Ahoy there, me hearties! Hoist the Jolly Roger flag and give your child a swashbuckling pirate party. Let the little buccaneers roam the high seas on their imaginary ship, or recreate a treasure-filled island where they can play pirate games for pieces of eight.
Scrawl the party details on pieces of blank paper and dab them with a wet teabag to make them look sun-bleached and sea-worn. Add an X to mark the spot of the party location, roll it into a scroll and tie with a ribbon, or stick it into a bottle. You could make your own Jolly Roger flag invitations using black card and a white skull and crossbones, or if you don’t have time you could buy pirate-themed invitations.
Imagine life on the ocean wave with pirate or island scene setters. If you want to recreate the deck of a pirate galleon, decoratewith pirate bunting and streamers across the party room like rigging, and tie blue balloons around the edge. A drape of blue fabric, decorated with homemade cut-out fish, shells and sea creatures will conjure up the surrounding seas. For an island, add yellow balloons and streamers, palm trees and a treasure chest. If the party’s outside for a birthday picnic, a big yellow cloth for the island or a blue tarpaulin for the sea will both be effective (plus the tarpaulin can be used to play water games on, if the day is hot). Ask them to come dressed for mutiny or have an eye-patch, hat and moustache at each place.
Pirates love a feast, but probably aren’t the best with knives and forks. Give the rascals a spread of chicken drumsticks, fish fingers, ‘gold’ potato rings, and other easy-to-grab savoury party snacks. Provide plenty of paper napkins for wiping their fingers, or use red spotted handkerchiefs. Make their favourite sandwiches into little ships with cocktail-stick masts, lettuce-leaf sails and cherry tomato ‘cannonballs’. To drink, serve a pirate’s punch of mixed fruit squash or tropical juice in cups or bottles with special straws. For sweet things, a pile of pirate cupcakes, a personalised pirate cake or an ice cream sandcastle cake will make a great finale to the banquet. Serve food on themed plates, or for something extra special, from little individual pirate-ship trays.
If you have a climbing frame with a scrambling net then it’s a great place to hang the skull and crossbones from – they can take it in turns to be the lookout in the crow’s nest on the top. Games such as forty, forty and kick the can are perfect for expending energy, or try newspaper islands – a form of musical chairs in which the ‘islands’ disappear one by one until there is no room for everyone to stand on them when the music stops. Quieter games might include pin the eyepatch on the pirate or a magnetic fishing game. The winning buccaneers should claim their pieces of eight from the chest.
When it comes to dividing the treasure up to take home in party bags, put the spoils into special boxes, or, even better a pirate cup to keep. For boys and for girls, have treats like pirate-themed tattoos, stationery, stickers and sweets such as gold chocolate coins. Girls might enjoy a bracelet or two from the buried treasure, whereas boys will love paper aeroplanes and bouncy balls. A pirate story book or puzzle will ensure that they relive their adventures once they get home.