There are lots of Pirate party ideas for a kid's birthday around nowadays, especially after the success of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies. Kid's definitely love Captain Jack Sparrow. But you don't have to limit your party to characters from the film. So below, I've listed lots of generic pirate party ideas, which you can easily tailor to the movies if you want.
You can also combine a pirate theme with a princess theme to make a 'Princesses and Pirate' birthday party. If you like this idea, check out my seperate page of Princess Party Ideas. But remember, a pirate birthday party isn't just for boys. There are plenty of girls who will love these pirate party ideas too. (Infact there are some great girl pirate supplies available). So don't feel as though you have to include princesses just because it's a mixed party.
Message in a Bottle
One option for a 3D invitation to go with these pirate party ideas is to use these 'Message in a Bottle' invitations (below). For $2 it includes a small plastic bottle (which unscrews at one end to open), a scroll invitation (that you hand write the details on), a pirate eye patch, ring, sticker, name tag and even a small bag of sand!
I don't usually like the 'fill-in' style of invitation where you have to hand write the details on, but for a message in a bottle invitation is entirely appropriate and inkeeping with the concept so you can get away with it. You can, apparently, just add a stamp to the bottle and mail as it is, but I'd recommend sending them out in small padded envelopes to make sure they survive!
Scenting your invitations with a fragrance relevant to your theme is a really nice touch. You can pick up an 'Ocean Breeze' fragrance oil or a 'Salt Air' perfume, both of which would go well with these pirate party ideas. Add a few drops to the bottle invitations above (or spray onto traditional invitations below) so the scene is released when guests open their invitations. See here for more information and where to buy.
Just write the party details by hand onto a decorative shipping tag and tie onto your chosen object. Alternatively, you can have these tags printed quite cheaply ($19.95 / £12 for 100 cards) incorporating your own photograph - perhaps the birthday boy or girl dressed up as a pirate. See printed mini cards for more info.
If you want to make these even more special, lay them on some tissue paper in a small gift box and tie up with ribbon. You can always hand these out on the school run to save posting.
There's a good selection of pre-designed invitations available that compliment these pirate party ideas. These can be personalized online and some even allow you to upload a photo of the birthday boy or girl. See a full range here.
If you're making your own invitations don't forget to write the wording using plenty of pirate speak:
Refer to the host as the Captain (ie Captain Jack invites you to...)
Work in familiar words and phrases such as:
'Ahoy me hearties!'
'X marks the spot'
'Charter a course'
'Shiver me timbers'
'Plunder', 'grub', 'grog', and 'booty'.
And don't forget to tell everyone to come in costume—as either a pirate, mermaidor princess.
Pirate Postage Stamps
A really nice attention to detail is to embellish your invitations with personalized postage stamps. There are lots of different designs to compliment these pirate party ideas such as the ones below.
Note: These stamps are only available in the USA
I always think its important to apply your party theme to every aspect of the event. So, below are some themed drinks in keeping with the pirate party ideas.
The Shark Bite
Ahead of your pirate birthday party, make some ice cubes out of cranberry juice and freeze a gummi shark into each one. Then serve a clear drink at the party such as Sprite, but add a few of the ice cubes to each glass when serving. Add 'Beware of the Shark' stickers to each glass then sit back and wait. As the ice cubes melt the Sprite will start to turn blood red and the gummi sharks will float to the top.
Give the kids a taste of the Caribbean with a Pineapple, Coconut, and Banana Smoothie (below left, by Baking Bites). This delicious recipe is a great fit for pirate party ideas and it could probably be turned into a cocktail for the adults by adding a splash of rum!
Make a batch and serve it in this skull shaped pitcher (the creamy off-white color of the smoothie will add the bone color to the skull).
Serve any red coloured juice drinks in a large punch bowl then balance a toy parrot on the rim of the bowl (or pick up a cheap talking parrot toy to really bring the punch to life).
Use pirate themed mini cookie cutters to cut out slices of lemon to float on top. Alternatively, use them on pineapple, then cut a small slit up the side so they sit on the rim of the glass as a garnish.
There are also various party cups and goblets available that fit in nicely with these pirate party ideas. So if you don't want to go to the effort of theming the drinks - just serve juice or soda in these.
Get creative with pirate birthday party food too. Below are some of my favourite recipes to go with these pirate party ideas:
Use pirate themed cookie cutters to shape tuna mayo sandwiches into different shapes and label them as Shark Meat Sandwiches. Likewise, use the cookie cutters on pizzas, cheese and fruit slices.
Another easy way to make toasted sandwiches tie in with these pirate party ideas is to use this Jolly Roger toast stamp.
Try this cute pirate themed lunch (by Jill at Kitchen Fun With My 3 Sons) which crams in lots of fruit.
Turn hot dogs into Octopus (below left) with these easy steps or you can make cheese versions using string cheese such as Frigo Cheese Heads (Cheesestrings for UK visitors) and a boiled egg for the head.
Or, for something sweet try this great recipe for Mermaid Tail Cookies (below right) from Disney Family.
Turn cocktail sausages into sail boats by attaching small paper sails (or use Jolly Roger cupcake picks to tie in with the pirate party ideas) to a cocktail stick (below left). Alternatively, try this recipe for potato boats (below center) or for a sweet version, these Jelly Boats from (below right, from Tesco).
Another cute boat themed dish is to carve these sailboats (right, from Disney Family Fun) out of red peppers and use them to serve tuna or egg salad in. Don't forget to add a small pirate flag food pick to the top to tie it in with these pirate party ideas.
Cut Jamaican Ginger Loaf Cake into slices thick enough to stand up on edge then trim the ends off each slice in a diagonal line from base to top corner to resemble the shape of a boat. Fasten a paper sail with a cocktail stick and you have simple pirate ship cakes that also have the flavour of the Caribbean. If you present these on individual plates you could stick them in place with some blue frosting to represent waves lapping up the side.
I love these cute little Berry Blue Sailboat Cups (below left) from Kraft Recipes (just replace the white triangular paper sails called for in the recipe with Jolly Roger flags to make into pirate ships). They're even better when combined with this idea that one of Rachel Ray's viewers sent in: Just use a shark-shaped cookie cutter on strips of melon or watermelon and set these in the Jell-O—or just use gummi sharks.
Fish Sticks (Fish Fingers for UK visitors) make great 'Dead Men's Fingers'to go with these pirate party ideas. Just add a thin piece of onion to one end to look like a fingernail. Alternatively, see this sweet recipe (below left) from Clare Crespo on Epicurious, taken from her amazing book The Secret Life of Food — a must for kid's party food ideas. Serve them with this recipe for Pirate Eyeballs (below right) from Disney Family.
For a healthy option, use these pirate sword food picks to skewer individual bite sized portions of fruit such as stawberries or cubes of watermelon. Or make fruit kebabs.
Here's a simple recipe from Betty Crocker for Pirate's Hidden Treasure Cupcakes (below left) or check out these really cute banana cupcakes (below right) made by Toni Busch for her four year old's pirate birthday party. She used caramel buttercream frosting sprinkled with crushed Graham Crackers to look like sand, Hershey's Nuggets for the treasure chests, chocolate coins, palm tree cocktail picks and pirates figures as toppers.
Alternatively, for quick and easy cupcake decorating there are loads of different toppers available such as these pirate flag picks (below left), pirate cupcake rings (below center) or these pirate finger puppets (below right) that would make great toppers. See here for these supplies.
Alternatively, for a quick and easy option there are several pirate themed edible cake images which you can just roll out onto your cake, including this Pirates of the Caribbean one (below right) which can be personalized with your child's name. See here for these supplies.
Below are some tips for how to style and decorate your party food in keeping with these pirate party ideas:
Buffet / Dessert Table
To creat a dessert / buffet table with a Pirate Cove theme, like the one below, follow these steps:
Start by creating a backdrop by hanging swags of sandy colored fabric mixed with burlap (for texture), fish netting and some sheer brown (for contrast) chiffon / voile with holes torn in for an aged effect. See the photo below for inspiration.
The great thing about creating a backdrop out of swags of fabric for these pirate party ideas is that you can just buy bits of fabric by the yard - depending on your budget and how big and area you need to decorate. So you might get a few yards of muslin, one yard of burlap, one yard of chiffon etc and just hang them overlapping each other. As it's a pirate theme you want it to look a little haphazard and rough around the edges. So don't worry if you're not a home decorating expert that's used to working with fabric - just hang loosely with plenty of sagging and pin in place.
This site has lots of great fabrics by the yard, so here's what I would suggest using. Create the main background layer using a sandy colored aged muslin. Look for the widest possible fabric to get more for your money. The site above has a great 'Cream Aged Muslin' (below left) which is over 8ft wide. Then hang a few swags of 'Natural Burlap' (below center) over the top, followed by a swag or two or a darker sheer brown fabric such as Chiffon (below right) or Voile. Roughly tear some holes into the sheer fabric to give it an aged look.
Alternatively, instead of the brown chiffon you can buy this aged sheer fabric (below left) which is 12ft long and only $7. Unfortunately, it's only available in black, whereas I prefer the brown color against the muslin and burlap - but it really doesn't matter so use this is your prefer. Finish the backdrop by hanging some fishing net over all the swags of fabric to really make it tie in with these pirate party ideas. Both are available here.
There are lots of great props and novelties that tie in nicely with these pirate party ideas which you can then scatter around the dessert table to complete the pirate cove style decorations. Use things like seashells, gold coins, a pirate telescope, a pirate sword, skulls & bones, a parrot (use a talking one - kids will love it) and don't forget a treasure map. See here for these supplies.
This life size standup of Captain Jack Sparrow from Pirates of the Caribbean would make a really big impression stood alongside your dessert table and really help bring the decorations to life. If your budget doesn't stretch that far, these 6ft tall jointed pirate decorations are a really good cheaper alternative. Just hang them down from the ceiling alongside your dessert table, perhaps with some of these 6ft jointed palm tree cutouts. See here for these supplies.
There are lots of different palm tree decorations available, depending on your budget, from the jointed palm tree decorations above, to smaller tabletop ones (below left and far left) and tissue ones (below center) to full-on free-standing ones (below right and far right). Whichever your budget allows for, a couple of palm trees either side of your dessert table will frame the scene perfectly. Just don't use inflatable palm trees - they always look cheap and tacky. See here for these supplies.
Finally, hang one of these pirate banners above your dessert table to complete the scene. There are lots of differents designs available that compliment these pirate party ideas, each of which can be personalzed to include your child's name and/or photo.
Alternative Dessert Table
Another option for a dessert table in keeping with these pirate party ideas is to use scene setters to create the backdrop.
The great thing about these scene setters is that you buy the beach scene background first, then you can add as many or as few of the 'add ons' as your budget permits. Plus the background image is 30ft long so you can easily decorate several walls with it and create a scene that transforms an entire room. See here for these supplies.
Don't forget to think about how you're going to decorate and style the food / dessert table in keeping with these pirate party ideas.
The video below will show you how to carve vegetable palm trees out of carrots and green peppers - perfect to decorate trays of food on a buffet table.
If you're feeling adventurous you could carve a shark head out of watermelon like the one below (full instructions at National Watermelon Promotion Board), which would make an amazing centerpiece for a buffet table.
If you're serving cupcakes, this cake stand is a nice fit with these pirate party ideas, or use it to serve small sandwiches on.
Below are some tips and suggestions for how to dress the dining table in keeping with these pirate party ideas:
There's lots of great pirate themed tableware packs available which include paper plates, cups, napkins and tablecloths. These are by far the easiest way to theme the table. Below I've chosen the ones that I think look best. See here for suppliers.
If your party is for younger children, you might prefer the range of tableware below left and below center. Or there's a cute pink range especially for girl pirates. See here for both.
If you prefer your pirate party ideas to look a little less commerical, you could adapt some of the dessert table decoration ideas for the main table by using brown and sand colored tableware, draping a fishing net over the table and scattering seashells and other pirate props around.
Alternatively, red, white and black is a good palate to use—with a touch of gold as an accent colour if you like. For example, you might use a solid red or red and white striped table cloth, which you can break up with this pirate themed table runner. Then use these simple pirate flag plates to add the Jolly Roger motiif. See here for these supplies.
If you want to give your party a really professional look, use disposable chair covers to give all the chairs a uniform look. Often, if you're using mis-matched chairs or their color doesn't fit with the theme of your party it can really detract from the overall aesthetic. The reason the table styling always looks better at professional events or weddings is because the chair covers match the tablecloth. If your budget allows, use these stretch fabric chair covers which are approx $7 each in black or white. Then tie a red sash to the back of each chair and hang a pirate or skull and crossbone mask above it.
This pirate ship centerpiece is really cute, or for a budget option use the one below center. Alternatively, this pirate play ship set could also be used as a centerpiece and is priced somewhere between the other two options. See here for suppliers.
Alternatively, use the treasure chest option mentioned in the Dessert Table section of these pirate party ideas (above).
These treasure map activity placemats are a great way to add another touch of theming to the table, or you could opt for these personalized placemats. See here for both.
There are so many good decorations available to go with these pirate party ideas. Below are my favorites.
I couldn't feature all the decorations available, so to see a full range of supplies relevant to these pirate party ideas use the quick links below. These suppliers have the best range and between them they have something for all budgets.
Another option is to print a life-size cut out (below left) of your child dressed in a pirate costume to position at the end of your drive or at your front door. These are pretty cheap at around $20. Plus you can add a motion-activated voice recorder (USA only) for around $10 extra which enables your child to pre-record a short welcome message which starts to play as people walk past the cut out. Alternatively, you could use the inflatable pirate and combine this with the voice recorder.
This 'Beware of Pirates' party tape, pirate flag bunting and pirate pennant banner is handy for decorating larger areas in keeping with these pirate party ideas. See here for suppliers.
These smaller pirate cut outs are also great to use as general decorations. I'd recommend using them to make your own danglers by sticking them in groups of three evenly spaced out on strips of string or ribbon then haning from the ceiling.
Another good way to decorate entire walls is to use these personalized pirate themed decals. Just peel and stick then drape a couple of fishing nets either side and you've instantly dressed an entire wall. The great thing about these decals is that they are reusable so after the party you can use them to decorate your child's bedroom.
There are lots of great balloons that fit nicely with these pirate party ideas, from basic latex balloons to skull and crossbone and pirate ship shaped foil balloons. See here for suppliers.
Don't forget to use some skulls or full-sized skeletons too—these work best when they're dressed in pirates costumes—such as an eye patch, hat / bandana. See the photos below from Pirates of the Caribbean for inspiration.
Decide in advance whether you want everyone to dress up for your pirate birthday party. There are lots of great costumes available to fit your pirate party ideas. (You can give the girls the option to come as mermaids or princesses if they don't want to be female pirates). And don't forget make up and accessories too, such as scars, stubble, beards / moustaches, eye patches, swords and hook hands. See here for the best pirate costumes.
Bear in mind that if you've asked everyone to come in costume on the invitation there might be one or two that don't, so keep some spare eye patches and bandanas around so that they don't feel left out.
You might even want to set up a mini accessories desk so they can collect an inflatable toy sword, hook hand, beard, or eye patch on the way in so that everyone is in the same boat. See here for pirate accessories.
There are also some pretty cute pet costumes that fit well with these pirate party ideas, so you can always have a four legged pirate running around the party.
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Matt James is a professional event planner and owner of event agency Left Field Productions, which has produced events for Elton John, Sarah Jessica Parker, Kevin Spacey, Stella McCartney, David LaChapelle, John Waters, and Elvis Costello & Diana Krall. Since 2004, Left Field Productions has won 30 industry awards for excellence including Production Company of the Year.