Idea No.


Pirates & Mermaids (5-7yr) Caribbean Island



September 2006


Heather in Herriman, Utah, USA

Runner Up

Pirate Girl Party

Since my 7-year-old son and 5-year-old daughter have birthdays one month apart I decided to  combine their parties together this year (they play with all the same kids anyway!).  We started  thinking of ideas at the beginning of the summer and decided to do "Pirates and Mermaids" theme  since that would work for both boys and girls. 

For the invitations I had my kids draw pictures of pirates, treasure islands, mermaids, etc.  We  photocopied them and then glued them onto brown lunch bags that I had cut so they would lay out  flat.  Then we rubbed black crayon along the edges of the paper bag to give it an antiqued look.   Beneath the kids' drawing I wrote:  "AVAST ME HEARTIES!  Thar be mermaids and treasure in these waters!  Come aboard ye old pirate ship with yer swimmin' booty as we sing 'YO HO!' to a couple o'  birthday buccaneers!  Set sail from Port (last name) on Friday, Sept. 22nd from 2-4 pm...or walk the  plank!  ARRRGH!!"  Then I drew some little skulls with crossbones at the very bottom.  We rolled  them up and tied them with red raffia and they looked like old treasure maps!  I wrote each child's  name on the outside of the scroll with another little skull and crossbones.  They looked great and  all the kids we delivered them to were so excited to open their "treasure map." 

I collected some pirate/mermaid music and combined it all to make a soundtrack to play over and  over during the party.  The music included songs from "Muppet Treasure Island," "A Pirate's Life"  from Walt Disney's "Peter Pan," the "Pirates" song from the film "Finding Neverland," songs from  Disney's "The Little Mermaid,"  theme songs from "Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black  Pearl," songs from "The Seal Maiden" by Karan Casey, the "Yo Ho" song from the Pirates ride at  Disneyland (Classic Disney Vol. 5), "A Whatle of a Tale" by Kirk Douglas (also Classic Disney cd), and  a few Irish sea shanties for good measure!  My kids and I listened (and still do) to this soundtrack  over and over weeks before the party because it's just a lot of fun. 

The parents who came asked me  about the music too.  Later I thought it would have been fun to make a pirate CD for each child, but  I had already put together goody bags instead.  I had planned on having the party in my back yard with kiddie pools, slip and slides, water balloons,  and a Bounce-Round.  But the weather was against me as we woke up to SNOW blowing past our  windows the morning of the party!  (And two days after the party was over it was 75 degrees  outside...that's September in Utah!)  So I had to quickly think of extra games we could play inside  since we would no longer be having an outdoor swim party.  I was a bit worried at this point  because we had invited 29 kids and I don't have a big house!  It was quite crowded and chaotic at  times, but the kids all had a blast and didn't want to go home when it was over.  I had planned  some games for outside, but I just had to throw a couple together last minute to fill the time. 

I wasn't sure how the decorations would work indoors, but our family room looked like it had been  transformed into a Caribbean island!  I borrowed some things from my mom since she had a luau  party a few years back, included a tall inflatable palm tree.  She also happens to have some large  "treasure chests" which she uses as storage/decor at her house.  They were perfect for the party!  I  threw a fishing net that I found at the party store across the back of the sofa and put some stuffed  sea animals on it (starfish, seahorse), and we pinned pirate flags to each of the three window  curtains in the room.  I decorated our media console with my son's seashell collection, my dad's  wooden pirate ship he got when he was a kid, a wooden lighthouse, and some small hand-carved  fishermen my mom bought in Norway.  I also set out a nice illustrated copy of "Treasure Island" and  a big collage my kids and I did during the summer of beach things. 

Along the railing I taped a "Caribbean blue" tablecloth that I was originally going to use for a table  outside.  My kids and I had made some fish, crabs, sharks, jellyfish, etc. out of construction paper  for decorating that table, so we just taped them onto the table cloth on the railing and we had an  instant area to play "fishing pond and it added a lot to the feel of the room.    I decorated the sofa console with a plastic Captain Hook tablecloth I found at the party store  (which was perfect since it looked like a big map of Neverland with pirate ships, treasure, and even  the Mermaid LagoonI was very excited to find this!). 

On top of the table I placed a fresh  pineapple, mangos, and bananas, some small toy treasure chests, a book called Pirate Girl, my  daughter's bath toy mermaid, and a framed photo of Captain Jack Sparrow which I just happened to  take in the Pirates of the Caribbean ride at Disneyland this summer.  The kitchen table was covered with brown butcher paper, the coloring pages and cups of crayons,  more tropical fruit and a small treasure chest.  I also scattered pirate gold all over the tables.  

Above the table I hung a small ocean themed mobile that my son and I made when he was really  little, just out of a wire hanger and felt, etc.  I was surprised how many little things we just had  around the house that came in handy for decorating the party!  The wall in the kitchen was covered with a large white sheet of butcher paper on which I painted a  big blue ocean, an orange sun, and a tropical island with a big red X on it.  We used this for Pin  the Pirate Ship or Mermaid on the Ocean, so it worked double duty as a decoration!  I also hung a  Pirates of the Caribbean birthday banner from the ceiling. 

To start the party, my husband and I tied pirate bandanas on the boys heads as they came in the  door and gave them each an eye patch.  The girls each were given a luau-style flower barrette and a  lei.  They were so excited to be dressed up as "pirates" and "mermaids!"  I printed some "Little  Mermaid" and treasure map coloring pages off the internet for the kids to color as we waited for all  the party guests to arrive.  My 25-year-old brother happens to be hilarious and a great actor, so I asked him to come be a  pirate at the party just to help entertain the kids and make it more memorable.  He wore a pirate bandana, gold hoop clip-on earring, an old leather vest, rolled up jeans, bare feet, and drew a Jack  Sparrowesque beard on himself with my black eyeliner!  He popped into the room after I had the  kids sit in two big (crowded!) circles. 

I cranked up the pirate tunes on the stereo and he shouted in  his best pirate voice, Who's ready for a round o Hot Potatuh?!! The kids were surprised at seeing  him and jumped, then burst out laughing!  We played hot potato with the stuffed toy starfish and seahorse as my brother did his best Irish jigs to the Yo Ho song and Under the Sea!  As each  child became out they were sent into the kitchen to get a pirate tattoo!  Luckily I have a lot of  family who were willing to help me out my sister, sister-in-law and my husband were all in the  kitchen prepared to paint mermaids, starfish, skulls/crossbones, sharks, etc. onto the kids arms,  cheeks or hands.  They looked great!  My husband is an excellent artist so he took about 10  minutes per kid, but their tattoos looked unbelievable! 

The parents were amazed that they were  hand-painted and not the purchased rub-on tattoos!  My sister and sister-in-law painted some  pretty cute little mermaids and goldfish, and I did some palm trees.  All the kids loved it and were  excited to show their parents at the end of the party. 

Next we split into two teams (boys/girls).  One team played games in the family room/kitchen area--Pin the Ship or Mermaid on the Ocean  (I just printed little mermaids and pirate ships off  the internet for this and copied and cut them out) and did the fishing pond over the railing by the  stairs.  They fished for small bags of Swedish fish.  I had three sisters-in-law helping me run these  games. 

The other team was downstairs playing a game-- Walk the Plank (I laid two long planks of  wood on the floor with one my mom's treasure chests at the other end.  I put some balled up  aluminum foil inside to be the treasure and the kids had to do a relay race, carrying their silver  treasure back and forth across the plank with a spoon), and potato sack races. 

For the potato  sack races I took four white pillowcases.  On two of them I painted a sparkly aqua green and blue  mermaid tail with puff paint, and on the other two I painted pirate legs with stripey pants, a black  boot and a peg leg!  It was really funny.  My mom and brother helped supervise (and videotape) and  gave out a small prize to each child at the end of the games (gold coins, pirate finger puppets I had  leftover from the goody bags, etc).  Then we rotated the teams.   

Next we had all 26 party animals come squish onto the kitchen floor for Treasure Island cupcakes  and Ocean Coolers.  I had baked cupcakes using gold metallic cupcake liners then frosted them  white.  I sprinkled yellow sugar on top to create an island and used blue decorating gel to make  ocean waves around the edges of the GÇ£islands.  Then my kids helped me stick in a palm tree  toothpick into each one, and the finishing touch was a red X on top with

red decorating gel.  We  put them on baking sheets lined with aqua blue construction paper and put a few gummy sharks  around them so they really looked like tiny treasure islands!  It was a lot of fun.  For the Ocean  Coolers I just made blue Kool-Aid then added ice cubes in which I had frozen Swedish fish.  The  kids absolutely loved it.  My 20 month old was covered head to foot in frosting and my kitchen floor  was blue and sticky, but the kids had a blast and asked Can we have second helpings?

The gift opening was next and it was absolutely insane with that many kids!  My dad was at the  party too wearing a black t-shirt with a skull and crossbones on it and was just teasing the kids and  making jokes while my kids opened gifts.  It was really nice to have so much help since we had so  many kids there!  If the weather had cooperated, it would've been easier to have everyone outside,  obviously, but overall it turned out to be a great party, even though we had to bring the Caribbean  indoors! 

As the party winded down, the sky cleared up a bit so we had the kids run around out in the back  yard until their parents came to pick them up.  I had goody bags in one of the big treasure chests,  and each child was able to get their buried treasure before they left.  In each cellophane bag I put  a package of Pirates of the Caribbean fruit snacks, a small hard candy in a luau-style wrapper,  some plastic and bubble gum gold coins, and a pirate finger puppet (from Oriental Trading  Company). 

They also took home their bandanas, eye patches, leis and flower barrettes.  I bought  all of the supplies at either the party store or from Oriental Trading, and I didn't spend a whole lot  of money, even for so many kids!  Plus it was a 2-in-1 party since it was for both my son and  daughter so I think I actually saved money by combing the two. And the tropical fruit we used for  decorating became a fruit salad for dinner that night!  I saved everything else from the party and  plan to use it again in the future!  I think I could spin it out into a Peter Pan/Neverland party all I'd  have to do is incorporate a tee-pee and some pixie dust! 

When I asked my kids, "What was your favorite part of the party?" they both answered, "ALL OF IT!"

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