Day 8 Aye Matey

When my kids were little we did a lot of DIY birthday parties. It saved money and the kids had just as much fun, if not more. On my son’s tenth birthday, my parents were visiting from Michigan. We set to work planning a pirate party.

We made a pirate ship out of a refrigerator box and let the kids throw water balloon cannonballs at each other. My mom dressed up my dad as Captain Hook and he guarded the treasure box. The best part was the scavenger hunt we created with clues placed strategically around our yard and at the neighbor’s house (with permission, of course.) The final prize was a stash of chocolate gold coins. Since this was a January birthday, we didn’t have to worry about the candy melting in the Florida heat.

My dad playing Captain Hook

My dad playing Captain Hook

More recently, I have planned parties for my grandsons including another pirate party. This one was a little more involved, and I let the birthday boy, Caleb help plan it.

Since it was summer time and he was young, he thought about his birthday a lot. We started about a month before the party. We looked up ideas on the Internet together and made lists of supplies. My hubby and a friend  built a cardboard pirate ship using one of the ideas we found online. We even hung a sail on it. Then we made cannonballs out of wadded up newspapers covered with black electrical tape, another Internet idea. Caleb had fun making these.

After the pirate ship was constructed, we covered it with brown paper from the painters’ section of Home Depot. We painted lines on it to look like wood. My husband thought we needed a castle too, so the kids could throw their cannonballs at each other from the ship. He built another structure with two flaps for windows. We covered the castle with paper and painted it too.

Caleb and his mom painting the pirate ship

Caleb and his mom painting the pirate ship

Grandpa made the castle out of two more boxes.

Grandpa made the castle out of two more boxes.

Sponge painting the castle

Sponge painting the castle

Caleb and I visited a party store and bought some eye patches for party favors. I also bought fabric and made bandanas and sashes so each child could become a pirate. Empty paper towel rolls covered with black construction paper became telescopes. I ordered little treasure boxes for party favors too.

Caleb had a few toys that worked for decorations. We dressed a plastic skeleton and hung it out front with some fiberfill strung to look like cobwebs.

Skeleton pirate greets guests

Skeleton pirate greets guests

Baby brother pirate

Baby brother pirate

Captain Hook and his lady (Me and hubby)

Captain Hook and his lady (Me and hubby)

Although we still did a lot of things ourselves, this pirate party was much more elaborate than the one we hosted in 1990. Creating the props and party favors was as much fun as the party. Afterwards, we left the ship and castle in place for several weeks since we had the room. The grandsons had such fun playing pirates with their paper cannonballs.

The next time you host a birthday party, why not let the birthday child help plan it? With sites like Pinterest, there are so many ideas available, and lots of them are do it yourself. You can do so much with a cardboard box and some paint. Getting the child involved will make his birthday memories that much sweeter.

This post is part of the 31 Days of Family Fun, linking up with http://www.thenester.com.