As my son’s 7th birthday was fast approaching I asked him what theme he wanted it to be. He told me that he wanted to have a treasure hunt, and the pirate theme was born. My hubby and I are on a super tight budget, so I had to think of how to make this party a success, while saving money. I love to throw a themed party, and love the challenge of making it unique and special, while having a great time.
Here’s how to throw a kick butt pirate party on a budget.
Who needs to mail invitations any more? I know they are cute to pick out, but they are entirely unnecessary. You are also being eco-conscious, which is always a bonus in my book. Evite.com or Pingg.com are my favorites to use. You can set reminders to go out for both those who have not RSVP’d and those who have, and need a reminder. Just remember to put a contact number in the details in case a parent has to call last minute.
Party themed tableware and decorations
For years I’ve been using this trick when throwing a themed party: Buy solid colored paper goods for half of the paper goods you need. Since the pirate theme tends to lean toward red and black, I opted to use the red. I bought red tablecloths, cake plates, lunch napkins, forks and cups. I bought the pirate themed lunch plates, dessert napkins and only 2 packages of cups to be used for coffee. I also bought 1 pirate table cloth for the food table. We bought red and black balloons for the house.
Food and Drinks
Food is a hard thing to judge as to what to get to make everyone happy. We decided to do sandwiches. Go to your local supermarket and check the deli section. They sell sandwich trays that you can customize any which way you’d like. They even have children’s trays like peanut butter & jelly. Consider purchasing your cake at the store as well. Our ½ sheet cake cost us $35. You can’t beat that. If your market doesn’t do themed cake have them do a cake as plain as possible and purchase the decorations yourself. Pirate themed candles go a long way.
Don’t buy bottled water. We have one of the 5 gallon Britta jugs. We no longer use it, but I filled it with ice and water from my refrigerator and put that outside with cups. If you don’t have a pitcher you can buy the 5 gallon water dispensers, instead of individual water bottles. In addition to water I took a plastic pitcher filled it ¼ water and ¾ apple juice, which is how I serve apple juice to my 7 and 5 year olds. If you buy soda, buy the 2 liter bottles, they are infinitely cheaper.
At 7 years old the kids love crafts. Decorating a pirate hat and eye patch helped all of the kids feel instantly part of the party theme. You can buy kits to do this, and they are fairly inexpensive I found one for $7 for 12 hats, and $6 for 12 eye patches. They came with everything so all I had to do was lay it out on the table and let the kids at it. There was decorating all day long.
The treasure hunt…Before you begin give each child a party favor bag. I recommend getting a Sharpie and writing the child’s name on the bag so that you don’t have issues later. Come up with 5 spots for hiding the treasure. I recommend using both your indoors and outdoors if this is at all possible. Get about 400-600 plastic gold/silver coins to use as the “treasure”. Put the coins in each place in a plastic bowl. Each new clue should be given to them after they find the coin in the spot previously. In the end each child should come back with 5 coins to receive their prize. At J’s party we made the prize pirate themed tattoos. I was able to find both regular and girly ones for less than $5 (x2) for 36, it was the perfect prize.
The pinata…Using the same bag from the treasure hunt have the children collect the candy in that bag. For $15 I got a pirate ship pinata. Every kid likes to whack a pinata, and it is wonderful entertainment for the children and the adults. The bag of candy purchased at Costco was less than $10.
After making a pirate hat and eye patch, collecting coins, wearing tattoos, getting candy from the pinata, keep the favor simple or forgo one altogether. I got a pack of 48 pirate themed book marks for $5. When each child left I gave them a few and reminded them that over summer break they needed to continue their reading. The party bag I gave the children was big enough to hold everything from the party.
A Few Extras
I made the party 4 hours, and it was a bit long with the last hour dragging on. At 7 years old a 3 hour party is sufficient to do everything.
We made this our first drop off party. It was great for the kids, because they really felt grown up. If you can consider enlisting grandparents, aunts, uncles and friends to be the adults and the party. We were lucky enough to have an abundance of adult help. It makes the running around easier if everyone is pitching in.
Make the clues and place the treasures in their spots the night before. The treasure hunt preparations can be time consuming, so you don’t want that going on in the morning.
If I had more time I would have loved to have the kids play pin the patch on the pirate. I also saw a make your own treasure map place maps.
In the end my son told me for 3 days that he had a great time, so I consider that a success.
Candice lives in Los Angeles, CA with her husband, 3 kids and dog. You can read all about great budget-friendly fashion, beauty, accessories and home decor items on her blog Fashionably Organized. As someone who loves to talk, sometimes too much, you can find her on Twitter @FashOrganized, or on other sites she contributes her writing to. Candice’s big dream is to someday succeed in embodying the humor of Carol Burnett and the poise of Grace Kelly all at the same time (while wearing a fabulous wardrobe).