Pirate Birthday Party

Pirate Birthday Party

Pirate birthday

I don’t know about you, but Pirates of the Caribbean marked my whole adolescence (starting with the life-size poster behind my door). As a result I called my son Jack. And now he’s 6, my terror of the high seas watches pirate shows and Peter Pan on loop. He wants a pirate theme for his birthday party. Ok, but the Popeye version doesn’t appeal to me, so we’re going to opt for a Pirates of the Carribean version, so I can excuse having a life size Will Turner on display.


1 MONTH BEFORE: I need to get myself in the mood. Only one solution: I take a trip to Disneyland. I go on the Pirates of the Caribbean ride 3 times in a row, but because of the waiting lines, it takes me the whole day. In the evening I watch the trilogy. How is there 5 of them now? So we’re going to have a “Pirates of the Caribbean” marathon! But only when the little one is in bed…. but not on Wednesday evenings because there’s Masterchef…. Nor Tuesday since there’s football…. Ok, can we read summaries on Wikipedia?

In summary, for a Pirates of the Caribbean-themed birthday party, I need:

  • A house decorated as if I was on a boat
  • A treasure hunt (and therefore treasure)
  • A buffet worthy of a band of bloodthirsty pirates
  • A damsel in distress to save (Wendy for Peter, Elizabeth for Will)
  • A man disguised as a monkey who plays the organ ( and organ music)
  • A monkey
  • A crocodile (and not Dundee)
  • Accessories for each person: hateyepatchsword and a hook.
  • A shark-pinata

3 WEEKS BEFORE: I prepare the treasure map invitations: I scrunch them up, burn them (without setting fire to the house, otherwise it would be a Fireman Sam-themed birthday party) and close them with some string. Before closing them I slide a chocolate coin into each invitation. Thats how the curse of the Black Pearl started. We’ll just have to pray that the chocolate doesn’t melt before they’re opened. And if you don’t have the time, nor energy, there are also ready-made invitations!

2 WEEKS BEFORE: I hesitate between ease and creativity. I’m more of a crafty person so I buy a tablecloth and I let out the geographer in me! I draw a giant treasure map, obstacles, traps, a jungle, a compass, I slide in one or two riddles and a hangman game, and I write a few pirate chants like in the film:

A pirates life for me!
Drink up me ‘earties Yo ho!

And if I don’t have time, I print out this table runner which can be made up out of 3 sheets of A3 paper. I sellotape them together and the day is won. Not only will my table look great but I’ll also be able to occupy them a bit… or not.

I prepare the accessories for each guest: a bandana, felt eye patch, a party bag with a few sweets and a telescope. For the sweets: I favour the gummy crocodiles, that will please Captain Hook!

10 DAYS BEFORE: I wanted to get out my chipped tableware in order to stick to the theme as closely as possible, but Keith Richards (Jack’s father, for those who are following) said that it’s a bit dangerous for 6 year old sailors. As a result, I shop for some red and white tableware: plates, cups and straws, cutlery, some decorations (normal balloons and parrot-shaped foil balloons, bunting and tassel garlands, without forgetting the shells), a treasure chest pinata and some DIY materials. I remember to pick up a costume, some make-up and a fake moustache to transform Jack into the real Sparrow. I also buy a few little goodies to put in my pinata and party bags: a bouncy ball, some pins, some stamps and some water pistols!

1 WEEK BEFORE: I still haven’t found an organ player, so I’m going to put the film soundtrack in the background. Tin tin tin tin tin lin lin… (YouTube linkI’ve also scoured all the pet shops and they seem to be sold out of crocodiles, sharks and monkeys. Damn. Instead I’ve taken 2 goldfish (Rackham the red and Barbosa) and a sucker fish as a bonus. I’ve called her Nathalie, dedicated to my Mother-in-Law.

5 DAYS BEFORE: I think about my costume for the big day: Black hareem trousers, a white linen shirt and a black jacket. In order to dress up to the max, I sew a cuddly monkey on the shoulder of my jacket. A bandana, a few plaits in my hair, and one or two old coins in my hair. I spread a black eyeliner crayon over my eyes like a rock star. I’m not sure whether to opt for a gold tooth but I fear it might be a bit more Joey Star than Captain Fracasse. So I roll up my sleeves and stick on some temporary tattoos, swallow compulsory (relating to Sparrow). In my pocket, a sound effect machine to impress the little ones!

3 DAYS BEFORE: I prepare the activities:

  • Create your pirate name
  • A fun treasure hunt, which can be done in the house or outside (printable + tutorial)
  • Treasure hunt to find the pinata (no snack until they’ve found it, and yes it’s a game invented by my poor Lucette).

THE NIGHT BEFORE: I prepare my decorations worthy of a Hollwood studio. You could even believe that you were in the Carribbean! I hang the tropical leaves on the walls, along with a pirate flag, and bunting garlands that hang from the ceiling. I’m almost at the point of asking my wine merchant if he can let me borrow some barrels, but I don’t think they’d fit in the car….. I set my table with my treasure map tablecloth, sand, shells, starfish, my new fish (which are still alive, phew) and all of my tableware. I hide my pinata, which is filled to the brim, and I listen to so much of the film soundtrack that I think it’s going to haunt my dreams tonight. Just you and me Will Turner!

Download the forward planning


7:00 am: THE MORNING : Hoist the sails, Jack is on the bridge! In truth he’s on the sofa with his bowl of coco pops watching pirate TV shows whilst I get on with organising the day with my cup of tea (it’s still a bit early for rum).

9:00 am: I get on with the punch, my mountain of cannon balls in the form of Kit Kat balls and marshmallow sailors. Jack is already in a pirate costume, without passing by the shower, with the unwashed smell he’s much more of an authentic pirate…

11:00 am: I finish my decorations. I set up the creative activities, I arrange the party bags, I inflate my helium balloons (I do it on the day to ensure they last): A palm tree, a parrot, a shark, a crocodile, exotic fruits… My living room looks like Disneyland. Is 10 o’clock too early to crack open the rum?

12:30 pm: We eat at the end of the table (limited in space, as it is already set up to perfection) before starting the festivities. Instead of turtle soup, I’ve made a tuna salad.

14:00 pm: I get out my super costume, I put on my temporary tattoos and I use my eyeliner crayon, at least one whole pencil per eye. It’s fine, my panda look is perfect, I put on the music in the living room. Tin tin tin.

15:00 pm: All the children are here. Upon seeing my trousers and the monkey on my shoulder the parents ask me If I’ve changed the theme to Aladdin. I pretend to not be offended.

15:05 pm: Your little sailors are on the bridge and by looking at them, you feel like you have the soul of a great captain. You feel like leading them on incredible adventures in your boat (living room). So to start with, I introduce myself. They all have sweet, innocent little names that lack a bit of ferociousness for bloodthirsty pirates. I suggest they all choose a real pirate name that will make the oceans tremble.

15:15 pm: Your gang is ready to fight to the finish, so we start with a pirate quiz to make sure that they’re really ready for what’s awaiting them !

15:25 pm: Shall we continue the pirate warm-up with a game of stacking hands? Aye, but who’s wearing their hook?

15:35 pm: Now I feel like you’re ready for a few challenges. It’s now time to create the teams. It’s up to you to create a team name and a war cry. Team Blackbeard “Ahoy”! “All aboard” Team Hook!

15:45 pm: Imagine that you’re pirates with wooden legs. Everyone on one leg, it’s time for a little relay race!

15:55 pm: I think that you’re finally ready for a treasure hunt. Careful, you must find it because otherwise: no snacktime! Mwahahah

16:10 pm: The room has been completely turned upside down but the treasure chest has been found! HOORAY! You’re real pirates, bandits! But wait, this treasure chest is made up of a pinata! No survivors! Find for me what’s in it’s belly! It’s time for a shower of sweets and little presents.

16:20 pm: OK, we have a few more little challenges before being able to eat. Let’s go around the table and resolve some riddles printed on the table runner. Who can play hangman?

16:30 pm: OK little pirates, I think you’ve all earned the right to eat! I get out my super treasure chest cake, the alcohol-free punch and an exotic fruit salad (we’re supposed to be in the Carribean).

16:50 pm: Are you full? It’s therefore time to make waves! We have a game of musical statues.

17:05 pm: You’re amazing! I’m going to test your brains and see if you can guess what marine animal I would like? Let’s play ‘who am I‘!

17:15 pm: We’re going to test the skill and accuracy of our little terrors of the seas! We’re going to play tin can alley with cannon balls. It’s good that your crystal chandelier is tidied away, because it wouldn’t have survived the enslaught of this terrible band.

17:30 pmYeeeha, you’ve knocked over all the cans several times. You’ve earned the right to a game of pass-the-parcel!

17:40 pmIt’s almost the end of the party. So I suggest that we relax a bit with the Brazillian Dance! I hope you’re supple enough after having devoured the snack like little sharks!

17:50 pm: The opening of Jack’s presents.

18:00 pm: All the little pirates go home and we give out the party bags prepared by the sweat of your brow!

At the end of the day, my living room looks like Turtle Island but without the sea, without the sand, without the alcohol and without the smell of sailors from the 17th century. Whatever…


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