Having two boys means that it’s a pretty much a done deal that pirates are going to enter into the equation somewhere. They also provide the perfect theme for a bit of fancy dress…
We usually hire a church hall, so that there’s space for all the games. It’s fun to come up with some original games that match the theme – although you might want to test them out on your kids first to ensure they work. I had a party once where no one had a clue what they were doing (including the adults!) – whilst it was very funny at the time, the experience was one of chaotic comedy, so perhaps not what you’re looking when hosting a flock of kids.
Invitations & Thank You Cards:
I like having a go at my own cards. My enjoyment for designing them however waned when I tried (and failed) to get a burnt look around the edges of the invites that I’d originally printed off on plain card (I also tried staining with tea too…). To cut the story short, don’t bother!
You can get some quite authentic-looking marble-effect printer paper, or google a picture of an ancient scroll to use as a base on which text can be added. I just layered the text on top of the scroll picture in powerpoint.
I then made similarly-themed thank you notes to be sent out after the party.
After printing, I cut around the ragged edge (which was a pain, but looked good when finished):
A great way to entertain early arrival arrivals while you wait for the rest to come. We found that giving them a challenge to complete worked well, as they could start as/when they arrived.
We did this before our kids could read, so, although they needed their parents to read out the questions, I wanted the answers to be a simple picture that they needed to find.
In order to do this, I printed pictures of the answers on A4 card to put up around the room. I attached an open envelope to each picture, containing smaller cards with pictures of the answer and double-sided sellotape on the reverse, so that they could stick the pictures to their answer sheets.
The party-goers then charged around the room, trying to spot the picture of a ‘sock’ or a ‘door’ etc. The end of the hunt led them to a treasure chest containing chocolate coins.
The questions we used were:
- Welcome pirates to [name]’s party – we use these if we’re feeling arty…
- We need shipmates to join our crew, you put this on before your shoe…
- Thank you for coming from near and far, this is [name]’s favourite car…
- The birthday boy is 4 – can you find our front ______?
- [name]’s favourite bear may be ‘big ted’, but you will see this when you go to bed
- We hope you are having fun – have you seen a currant _____?
- If you want your teeth to shine, pick this up and spend some time…
- If you want to learn and grow, turn the page, get in the know…
- The final clue. The one we like best, can you find the treasure chest?
This is what the question sheet looked like. I printed it off in black and white onto marble-effect paper for a more authentic look. The answer stickers are also shown below.
This is essentially musical chairs, just with cardboard circles on the floor instead of the chairs. I put pictures of palm trees on them with a blue background to create the ‘island’ look. As with the traditional game, we had the same number of islands as children to start, then islands were removed after every time the music was stopped (and someone was out) in order to whittle down to the winner.
Save the pirate from the scurvy
A pirate-version of boule! We stuck pictures of pirates on a piece of card that we propped up. We then asked the children to roll oranges along the floor from the ‘start’ point to see who could get theirs closest to the pirates.
Whilst we explained what ‘scurvy’ was, I’m not sure the kids cared – they just liked lobbing the oranges at the pirates.
When we first did it, we tried to give everyone a coloured sticker to be able to tell their oranges – but no one could remember their colour, so you may not want to bother.
Walk the Plank
We taped the outline of a ‘plank’ on the floor with masking tape. Then asked blindfolded children to walk along it and see if they could get as close to the end as possible, without ‘falling off’ the plank at the end into the ‘sea’. The ‘sea’ was indicated by cards with pictures of sharks put around the end of the plank.
The kids ended up wanting to walk off the ‘end’ after a few goes, because when they did, their forfeit was to be tickled as they were being ‘eaten by the sharks’.
A simple game, but a great filler if you need a bit of time to sort other things out when the party is in full-swing. Ask the children to all sit in a circle and explain the purpose of the game: to decide who can do the most fearsome, pirate-y “Arrgghhh”. The children then take it in turns to have a go…
Traditional games with a pirate-y spin…
- ‘Pin the beak on Polly’ & ‘Pin the patch on the pirate’ – ‘pin the tail on the donkey’: I drew a picture of a parrot and a pirate on large pieces of paper, then cut pieces of yellow card for the ‘beak’ and black card for a ‘patch’. The great thing about doing this yourself is that there’s no maximum – you can just make the number to match the number of party-goers you have. I suggest numbering them though (and asking the children to remember their numbers if possible), so that you can tell who is the winner. However you do it, it’s impossible to have just one winner, so it’s usually sweets for all…
- Pass the Treasure – ‘pass the parcel’: you can get pirate wrapping paper to keep it in theme…
- Peg-legged race – A three-legged race, if you think you’re kids are coordinated enough! You can by the ties for legs on the internet.
In order not to keep the children waiting a long time between goes, we split them into teams. We’ve not bothered giving the teams names (as team membership tends to be a bit fluid when we’ve done this with younger kids…), however with older children who may like a bit of competition, you could name them ‘Treasure cove’, ‘jolly roger’, ‘princess pearl’, or ask them to make up their own.