Pirate Birthday Party

As most of you know, I usually stick to food on my little blog here. That is, except for once a year when we celebrate our son's birthday! I LOVE planning and throwing birthday parties. I plan well in advance, so the details aren't labor-some by any means. If you do a little each week, instead of leaving it to the last minute, the party falls into place without any effort at all. So yes, the parties I throw may seem a little crazy, and may be over-the-top for some, but I enjoy every second of the before, during, and after the yearly event. We are fortunate enough to have all our families on both sides live here in Utah (almost - they're moving back to Utah this Spring!), so all our parties for our little man so far have been family parties. It has been a total blast! 

For his first birthday, we celebrated "The Very Hungry Caterpillar" style. It was such a blast with all the fruits for each day of the week, a caterpillar made from Chinese lanterns, and a huge pile of colorful layers inside a fondant cake! For a sweet little one-year-old, it was perfect. 

Last year, to celebrate the big two, we centered his birthday party around his favorite movie at the time "UP." We had so much fun with the photo booth, rainbow fruit cups, UPcakes, and our very own s'mores bar for roasting up our own marshmallows (in the house!). The kid, as well as every 2-year old I know, was obsessed with balloons. So we filled the house with as many balloons as we could afford. It was definitely one of my favorites. 

Also, I snuck in a little "Pink, Grey, and White Baby Shower" for my sister a few months later. It was outdoors in my Mom's beautiful backyard. We served one of my favorite pasta salads, had some seriously dreamy cherry cupcakes, and speared up a few little watermelon balls for easy serving. My sister looked so beautiful, and had such a sweet little girl only a month later. 

This year, I originally wanted to do a digger/construction birthday party. After all, he was completely obsessed with them when I was pinning all kinds of ideas for his third birthday party. Around Halloween, I noticed his pirate obsession was beginning to spark (a huge thanks to Jake, and the Neverland Pirates). By the time January came around, pirates became a full-blown obsession of his. I knew we needed to make this our new theme, and began to organize ideas I had found on Pinterest, as well as ideas I had been thinking about for a while. Here we go...

For the invites, instead of designing them like I usually do, I decided it would be less of a headache to just order them online through Etsy. I loved how simple these were, and we had fun writing the invite in the same pirate speech we'd been using around the house with the little man. Notice we asked everyone to dress up in their pirate gear :) It was A TOTAL BLAST having everyone come in the door dressed up like a pirate! 

We hung this little sign on our outside door (the apartment complex is huge) so our friends knew where to find us! The swords were cut out from the leftover black poster board from the pirate ship below. I glued on some twine on the handles to give it a little somethin' extra. 

I found this idea on Etsy, and decided to try to make it myself using a black poster board and scissors. It ended up being such a fun centerpiece to our party table, and we saved it for decoration in my little man's bedroom. 

I love making this tissue paper banner. It's super easy. Super inexpensive. And adds just enough of a party-feel to the atmosphere, while incorporating in any of the party colors I needed to tie into the room. 

I spied this idea on Pinterest as well, and knew right away it would be an inexpensive way to create a background to the party table. The streamers were super cheap, and took only 5 minutes to cut them all out (rather unevenly, might I add), and hang them up on some twine. 

The "AHOY" banner was a free printable from this website. Easy enough, right? I just printed them out, glued them to my trusty twine, and slapped it right on top of the party streamer background. 

Now, I can decorate until I'm blue in the face, but if the food isn't up to par, it's kind of a total waste. So, I thought we'd have a little fun with the pirate theme and the light lunch for our guests. The tablecloth, plates, red utensils, and napkins were from Target on sale. Yes, I was a happy camper. Now onto the food :) ... 

I designed the base label by eye using PicMonkey, and then applied the template to the rest of the labels - inspired by some pirate party food labels from Amber Housley on Pizzazzerie. I thought having special names and labels for the food helped tie in the pirate party just a step further. 

Seaweed Wraps - I decided to use the beautiful colors of the spinach, tomato, and white tortillas for wrapping up my favorite little pinwheels. This time, instead of just using turkey club, I tried the roast beef version as well. I also learned that if you blend up the bacon to little bits, and stir those bits in with the spicy mayo, the bacon flavor amps up a few delicious notches. 

Olives were the perfect little cannonballs! If there is ever a proper gathering with my family, there has to be a pile of olives somewhere. And you know darned well the entire lot will be eaten within minutes of leaving the can.  

Pirate jewels - I used my favorite fruit salad on the planet. (Hey, it's paleo!)

Okay, this one totally grossed me out, but it had to be done. Dead mans fingers. They actually tasted amazing. I had heard of legendary mini cocktail wieners slow cooked with grape jelly and BBQ sauce. Well, friends, the legends are true. I had three packages of those weenies and their delicious slow-cooking soup of goodness for the party. All. GONE. 

I really loved this idea, and knew my little man would just love it! I made a small package of raspberry jolly rancher jello, and poured the liquid into a few little cups. After the magic went down in the fridge for a couple hours, I sliced up an orange and stacked the slices on the top of the "water" with a little pirate sail on top.

These cupcakes were a total hit! I hid an oreo on the bottom of each of them :) The cupcakes were vanilla, and the frosting.... OH GOSH that frosting. I should have been arrested or something, they were so ridiculous! Good news for you fine folks, the recipe is here:) 

I designed these little cupcake toppers with PicMonkey, and then printed them out. Easy peasy! 

My son thinks most liquids are "rum" or pirate juice. So naturally, we had to have some "grog" (rootbeer) around for our pirates to wet their whistle. 

We also had some ice-cold water. I found this jug at a thrift store for $2. I was just a little excited... 

For pirate gold, my Mom brought a giant pile of beautiful little cheese cubes. I stuck a few of the mini pirate flags on a couple of them. 

Again, my Mom asked what else she could help with. I told her to bring a bag of goldfish, and a bag of wavy potato chips. She was pretty confused... until she saw the sign! It was actually kind of fun to see the reaction a the party. I loved it! 

After we all filled our bellies with the pirate grub, we headed out for a special surprise! My husband buried a small treasure chest of "treasure" (Gold/Sliver/Bronze colored candies like Reeses, Rolos, and Hershey Kisses) out in the dirt by our apartment complex. He marked the spot with a big X, and created a map for our little birthday pirate to follow. 

The kid had the time of his life, and despite the chilly wind in the valley, we all had a blast watching our birthday boy have a real treasure hunt! He had to meet a pirate for a "draring" of a key, defeat the monster to get the key, and dig up the treasure! 

Mom & Sis
Me & Little Bro
We had this pirate banner hanging in our front entry way. Again, it was a free printable! Thank you, darling internets... 

Last, but certainly not least. We have the cake. I used the familiar pedal technique, but decided to try it switching off with the circle tip, and the 6B open star Wilton tip. 

This cake was a beast to do (mostly because I left it to the very last minute), but it was a lot of fun to share and eat together! 

On the top of the cake, I threw on a bunch of those free flag printables I mentioned before. I loved the nautical feel, and how it still tied in the fun pirate theme in more of a subtle way. 

Now for the inside! I actually let my 3 year old pick out the box of cake mix he wanted. Yes, cake mix. Whatever, folks. He chose the most random bright blue velvet cake I'd ever seen. What the heck, kid? Anyway, It actually turned out to be a lot of fun. I switched it off with the leftover white cake batter I had left from the cupcakes, so there was a fun stripe down the insides. The filling and outside were slathered with the leftover cookies & cream frosting from the cupcakes as well. And the outside was a simple white buttercream. 

The entire party was soaked with family, fun, and a lot of zero-drama celebration. It felt almost too easy and lovely for a crazy Saturday afternoon in March. Our little man was completely in heaven, and overwhelmingly smitten with all the festivities. Seeing my, and Ryan's, family come in one by one dressed in pirate clothes was the best! I think it will be party he will always remember. 

How can I be so sure? It's been a couple weeks, and he still can't shut up about it. 

I don't mind one bit. Because that's kind of the point :) His happiness! Celebrating with family! And how much he enjoyed everything that day. Happy Birthday, little man! 


  1. Kind of feeling like a lame mommy compared to you right now. I am tired just by looking at all the hard work and cute ideas you had for his party. Way to go Mandy!! You are just kind of an awesome momma!

    1. Oh don't even! You a quite a few more children than I do :) Thank you, though. You're a sweetheart!

  2. So perfect! Love that last picture especially :).

    1. Thanks so much Bethany! I kind of threw that last one in there last minute - glad I did!

  3. That last picture is adorable! I had a big smile on my face all the way through reading this as we just had a pirate dress up today at home and my four year old would have loved a party like this!

    1. Aw!! That makes me so happy! Pirate partying is the best!

  4. WOW!!!! What else can I say???

    Charlotte Moore

  5. Love this so much! You have inspired me to do something a little more creative for Bella's birthday in a month.

    For months after Boston's 3rd birthday he'd talk about his cake and the swimming party we had. He would even wake up with nightmares that he didn't get any of the cake (not true, but sad/funny to see).

    1. I would have nightmares too if I didn't get any of the cake! Haha! Sweet little man! I bet Bella's birthday will be just adorable - you are SUPER talented! :)

  6. Best.Day.ARRRGHver.... I love that all of my kids have in laws that are full of love and sharing at special times of the grandkids lives and events. I loved this fun party - the food was amazing - the birthday boy was a riot, and the pirates were - pretty plankwalking perfect.

    1. Aww!!! Thanks Bobby! I'm so happy everyone came and dressed up! Little man was in heaven! xoxo

  7. You are amazing! I love your blog! My kids are already asking if we are going to have the pumpkin cinnamon rolls for conference next weekend! Love that recipe!

    1. Amy!!! You are such a sweetheart! Thank you so much for your darling comment. Completely made my day 100% better than it was before. Man, with conference weekend, I might make a little batch of cinnamon rolls myself. Thanks for the awesome idea!!! I like your thinkin' :)

  8. Wow can you plan my kids parties??? You are awesome!!!


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