by Deb L.
For my son's 7th birthday, we had a pirate themed party.
|My son David decided on his 6th birthday in July 2007 that he wanted his 7th birthday to be pirate themed. This was fine with us as we all enjoy the "Pirates of the Carribbean" movies.
So, in March 2008 - a full 4 months before his birthday - the planning started. I've been ordering the party supplies from an online party company for the past couple years with great success. I received an email from them saying that they were offering free shipping on any orders for over $75 that were placed by a specific date in March! Well, this was just too good to pass up! So, I ordered a deluxe "Pirates of the Carribbean" party set. Then, as I was reviewing my order, my husband Stan suggested we all dress up as pirates. What a great idea! Since the party company also has costumes, I searched and found a great pirate costume for David and added it the order. Stan has a Renassiance pirate costume, so he was set. It was my turn.
In the meantime, I started searching for ideas on the internet. Surely someone would have some party ideas. I came across one where a mother stated she threw a pirate party for her 4 year old son. She found a small stuffed parrot and pinned it to her son's shoulder with a safety pin. I thought that sounded adorable, so I started combing all the thrift stores and Goodwill's looking for a parrot. I found a large one, which I thought Stan could use. Then I found a shark and a whale. We always reserve a pavilion at the local picnic park and there are 8 picnic tables in the pavilion. I got the idea to put stuffed animals on the tables and use them as center pieces. I thought it was a cute idea.
So, the search went on for a pirate costume for me and more stuffies. I hit the local thrift stores and the Goodwill's. Much to my surprise and delight, I found a lot of Beanie Babies...jelly fish, sea horses, whales, sharks, dolphins, fish, turtles, crabs, lobsters...I couldn't believe all the great stuffies I was finding!
One day, I took a vacation day from work and decided to search at every thrift store I knew of. At the first store, I found the cutest bear. It was another Beanie Baby, but this was the birthday edition. It was for August, and the bear's head and feet were light green and his nose was a green gem, resembling a Peridot, the August birthstone. On his chest was a birthday cake and 'August' below the cake. I thought about getting it for my Mom, who's birthday is in August, but decided not to and to concentrate on finding things for the party. At the next thrift store, there were 2 more of the exact same bear. I thought that was a little odd. At the last one, I finally found a shirt that I thought might work for me. I also found a shirt for my best friend Jodi's daughter Kaitie, who is special needs. I called Jodi to let her know what I found and as I was talking to her, I saw more of the same bears again. This time, there were 4 of them on the shelf! I told Jodi about the bears and then it was as if I'd been struck my lightning. Suddenly, I knew why there were so many bears. Someone or something was telling me I needed to buy one of those bears. Why? Because I always give the kids at David's party a goodie bag. I always make a special one for Kaitie, since she isn't able to play with small toys like I put in the other bags. And as luck would have it, Kaitie's birthday is in August. I immediately squealed and told Jodi my plan. She told me Kaitie had a collection of Beanie Babies, but not the birthday bear! This was perfect!
About a month later I'm looking in the Goodwill and I find the perfect shirt for me for my costume. Just a plain white men's shirt. I have black jeans and Stan said I could wear a pair of his suede boots that were black and laced up to the knee. Perfect. At another Goodwill, I found a black vest that came over my hips and laced up the front! I added a bandana that I cut out of a remnent that I picked up from the thrift store. My costume was now complete.
At the local craft store, I rummaged through the discount bins and found LOTS of gold hoop earrings and other pirate-y looking jewelry. I also found things to put in the treasure chests, which we were doing instead of goodie bags. We got gold coins, acrylic gems, necklaces, stickers, plastic sea creature figurines and a telescope. Then Stan had another idea. Send them on a treasure hunt to find the chests. But what to put the chests in? Another search of thrift stores turned up nothing, but then I thought of Freecycle - an online group dedicated to keeping things out of landfills. Maybe someone had one they were going to throw away. So, I posted and the very next day, I got an email. A woman 5 minutes from my office had one! She said it was really a trunk, but I was welcome to it if I wanted it. It was green and had some water damage, but was still solid. I wrote her back and told her I would LOVE to have it and water damage just made it look like it had been buried, so it was perfect! I proudly brought home my new treasure. David and Stan loved it!
The day of the party was just beautiful! High 80's, slightly overcast and low humidity. Just perfect for a picnic. Our guests started arriving - dressed as pirates like we'd asked them to in the invitation - and quickly headed for the playground beside the pavilion. After a while, we had the kids decorate pirate hats and eye patches with stickers and glitter glue. I had cut the hats and patches out of thin craft foam and we used elastic bands to tie around their heads. Next came lunch. After the kids finished, I yelled, asking if anybody wanted to go on a treasure hunt! They all screamed and ran up to me. I had a homemade pirate map and lead them all around the park. As soon as I left the pavilion, Stan got the chest out of our truck and hid it in the bushes, covering it with a tan colored sheet to make it look like it was buried in the sand! As I came upon the bushes, I stopped. I told the kids that according to the map, the treasure was in one of the sets of bushes. They scattered and then I heard a scream as one of the kids found it. He yelled he found something covered up. I told them to unbury it. Several little hands reached in, grabbed the sheet and pulled, revealing the chest. They all screamed at one time "A TREASURE CHEST!!!!!" I told them to open it. They worked together to open it and then more screams as they all yelled "MORE TREASURE CHESTS!!!!!" I yelled over them, telling them they each got one. They grabbed their treasures and ran back into the pavilion. Some plopped on the floor, some sat on the benches and some ran to their moms screaming they had found treasure. They opened them and more screams as they found the coins, gems, necklaces and especially the telescopes. The other moms told me that was the cutest, most clever thing they'd ever seen. I was so thrilled as they rooted through their new found treasure, squealing with delight and each piece they saw. But, I had one more surprise up my sleeve. I asked the kids if they saw the stuffed animals on the tables. They all said yes and I told them that they each get to take one home! More screams as they ran from table to table looking for a new friend to take home. And amazingly, nobody fought over any of the animals!
David got lots of wonderful gifts from his family and friends. Toys, building blocks, workbooks, cash and much needed clothes!
The cakes were from a local grocery store and were delicious. Yellow cake with peanut butter icing! YUM! The main cake was a 3-dimensional pirate ship, complete with plastic pirates, rigging and sails for David to keep. The other cake was the same flavor, just a sheet cake with "Happy 7th Birthday, David". Of course, the kids dove into the pirate cake and loved every minute of it.
Our guests began to leave and the cleanup began! Thank goodness I had 3 friends helping me. It took us about 2 hours to get the pavilion cleaned up. I only use paper plates, cups, napkins and tableclothes, so that part was easy. Cleaning the table where the kids were doing crafts was a different story. There were the papers from the backs of the stickers all over the place, glitter glue on the tables and benches, ends of the elastic cording on the tables and the ground, stickers stuck to the table, the benches and floor! I didn't mind cleaning it up. Seeing the kids faces when they completed their projects made up for any cleanup.
Then there was the leftover food. Everybody ate, but there was so much food left over. We finally got everything loaded in the cars and went home. As soon as I got home, I put the food away and I sat down! I was exhausted, but it was all worth it. The looks on the kids faces, especially when they found the treasure chest, was worth the backache, sore muscles and exhaustion.