I just hosted a pirate themed party for my 4yo and realized it can totally be done on a budget. Admittedly I didn’t have a super strict one, but all accounted for I could’ve done it for under a 100 dollars IF I hadn’t splurged on the cake. I did that, but someone who wasn’t too picky or had cake-baking skills could absolutely make it work without breaking (into) the bank. 4yos are easy that way.
I kept the decorations simple. A pirate banner ($5 for a 100 feet!), some flag toothpicks and cupcake wrappers (24 each for $2, on sale at Jo-ann), some red/yellow balloons, themed plates and napkins (if you check out the dollar store enough times you’re sure to find some cute designs), and you’re all set!
To streamline the party a bit I organized a simple treasure hunt for the wee guests. I made clues on recipe cards along with a picture of where the next clue was hidden (they aren’t reading yet), enlisted the help of parents, and let the little ones loose in the yard. The kids had a great time running from post to mailbox hunting for clues that culminated at a treasure chest piñata filled with loot – dollar store bead “jewels”, chocolate coins, confetti. There’s something visceral about breaking open a piñata, and I’ve never met a 4yo who’s not into showing off his or her muscles. What better way to let off some of that sugar steam than let them whack a cardboard box to shreds trying to get at more candy? Especially when there’s cake still to come?
Our cake wasn’t pirates (the birthday boy changed his mind when he saw a “How to Train Your Dragon” option available, but one could easily bake a customized cake if needed; there’s tons of inspirational images available courtesy of Mr. Google.
For goodie bags, instead of going the junk toy route I opted for a pirate book along with a home baked cookie for each kid. It cost about the same (about $5 for a hardcover from Amazon) as a bagful of plastic would’ve, and felt much more personal and useful. What kid doesn’t want to read a book before bed and what parent wouldn’t want to at least read them a new one instead of one they (parents) know by heart?
At the end of the day, the guests left happy, the birthday boy had a wonderful time with this pals, and all it took was a bit of planning and ingenuity on my part to make this one of the best birthday parties I’ve hosted. The props may not have been perfect but the day absolutely was.
Happy 4th birthday, R.