How to organise a pirate-themed children's party

Everything you need to throw a swashbuckling bash - from decorations and party bags to themed food and the perfect birthday cake

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Let everyone know what the theme of the party will be


  • Use tea on thick paper with ripped edges to make the invitations look old and weathered
  • Roll up the invitation and tie it with string - if you were feeling particularly creative, you could even deliver it in a bottle...

Costume ideas 

If party guests want to dress up, pirate garb can easily be pulled together. All you need are

  • a striped T-shirt 
  • a long coat or waistcoat (optional)
  • a bandana or eye patch 
  • eye liner or face paint, to draw on stitches/a moustache 


Set the scene with some nautical props

  • Make your own bunting, with skulls and cross bones or anchors, seagulls, and so on
  • Hang up different flags - including the Jolly Roger, of course
  • Use blue streamers or balloons to create a sea setting
  • Play pirate music, sea shanties or sounds from the beach - gulls and waves
  • Buy or spray-paint paper cups and plates gold or silver
  • Search charity shops for cheap costume jewellery, clocks and silver plates 
  • Appoint a toy parrot to watch over proceedings

Activities and party games

As children arrive, get them crafting: decorate a pirate bandana, paper hat or T-shirt.

  • Have pre-cut pieces of material, paper or card to fold into hat shapes, or buy multipacks of plain white T-shirts
  • Set out fabric pens, glitter and paint on a table, and let each child personalise their own item 
  • They can wear it for the party, then take it home at the end 

Next up: sword fights. Make balloon swords - or buy a pack of blow-up ones.

Walk the plank: place a piece of wood on a raised platform and get children to balance on it, walking from one end to the other. For older children you could have two teams race to get across, one at a time, with the fastest team winning a prize.

Fishing: use a paddling pool, or simply put a piece of blue material on the ground, and cut out fish shapes (and maybe some hidden treasure) then attach paperclips to each piece and make fishing rods with sticks, string and a magnet on the end.

More party games that can be given a pirate theme:

  • Musical chairs becomes musical islands - you could place mats on the floor which the kids have to 'swim between' while the music is on, then find an island to stand on
  • Pin the eye patch on the pirate
  • A piƱata is always great fun - choose a palm tree or treasure chest shape
  • Blind man's bluff

No pirate party would be complete without a treasure hunt...

  • Draw out a map (of the house/garden/park where you're holding the party)
  • Depending on the children's ages, you could write cryptic clues to direct them along the route - and give them a compass to follow
  • Hide toys, gold coins or more clues along the way
  • The hunt could lead to a treasure chest - or to the birthday tea/picnic

Pirate party food

Tasty fare fit for hungry pirates after an action-packed day on the high seas

  • Veggie planks - eg carrot and cucumber sticks
  • Cutlass cheese and pineapple - buy sword shaped skewers, or use wooden toothpicks
  • Catch of the day - fish fingers or fish cakes
  • Canon balls - black olives, grapes or chocolate balls all work well
  • Peg legs - breadsticks 
  • Pieces of gold - cheese chunks

  • Jelly boats: "Cut an orange in half and scoop out the insides to create a clean shell. Fill to the brim with jelly and allow to set. Once set, cut in half again, and voila - jelly boats! Add little pirate flags to finish them off."
  • Seaweed pasta salad - use shell-shaped pasta and pesto sauce
  • Submarine rolls - with various fillings (add a flag on a toothpick for full effect) 
  • If you want to get gory - dead man's fingers and skeleton's teeth

Cake inspiration

Create an impressive centrepiece for the birthday feast 

This pirate ship design is easier to pull off than you might imagine:

  • Cut and layer sponge cakes into a boat shape before covering the whole thing in icing and decorating
"We had a huge homemade pirate ship cake with candles coming out of the sides."

What to put in the party bags

Image credit: Food & Whine blog

Say goodbye to guests with bags of loot! Little gifts could include:

  • a bandana or eye patch 
  • a bag of gold (chocolate coins)
  • treasure costume jewellery
  • temporary tattoos
  • a toy compass or telescope

If you've made any crafts as part of your activities - bandanas, pirate hats or balloon swords - children can take those home, too. Plus a piece of birthday cake.

You could also do a lucky dip from the pirate's chest - make one out of an old box, fill it with shredded paper and small toys or treats, then the kids can pick one out as they leave.

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