Ahoy, matey! Your little privateer’s having a birthday and wants to celebrate buccaneer-style. Hold the rum and the pistols; this one’s for the little guys.


When a ship was under attack, pirates might toss their treasure map overboard in a securely corked bottle to be retrieved (they hoped) later. Roll handwritten invitations into washed and dried soda bottles, spoon in a handful of sand, and top with a cork. Deliver by hand.


Even pirates need a little entertainment. Consider these diversions:

  • Stock an art table with construction paper, cardboard tubes from paper towels, scotch tape, yarn, a hole punch, crayons and stickers. Guests can tape a strip of paper into a narrower tube than the roll and insert it into one end. Blimey – instant telescope. Punch two holes at the other end and make a loop of yarn so nobody drops it on the way to the crow’s nest. Decorate with crayons and stickers.
  • Use a glass to trace circles on thick cardboard, then cut them out. Provide squares of tin foil and pencils. Kids can cover the “coins” with foil and gently trace designs into the currency, or glue on photos of the birthday buccaneer. Silver bullion!
  • Sponsor a peg leg relay; kids can hop to the finish line on one leg. Or hand out eye patches and see how well the one-eyed privateers do with a water balloon or egg toss.
  • Just like preschoolers, many pirates couldn’t read. If a handmade treasure map should appear, illustrated with drawings of sites in your backyard and a big X marking the spot where a chest full of goodies happens to be buried, and if you just so happen to have a shovel handy, who’s to say it’s not totally authentic?
  • Fill the treasure chest or a piñata with plastic trinkets, candy necklaces, chocolate coins, pirate stickers, toy boats, sea shells, and other nautical bounty. Hand out inexpensive wooden chests from a crafts store to contain the booty.


A hungry pirate is not a happy pirate. Keep mutany at bay with the following refreshments:

  • Yo ho ho and a bottle of lemonade: it’ll ward off scurvy, the scourge of the high seas.
  • Use a scoop to make melon cannonballs. Serve with plastic sword toothpicks instead of spoons.
  • Make honeydew wedges into little boats. Cut a triangular sail from fruit leather and spear it with a long toothpick.
  • Pirates lived on salted meat and weevil-infested biscuits. A more festive substitute? Beef jerky and water crackers.
  • The Caribbean was ground zero for buccaneers. Let the little ones gnaw on sticks of sugar cane.
  • Not sweet enough? Top purchased cupcakes with candy rings or necklaces for dessert.

The best thing about a pirate party? Knowing your privateer and his buddies had a great time – and no one had to walk the plank.