Pirate Party

Pirate Party Cove 5yr - Pirate Striped T-shirts




Bogna in Guelph, Ontario, Canada


Jan 2003


January 2003 Winner

Pirate Party  My twin boys 5th birthday party was a pirate party.  The invitation was a drawing of an island with various features labeled (eg., Deadman's Swamp, Pirate's Cove, etc.)  The font was similar to Old English in keeping with the pirate theme.  The party blurb was "Aaarrr!  Come if you dare to (boys names) pirate party.  They are turning 5 and need shipmates to swab the deck, walk the plank and look for pirate treasure. We set sail on, Pier located at..,  RSVP First Mate."  They were asked to wear striped t-shirts if they had one.  The paper was aged by dabbing it with a wet tea bag and once dry the edges were burnt to give it that old "treasure map" look.  The invite was rolled up and put into a bottle with some sand, small shells and skull confetti. Each bottle had a black label with a white skull and crossbones and the child's name on it, and were hand delivered. 

As the kids arrived, they saw a wooden sign on a post which had black and red balloons tied to it. This was at the end of our walkway.  The sign said "Beware.  Enter at yer own risk" and had a skull and crossbones on it.  Scattered just outside the front door on the porch were shined pennies (soak pennies in vinegar and salt) and gold chocolate covered coins.  On the door was a skeleton from Hallowe'en and another sign saying "Pirates only beyond this Point".  I wore loose pants that were ripped at the bottom, blue & white striped t-shirt, bandana on my head, sash on my waist and an eye-patch.  I'd also pinned a toy parrot to my shoulder.  When I opened the door I asked each child if they were a pirate.  Once they said yes they were let in!  The room was decorated with black and red streamers and balloons and a large black cloth with white skull and crossbones was hung on the wall. I also strung up alternating cutouts of black anchors and yellow swords (made out of bristol board) along one wall and in the doorways. 

The first activity was Decorating a Treasure Chest.  Diaper wipe boxes were prepainted brown with glitter painted corners.  Pirate themed stickers, crystal gems, foam cut out shapes, glue, etc. were set out and kids decorated their chests.  Once finished they were sent to a helper who dressed them in their pirate garb (eye patch, head bandana, waist sash, tattoo and balloon sword. Mustaches were also painted on).  The kids had been asked to wear a striped t-shirt if they had one, so once dressed they looked very pirate-like!  An individual Polaroid photo was taken which was put into their treasure chest.  (As the kids arrived half were sent to decorate their treasure chests and half to get their pirate garb and picture.  This helped to keep things moving by keeping everyone busy with no long wait times).

Once all pirates were dressed, a group picture was taken in front of the black cloth with the skull and crossbones.  This was sent out with the thank you cards.  I then asked them "What do pirates ride the waves with?" and they all answered Ships.  "And what do pirates do when they meet other pirate ships?"  Fight them.  We headed down to the basement where they found two pirate ships.  (Two large appliance boxes painted and cut so that one of the corners was the bow of the ship, complete with mast and flag).  In each ship they found a bucket of cannonballs (balled up newspaper held together with masking tape) I had them number off 1, 2 and all number 1's were in one ship and number 2's in the other, each ship captained by a birthday boy.  The teams were Ryland's Rogues or Luke's Liberators, named after the birthday boys.     The game was called "Sink the Enemy" and the idea was that when they heard the whistle they had to throw as many cannonballs as they could into the other ship.  When the whistle blew again all action stopped.  Cannonballs were counted and whichever ship was sunk (most cannonballs in the ship) that team had to walk the plank.  Walk the Plank was a board set up on crates with toy sharks, crocodiles, whales, fish, etc. scattered underneath.  Of course all the kids wanted to Walk the Plank so we had to play Sink the Enemy 3 or 4 times! (We started adding variations to make Walk the Plank harder eg. Walk backwards, hop on one foot, jump over obstacles, etc.)  

The next game was Pirate Tunnel where I had taken 12 feet of stretchy fabric, sewn into a tube shape.  The kids were divided into teams and placed at each end of the tunnel.  At the signal they were told to get to the other side of the tunnel.  This was a hoot because at some point they had to pass one another in the tunnel and watching them maneuver to get around was so funny.  Both the participants and those watching were laughing. 

After all that activity it was time for cake and ice cream.  The table was covered with a red plastic tablecloth with skull confetti strewn all around.  Napkins, cups, forks and plates were black.   Because they're twins I always have 2 cakes. This year I got smart and made one an ice cream cake.  It was in the shape of a pirate face; vanilla ice cream for the face, chocolate ice cream for the head bandana with M & M's polka dots.  One eye was fruit leather cut into oval shape with a M & M eyeball, other eye covered by peppermint patty eye patch, stubbly beard out of licorice, mouth out of fruit leather.  The other cake was shaped like a treasure chest, frosted in chocolate icing with fruit leather straps.  The straps had M&M's along them as the nail studs. Jewels, coins and gems (candy necklaces, chocolate coins and M & M's) were spilling out of it.  Drinks were White or Dark Buccanneer Brew (white or chocolate milk) or Sharks Blood (fruit juice).  Announcing the names of the drinks really got a charge out of the kids. 

Opening the gifts followed and then the big finale - the Treasure Hunt. Again the kids were divided into two teams, each team captained by a birthday boy.  Picture clues in envelopes had been hidden throughout the house, each clue leading them to the next.  Having a birthday boy on each team was important since some of the clues only they would know the answer.  The teams were given their first clue (Team A's envelope contained a picture of a bandage (upstairs hall closet), Team B had a screwdriver - tool chest in the basement).  The teams also had helpers with them to prompt if they got stuck.  Clues were laid out so both teams would end up in the living room.   The final clue for each team was a Christmas tree.  Boys birthday is in Dec. but I hold off putting up the tree until their birthday is over, so the spot where the tree normally goes is where a table sits.  After a bit of prompting they were able to figure out that they should look under the tablecloth.  Once the cloth was lifted some balloons filled with helium were released and they found a cannonball pinata with a skull and crossbones on it.    We set up the pinata, played the game and nothing came out!  I stepped in making a big show of what a terrible pinata that was and asking them if they were sure there was nothing in there.  I prompted one of my sons to stick his hand in and he pulled out a folded piece of paper.  Once unfolded it showed a picture of a treasure chest.  So then I asked "What could that possibly mean??"  and they quickly figured out their treasure chests. While the hunt had been taking place my husband had filled each of their chests with Pirate Pellets (small baggie filled with Jelly Bellys and I had made the Pirate Pellet label), chocolate gold coins, shined pennies, skeleton, skull ring and skull stickers so when they opened them, they found their loot.  Each child also got a Pirate Face Sticker Book which was too large to fit in the treasure boxes.  Great relief and hoots as they actually discovered a treasure. 

This party was an absolute blast.   All items were dollar store items, purchased on sale or I made so it was fairly inexpensive as well.  My sons were included in a lot of the prep work (making decorations, pinata, putting together invitations, etc.) so they were totally into it.  For most of the kids the invitation was unusual which set the tone and hyped them up for party day. Most of the kids asked to stay later than the 2 hours that the party was scheduled for, which I take as a major compliment to the success of the party.  (However, 2 hours of seven active 5 year old boys is about as much as I could take and thankfully parents realized that and didn't let them stay longer!)

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