Pirate Party

Pirate Birthday 5yr - Playground Pirate Ship




David in Lafayette, LA  USA


Feb. 2004



My family recently celebrated my son's 5th birthday.  For the second year in a row, he wanted to have a Pirate Birthday Party.  Using some of the same ideas, as well as fine tuning a few things, this years party was an even bigger success than last years.  (Which by the way, the kids and parents were still talking about months later)    First, we created his invitations using coffee soaked paper which included a picture of my son in his Captain Hook pirate costume and the text, "Sail back on the high seas, to the days of old It's a party for all mateys - there's great fun in store!  Also, we included the specific information about the party in another section at the bottom of the page that stated, "Ahoy Mates ye be invited to Captain ______'s Pirate Party.  Chart yer course fer Address, the ___ day of (month).  We be a meetin at (time) fer some swashbuckling fun, grub, and kiddie spirits.  Wave yer flag if ye be attendin or have yer mum send message by yer phone to (Phone #).  Sees ye thereaarrgghh!"  On the back, I drew a pirate map which contained actual landmarks near our home.  For example, we have a Winn Dixie Grocery Store that we have people look for when giving directions to our house.  On the pirate map, we placed a hill where Winn Dixie is and called it "Winn Dixie Hill".  In addition, we had other things on the map that help to identify roads, like "Ambassador Caffery Pkwy River", "Dulles Dr. Swamp" and etc.  For the parents who weren't quite able to figure the map out, I put "Landlubber directions" at the top which contained step by step directions to our house.    When my son's friends began to arrive, they found a skeleton dressed in a hat and sash, holding a sign that said, "Beware, Pirates Ahead!".  Also, my dad made a CD of Disney's Pirate's of the Carribean theme song, which was looped to play over and over.  Whenever someone arrived, they would hear the music playing, "Yo-Ho, Yo-Ho, A pirates life for me". 

Then when they got to my door, they found a treasure box that was filled with Beads, Paper Cups/Bowls spray painted gold and gold plastic coins.  To help limit the amount of beads I needed, I found a box that fit inside the Treasure Chest.  This allowed me to only place beads and stuff on the top of the box to give the chest a full appearance. I then placed the treasure chest on top of some sand to make it look like it was on the beach.  To help with the cleanup, I placed the sand on a tan table cloth.  Finally, I sprinkled a few beads and coins around in the sand and added a few shells and a palm tree for the final touches.  Once inside the house, each child was greeted by my wife and I who were both dressed up as pirates.  We gave each child a pirate hat and sash, took a picture of them with me (This will be sent to them with the thank you notes) and then directed them to the backyard to play on my son's playground set, which had been decorated like a pirate ship.  We allowed the kids to play for about fifteen minutes to allow all of our guests to arrive. 

Next, the children were asked to stand around two tables that had been placed together.  We were going to make Oceans in a bottle.  On the table, the children found 1/2 filled water bottles, food coloring, sand, shells and small fish cutouts.  Each child began by selecting the color of their ocean.  Next they were able to personlize it by adding the fish, shells and sand, if they wanted.  Once completed, my sister would pick them up and place a label on it.  I made the labels the night before.  They included a picture of a pirate and the words, "Oceans in a bottle, created by _________, at Captain Logan's Birthday Party - February 1, 2004".  The completed bottles were then put in each child's goody bag for them to pick up later.    After being allow to run around the yard for a few minutes, all of the children were asked to come in.  Once in, they were given instructions for our pirate carnival we were going to have. 

We had seven stations for the children to choose from.  They included:  1.  Crocodile hoop toss - The children would try to throw a hula hoop around a crocodile head (an alligator pinata can work).  Each child would get about 4 tosses.  2.  Cannon ball toss - The object is to throw 4 foam balls, which had been painted black to resemble cannonballs, into a bucket.  The distance can vary depending on the ages of the children.  3.  Digging for treasure - I took some plastic gold coins and numbered each from 1-6.  I had prizes that corresponded with each number.  The gold coins were then placed in a pool of sand and stirred around to mix them up.  Each child was given a opportunity to dig for a coin.  Once a coin was found, the child would give it to my nephew and receive his or her prize - depending on the number.  4.  Walk the plank - I made a plank out of an old fence board that I mounted on a couple of 4x4's.  I then place the plank at the each of my patio.  Each child had to walk to the end of the plank where they found a pirate flag sitting on a large orange cone.  They had to pick it up and bring it back without falling off.  There next task was to place it back on the orange cone, once again, without falling off.  I made some buttons that said,"I walked the plank at Captain Logan's Birthday Party."  The first time that each child tried to walk the plank, my wife pin this button on them.  If they successfully completed their task, they also received candy.  5.  Jewel Pickup - Each child had about thirty seconds to pick up as many jewels (marbles) as they could and place them in a bucket.  The catch was each child had to use their toes.  This was very difficult for 5 year olds, but they could do it.  For each jewel placed in the bucket, they received a candy.  6.  Musical Islands - I placed 6 colored disc on the ground.  I figured it would be easier for 5 year olds to identify colors, over numbers.  Up to six children could play at one time.  Each child would start on an island (disc). When the music would begin, they all start walking around the circle, going island to island.  When the music stopped, the children would stop on that island.  My mom would then draw a ball from a paper bag to see who would win.  Children who did not win were allowed to play again.  If you did not have six children playing, a ball would be drawn until someone wins.  I found this to be a better option than the musical chair version.  7.  Face painting - No explanation needed.  The children were allowed to play whichever games they wanted, as many times as they wanted.  Each of them had a bag with their name on it to help hold their loot.  At all the stations, except the face painting, children almost certainly won something.  They were allowed to play for about 40 minutes. 

At the end of the 40 minutes, the children were called in and their loot bags were collected.  Again, they were placed in their goody bags for them to pick up when they left.  The children were then led to the kitchen to sing happy birthday for our son.  The cake was a pirate ship made by my sister using the instructions found on the internet.  Everyone loved it.  It was difficult for my son to blow out the candles, but with a little help, he did it.  Next, the children were led to the living room where my son opened his gifts.  While he opened the gifts, the other children were given their cake and ice cream.  Once the gifts had been opened and the cake had been eaten, it was then time for the Big Treasure Hunt.  My wife and I had decided that we didn't particularly like younger children swinging a bat at a pinata.  Also, we didn't feel confident about having children search for clues around our house and yard.  Instead, we came up with an idea to have a treasure hunt that would be similar to an easter egg hunt.  With the assistance of my family, candy was scattered around my backyard, as well as on the playground.  I also spray painted a couple dozen plastic eggs gold.  Inside of the eggs I had lots of candy, coins, necklaces or paper with numbers on it.  The numbers corresponded with larger gifts.  In addition to the candy and eggs, we also had mardi gras beads for the children to pick up.  The children were then led outside where they were given another paper bag with their name on it.  On the signal, they were allowed to begin picking up anything they could find.  It only took about 5 minutes to clean up everything, but they loved it and each of them got a bunch of stuff.  Once finished, their loot bags were again collected and put with their goody bags to pick up when they left.  

The children were then allowed to play on the playground until their parents picked them up or were ready to go.  When it was time to go, each child was given their goody bag with tons of candy in it, their oceans in a bottle that they had created and a sword with eyepatch that I purchased from Oriental Trading (12 for $10) (Oh, I purchased some great felt pirate hats for about 85 cents on ebay - the sashes I made out of cheap material bought at Walmart).    The party was a total success.  Again, this was the second year of having a pirate party, so we knew what worked and what didn't.  Several changes that we made that made things go smoother were:  \* Not forming groups, but instead setting up stations like a carnival. \* Playing musical islands like a cake walk, not music chairs. \* Using gold coins numbered for prizes, rather than placing actual items in the sand. \* Having the easter egg hunt style treasure hunt instead of the pinata.  I hope this helps!

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