How To Have an Awesome Pirate Party - Without Blowing Your Budget!

by Bonnie Williams
(Colorado Springs, CO, USA)

Treasure chest cake with partially edible treasure!

Treasure chest cake with partially edible treasure!

When my son and I sat down to plan his eighth birthday party, I was a little intimidated when he said he wanted to have a pirate-themed party. There is so much you can do with a pirate party, it seemed overwhelming; especially when the guest list turned to have about 22 kids! I knew the party could easily become very expensive if I were to buy all the decorations and supplies at the party supply store; the pirate-themed aisle was immense! However, after a few online searches and some brainstorming with friends, we came up with some of the coolest party ideas. All the kids had a blast and the adults even had fun putting it together!

The first thing we did was to make a special place where all the guests could get dressed in their pirate gear. I went to a fabric store and bought the cheapest red and white stripped fabric I could find. I cut it into triangles and sewed a fast hem on each bandanna. Now the kids all had pirate bandannas to wear (and take home!) We bought two dark eyeliner pencils to draw fake beards on everyone and to finish the look we gave out pre-made pirate patches (from the supply store!)

Once the kids were in the appropriate attire, we let them “come aboard”, which was the rest of our living room that had been made to look like a pirate ship. We hung white and tan sheets up around the room, some ocean/island scenes on the windows and the best part; an old skeleton! This was very cheap and easy; we just used our old Halloween skeleton, put a bandanna and eye patch on him and POOF- we had a condemned pirate skeleton! I printed a few Jolly Roger flags off the internet and added them to the sheets around the room for the final touch.

As far as games went, we decided to go with three pirate themed classics. The first thing we did was a cannon ball pop game. We had about 50 black balloons blown up to cannon ball size, not too big. They were all filled with rolled up white paper, only one had rolled up red paper - that was the winning cannon ball. Each guest was given a cocktail sword (a very cheap supply found at the grocery store) and we let them go nuts popping the balloons! Since the balloons weren’t filled with a lot of air, it took longer to pop them and the game lasted a little longer than most balloon pop games. The winner got to pick one of the three game presents already wrapped. When I buy the little gifts for the game winners, I always make sure they are gender neutral. These little gifts can be simple like a new slinky or a box of crayons… not more than three or four bucks each.

The next game was a twist on Pin the Tail. My son helped with this game; we soaked some white paper in strongly brewed coffee. After it was stained to the right color brown, we let it air dry so it would get nice and wrinkly. After it dried we crumpled it, smoothed it out and drew our own treasure map, complete with a red “X” marks the spot. I tore the edges to further age the paper and for the finishing touch; I slightly burnt the edges with a lighter. For the game play, we printed out 22 little Jolly Roger flags (off the internet again) and attached them to toothpicks, each with a little sticky tape on one side. Each guest was blindfolded and given their flag; the pirate whose flag was closest to the X won the game!

We had three gifts, and technically four games. The easiest game at a birthday party is of course to put a sticker under a plate or cup. After everyone has their food or drink, have them take a peek underneath to see if theirs has the winning sticker. Just be sure to have them look before they throw the plates in the trash!! Our final game was a treasure hunt that ended up in our backyard. We gave the kids clues that they had to solve to find the next one and so on. Once they followed the clues to the treasure map (another separate map we made the same way as the map the pin the flag game), they had to follow it outside and find the treasure - our treasure chest-shaped piñata!

This party was so much fun for all the guests. They got to dress up and take their costumes home, pretend to be on a pirate ship all day and play and even the cake was pirate themed -- I made a treasure chest cake complete with partially edible treasure. I used rock candy for the jewels, cheap plastic gold coins and little girl dress-up pearls. The cake sat on a cutting board that I had covered with frosting, then a layer of brown sugar to mimic sand. A few shells from the beach (thoroughly cleaned!) and a message in a bottle completed the look.

This party could have completely broken my budget; especially with 22 party guests! However, we managed to create an entire pirate ship, a crew of gnarly pirates, four fun games and a treasure hunt with real treasure! The supplies were simple and inexpensive; we just had to think “outside the box” a little bit. If you decide to go with a pirate party, be sure to have fun with it! It is one of the most fun party themes and the sky is the limit with the decorations and supplies! Arrrgh!

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