Pirate Birthday Party Ideas, Games & Decorations for 3 Year Old



I’ve been telling my wife that she needs to start a blog for years. This post will tell you everything you need to know about why: she loves to plunder Pinterest for good ideas and she loves to throw amazing birthday parties (see her Elmo and sock monkey parties)- this time it was a pirate themed birthday party for our now three year old.

I took all the pictures, but she did most of the work – credit where credit’s due.


A pirate stake from a hobby store and a dotted line in chalk all the way to the X at our front door.

This party was my favorite yet. Everybody got a costume and the games all tied in thematically, so it was easy and fun to role play with the kids (and parents).


These entry table pirate themed decorations included pictures of our son dressed as a pirate at one and two years old, gold dabloons and this welcome sign.


The treasure chest for gifts and pirate accessories

I was posted in the living room to hoist these goodies on unsuspecting land lubbers. The kids wore them willingly, the parents sometimes less-so.


These hats, along with a lot of the goodies, buried treasure, jewelry, pirate rubber ducks, inflatable balls, and pirate flags came from Oriental Trading. They were all powefully cheap and good enough quality. The hats were the best buy though as they fit kids and adults alike.


Homemade pirate telescope party favors

The homemade pirate telescopes are paper towel rolls painted black with yellow electrical tape wrapped around one end and a pirate sticker (again, from Oriental Trading) – simple and effective.  Our three year old kept holding his to the eye that had a patch on, but what can you do!


Walk the plank was a big hit.

We funneled folks outside immediately on arrival and had set up a few fun pirate themed party games like this walk the plank, made out of a long plank of wood painted black, three milk crates (lent by our local Homeland grocery store) and some 1/4 inch rope. We ended the plank in a paddling pool full of balls which worked out great.

walk-the-plank-ball-pit-and shark

Watch out for the shark mateys!

Halfway through the party I had an idea and started taking photos through one of the homemade pirate telescopes – and it worked!. I have one of every kid who came and we’re thinking about printing them off to send with the thank you notes. A nice touch.


Three little pirates through a telescope

This pirate tattoo station was popular with the bigger kids.  After they’d gotten a pirate tattoo they all seemed to get a little more rambunctious. Funny that.


Pirate-tattoo-station-with-poison-water. Arrg!


Outdoor table weights and decorations.

All of the printables (invitations, cake toppers, banners, framed art, address labels, favor labels) came from the Etsy shop Designing for Peanuts. We love working with her. She’s talented, affordable and very responsive.


An ahoy matey’s pirate party banner.

We set the pirate party games up all within a few feet of each other and I highly recommend it. We were surprised how the kids kept fluidly moving from station to station. As soon as they’d become bored with one game they’d find the next.


The buried treasure sand pit proved the most popular game at the party. Maybe because it’s pretty rare that a kid gets to go on a treasure hunt.  Also pictured, our son’s three year birthday pirate t-shirt.

We used a regular sand pit (a bright green turtle) and covered it with an old tan bed sheet.


Dig me hearties!  Games don’t come any more piratey.

We used these spray-painted gold rocks in the table center pieces, in the goodie bags and in the sand pit. They’re surprisingly simple to make. Go to a field or building site and collect rocks that don’t crumble – I used flint, stay away from sandstone – lay them out on something and spray paint them. The paint cost us $6 from a local hobby store and it all took about half an hour.


We ended up buying 18 ct gold plating spray paint for these gold nuggets – made quite the talking point.

Since a lot of the play was outside we let them get started early on their favors with these inflatable pirate balls and pirate rubber ducks in our son’s pirate water table.


One for all.

Inside we’d also set up a table for snacks and as a decorative backdrop for singing to the birthday boy.


Pirate themed party food snack table laden goodies.

The color scheme for the decorations, as you may have figured out by now, was red and black. We bought a burlap table cloth and some black netting and scattered some of the gold doubloons across the table for visual interest.

We were going to try and get kitchen curtains into this alcove before the party, but alas! Instead we dropped red balloons on red tulle as a backdrop to the banners.

Of course you bring out all of your most silver (stainless steel) tableware for the captain’s table.


Pirate flag cocktail sticks in cheese – neat and practical idea.

This pirate ship doubles as a bowl. It’s a hollowed out watermelon cut to look like a ship with masts made out of craft store paper and stuck on doweling rods.


A watermelon pirate ship with red and black sails.

Make sure you don’t stick the rods in too far and pierce the husk or all the juice from the fruit inside will leak out.


Melon cut into a pirate ship shape and overflowing with fruit doubles as more pirate decoration.

And it wouldn’t be a party without cake. This time we decided to go with cupcakes because rock-hard biscuits crawling with insects seemed to be taking the theme one step too far.


Cupcakes in vanilla and strawberry with pirate cake toppers.

The birthday boy had three black candles on top of his cupcake.


Cupcakes on display.  Three candles for our little pirate.

I would say we definitely over-bought on cupcakes. As delicious as they were (from Sweet Memories), these gourmet cupcakes were way too big for three year olds. My son can shovel it in and he only half finished his. Some of the kids didn’t even make it through the icing.


And some fun pirate’s booty for your trouble.

About two hours after they’d arrived we set the kids adrift again. As well as the pirate hats, telescopes, patches tattoos, rubber ducks and balls they each got to take a bag of treasure away with them – some gold nuggets, gold doubloons and gold wrapped chocolate (Rolos and Reeses peanut butter cups).

“Now this is what leaving a party should look like,” one dad told me, looking every bit the part, weighed down with booty.

If you enjoyed this post you might like to see our ideas for an Elmo themed second birthday party, or our sock monkey first birthday party.

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  1. […] See also this post about our pirate themed party ideas. […]

  2. […] been noticing that two of my old posts about Finn’s two year old Elmo Party and three year old pirate party are getting a warm reception, so I took some time to dig out the photos from his sock monkey themed […]