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Monday, January 21, 2008

Pirate Birthday Party

Caleb's 5th birthday party (and very first "friend" party) was a HUGE success! I think everyone had a really good time. I know I did. Caleb was EXTREMELY well behaved and was so excited to have all of his friends come to his house. I thought I'd document everything that we did to prepare here on the blog. I have a feeling this is going to be a very long post.


The first thing I did was upload some free fonts from ScrapVillage. I used the Caribbean's Treasure font and the following text:

Ye be invited for some birthday spirits at Captain Caleb's birthday bash.

He needs some shipmates to swab the deck and hunt for long lost treasure.

Chart yer course for the 21st of January at noon.

Join us for some grub, fun & kiddie treats. Wave yer flag if ye be attendin' if not ye'll have to walk the plank.

Yo ho ho let us know, call deck hand Christy at XXX-XXX.

See ye there if ye dare.

I printed them out two to a sheet of regular computer paper. Then, I used my brayer to ink the paper using Chocolate Chip ink. Then I ripped the sides. If time and money had not been an issue, I would have rolled them up into little bottles with some sand and mailed them or hand delivered them. Instead, I folded them up and used a pirate name generator to label them with their Pirate names (like Almost-Crazy Matthew). I put them in a business size envelope and addressed them using the kids' names. For the first time ever in my party planning career---everyone RSVP'd and everyone could make it!

I made a yellow cake from a box and used the pirate ship directions found at Family Fun. My cake decorating skills are seriously lacking but I must admit, this cake turned out pretty darn good. I hid the major mistakes with the play pirates on the deck. I found the pirate toys at Michaels. They have little tubes of toys--most of them are animals--and one of them was a pirate tube. They were perfect for the cake. I also put some root beer barrels on there. I used Piroulette cookies to frame the top of the ship and also to make the cannons. I just shoved the candles in the cookies and it worked really well. At the base of the cake, I used an old binder cover and covered it in some blue scrapbook paper (it has white swirls on it--like water!). I then covered that with waxed paper. If time weren't an issue, I would have placed that on a big platter with some crushed up graham crackers on one side for the beach. I also had some extra beads and coins to lay around it but I just didn't have the time or energy to do that when it came down to it. The kids didn't care anyway. They thought the cake was pretty awesome, actually. For the masts I used chopsticks (from HuHot Mongolian grill) and paper (using the same technique as the invites).

THE FOOD:I didn't think to take a picture of the food before everyone started eating. Oops. I also ran out of platter so my poor fish sticks had to stay on the cookie sheet. Here was the menu:

Corn Dog Swords--I used a circle punch with black paper and slid them on the sticks to make them look like swords. So cute!

Potato Planks--uh, french fries.

Goldfish Crackers and pretzels

Fish sticks, crab sticks, and popcorn shrimp

Grapes and oranges--to prevent scurvy, of course!

Jello Jigglers--These were not as awesome as I had planned. I misread the recipe and before I knew it, it was too late! My big plan was to make Berry Blue jigglers and place little fish fruit snacks inside. Instead of having 4 packages of berry blue, I ended up with only 2 so I had to mix in another flavor. So much for my ocean jigglers. They ended up with purple stars. I'm sure they didn't mind, but still. Would have been nice to see my ocean jigglers. Maybe some other time.

Root beer, fruit punch, water, or ginger ale.


The Target $1 spot really came through for me on the party favors. These pirate pouches came with a bunch of coins. All I had to do was find some other goodies to throw in there and we were good to go! I went to Party America and found some great deals. I got some rings, telescopes, and beads (the mardi gras beads were the least expensive). I also included some Hershey nuggets and some Pirates of the Caribbean fruit snacks. I personalized each bag with their name by printing it out (using the same technique as the invitation) and then putting that on a tag made from kraft paper (crinkled up and ripped). We punched holes and then tied them on the outside of the bag. I hid them in our piano bench and the kids all found them at the end of the party (more about the treasure hunt later...). The treasure box was also a $1 spot find. There weren't enough pouches for Caleb so I gave him the treasure chest (he was the Captain for the day, after all!).

THE LOGISTICS: I planned for the party to only last one hour. I figured for Caleb, this would be about as much as he could handle. It was PERFECT! We actually ran a few minutes over but the kids never really had a chance to get bored.

When they first arrived, they played downstairs for a bit and they got their pirate eye patches and a temporary tattoo (if they wanted them). After that, it was story time. I would NEVER have thought of this if it wasn't for my awesome friends that left comments a few weeks ago. Thanks! We laid down some painters plastic and I had made a paper with a huge X on it (Treasure Map font size 550) and their name underneath. We put down their X's and that is where they sat. Carl read "How I Became A Pirate" to them. I had checked out a few extra copies from the library so they could spread them around to see the pictures and follow along.

When we were done with the story we ate lunch. Everyone came upstairs to get their food and then went back down to sit at their X (which is why we put down plastic). This was the most chaotic of the time. I wasn't too organized. I probably should have had them come up just a few at a time but there were enough adult helpers that everyone got served what they needed and there were no food accidents! When lunch was done I brought down the cake. We sang to Caleb and then I served up the cake. When everyone was finished, we cleaned up the trash and folded up the plastic. Then it was time for PRESENTS! I probably should have thought more about this part. It didn't really occur to me that Caleb would be getting so many presents. He was so cute about it. He sat in a chair and when he opened one he showed it to everyone and said thank you. He was very polite and genuinely excited and grateful for the presents. I was so impressed with him.

The hour was up when he as about halfway done opening presents. I had some backup activities planned (musical chairs, pirate dancing, or "walk the plank") but didn't need to use them to fill the time. Parents started arriving. As soon as the presents were opened, we had a quick treasure hunt. I was going to be a lot more elaborate with the hunt but I'm so glad I wasn't. I kept it super simple and that was perfect for these kids. I had a map with 4 pictures on it. The first picture was a table w/ a radio. Once they found that, I showed them which picture was next. They had to find each of the locations in our house. The last picture was our piano bench. They all found it but didn't know what they were looking for. As soon as I told them to open it, they saw their treasure. I purposely saved this for last because I didn't want them messing around with the toys inside and losing things before it was time to leave. Since we were a little late, all the parents were already there so they were ready to bundle up and head home.

It was fun, quick and a great time. I'm sure it will be a while before we have a big birthday party like that but I'm so glad we did this year. Turning 5 is a big deal and what made it even better was that Caleb truly enjoyed himself. He knew what was going on and had a great time with his friends. I'm sure he's going to be talking about this for a long time!


  1. What an awesome party! Great job Mom! And Happy Birthday Caleb! (We are gearing up for a teddy bear tea party here.)


  2. Wow, Christy! You put on one heck of a great party there. I've been watching to see how it went and it seems to have been a huge success! And YES, 5 is an awesome age for this kind of fun - wish I were 5 again. :)

  3. That was an AWESOME party! I *LOVE* pirates (I've been meaning to do a post about that, but haven't found a chance yet) and I thought the whole thing was so cool. I thought your cake was SO SO GREAT and everything was just so fun! Maybe for Jethro's next party, eh!

  4. I was waiting all day because I figured you'd wait and post about his party!

    Holy cow! I want to have a pirate party for MY birthday! I LOVED the cake--especially the candles shooting out the sides!!

    And the oranges to prevent scurvy! So funny!

  5. What a great party! I am truly impressed, especially with the awesome pirate cake and party favors. We're kindred spirits when it comes to birthday party planning. :)

  6. Janet7:51 PM

    You did such a super job! I'm glad it turned out so well.

  7. that is wonderful! I want to throw a pirate party now..and i have 2 girls. LOL.
    you get the awesome mamma award, that's for sure.
    maybe you could go into the birthday party planning business!

  8. Lauren8:32 PM

    Dude, you are the coolest mom EVER! I'm super impressed!

  9. Oh man! That looked like so much fun. Awesome cake too!!!!

  10. Looks like such a fun party. I'll have to refer back to this post when Thomas gets a little older. I'm glad Caleb had a good time.

  11. Corynn had a blast and loves her booty bag! She was hiding it from her sisters and having them try to find it! Good job!

  12. Wow!! What an amazing party...

    A great place to share your birthday party planning ideas and tips is at

    They have monthly contests offering great prizes in exchange for quality ideas and they're also a great free resource for people to go and get ideas for their own party.

    Be sure to check them out!

  13. Really cut pirate party!


  14. That cake is amazing!

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