My son turned 8 this past fall. His birthday request was for a Pirates of the Caribbean party with his friends. He’s never seen the movies so I’m not sure what brought it on, but okay! For his 5th birthday, we did a pirate party so I used some of those same ideas and just adapted them to fit the new theme and age. Easy!
Invitations: I honestly can’t remember what we did and have no pictures. I think we bought the invites at the party store and asked everyone to come dressed as a pirate (optional, of course).
Costume: My son wanted to look like Jack Sparrow, of course. I couldn’t rationalize spending tons of money on a fancy, pre-made costume so we headed to our local thrift store and put together our own costume. We used this picture as the inspiration:
Printed it off and took it with us. My son doubted some of my choices, like the yellow button-up “church” shirt, but when he saw it all together, he couldn’t have been happier. Oh, the joy in the dressing room, as each piece made it closer and closer to his vision! I have to admit, I was pretty pleased myself. Here’s how ours came out:
Pretty good, huh?! And all thrift-store finds. (click on picture to see the details closer) We spent less than $10.oo on the whole outfit.
I’ll list how we put it together to get your creative juices flowing. As mentioned, we started off with a long-sleeve light yellow button-up shirt. It was a little big so we rolled the sleeves up. So pirate-ish, right?! We left it un-tucked and only buttoned the lower buttons (just to keep it on, mainly). Over that, we placed another button-up. It’s a black shirt with no collar (I actually think it’s a lady’s). There were different alternatives, like just a plain, black button-up that I could have cut off sleeves or the collar or a black vest itself, but this was his pick so we went with it. I think I may have cut off the sleeves on this one; I can’t remember. I think Jack Sparrow’s is a dark blue, but the black was easier to find and worked well. It was okay that it was big, too, because the belts cinched it all in. After that, we went belt hunting. Same as before, didn’t matter if they fit really because we could just tie them on, which fits pirates so well. We got three in varying thicknesses. We even found one with skulls (over his shoulder). Score! We bought an old pair of black sweat pants, and he cut them to look worn and pirate-ish. He didn’t like Jack Sparrow’s. We then headed over to the fabric store, and he picked out some plain brown fabric. I cut it into strips that he could tie around his waist and head. Once again, he didn’t like the “fancy” ones Jack Sparrow had; my boy likes plain. We used two on his waist, and then just the one on his head. He didn’t wear shoes since the party was at our house. He had his own sword and gun, and he raided my jewelry box for big rings. His only complaint was that he didn’t have the dreadlocks. Ah, well! What are ya gonna do?!
Starter Activity: I always, always have a starter activity to keep the kids entertained until everyone arrives. I highly recommend it. We did a Transformation Station, where the boys could dress themselves to look like pirates. It was cute to see them all helping each other and giving advice. I provided strips of cloth for head or waist ties, eye patches (I made them using black craft foam and yarn. I cut them into a eye patch shape and threaded yarn through each one.), black eye liner for adding scars, and some extra thrift store clothing we picked up.
Treasure Map Craft: Every pirate needs their own treasure map, right?! I went to my local copy store and got some brown resume paper. I burned the edges before the party. I provided crayons in sand buckets and let them design their own map. When they were done, they crinkled their map to make it look more authentic. This was quick, but the boys really enjoyed it! They took their maps home.
Pin the “X” on the Treasure Map: This is simply a version of Pin the Tail on the Donkey. I drew a treasure map, they each got an X, and then tried to place it blindfolded in the right spot on the map. I laminated it years ago so it’s totally reusable.
Sink the Enemy/Walk the Plank: For this game, you need a bunch of foam balls and a “plank” (I used a sturdy board elevated on bricks from my garden). I put the plank in the middle of my yard and an even amount of balls on each side. Split the boys into 2 teams, and put one on each “ship” (or side). I blew a whistle, and the boys threw as many cannonballs (foam balls) as they could at the other ship. They can pick up any balls that come their way. I blew the whistle again and all action stopped. The boys then counted the balls on their side and whichever ship had the most cannonballs was sunk and each boy on that team had to walk the plank. Repeat as many times as they want to play. We changed teams part-way through so every boy got a chance to be with the birthday boy. The boys also loved it when I pretended to be a shark trying to eat their feet as they walked the plank.
Throwing cannoballs at the other ship
walking the plank
Davy Jones’ Locker: This is just a version of Sharks and Minnows. One adult is Davy Jones. (Wouldn’t it be cool if he was in costume?!) He stands in the middle of the “ocean” with all pirates on one side of the lawn. 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). Repeat. My husband wanted to do this one, and the boys stayed locked up until he had caught everyone. Then we restarted. This was, by far, the favorite activity of the day!
“Abandoning Ship” (running away from Davy Jones)
Treasure Hunt with Pirate Loot: You can’t have a pirate party without a treasure hunt! I chose to do clues (and made them all rhyme ’cause I’m cheesy like that) that sent them from one clue to another until they finally found the treasure. I wrote them on parchment paper and burned the edges to make them look old. I hid a big box, but it would also be fun to hide the individual small boxes for the kids. I gave each boy a brown paper bag with their name on it to store their loot in. I glued on a picture of a skull and crossbones. When we did the party before, I found these small treasure boxes at my party store that we used for storing loot instead:
reading a clue
We didn’t have time for the two games listed below, but I had them planned, just in case we had extra time. I think they’re fun, too!
Dig for Treasure: Hide gold coins in your sandbox for your little pirates to dig up.
Capture the Pirate Flag: Split into 2 teams and use a pirate flag/bandana for the flags. Play normal Capture the Flag.
Cake and Drink: I’m all for simplicity so I did cupcakes this year. We chose chocolate with chocolate frosting. I baked some “gold” into each one by placing a Reese’s peanut butter cup in the batter before baking. When the boys ate the middle, they found gold! We topped each cupcake with a Jack Sparrow cake topper. (I made these by printing off a picture of Jack Sparrow from the internet onto card stock. After cutting them out, I taped a toothpick to each one.)
I also made a “Bloody Drink:” Fill ice cube trays with red-colored drink (e.g. raspberry lemonade or red kool-aid). Freeze. Pour lemon lime soda into clear glasses, and add the red ice cubes. As the ice cubes dissolve, red swirls drip down, making the drink look bloody! (I couldn’t get a good picture of the swirling red.) The boys loved these!
We finished the day with presents and letting the boys play “pirates” while waiting for their moms to come pick them up.
Take Home Favors: The boys took home their pirate loot from the treasure hunt, any clothes they used from the transformation station, and their personal pirate maps.
Thank yous: I’m a firm believer of thank yous! (Don’t get me started…) I always take a picture of my son with each friend and the gift they brought. I then print off the pictures, we attach them to pirate scrapbooking paper, and he writes a personal note on the back. I love using the pictures because it’s easy for us to remember what was given.
This party lasted 1 1/2 hours, which I have found is perfect for me. I could have made it last two by incorporating the other games.
For more pirate party ideas, go here (this is a link to our previous party, catered to 5-year-olds). Some of the ideas are similar, some are different. And you’ll see the incredible cake I attempted to make!