Charlie's Pirate Party 4yr - X Marks the Spot
Christine in Tannersville, Pennsylvania
Pirates are the most popular theme for boys, I think, presently, due to the popularity of the Pirates of the Carribean movies that Johnny Depp has done so cleverly. Needless to say, my son Charlie lives and breathes for all things pirate" but I didn't want to get overly involved in any type of theme that conservative parents would deem "violent" or "inappropriate" so I gave some very hard thought to incorporating the pirate theme into a fun childlike adventure suitable for my four year old and his group of friends.
I believe that the best place to start for a good party is an enticing and original invitation. I happened to be in Atlanta Georgia on business and in the Perimeter Mall is a fantastic paper/card store that I can't remember the name of but I purchased some equisite cardstock with a photo of a treasure map and a cartoon cute and friendly looking little boy pirate. They weren't cheap (I think they were $13 for twelve cards) but they were worth it. I printed them out through my laser printer a little original rhyme of mine that said: If you are one of Charlie's mates Come April 14th to celebrate His fourth birthday in pirate fashion Treasures and costumes it will be smashing! Be sure to wear your pirate gear Because we heard Jack Sparrow will be near To take a photo and shout "ahoy" To celebrate the birthday boy At (our address) starting at 1 Come on and join in our pirate fun Please RSVP to Christine by calling (our phone number) And I sent these to his pre-school friends about 3 weeks prior to the party as dates tend to get gobbled up fast when the good weather comes along. I didn't hear back from a large amount of people so about 10 days before the party I sent home a "reminder flyer" with another little original rhyme of mine that said: we haven't heard from you about our pirate celebration we hope that you intend to accept our invitation charlie's looking forward to having all his mates join us april 14th and help him celebrate please rsvp to Christine (our phone number) In the meantime preparations were being made to set a fantastic set for the guests.
I don't know when it happened but somewhere along the line children today get gifts called "goody bags" loaded with little toys and treats as a thank you for attending other children's birthday parties. I reluctantly go along with that new found tradition but I wanted to at the very least incorporate the custom of giving gifts to all the guests into some kind of game. A treasure hunt was the made the most sense but I didn't want to take the chance of sending kids off to find hidden items that one child might be fast and have the hang of it and find all of them while others were lost and missed out on finding any it never fails that there are very different levels of aggressive vs. passive children in any age group but the 4's and 5's are really different! So to make it fair I took a digital photo of each place in my front side and back yard that I intended to place a hidden treasure. I photographed landmarks such as the garage one of my vehicles the swingset the treehouse the front door the back door the screen porch the driveway lightpost the shed the deck the playhouse the gate different statues and birdbaths and a few other things and then took my digital camera card to CVS to their digital print maker (not the picture maker that's too expensive!) Through that machine CVS pretty much prints up your order within the hour and the machine now has a capability for "mini prints" in which you can place 4 prints in size 2 X 3 on one sheet so I got away pretty cheap printing only 5 sheets. I then searched the internet for "treasure map images" and choose one that seemed kid friendly and very plain. I attached a photo from my yard to the center of each printed map with a pirate sticker and gave each child one. Each child had their own "landmark" to spot and once spotted would find his/her treasure chest. The treasure chest was the absolute favorite part for me in preparing for this party. I stockpiled the plastic containers from strawberries that I had purchased over the previous couple of months as well as other similar containers from take out salads etc. I removed all stickers from them washed them and when the time came to make the treasures I went to town. I ordered some adorable pirate rubber duckies mini sized from Oriental trading which were very reasonably priced. I also ordered pirate tattoos and 7" beachballs from Oriental to put in the treasures. I found a box of 30 packages of "Pirate M & M's " at BJ's Wholesale complete with photos of Johhny Depp on the front and included them in the treasures. I put a pirate sticker about the size of a half dollar on the top of each lid in the center that I purchased a large roll of from Oriental trading. I then put my "encrusted jewels" all over the top with a set of 10 different colored glitter glue pens making polka dots in essence with the glitter glue. The result was an amazing and authentic looking treasure chest.
For game number two I purchased a roll of brown wrapping paper meant for postal mailing from the dollar store. My husband scrolled a nice large treasure map on it and each child put an "X" on it where he thought the pretend treasure was hidden. I had chosen a spot that the pretend treasure was hidden and wrote it in an envelope to be opened once each child had a chance to make his mark. I had one of the parents open the envelope and announce whose mark came the closest to the pretend treasure. That child won a prize of a telescope also from the dollar store. Since all the other children had a moment of "let down" I pepped them back up with the announcement that it was cake time. We had a cake of 3 layers high shaped like a ship but the good part was that it was filled with $.49 pirate figurines from Party City which each child got to pluck off the cake as soon as the song was over so every child got a prize.
Our next activity was the hand hooks where we covered the child's wrist with a sleeve of black construction paper and had him/her shape themselves a hook made of tin foil. Then they held the hook in their hand and covered their hand with the sleeve of construction paper and led into the next game of "FIND PETER PAN". One child was given a photo of Peter to hold in his pocket. All the kids went around the yard asking one another "are you Peter?" and once someone found Peter he was given a prize of a pirate ship purchased from Target for $1.00. Each time I gave the new "Peter" the photo all the other kids had to have their eyes closed. We played that for over 30 minutes no one wanted to stop until they were all Peter and until they all had a chance to find Peter!!! I had no idea it would be such a hit! We didn't want to have Charlie open his presents in front of all the kids because it is hard for them to sit and watch and not participate and it's boring for them too so to end we took a photo of each child with Charlie along side a great cardboard cutout (6 feet tall) of Johnny Depp in his pirate gear that we purchased from a local store called Country Junction (I think that there are some music/video stores that sell the cutouts as well) In the photos Charlie was on one side of Jack and the gift giver was on the other and they opened the gift together then I shot the picture that way I had a photo of both children having fun the gift and a ready made thank you note while saving all the kids the grueling "opening of the gifts" palarva. A great side effect of this process was that Charlie was able to accept "help" from his friends in the opening of the gifts without throwing a territorial fit about them belonging to him. He learned that it was ok to share the tearing of the paper and appreciate that each guest had an equal part in not only giving a gift but in opening it. It was a questionable decision I know because it could be perceived to send a message to each guest/child that it was ok to just tear into the birthday child's gift but we did talk about it prior to doing it and prefaced it to the group as "this is something CHARLIE wants to share with you so please do not try to do this at anyone else's party unless they invite you to".
We had a healthy lunch of "hotdogs fries chicken nuggets and sushi" ~ the trick was NONE of it was meat potatoes rice or fish. It was all concoctions made to look like the real thing and I will explain how it's done. CAUTION ~ be sure to know if any guests are allergic to peanuts or peanut butter before serving these foods! To make the fake hotdog take a banana coat it in peanut butter and lay it in a hot dog roll . The fries are fresh cut slices of pineapple cut in long slivers drizzled with cherry strawberry or rasberry jam pie filling or sauce. Chicken nuggets are slices of bananas covered in peanut butter dipped in graham cracker crumbs. Sushi is white bread cut in long slivers with either peanut butter or jelly and various chunks of fruit your choice to make interesting and colorful selections…then simply "roll" it into a sushi shape. I do not believe in feeding kids junk so the real versions of these foods is something I won't do. I wish I could submit photos of the yard and décor because it was decked out with fishnet balloons with pirates on them in 10 different versions and my husband and I were both in pirate costumes. We sent all the kids home with a calming "lets regroup" activity reading a pirate themed book borrowed from the library. They all sat in a circle just like at school and we "brought them back down" in a fun educational way. The memories are just priceless and I hope that in reading all the wonderful ideas on this site you can take and use the information to create your own lasting memories. "
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