Welcome aboard, me hearties! Party planning doesn’t have to feel like navigating a ship through a storm. X marks the spot for fun at this fête, so cut out an X shape from red foam board and hang it outside your house so landlubbers can find their way.
As guests climb aboard, set the mood with a photo station. A large piece of cardboard easily becomes a sea-worthy ship with just a bit of paint and a bristol board pirate flag. Cut tissue paper into fringed strips and tape to the wall for a sea-and-sky backdrop; then offer costume pieces like felt eye patches and bandanas, and snap photos of the mini swashbucklers. Now that they’ve found their sea legs, it’s time to set sail on the hunt for buried treasure, of course! Fill a large plastic tub with some sand (make sure to put down a tarp to catch any spills) and toss in “jewels” — mini toys and gold-wrapped chocolate coins — then hand over some shovels for an epic dig.
Once hunger makes the crew rowdy, gather the hooligans in the galley to feast upon Skewered Fare (fruit kabobs on mini plastic swords), Catch of The Day (fish sticks), and Blue Ocean Punch (mix sparkling water, juice crystals and mini icebergs — ice cubes).
Buy wooden boxes, paint and stick-on jewels from the dollar store for kids to decorate their own treasure chests. Let dry, then fill with gold (caramel popcorn) for a tasty take-home treat.
Swabbing the deck
Each guest takes a turn “swabbing the deck” by sweeping an inflatable ball around an obstacle course with a broom. Break into two teams for a race, or have time trials for older kids.
Attach some Captain Hook-style plastic hooks (from a costume shop) to a board for a ring-toss game. Spray-paint plastic rings silver, and start throwing!
Download the invitation template and decorations here (including eye patch and a hook hand props, so you can host your own Pirate Photo Booth).
Read more: How to make a pirate ship centrepiece>
A version of this article appeared in our January 2014 issue with the headline “Pirate party,” p. 16.