For Marcus's third birthday we had a pirate party. Here is how we pulled it all together.
This was the pirate cake I made for the party. The "ocean" was blue and white frosting that was piped out to look like ocean waves. The "sand" was a mixture of one part graham cracker crumbs and one part brown sugar. I used yellow M&M's for the golden coins in the treasure chest. The dueling pirate ships and the pirates battling for the treasure were all plastic toys that we had around the house.
When serving the cake, instead of people asking for "chocolate" or "white" cake, they would specify "Ocean" or "Sand". The "sand" was a big hit among the kids. Every child there asked for a piece of sand cake. They all said that the sand and graham cracker combination was pretty good. However the best complement I received came from one little boy. After tasting his piece he exclaimed, "WOW! It really tastes like real sand!!" That comment cracked me up.
For other pirate cake ideas, I highly recommend checking out this page. There are many photos of gorgeous pirate cakes to gain inspiration from. The website also contains a lot of detailed instructions on how to make a pirate cake for your party.
Marcus and Sophia sported their matching pirate outfits that I sewed for them.
We served watermelon boats with pirate flags in them. We also served goldfish crackers in pirate cup cake liners. We also put out a bowel of malted milk balls which I labeled "cannon balls."
If you are serving a main course, I have seen very cute ideas for making hotdog octopuses that would be great for a pirate themed party. You can find instructions on how to make them here.
I put out some scrap pirate themed fabric on the cake table. I also laid out some chocolate coins covered in gold foil and some beaded necklaces. (Pirate treasure.) I blew up quite a few red, black and gold balloons that we tied around for decoration. Then, we had a lot of blue balloons on our floor for the kids to play with. (Meant to look like an ocean.)
As far as decorations went, I lucked out with my timing. Michael's happened to be clearing out their pirate party decorations so they were marked down considerably. I purchased some pirate gift bags that were meant for wrapping up presents for just 10 cents each. And the pirate plates, napkins, and cups costs me pennies also. It is funny, but both times I have thrown Marcus a birthday party, I have found all of the supplies I needed on clearance.
Upon arriving each guest was given their pirate kit. It contained a pirate hat, an eye patch, a hook hand, and a foam sword. The foam swords were HUGE hits. The kids spent a good amount of time just running around and whacking balloons on the floor with the swords, talking in pirate voices, and just being crazy. :)
After awhile the kids headed out to the backyard where we had a pirate treasure hunt. I needed the treasure hunt to be simple enough for even very young children to follow. So I hid some golden covered chocolate coins and some large ring-pops out in the backyard before the children arrived. I then gave each child a pirate gift bag and let them search for treasure. (Similar to how an Easter egg hunt works.)
After the treasure hunt, the pirates had to fish for their dinner. I made some fishing poles out of dowl rods and yarn. At the end of the fishing line was a clothes pin. The kids then threw the lines into sea (a blue curtain or sheet). Behind the curtain was Uncle Chris who helped put various candy and prizes on the lines as they were thrown in. Sometimes he would attach something funny to the line (like an old boot) and the kids would throw it back into the ocean and try again. We learned a hard lesson during this game however. The volunteer should definitely wear some type of head and face protection! Poor Uncle Chris kept getting pelted in the head by clothes pins! :( (Sorry Chris!)
Other than that, the games were a big hit with all of the kids. None of them required taking turns, waiting, or standing in line. Also, they had simple rules to follow and everyone left a winner.
We played a mix of music from the albums The Paddy West School of Seamanship by the Sea Dogs and Pirates of the Caribbean: Swashbuckling Sea Songs.
Warning: Some of the sea dog's songs need to be edited for content for little ears before you play them at the party. Let's just say they are very pirate like in nature. I posted an iMix of the songs I used on iTunes and will update this post with a link as soon as I have it.