Ahoy Me Hearties! When it comes to putting on a party, there is no better way to plan it than with all hands on deck…family style…and with a theme like pirates, well…that’s the life for me.
What Do I Mean By Family Style?
I am a visual learner and I can do almost anything if I can see it. I am not one to usually create ideas out of thin air; I need help with that. That’s why God put us in families. For those of you who don’t happen to have 6 children on deck, friends can be the family you choose. Putting a party like this together is a group effort, and I just happen to be surrounded by some amazing people. I love to provide opportunities to pull that creativity out when it comes to having a party.
Being a detailed person, I like to start with an idea and let it evolve by rallying my crew and brainstorming together. Most things, at any party we put on, are a result of scanning Pinterest boards, searching Youtube videos, or asking around. I take a little of this and a little of that to form the vision for the project, pull together all the talents and gifts around me, and then set the crew to work in areas that they choose.
Big Parties…Momentous Occasions
Let me start by prefacing the fact that we don’t have huge parties like this every year. What are you nuts? With 6 kids, I’d be a full time party planner. We still celebrate birthdays every year with family and maybe a few close friends, but on a much smaller scale. Normally, kids enjoy breakfast in bed if they want, they get to choose their birthday dinner and dessert, and whether or not they want a present or an experience for their birthday. Big themed birthdays happen on momentous birthdays like the 5th. I don’t know where this decision came from, it is just what we decided. You can do a big themed party at any age and every year if you want, I just wanted to make it clear that my life is not all about planning parties year round. Big celebrations are special, but everything is worthy of celebration.
Delegate and Unleash the Creativity
Mom, you are amazing. Everyone knows it. But, the best thing we can do for those around us is to impart all our brilliance by involving the whole family in the process. Learn to delegate and make this a family affair. Gone are the days of just mom doing all of the work, arriving exhausted at the party, serving single-handedly, and leading up the cleanup crew of me, myself, and I. No way! This is just as much a party for you as it is everyone else.
The party starts in the months previous when all the gathering, planning, and preparing are going on. As a result, the culmination is just the final act, the celebration of all the fun you have had preparing. Furthermore, this is about tapping into what is inside and modeling the joys of serving and loving on purpose. This is not just a party. It is a celebration and I love to watch the other children working hard on making their sibling’s birthday so special.
What are we celebrating? The goodness of God! If you are having a party for a King, how would you celebrate? Each little life God has placed in your care is a reflection of the King and a reason to celebrate. It doesn’t have to cost a pretty penny, in fact, finding out cost effective ways to have a party is part of the fun. It is all about unleashing what is inside collectively as a family and really letting the creativity flow. Life is worth celebrating…every detail.
Pirate Party Food
Take it Up a Notch
Food is a HUGE part of any party and also a perfect place to take it up a notch. You could just put normal party food out and call it lunch, or you could set the stage and make it part of the presentation. Why not give each dish a fun name? Why put out a boring chicken leg when you can put out a Pirate Peg Leg? Or olives when you can put out Canon Balls? Label everything in a fun pirate font.
We all know those amazing people who can do almost anything than even they believe they can. Take for instance the watermelon pirate ship. I asked my friend Kelli if she could make a pirate ship out of a watermelon for me for the fruit salad. I don’t believe she had ever made one before. However, I knew that everything she did was amazing and was confident she could pull it off. I couldn’t show you the exact ship used as the inspiration, but she did something like this. Totally brill!
The punch was Get Naked’s Green Machine juice purchased in bulk at Costco, but you could do any recipe or color. Keep it 100% juice. We don’t need to load our kids down with artificial colors or sweeteners when there are so many beautiful colors available in nature. This party punch looks yummy.
Food can also be the biggest cost. To cut expenses, you could ask people to bring specific things. Make a list of foods that don’t require a lot of skill like hummus or chips and crackers and ask people if they could contribute. People usually ask to bring something. Have a bowl ready with a fancy label and voila…pirate’s booty.
The cake I actually had the local grocery store bake. I asked them to frost a 1/2 sheet cake in blue water with an island and I purchased a cake set on Amazon to decorate it myself. I also baked and frosted my own chocolate cupcakes and topped with little paper pirates. I love my chocolate cake recipe and cupcakes are easy.
Creating the Atmosphere
How We Set the Stage
- Music-Creating the perfect pirate playlist is essential. Make sure you have enough songs to cover at least 3 hours or have it on repeat. Our pirate playlist included songs from Pirates of the Caribbean and Children’s Party Themes: Pirates. There are also some great playlists on Amazon Music, Spotify, and Pandora.
- Materials– Shop around for materials. I love save-on-crafts.com for things like candles, burlap, lighting, or unique decor items.
- Food- Why put out just a tray of chicken legs when you can put out a tray of Pirate Peg Legs? Or olives when you can put out Canon Balls? The fun is in the details.
- Collect Cardboard Boxes– Months before the big event, start gathering cardboard by asking around at appliance stores for their refrigerator boxes they are not using. These can be used to create all sorts of things from a Photo Booth backdrops to pirate figurines or game boards such as Pin Me Eyepatch On. It’s amazing what free cardboard and a little paint can do. Kids have plenty of opportunities to let their creativity shine.
- Delegate Delegate Delegate– A party is not the time to show off how amazing you are as a one woman show. This is the time to find and use all the gifts around you so each person can shine and contribute. Do you know someone who can faceprint, engage children in games, grill, make food, decorate cakes, tell stories, paint cardboard cutouts, sew, decorate, take videos or pictures, wait on tables, clean and stock up on supplies, work with wood, create or address the invitations, fill balloons, cut out detail work, or drive and do errands? The more hands on deck, the more you will enjoy the party. Also, this is a family affair, so get everyone on board months in advance. Get your projects listed and have them pick which project they want to be a part of. It is so much more fun when everyone in the family takes ownership of the party. Plus, it makes the birthday boy/girl feel really loved when everyone is working hard on celebrating their special day.
- Special Effects– Dry Ice is great to have around at the entrance of your party to set the mood. Just be careful to keep hands off the dry ice because it burns.
- The Pennant Banner and Table Runners– The cloth banner, made from strips of cloth, as well as the table runners, are really the only things that need instruction to reproduce. I just picked out 5 different materials, cut them in 3″ strips, rotated each color, and tied them onto a rope. The runners on the table are just leftover strips, sew together in a 12″ by 24″ sheets by my very talented quilting friend Nancy Hodge.
- The Pirate Sign– The pirate sign is my favorite part of the decorations. To this day, we still have it displayed in our garden. I got the idea from our trips to Maine. All the little seaside villages have these signs with directions and miles displayed on a long pole. Each wooden rung is painted in a different color pointing in the appropriate direction. We used an old pallet and just cut off the edges to make a point. We chose a bunch of names from pirate places and colored them in bold fun colors. I love how it turned out.
- Walk the Plank– to leave the party, everyone had to walk the plank. It was just a fun way to say goodbye.
Pirate Party Games & Activities
Plan Your Time Out
Games and activities are essential with big crowds and it really doesn’t take a whole lot of effort to pull it off. Our party was 4 hours long so we scheduled out the time to make sure we had enough time and activities to keep the party moving.
Sample Schedule (What we did)
- 12 p.m. Guest Arrival – As the guests arrived they were given a name badge and asked to select a pirate name for the day from a list we had displayed. Next, they made their way to the photo booth where they could choose some props to document their day. Guests were asked to come dressed in a pirate costume to add to the collective atmosphere. Finally, they made their way to the tattoo/gift table to become an official pirate.
- 12:30p.m.– Official lunch time. By 12:30 most people had arrived and snacked a bit. The Pirate Peg Legs were making their way off the grill and people were visiting at the tables. Kids had the option to play games like Pin Me Eyepatch On (a pirate themed pin the tail on the donkey game) or Cap’n Hook Toss.
- 1 p.m.– Cannon Ball Water Balloon Toss- We filled small black water balloons with water and had people line up across their partners and take turns tossing the cannon ball back and forth, taking a step back at each toss. Eventually, one team was left with a cannon ball that had not popped.
- 1:30 p.m. –Tug-O-War
- 2 p.m. – cake
- 2:30 p.m.– Scavenger Hunt– This was the highlight of the afternoon. We divided the kids and adults into 2 teams. They each got to name their teams and start building up that team spirit. Before the party we had picked a location to bury a treasure chest with all the party favors. Each team was given a map containing the first clue (a paper grocery bag roughed up to look like leather and then burned on the edges.) The clues led from place to place and eventually to the buried treasure. The team that arrived there first, dug up the treasure (everyone got a party favor though). Each team had a different set of clues…10 total. Each clue had a fun rhyme that they had to figure out where to go. (I was available if anyone was stumped…and they were.) Hint* Remember when hiding clues you need to hide the clue for the next spot not at the spot. For example, if the clue leads you to the shed, then when you are hiding the clue leading you to the shed, it goes in the place before. You have to think one step ahead when hiding the clues. This will make sense when you go to hide the clues. Trust me.
- 3:30 p.m.– Presents and Blessing
- Party over by 4. People walk the plank on their way out. What a fun day!!!