Justine is a parent who loves finding fun and creative ways to celebrate special occasions with family and friends.
Happy Birthday, Matey
Recently, my son—who just turned three—discovered pirates. He's been running around the house yelling "ARGH" and "YARR," so naturally, I decided to throw him a pirate-themed birthday party. I began searching the internet for the cheapest, best, and easiest ideas and found a ton of cool stuff.
You should be able to find most of the items used here for very cheap while shopping at thrift stores, party-supply shops, and dollar stores. With some inspiration from Google and Pinterest, my daughter and I had a blast creating these games and decorations. Are you ready for a pirate party too? Here is how we pulled off my son's very own pirate-themed birthday bash.
On a Budget?
No worries. In order to keep costs down, I purchased many of the party favors from Dollar Tree. I love Dollar Tree because you can get a lot of the same party supplies there for much cheaper than at a party supply store. Another option is the clearance or party section at Hobby Lobby, where I found some pirate-themed goodies on sale (you can usually find Hobby Lobby coupons online for 40% off one full-priced item.) Check their website for their weekly ad and coupon.
1. Pirate Picture Cutout
This idea was from Pinterest. We purchased the foam board from the office section at Dollar General for just a few dollars. I already had the paint in my closet from various crafts over the years, but simple poster paint will do the trick. More time was spent on this than any other game. It took about three nights of painting after the toddler went to bed. Hiding it from him until the party was another challenge. You don't have to be Picasso to paint this either—just have fun!
2. Pirate Punch Box
Got some leftover boxes? My daughter recently got a new printer for school, so I utilized the box for this project. It seemed to be the perfect size for a punch box.
- Medium to large box
- Box cutter or serrated knife
- Duct tape
- Bowl (to trace circles)
- Access to a printer (if you would like to print the skull pictures—or draw your own)
- Break the box down and flip it inside out.
- Trace five circles with a bowl. (You can use as many circles or punch holes as you would like according to how big or small your box is.)
- Cut the circles out with a box cutter (be careful).
- Use your phone or computer to find a free skull printable online. I printed the images and cut them into smaller squares to fit the size of the holes I made.
- Tape the skull pictures on the inside securely with duct tape or another strong tape. You can write whatever is clever on the box to make it sound fun, but I thought "Pirate Punch Box" was a good name for this game.
- Inside, place a few candy bars, gold coins, necklaces, and other treats and fun stuff. This way, when they punch through one of the circles and reach inside, they can grab a handful of prizes!
3. Party Favors
In this section, we'll go over some party favor items by purchase location.
- Fake gold coins ($1 for a bag)
- Plastic gems ($1 for a bag)
- Plastic skulls (seasonal item $1 a piece)
- Plastic swords (use at your own discretion—maybe your child is well behaved, or maybe they will try to have a sword fight with their big sister—$1 plus Band-Aids)
- Pirate vest ($1)
- Fake handcuffs (another seasonal item—$1)
- Noisemakers ($1)
- Pirate "Happy Birthday" banner (under $5)
- Birthday balloon banner (clearance item—paid $1.16)
- Plastic compasses (I used my coupon on this item, which made them under $3 a piece)
- Small skeleton ($10)
- Pirate trick-or-treat bowl ($10)
- Candy such as Rollos, Hershey’s Kisses, and other chocolates—basically anything that has a gold or silver wrapper would work (under $10)
From Around the House
- An old blanket or sheet for a ship sail paired with a T made from an old broom handle and stick
- A couple of old Halloween decorations, including nets, I used to decorate the tables
- Mardi Gras beads I’ve collected over the years
- Pumpkins we grew this year (you can also purchase them at fall time for around $3 and up)
- Free pirate printables
4. Treasure Maps
These are really just for decoration (or you can make enough for goodie bags). Simply print a treasure map and cut it out. Then, use some old coffee or tea to dunk the maps. Hang them to dry on a coat hanger with some clothespins. You can get fancy and roll them up, light the ends on fire, let them burn, and dunk them in a cup of water. Hang them to dry again and repeat for the other side. I used this free printable pirate map and this great tutorial on how to stain the paper.
5. Pirate Ship Cake
This was the hardest part. Wanting to do everything myself, I tackled the pirate cake. Halfway through, I realized it wasn’t looking like the video (below) at all. But hey, it actually turned out pretty well! You simply make two rectangular cakes and carve them up a bit to look like a ship. You can add different candies or cake toppers to decorate. I printed off a free pirate ship sail clip art and then cut slits in it and used straws to poke them into the cake. We decorated it with M&Ms and stored it in a Tupperware container overnight.
Hopefully, you found this tutorial helpful in creating your own pirate party on a budget. We actually did our party during the COVID-19 lockdown, so we had very few guests. We tried to make it memorable for our son since there were no other children. He enjoyed himself, especially during the punching-the-box activity and while opening the presents. He was also able to blow out the candle all by himself for the first time. Please feel free to read some of my other articles, and good luck on your pirate party!