Owing to a few, ahem, hiccups during Blaine's 5th birthday party, and the fact that his dad was in China on his actual birthday, I wanted to make this year's soiree awesome. Taylor had the idea to use my parents' ranch for a pirate treasure hunt, and I ran with the pirate theme. I have to admit, I got a little carried away. (Spoiler alert/WARNING to my sister: I may or may not have covered water bottle labels, a practice I have commonly mocked.)
We decided to make message in a bottle invites. I used a black felt tip and my best 3rd grade cursive to pen them on brown craft paper we had previously cut and burned. We used Mexican Coke bottles and Taylor was able to use a machine at work that buffed off the labels. (You could just cover them with more craft paper and the recipient's name.) We didn't have corks for all of them, but if you stopped by a restaurant that serves wine, you could easily accomplish that.
(Love the dirt under the nails. Nice and piratey.)
Fun size bags of Pirate's Booty (really important to bulking up the loot)
Mardi Gras beads
Chocolate gold coins
I had looked at a few things on Oriental Trading (Jolly Roger flags and such), but I wasn't crazy about them, plus I didn't have much time for delivery, so I opted to pull together a quick bunting with fabric instead.
I put together lunch boxes so the children could eat easily on picnic blankets. I was really pleased with how clean it was, and the menu went over extremely well.
X marks the spot with Washi tape
We served ham and cheese sandwiches on Croissants, which I wrapped in sandwich paper and sealed with washi tape, plus a container of strawberries for each child.
Here's where I broke my rule of not making parties too fussy. I couldn't help myself (they were so cheap!) and ordered these custom straw flags to tape on my stripey straws. And you can't very well leave your ugly water label on when you have such cute straws! So I used some leftover fabric scraps and taped them on. Bonus: fabric is reusable. I saved everything. Heaven knows with three sons I'm bound to throw another pirate party.
Lunch is served
The Treasure Hunt:
Taylor had come early in the morning to post clever, rhyming clues at various landmarks on the ranch. We sent the children running all over the vast property to find their booty!
I adore this photo! Look at Jacob's perfect costume, not to mention little Dean's mustache!
Had to include this presh picture of Collin and his make-shift first aid station for injured pirates
Finally the children made it to the largest oak tree, under which we had buried the treasure chest.
Of course it was all out mayhem--every pirate for himself--at first! I had to get their attention, hand them their loot sacks, and tell them exactly what they could put in. They were great about it!
Taylor made a masterpiece. It was patterned after this one, but with a way more clever, accurate shape, and decorated perfectly with paper sails, rootbeer barrels, gold-wrapped rolos, whopper cannon balls, piroutte cannons, a peanut butter cup crow's nest, and Playmobil pirates. But then. On his drive out to the ranch, Taylor's cake tipped and shifted slightly. He thought it would be a quick fix and took it into the house. But, by the time he returned from posting the treasure hunt clues, he had the Titanic on his hands.
Kudos to Taylor, who talked it up as a big battle between ships, and to Blaine, who totally went with it! So we had a shipwreck cake, and all the pirates loved it!
Overall, a tremendous success. We all had a great time, and I think it's a birthday Blaine will always remember fondly.
Treasure chest and gift bags--Craft Warehouse
Pirate's Booty--Fred Meyer
Mardi Gras beads and ring pops--Dollar Tree
Rootbeer barrels and chocolate coins--Winco bulk
Pirate themed and coordinating fabrics--Jo Ann's
Lunch boxes, sandwich paper, and plastic containers--Cash & Carry (a local restaurant supply place. I also like this site for this sort of thing)
Red stripey straws--Amazon has the best deal
Custom pirate themed straw flags--Love the Day
Pirate cake instructions--Family Fun
One last note:
You wouldn't believe the help we had! All of the plans seemed relatively simple, but it turned out to require a lot of prep. Thanks to my mom, who watched the boys a lot while I ran around town. Thanks to my friend, Hailey, who scouted out the rootbeer barrels for me, after I failed. And listen to this! After failing to find snack size Pirate's Booty at several stores, I posted a quick plea for help on Facebook. Would you believe my dear friend, Traci, who lives in Baltimore of all places, called local stores here until she found them at Fred Meyer?! Then, my friend, Stacey, who saw Traci's comment, texted me and asked if she could pick them up for me, as she was going to be swinging by Freddies! Are you kidding me? I have such kind people in my life!