Pirate Party—Watermelon Shark—Age 5—Grand Prize Winner
Susanne of San Antonio, Texas

My son is obsessed with pirates and has asked for a pirate party for his last two birthdays. This year’s party was more elaborate than last year’s.

Our invitations were handmade pirate maps with drawings of skulls and crossbones, islands with palm trees and mountains surrounded by the ocean with an island in the center of the map with a treasure chest, a large “X” and a pirate ship on the shore. On the back, in Old English font, I typed Ahoy Mateys! Captain (birthday boy’s name) needs shipmates to swab the deck, raise the sails and hunt fer long lost pirate treasure. Come if yer dare to The (last name) Ship that will be departing from Pirate Cove (our address). RSVP or walk the plank. When I finished typing up the information, I burned the edges of the invitation.

For the party decor, I painted skull and crossbones flags on black muslin fabric. I used a Halloween skull garland for our yard entryway and tied a banner on it that said Enter At Yer Own Risk. I dressed up a Halloween skeleton with a pirate sash and eye patch. The tables had  pirate tablecloths and I decorated the tables with skulls from Halloween, plastic coins and a few treasure chests I made with shoeboxes that I spray painted black with two gold stripes and had Mardi Gras type beads overflowing them. I tied silver and gold balloons to the table decorations.

My husband and I wore pirate costumes with items we already had had (vests and boots), parrots on our shoulders, red sashes that I cut from red fabric and eye patches from felt and elastic that I sewed together. I gave out vests cut from felt, sashes and eye patches to all the kids.

The first activity was to make telescopes out of paper towel rolls and painting them, taping plastic wrap on each side when they dried and decorating them with stickers.

The next activity was Pop the Cannonballs – I set up a game of pop the cannonballs by drawing two lines on the sidewalk below our deck to create enough space between the two teams so it was clear which team the balloons belonged to. We had an enemy ship on our deck and the captain and his shipmate (my husband and I) each had a box of the same amount of black cannonball balloons that we threw down to the pirates. We divided the pirates into teams and the pirates on each team had to beat out they competitors in popping their balloons. The catch: they could not step over their line that I drew. If any pirate was caught stepping over their line had to temporarily leave the game to walk the plank which was manned by another parent. I set up a narrow piece of wood with plastic crocodiles on both sides. For the winning team, the boys received plastic crocodiles and the girls got stick-on earrings. For the losing team, the boys received skull pencil erasers and the girls got princess erasers.

We had 14 kids at the party, so we broke them up into two groups that played the game one at a time for a game of Get Yer Gold Mateys! We had two ships made out of refrigerator boxes. They had to pick up their swords (that I cut out of foam), get in their boat, sail (run) to the enemy ship, fight the enemy pirates (a few parents who also had swords and put up a good fight but ultimately let the kids win by pretending to fall down. The kids ran to the treasure chest, stole the gold (gold foil chocolates)—a few kids stopped to eat their chocolates, so we all stood back up to remind them that they were still on the enemy ship—their response was hilarious, then they walked the plank to get back off the ship without getting eaten by crocodiles and back onto their ship and sail away—where they ran to another area in our yard while carrying their ship.

We finally got the kids to sit down and eat lunch. I made pinwheel sandwiches with the crusts cut off that resembled telescopes, goldfish crackers, and blue jello ships with flags.

After lunch, they played Pin the Eye Patch on the Pirate and then it was time for a Pirate Treasure Hunt.

My husband made a treasure chest out of a cardboard box. For the top, he took a piece of thin cardboard and bent it to give it a rounded shape. He added this rich mahogany adhesive vinyl film to the box.   Then he drilled some holes and added some hardware and a lock. I took yellow construction a paper, cut into strips, added black dots and glued to the top of the box and then made a faux lock with the construction paper. It looked so real and our guests were impressed with his handiwork.

The last game was to find the treasure chest that had the loot bags. I created two maps, with a hand-drawn picture of the fully decorated backyard with an “X” marking the spot of where the chest and key was in the yard. I preplanned how the yard would be decorated to make the maps. One map was green and held the map of where the treasure chest was and one was blue and had the map of where the key was. I cut them into pieces like a puzzle and hid them. Once they found the pieces, they formed two teams and assembled their puzzles to hunt for the treasure chest and key. Each team screamed “Found the treasure chest” and “Found the key” a few minutes apart and the team with the key ran to the other team, opened the chest and were thrilled to see their pirate loot bags which had Mardi Gras type beads, stick-on tattoos and chocolate coins, plastic crocodiles and stick on earrings for the girls.