A (Nearly) Pinterest-Free Pirate Party

Cole turns 5 in less than 2 weeks, which I can’t even process right now. (FIVE? What?!) This past weekend, we had his birthday party – a little tamed down version…

First off, I totally messed up and did not book a park in time. Given the size of Cole’s preschool class, his new kindergarten (!!!) friends, and our family, a park is really the only place we can throw a large kids party without going broke. I looked into a few alternatives, but most didn’t allow for a group the size of what we would need or were WAY too expensive – so Uncle Eric and Aunt Deb generously offered the use of their backyard and pool, and I went about planning a smaller family party.

Last year, I custom designed and printed the 75 invitations we sent. This year I sent out an evite.

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Last year, I designed and created Wanted posters – featuring Coach – as decorations. I also cut and tied together a homemade birthday banner. This year? I Aunt Deb took the box of decorations that Suzanne shipped me and put them up. Done. I also borrowed Amy’s skeleton as a pirate greeter – because who doesn’t just have one of those lying around?

IMG_3199IMG_1459Here is how low key we were this year – I didn’t even get pictures of the finished decorations! Oops.

Last year, I hand-cut 30+ super hero capes and designed a 6-station Super Hero Academy. This year? The kids (and Coach) donned pirate accessories from Suzanne’s pirate party hand-me-downs, took pictures in front of a backdrop from Amazon, went on a quick little treasure hunt, and hit a store-bought piñata.

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I sat down with Cole earlier in the week and made a list of things that were important for him to have. He wanted shrimp and edamame and corn on the cob – an eclectic menu, but easily accomplished. To round it out, he wanted “All the Seafood – crabs and lobsters and seaweed and everything you can eat from the sea” for the adults. Notsomuch. We ordered a bagel platter with a shrimp salad, whitefish salad, chicken salad, and a few cream cheeses, plus a small sushi platter – a variety of “food from the sea” without being crabs and lobsters.


Last year I baked Spiderman cupcakes and designed a “Super Cole” logo for the top tier of the cake. This year, Aunt Maya volunteered to take over cake ordering and acquiring and I gratefully accepted. (That was the result of the teensiest nervous breakdown I had on Facebook on Tuesday – I had a moment where 12 little issues happened at once and I was *fried.* I highly recommend making your meltdowns semi-public; Maya took care of the cake, my friend took the kids of my hands for a few hours that day, and Michele offered to do all my laundry! I have the BEST friends and family ever.)


To round out dessert, Amy made some blue jello and I added little orange slice pirate ships (which was my ONE Pinterest-inspired project this year), and Adam picked up a bowl of fruit from Costco.


Just a few more favorite party shots:

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Where We Got Our Stuff:

Cole’s Jake Costume – Loopsy Baby

Lulu’s Izzy Tutu – Ingrid Elizabeth

Decorations – Suzanne

Treasure Chest – A.C.Moore

Piñata & Miscellaneous Favors – Party City (TIP: If you want something and they don’t have it in stock, you can order in-store and they will ship it to you for free!)

Photo Backdrop – Amazon

Bagel Spread – David’s Bagels

Sushi – Shop Rite

Cake – Carlo’s Bakery


Thanks to everyone who came and celebrated! Special thanks to Amy for being our favorite pre-party minion, and to Uncle Eric and Aunt Deb for letting us invade.

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  1. What a fabulous party – I just love that cake! Looks delicious! After throwing crazy over-the-top parties for both of my girls each year, is it wrong that I’m just…um…tired? My son is turning 1 in October and I kind of just want to have a smaller, family party for him. Because, in the end, all that matters is that they have a great time with their friends/family. And your little guy clearly had a great day.

    Happy Birthday Cole!

    • We did have a great day! Cole was pleased that he had most of the things that he said were important to him – with the exception of the crabs and lobsters, of course!

  2. We just celebrated my son’s 4th birthday. It was NOT pinterest free…It’s funny how caught up we get in things, isn’t it? I find myself forgetting to enjoy the process and be in the moment with my kids. It’s all party of that mommy perfection idea going around these days.

    • Oh, we have DEFINITELY gone Pinterest crazy in the past over here… Somehow, because I knew this party was going to be much smaller than in years’ past, I was in denial over having to actually plan any of it – and then it crept up on me so it was too late to go too far overboard.

  3. What cute party ideas! I love the little orange slice boats. 🙂

  4. Does everyone invite the whole class to parties? I’m kind of afraid for my kiddo to start school! What if we just want to invite a couple of friends?

    • I guess it depends on how your school is – pretty much everyone invites the whole class here. Which is nice, but that’s 20 kids right there – PLUS parents, because it’s not like you’re dropping off your 4 year old…

  5. Sounds like a fun party to me!! We don’t go all out. I make the cake (cupcakes in ice cream cones last year – the only pinterest item for me), do my own decorations, and have a small family gathering at our home. DS has a winter birthday so big events just aren’t feasible and we don’t have the funds to rent a location right now. I like small and intimate parties for now. I know when DS is older he’ll want something bigger, but for now, small is good!

  6. Love this party!! All the decorations and cake are adorable and I especially LOVE the orange slice boats! Cute!

    • Those were the EASIEST Pinterest project ever. The print outs for the sails took the longest, and that was only becuase I was trying to make them look a specific way; there were generic pirate sail printables available online.

  7. I am quickly learning how expensive birthday parties can be!!! I love that you asked him what was most important to him and then tried to incorporate most of those things. That’s a great way to go about it!

    • Cole has very specific and definite ideas about How Things Should Be, and I wanted to be sure if there were things he was counting on, we were able to include them – within reason. He wanted everyone to dress up as Jake, Cubby, or Izzy, and I told him he could not institute a dress code…

  8. WOW!! That party is AMAZING!! The outfits and decorations and the cake are just *perfect*!! Bobby had not one, but two pirate birthday parties over the years back in the day, but they were nowhere near as cool as Cole’s! Well done, Sarah (and helpers!)
    Most of all, happy, happy birthday to your sweet Cole! Five is a big, big year!! –Lisa

  9. This looks so good! I’ve been trying to downscale my parties too. Not everything needs to be 100% like Pinterest.

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