster cut exactly the same way as the red posters (use the red ones as a guide) and then angles cut to make stripes on the tent (you’ll want to make the angle with a second angle to mimic the part of the tent that hangs down). Glue the white cut pieces to the red poster. Attach some pieces of cardboard to the back to stiffen up the tent so it can stand up without bending. Free-hand cut a flag and use some cardboard to make a flag pole and attach it to the top.

Attach the assembled tent to on of the small flaps of the project display board. Lay the board on the table and open a flap…the tent will go on the outside of this flap. Use some extra cardboard pieces to make two triangle support pieces and attach them to the back of the tent on either side of the back. Only tape one side of each triangle piece so they can still fold.

Audience: I went online and found an image of cartoon people sitting in a row…I think I Googled “circus audience” and found a great picture. Print 12 copies landscape oriented and glue them side by side to 2 white poster boards that are portrait oriented. So you should end up with 3 rows of two on each poster board.

Tiger jumping through hoop: I took a pencil and tied a string to it so I could draw a circle around the tiger running through fire poster. It’s like a make-shift compass…hold the string down in the middle of the picture and pull the pencil tight and draw all the way around the picture. You’ll end up with a perfect circle. Cut out the circle and then cut the tiger out of the center. Don’t discard the scrap and be very careful to cut without extra cutting so the fire part stays intact. Cut a hoop out of the scrap part.

On the back of the hoop, attach unfolded and shaped wire hangers to the back of the hoop so it can stand on it’s own. Make sure the unfolded hanger handle sticks down so you can use that to poke into the floral foam.

For the tiger, on the back, add cardboard (or other) support so the tiger can stand upright without banding. Add a bamboo skewer so you can poke the tiger into the floral foam.

Feed the tiger game: Using the other 3-tiger faces poster, cut out each tiger face. Arrange them on a display board so that all three fit. Using a round object, cut out holes in the tiger faces and display board. Add decorations and signage.

Lolli-pop ring toss game: Measure out rows to place the lolli-pops on a display board. Using a blade of the scissors, poke holes, alternating 3 and 4 holes by row. So 4 on the top row, then 3 on the next and so on. Cut straws into small pieces and stick those small straws into the holes. On the back of the display board, bend the bit of straw sticking through downward (this will make the straw on the front stand upward rather than downward) and duct tape it down. You’ll add a lolli-pop in each straw when it’s time to play the game. Add decorations and signage.

So that covers the basic assembly. All of this is portable, folding down for easy transport. You’ll want things like workhorses to lean the games on. You’ll need things like bean bags and rings for the ring toss. Assembly is tying the tent to the roof with the twine. I poked holes into the edge of the display board and fed the twine through so that it stayed put.

I duct taped the bunting and curtains (found at Hobby Lobby) to glass parts of the SUV or to the display board on the rooftop. Don’t duct tape anything to the paint on your car!!!

For the audience inside, I curved the poster board a bit and duct taped it to the back cover bar in our SUV. I added stuffed animals doing tricks and I hung a “carnival” sign I found at Hobby Lobby.

So, like I said…it may have gotten away from me a bit but it worked out and we had a great time. We even won the trunk decorating contest, too!

Now…I need a nap and a visit to the chiropractor to fix my back from all that bending over and lifting stuff!

Happy trunk or treating!


4 thoughts on “Under the Big Top!”

  1. So elaborate, I love it! It reminds me of my son’s first Christmas. We were going to a Christmas Carols in the Park event, so we put him in his pram, which I decked out like a sleigh complete with stuffed reindeer on the front and fairy lights along the sides, and him dressed like Santa. He was so cute, and he got his photo in the paper!
    I hadn’t intended on going that far with it, but ideas tend to snowball in this house. I’m ok with it, and you should be too, because that car is amazing.

      1. Oh you have to! It makes life so much more exciting.
        Me Makeables and I enable each other too haha, so all our projects become huge elaborate things. I have a kitchen chalkboard wall with a dinosaur head sticking out of it because of one such occasion

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