A 5-Year-Old’s Magical Pirate Birthday Party

by jessicaturner on September 4, 2013

In late July we celebrated Elias’s 5th birthday with an awesome pirate birthday party. He has been talking about having a pirate party since last fall, so we had plenty of time to dream up some really fun ideas.

It was so much fun to plan and host. Get ready for LOTS of photos, details and links (some are affiliate links). I’d love for you to pin this post on Pinterest!


PiratePartyInvitation from Minted

I looked at hundreds of pirate invitations before finally selecting this cute invitation from Minted. (Bonus, with this link you will get $25 off your order of $50 or more!). I changed the wording from what was on the site, and their amazing designers formatted it to look perfect. The quality of Minted cards surpasses any other company I have bought from online, without question.

Pirate Accessories

For the kids, I found pirate hat/patch/sword sets at Dollar Tree at Halloween last year. Yes, I bought 25 of them 9 months before Elias’s birthday. I knew I wouldn’t find a better deal in July! Thank goodness he didn’t change his mind! We had an old pallet that I wrapped rope around. I then hung the hats up with clothespins. I was in love with it.
pirate party with pirate ship made out of a cardboard box

I also painted cardboard paper towel rolls black and then wrapped the ends with gold washi tape to make telescopes. But with everything going on, we didn’t distribute them (just had them in a basket near the ship) so only some kids grabbed them while playing. They were really cute, and Elias had fun with them even after the party!

Pirate party kids with pirate hats and pirate backdrop

Because I was worried about not having enough hats, I also bought some red fabric, which I ripped into 3 inch strips. By the end of the party half the kids had on hats and half had fabric strips (you’ll see them more in other photos!).

Pirate Backdrop & Decorations

I used burlap as an accent for many of the decorations. I used burlap and some pirate puppets for the mantle. I also printed a photo of Elias dressed as a pirate from Halloween 2012 and stuck it in a frame.

I also used burlap for the table runner (see more about the table below).

inflatable pirate for pirate party

We also got a great deal on a jumbo inflatable pirate, which the kids loved. (After Elias’s party, I donated it to the kids’ school.)

pirate backdrop for pirate party

I created a pirate backdrop using burlap, some decorative net from a friend and a pirate bunting. I attached the burlap with duct tape to our siding, then used safety pins to attach the netting and bunting. The problem was the combination of the weight and the humidity made it so the backdrop kept falling. By the end of the party, we had as much duct tape as burlap on the wall. It would have been better to attach the burlap with rope, like a curtain or use a Background Support System.

Pirate attire
I found Elias’s shirt at Kohl’s and asked a friend to embroider his name to it. This is a great way to make a store-bought shirt custom – and usually is a lot more affordable.

I also made Adeline a little skirt using some fabric from JoAnn’s.

Pirate Activities

I planned an abundance of pirate activities, which made for so much fun for the kids. When they walked onto our deck, their eyes got wide as they exclaimed, “Can we do that? Can we do that?” It was amazing.

pirate ship made of a cardboard box for a pirate party

Pirate Ship– Of course, a pirate party would not be complete without a pirate ship. I made the ship using several large cardboard boxes. Liquid nails worked awesome to attach the cardboard. I cut a carpet tube into pieces to make the cannons.

The sail was an old window shade that had been left at our house by the former owner. In the center, I painted a skull using black puffy paint. We attached it to a bamboo pole that was used for a carpet roll. We then tied it to the deck railing, just behind the boat. This prevented the kids from playing with it too much and it accidentally falling.

I painted water along the bottom, which added a nice pop of color and we spread tarps out to look like water. Elias named the ship “The Fire Dragon.”

walk the plank for a pirate party

Walk the Plank– I painted “Walk the Plank” onto a board and then set it on a few cinder blocks. The kids loved it and many walked on it over and over. (Elias is holding one of the telescopes in this picture.)

pin the patch on the pirate game for pirate party

Pin the Patch on the Pirate – I painted a pirate on a big piece of cardboard (got it for free at Sam’s Club) and cut a bunch of patches out of black paper. I then ran them through my Xyron Creatopia so they would have adhesive on one side.

Pin the patch on the pirate game

All the kids were so excited to have a turn.

Pin the patch on the pirate game

We covered the kids’ eyes with fabric, spun them around, and let them at it. It was so cute!

Pirate party hook toss

Hook Toss – At the last minute, I decided to add a hook toss to the activities after seeing it on Pinterest. I bought pirate hooks on Amazon and made the board using black duct tape.

pirate party hook toss

It only took about 15 minutes to put together and was a huge hit. (I used embroidery hoops for the rings, but you could also use pool rings.)

pirate party buried treasure

Buried Treasure – Since we had a sandbox, it made sense to have some buried treasure. After lunch, we opened the cover and let the kids go to town finding beaded necklaces.

pirate party treasure hunt

Treasure Hunt Click here for a detailed post about the treasure hunt. Suffice to say, it was a HUGE hit.

The Table & Pirate Food

Target had awesome pirate party decor. I bought the tablecloth and all the paper products there. I also added burlap as a runner and scattered gold coins all over. I made signs using cardboard and parchment paper.

Because I invested so much time in the activities for the party, I kept the food VERY simple. I found seashell bowls reasonably priced at a party store, so I bought a few of those for snacks including “cannon balls” (cheese balls), “chocolate booty” (rolos) and “shark bait” (goldfish crackers). We used a large seashell bowl for an “island fruit salad.”

pirate party drinks

For drinks, I filled carafes with “sea water” and “jolly roger apple juice.”

We also ordered pizza for lunch. (For the record, 12 large pizzas was WAY too much for 20 kids and 10 adults.)

Pirate Ship Cake & Cupcakes

pirate party pirate ship cake
Elias requested that I make him a pirate ship cake. I found this tutorial and thought the cake turned out okay. It could have been better, but he loved it, and that’s all that mattered. (I printed the flags from a free download that I can no longer find – sorry.) I will say that the chocolate frosting might be the best frosting I have ever made. YUM!

You’ll notice that one of the little windows is missing, thanks to Miss Adeline sneaking an M&M. I didn’t notice until I looked at the pictures after the party – ha!

pirate cupcakes with gold coins

I also made cupcakes because I knew the cake wouldn’t be big enough. I stuck gold coins in the frosting, which looked adorable.

It was Elias’s favorite party to date, and I hope it inspires you if you ever have the need to plan a pirate party! If you have any questions, please let me know. Also, for more inspiration, check out my pirate party board on Pinterest.

{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

Jo-Lynne Shane {Musings of a Housewife} September 4, 2013 at 11:33 am

You guys are too fun! What a great birthday party!


Melanie September 4, 2013 at 1:14 pm

absolutely amazing, jessica!


Kathi September 4, 2013 at 3:03 pm

You can just see the pure JOY in your son’s face!
Lucky children to have a Momma & Daddy like you both.
I really like that you can have a bunch of fun on a shoe string budget
Way to go little Momma, way to go!


Shelbie September 4, 2013 at 10:06 pm

I love this! What a fun party! It looks like you are really enjoying your new house so much. :) thanks for the inspiration.


jessicaturner September 5, 2013 at 10:20 am

Yes, we LOVE our new house and having space to entertain. Such a blessing.


Karen September 5, 2013 at 8:09 am

Sure wish my kids were still Elias’ age so I could copy parties like this! You have a gift for party planning. Great memories for all of you!


jessicaturner September 5, 2013 at 10:19 am

Thank you so much. I really love doing it. Friends say I should be a party planner, but I think 2 a year is my limit. :)


Crystal September 5, 2013 at 9:20 am

I just love this :) The decorations are wonderful, the games inspiring but really? It’s about that GIANT smile on your kiddo’s face – I bet he’ll be talking about this for a long time. What a beautiful way to use the super creative gifts God has given you to pour into your kid’s lives and create amazing family memories!


jessicaturner September 5, 2013 at 10:19 am

What kind words, Crystal. Thank you for blessing me.


Josie November 13, 2013 at 6:41 pm

I’d just like to say a huge thank you, your son’s pirate party really inspired me and we just hosted our son’s 6th birthday party on Sunday – of course, a pirate party! Thank you so much for posting such a detailed description of the party, with loads of awesome pictures! They were so helpful, especially the treasure hunt and the home made pirate ship. It was such a success and the kids had a lot of fun :)


jessicaturner November 14, 2013 at 6:13 am

I’m SO glad. It’s people like you that make me love my job. :) Awesome to hear your party was a success.


Heather August 30, 2015 at 10:55 am

Did you buy or make the black and white skull goody bags? They’re adorable!


Cheryl September 28, 2015 at 6:48 pm

omgosh!!!! That is the cutest!!! I’m going to attempt a cardboard pirate ship, if I fail, you’ll be summoned to Atlanta to help this scurvy dog!!!


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