Pirates of Carribean 4yr - In South America
Stacy in Suisun, California USA
July 2005 Winner
For my son's 4th birthday we had a "Pirates of the Caribbean / South America" theme. (We've been choosing a continent as the theme for each party so this counted as South America.)
INVITATIONS: I found some nice blank notecards with antique maps on the front which were perfect for the invitations at a Marcel Schurman outlet store. I found the text of John Paul Jones' handbill to recruit seamen in the American Revolution and tweaked the wording so that it had all the "seamen & able-bodied landsmen" recruits signing on at the party. I enclosed a picture of our son in a Captain Hook costume from the Disney store along with a pre-stamped RSVP postcard. I found compass rose and "X" stickers to seal the envelopes. The US Postal Service currently has a 37 cent postage stamp which shows the USS Constellation sailing ship that was great for the overall effect. I downloaded a free font online called "Treasure Map Deadhand" and printed all the addresses using it.
DECORATIONS & FOOD: INSIDE - Entry way was where everyone went "on the account" & signed the ship's log (guestbook). We also took a photo of each person as they arrived (see Thank You's for why). This area had an antique writing desk with a quill & parchment. Above taped to the wall was the ship's articles or codes (found online -- I think they were Bartholomew's). Then we gave out the goody bags and a pirate name tag. I got all the pirate names from a site online where you enter your real name and it gives back the pirate equivalent like mine turned out to be "Cannonball Carrie the Mosquito". Do a search for "find your pirate name" and you'll get a few sites to choose from. Family room had lots of toy pirate ships and figures for the kids to play with as well as the Pirates of the Caribbean LIFE game and a dreidel pirate game purchased at Treasure Island hotel & casino in Las Vegas. Kitchen had sign that said "Galley" with a short explanation. We displayed the two cakes we made in here. One was an island made from a bundt cake and sprinkled with green colored coconut. The other was a ship made per the specifications on a Disney Go Family site. Do a search for "pirate cakes". It's great. We put both on a large rectangle cake board that we painted blue with blue food coloring mixed with water for the ocean. Then we topped both with Lego pirates and native people. Bathroom had sign that said "Head" with an explanation.
Living room had a sign that said "Mess" and had some traditional ship's fare: oatmeal, cheese, hardtack, peas, and salt pork & beef (luncheon meats). We found some framed pictures of antique maps at our local Raley's for $1 each which we hung on the walls and made it look a little like the Captain's cabin too. In this area we laid out some constellation cards we bought in the Bargain Books section of Barnes & Noble. It's a set for $10 that comes with a book, night sky wheel, and several flash cards that show the Greek figures nicely painted and then you punch out little holes in them, hold them up to light and see what the actual star positions are of the constellations. Very cool! We had a sign that said it was Navigation class because every good sailor knows his constellations. We had some small ship models around as decorations too as well as any pirate action figures we could lay our hands on: Anne Bonney, Kermit the Frog as Captain Smollet, Pirates of the Caribbean movie figures, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea Captain Nemo figures. These all made nice displays. Also had a stuffed parrot hanging in the corner (Oriental Trading Co.).
Dining room had a sign that said "Port of Maracaibo, Venezuela" and was decorated with tropical fish and tissue paper flowers. Table was laid with Caribbean & South American dishes: tropical fruits, jerk chicken (buy jerk seasoning at Cost Plus Imports), Spanish rice, Avocado & Potato salad (the biggest hit), punch, rootbeer in a keg For the kids: Goldfish crackers, Treasure Chest family meal from Long John Silver's and a pizza shaped like a skull with sliced olives arranged for eyes and teeth. Most recipes found in cookbooks at the library or online. We found bamboo patterned paper plates and napkins on clearance at an outlet store and cool coffee cups with a map of Venezuela on them at Smart & Final. We just used plain white plasticware.
OUTSIDE - We hung a Jolly Roger flag outside. In the front yard we had a cardboard pirate ship complete with sail that went up and down, spinning ship's wheel, and anchor. (We bought the wheel and anchor at Michael's.). My husband also built a cardboard fort maze that the kids could crawl through. Then behind this was another tower that looked to be in ruins. He put red cellophane in this and a fog machine so it looked like it was on fire. Later the kids divided into teams of pirates and soldiers and we had a ship vs. fort battle with ping pong balls. Whichever team could get the most into the others' area in a certain time won. We had 2 old wine barrels (purchased from a storage yard in Napa for $15 each that we displayed jewels and other items in. By a tree we propped up a skeleton dressed as a pirate a la the Pirates of the Caribbean ride at Disneyland complete with sword in the chest, holding black spot, and bird resting in his hat. There was also a parchment note here that said "Dead Men Tell No Tales". We had a pillar painted gold with fake jewels stuck on it on which rested some skulls. There was a sandbox as well as a real antique trunk treasure chest full of jewels and gold coins (Oriental Trading co.). Our steamer trunk / treasure chest had a drawer/shelf that sat at the top so we didn't have to fill the entire thing but it looked as though we did. It was really only 4 inches deep maybe. We gave each child a goody bag with several items among which was a small plastic treasure chest that even locks with a key (OTC again). Inside it was a poem of clues to different sites: the sandbox, the pillar, the skeleton, and finally the treasure chest. At each stop they had to choose something: a captain, a mascot, and a ship (pieces of paper copied from the Disneyland Pirates of the Caribbean edition LIFE game). At the end of the party we drew one of each and if anyone got all 3 the same they won a prize, if they got 2 the same a smaller prize, and 1 the same an even smaller prize. We wanted to have knot tying as an activity but ran out of time.
GOODY BAGS: Black & red paper gift bags from Michael's that we stenciled with a pirate design (jolly roger, treasure chest, pirate, etc). Stencils were purchased from doverpublishing.com. Inside we gave each person a pirate bandana, an eye patch, the mini chest with clues, a copy of pirate lingo which I think I downloaded from Long John Silver's website, pirate coloring pages, pirate temporary tattoo, skull pencils with glow in the dark skull toppers, a paper cup with a candy cane stuck in it to use as a hook hand, and a skull balloon with a silver skull ring tied to it to weight it down.
FAVORS: Skull cookie -- got the custom cutter on eBay, skull & crossbones gummy candy, chocolate coins, and Jolly Roger stickers. PRIZES FOR TREASURE HUNT & BATTLE: Treasure Planet large stuffed dolls I was lucky enough to pick up when the Disney Store liquidated them for $2 each (down from $20 each!), Treasure planet magic washclothes, Dem Bones sweet tart candy, Treasure Planet action figures. The adults who played and won got the antique map pictures off the walls as prizes. MUSIC: Sea Shanties, Pirates of the Caribbean movie soundtrtack as well as the theme park ride's music, Venezuelan folk music in the dining room. All these were checked out from the local library. The Muppets' Treasure Island soundtrack is fantastic, but pretty rare so we couldn't pick one up in time. If you can find it, the kids will love it.
THANK YOU'S: I found blank notecards with Caribbean fruit and spices on the fronts at our local Tuesday Morning store. Inside along with a nice note I included the picture I took of the person at the beginning of the party -- only it turned out a bit different then they may have expected. Using the DVD ROM included in the Pirates of the Caribbean movie, you can turn anyone into a zombie pirate. It's a great program that really makes you look creepy!
Have fun with it -- kids are crazy about pirates so you can't go wrong!
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