Pirate Party 4yr - Pirate Names Aarg!
Elizabeth in Beaverton, OR, USA
There are so many great pirate ideas on this site and we incorporated many of them. Thanks! At our pirate party, we had 22 kids aged 3-7 and 13 adults (plus 2 babies) for our son's 4th birthday, which was held at our home.
INVITES: I printed the invites on ivory colored paper in the font Blackadder ITC in black ink. I rolled up the paper into scrolls, printed the name of the addressee on the outside and fastened them with skull and crossbones stickers I'd printed from the internet. They were all hand delivered. I created pirate names for all the guests and addressed the invites like this, Cannonball Caleb "Keel-Haul Kayla Sea Queen of the Caribbean." The invitations read: Ahoy there Matey! Ye be invited! Cap'n Alex Last Name is turning four and he be searchin for a fresh crew to help him celebrate. He'll be in harbor Saturday June the ninth from three til five o'clock in the afternoon. Join him if ye dare for a swashbuckling birthday adventure on the high seas. Chart yer course for the fair Isle of Town Name. His ship be moored at Pier 123 off NW Street Name. Wave yer flag if ye be attending or call the Last Names at (###) ###-#### by June first to let Cap'n Alex's mother "Red-Headed Lizzie know who of your kin be coming aboard with ye. Proper pirate attire encouraged but leave yer weapons at yer homes! Aaaargh! MAPS: I created handmade treasure maps, using ripped brown paper grocery bags and a black Sharpie, showing how to get to our house. I'd planned to make them for everyone, but they took forever to make, so I only made them for those people who'd never been to our house before (about 6.)
COSTUMES: We all dressed up in pirate costumes (everything from striped shirts and Capri pants with leather belts and bandanas to home sewn Halloween costumes to store bought pirate hats, eye patches and coats Pirates are so popular it's easy to find whatever you're looking for.) I purchased a tricorn hat at a costume store for $15, but everything else was from my closet. We had planned to have the party outside, but as it was early June in Oregon, it ended up pouring down rain all day long. So the night before, I scrambled to re-plan the whole party (and rewrite treasure hunt clues) to be inside or undercover.
DECORATIONS: We covered the front door with a sign I'd made out of leathery-looking paper. Take paper grocery bags and rip them to the shape you want. Then crumpled them up under water, wring them out and lay them flat to dry. When dry, they can be written on and look leathery and old. I used black ink to write, Beware: Pirates ~ Enter If Ye Dare." (I made several signs for the party this way.) I made a skeleton out of empty milk jugs and tied a pirate bandana around his head. I had planned to display him out front but the rain forced him inside. I got the idea from this website and the instructions from FamilyFun.com.
TATTOO PARLOR and DRESS UP TRUNK: As the kids entered I had a great selection playing on the CD player. It was a speech from a Captain Bogg and Salty CD where the speaker is recruiting a crew for a pirate ship. It was complete with harbor sounds and seagulls squawking. Really set the mood. Once inside the first stop for our guests was "Juanita's Tattoo Parlor". Two adults gave all our guests temporary tattoos purchased from OTC. This takes a while to do so allot time for it. After that kids could raid the dress-up trunk which was filled with pirate dress-up clothes I'd found made and purchased. The kids could keep anything they wore. Included were pirate bandanas from OTC and skull rings I bought from the grocery store's bakery (they use them for cupcake decorations.) Not many people took items from the dress-up trunk as most of the kids came in fantastic pirate costumes. We had Jack Sparrow Captain Hook kids in pirate costumes their mom made and even two damsels in distress. Most of the few kids that showed up in street clothes didn't want to dress up.
MUSIC: From there the kids were sent to our great room. We'd moved the furniture so there was lots of room to move around. I had a CD of pirate songs I'd mixed (Captain Bogg and Salty The Wiggles Peter Pan etc) playing and the kids danced around and played until most were through getting tattooed. I kept this CD playing softly in the background the whole party. (If the party had been outside I'd planned for them to play on the playground while waiting.)
DECORATIONS: The great room was decorated with a large pirate flag (OTC) hanging on the wall and below it was a black buffet decorated with baskets and seashells. In front of our brick fireplace was a large wood and metal treasure chest I borrowed from my dad. I filled it 2/3 of the way with towels for filler covered the towels in a sparkly gold cloth then arranged a gold charger Mardi Gras beads gold coins a silver tray and a silver gravy boat on top. It looked great but it was really tough to keep the kid's hands out of it. They all wanted to get their hands on the treasure. Above that on the mantle I leaned a large wooden ship's wheel (borrowed from my fisherman fathe) up against the wall. On one side of it I placed a model of a ship I found at the Goodwill in front of a large piece of coral with a seashell next to it. On the other side I made an artfully arranged pile of treasure. The centerpiece of the pile was a fantastic Pirates of the Caribbean piggy bank purchased at the Disney Store for $12. It is a skull with a red scarf and two swords sticking out behind it resting on a pile of gold and jewels. For the treasure all around the bank I used gold candlesticks gold votive holders a gold charger gold silver and pearl necklaces and more gold coins. It looked great! Above the ship's wheel was a sign that read "Pirate Party ~ No Landlubbers" and a banner of party store pirate themed pennants. On the built-in shelving on either side of the fireplace I arranged a small treasure chest more treasure and seashells baskets etc. Anything that looked like it could belong on a pirate ship. Our milk jug skeleton hung from the ceiling holding a sign that read "Dead Men Tell No Tales." In front of the fireplace was a poster of Captain Hook and another pirate I'd drawn and colored using a Disney coloring book as reference. In the kitchen nook stood a Pirates of the Caribbean themed fish tank (from the pet store we already had this) and a Pirates of the Caribbean beach towel (Disney Store) hung from my built-in desk drawers to hide a treasure chest pinata that was under my desk. Outside on the covered patio was a long table made up of our wood patio and kitchen tables with the leaves in. We decorated the patio with more pennant banners and a pirate party themed Happy Birthday sign (all from Dollar Tree). The cake table was wooden so I didn't use tablecloths. I used red plates red napkins and red cups metal beer mugs to hold silver utensils and I put the cakes on gold trays.
CAKE: I made two cakes. One was a sheet cake decorated with blue frosting for the water with a crumbled graham cracker island in the middle. Captain Hook and Mr. Smee figurines were on the island with a toy crocodile licking his chops waiting in the water. The other cake was a pirate ship and you can see one similar on FamilyFun.com. I decorated the ship-shaped cake with brown icing I'd raked with a pronged instrument to look like wood outlined it and decorated it with windows and portholes and Alex's name on the bow with yellow icing. Candles stuck out of the portholes like cannons. I used wooden skewers and black construction paper to make sails and also flew a paper Jolly Roger flag I'd made using skull and crossbones stickers I'd printed off the internet. A few Imaginext pirate figures stood on the ship guarding a toy treasure chest.
PIRATE OATH: Once all the kids were in the great room I gave a welcome speech. I taught the kids a little pirate lingo (Ahoy = hello matey = friend aye = yes nay = no etc.) and then told them "If ye wants to be a pirate ye gots to take an oath to honor the pirate code Raise yer hand or yer hook and listen good. We declare our allegiances to Captain Alex and promise to be good pirates til 5 o'clock eatin as much cake and ice cream as we can singing as loudly as we can playing our best at all the games and taking our equal share of the treasure. If you agree say "Aye Aye Captain Alex." Then I gave out the pirate names. One at a time I called the children forward shook hands with them and put a nametag on them with their pirate name on it. It was tough coming up with 22+ pirate names that sounded good but fun. I'd introduce the pirate to all the guests and the kids would yell "Ahoy there Gunpowder Gabe!" (or Ruthless Ryan or whoever it was) and the pirate would respond "Ahoy there mateys!" A few of the kids were too shy to respond so I did it with them or said "He's thinkin ahoy there." This turned out to be a lot of fun and even the shy kids enjoyed the special treatment. When everyone had their nametags on we lined them up and took a photo of the crew. This is easier said than done. Telling them to make mean faces and growl like pirates got their attention and then we could take a nice picture too but the mean one turned out better.
TREASURE HUNT: Then I said "Captain Alex would like to share his treasure with all of his mateys but the crafty Captain Jack Sparrow stole it and hid it away. He left us a clue as to where the treasure is buried. If you're willing to hunt for it with Cap'n Alex give him a hearty "Aye Aye Cap'n!" (After I explained the rules for each game I always told the kids that if they were ready to play to say Aye Aye Cap'n. This was really fun.) Then I read "Captain Alex's trunk is filled with loot beyond measure. To find it follow these clues and work together Here's ye first clue." (I made the clues out of the same treated paper bag tearings and I got a couple of great clue ideas from this website. One of the best parts about the treasure hunt was that the bday boy wanted to read the clues. So we whispered them in his ear and they he yelled them out to everyone in a gruff pirate voice. Very cute.)
Clue 1: A pirate's life is the life for me look for a parrot perched on a tree. (Stuffed parrot was stuck to a plant indoors.)
Clue 2: As any good pirate ought to know...if you want a tattoo this be where ye go. (The tattoo parlor.)
Clue 3: A pirate's pet says "polly wanna cracky?" But Cap'n Alex's pet is an elephant named Packy! (My son's beloved stuffed animal dressed as a pirate was sitting on the kitchen counter. The next clue I gave to my husband to read whose pirate name was Jolly Roger.)
Clue 4: Jolly Roger is my name now find the flag that's called same. (Pirate flag.)
Clue 5: For smooth sailing on the seven seas Ye steers the ship with one of these. (Ship's wheel over mantel)
Clue 6: We know many pirates from movies and books the next clue lies near Captain James Hook! (cake table)
Clue 7: Pirates can't take a plane for a trip when they need to travel they sail on a ship. (ship model on mantel)
Clue 8: To find the next clue all hands on deck...hurry me hearties fore the ship is wrecked. (covered deck outside)
Clue 9: The treasure's yours with one clue left to go you'll get it from the pirate named Peg-Leg Pablo. (My son Pablo had it in his pocket. He was standing 4 steps from my desk in the kitchen where the pinata was hidden.)
Clue 10: A few more paces til you'll find the gold the number of steps Alex is how old? (Answer = 4) They walked 4 paces and no one thought to look under the towel but when I ripped it away they kids were ecstatic about finding the treasure chest pinata (OTC.)
PINATA: I told the kids it was locked and asked if anyone had the key. No one did which left us with only one option smash it open. We carried it to the garage and broke it open with a wooden sword. While the kids were rooting for the pirate with the sword I had them yelling things like "Gimme the booty!" and "We want the treasure!" etc. They loved it! Each child was given a pirate party themed goodie bag (Dollar Tree) with their name on it and they collected Pirates of the Caribbean fruit snacks gold foil bubble gum coins candy necklaces and ring pops. (I found ring pops at Dollar Tree in packages of 5/$1.) Swing the pinata around so it's a tougher target to hit. It makes the game much more fun. Also make sure you have extra goodies on hand for those children who don't get much loot. I found it's a lot easier to pass out extra candy than it is to try and get kids to share or take fair amounts.
CAKE: After this I asked if all this hard work made anyone hungry and we herded the kids to the cake table for cake and ice cream. Since the party was from 3-5 I didn't want to wait too long for dessert. We sang "Happy Birthday" and enjoyed dessert. I had sodas and juice for the kids but the moms that had stayed all agreed that candy cake and ice cream was plenty of sugar so we served Ocean Spray (water) and none of the kids complained.
CANNONBALL BATTLE: After cake I'd planned to have a cannonball battle which many entries on this site describe. We had laminated the poster of Captain Hook I'd drawn (using clear packing tape) and had water balloons ready to soak him with but because of the rainstorm we brought all the games inside. So instead of water balloons we used nerf balls which I thought would not be as much fun but kids love to throw stuff and hit things so it was still successful. I told the kids "Now that our bellies are full it's time to get to work. Captain Hook and his crew be wanting to crash our party. We've got to blast em with the cannonballs fore they steal our treasure." The kids took turns throwing the nerf balls at the poster of Captain Hook. We kept it moving because it's really hard to wait for 21 kids until it gets to your turn.
WALK THE PLANK: Next we planned to have the kids walk the plank by jumping off our deck (about 16 inches above the ground.) onto our grass where my husband was going to chase them back to the end of the line on the patio with a shark puppet on his hand. If they got a shark bite they were out. But to be suitable for indoors with so many guests we couldn't do much running. So instead we made a lagoon by placing a blue sheet on the floor and adding a large toy crocodile (which one of the moms brought to life and snapped at the kids ankles.) Across the sheet we elevated a wooden plank and the kids had to get across the lagoon to a treasure chest on the other side scoop as much treasure as they could carry and cross back to the other side and dump the treasure in the big treasure chest in front of our fireplace. In explaining the game I told the kids that to be good pirates they needed to practice stealing loot.
DAVY JONES' LOCKER: Unfortunately due to the rain we couldn't play the next game but I think it would have been the crowd favorite... Davy Jones Locker. (A land version of the swimming game Sharks and Minnows.) One person an adult is Davy Jones. He stands in the middle of the grass ocean with all guests on one side of the lawn. When he yells "Abandon Ship!" all pirates have to run to the other side. Anyone tagged by Davy Jones is sent to Davy Jones Locker (the side lines) and is locked up (out). To make the game last longer and more fun for those tagged out every time Davy Jones tags no one (and having an adult play Davy means that this would happen frequently) everyone in Davy Jones Locker is set free and able to continue playing. The kids in lockup cheer for everyone playing.
FISHY FISHY SHARK: Instead we planned to play "Fishy Fishy Shark" (duck duck goose) per my children's request but we started to run out of time so we skipped it and opened presents.
BALLOON SWORDS: Afterward we blew up balloon swords for all the kids and they had a battle in my family room attacking my adult sister who played along with gusto egging the kids on. This was VERY popular with the kiddos and I am really glad I waited until the end to give them swords.
STORY: While guests began to leave the kids danced to pirate music and then we calmed things down a bit as I read them David Shannon's wonderful picture book "How I Became a Pirate." The kids took home their balloon swords skull rings and bandanas and the candy from the pinata. It was a really fun party even with the rain forcing us indoors. Happy party planning me hearties!"
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