Monday, January 26, 2015

Pirate Birthday Party - Preparation

Last week, I celebrated my daughter’s 7th Birthday Party. She loves Swashbuckle, a BBC kids games show based on the premise of retrieving jewels from bad pirates. I like the show as well, so decided to give the theme a go. Arraagh!!

Invitation card

a.       Template
I thought the invitation card should look old, worn-out, possibly like a scroll. Here is a template I created.  I used pirate-y language with specially downloaded fonts (‘Rapscallion’, ‘Freebooter’, ‘JLS Smiles’- all are free). Pre-loaded windows fonts should also work alright. I made the template in visio as it was create and move text boxes and images around easily. I converted this into pdf and jpeg.

Visio to edit the above template (download this as it wont open within browser)
Blank background for you to insert your own words and fonts

I wanted the venue location to be shown on a treasure map, so I used This is how the final product looked like.

b.      Aging
After printing the main invitation and map on normal paper, I used some aging techniques to make the paper look old. I primarily used wikihow -, but then experimented with the time, and ingredients. First I crumbled the paper in a ball and then uncrumbled it, I mixed unused as well as used tea and soya sauce in water, soaked for about 1-2 hours in the solution, and then hung the papers overnight for drying on a make-shift clothesline on top of the kitchen sink. Sometimes, I dried quicker by putting the papers on a heater. The effect was pretty good.

c.       Presenting
We rolled up the paper like a scroll and tied with a thick plastic thread. I folded the map along the folds printed using yarrmaps, and inserted into the map folded along the fold lines created using yarrmaps. I ensured that the roll was tight enough for the map not to slip through.

Pirate Ship

I created the pirate ship in two parts – front and back. This was driven by the size of the card board available, and also allowing kids to go in and out without damaging the ship or hurting themselves. The two parts were kept independent of each other in order to not affect each other’s stability. It also gave the ship a bigger scale compared to the size of the actual pieces.
The material used was cardboard. I have found cardboard to be great material for house hold crafts and creative work. It holds its shape, easy to cut, easy to flex. Any mistakes in cutting can be corrected when you glue paper on top of it. E.g. if you cut a hole too big, you can correct it when you put a covering paper over it. Then you can cut the hole the right size.
Ensure that you keep the cardboard folds on the smaller sides. This is incredibly useful for stability ensuring the rest of the cardboard holds its shape.
e.g. you may not need the bottom part of the cardboard (in the picture above), but instead of cutting it out, just keep it, as it will stabilise the vertical face of the cardboard, also you can stick the bottom part on the floor to ensure that the structure stands up on its own.

a.       Front part of the ship
The front part of the ship was made of two pieces – The main base(bow) and the ornamental part on top. I used a 40 inch LED TV box. I cut bottom part in a curve without cutting off the joint between the two largest cardboard pieces. I just shaved off the bottom part such that it doesn’t destabilise the box and it stood. I sliced the bottom horizontal face from the middle (without cutting the face off entirely) for reasons given above.  I cut of the top horizontal face entirely. This allowed me to open the front up.

Just around 1/3 the length from the front, I gave two incisions from the inside. I kept the front looking like a triangle, and along the incisions, straightened the top vertical fronts (highlighted part) such that they were almost parallel to each other. This made the front look like a typical ship
I cut off three gunports on either side

Now for the ornamental part – I cut two parts from another smaller cardboard box -  I joined the two pieces around the pointed  edge. The stuck the pieces straight up on the inside of the large pieces.

I stuck brown paper all over including the insides. This allowed to cover all the sticky tapes. I cut the gunport holes again through it, and used to brown paper to adjust any mistakes in cutting.
Note – If you cut the top horizontal edge slanting down from the front, it will look even more like a ship. I did not cut the as didn’t have a cardboard piece that was high enough; it would have made the ship look much smaller (almost a boat).

b.      Back of the ship (Stern)
For the back, I took another box. This was slightly taller than the first box, but it didn’t matter, as frequently, the back of ships are taller than front.  I used an entire card board, slicing it along on edge, and flattening the rest such that I had two equal sized faces joined along an edge. I cut this edge at the bottom in a curve. This stern curve was  less sharper than the bow’s.

For the top part, I cut a cardboard of the shape shown. Again, I used two faces of a box, which were already joined together on the spine, and cut out the rest. When inserted in the bigger piece, it imparted strength and shape (in a manner of ‘>’ sign) to the whole back part.

Repeat the cycle with brown paper, gunports. The entire piece looked like this.

c.       Finishing
I put papers on the edges and (corners, gunports). I also covers the full ornamental pieces and front thin face with the same paper. I put horizontal stripes in brown paper (Doc link) along the length of the ship for additional ironwork detail. I inserted a bamboo stick through the bow and made it stand and hung a A4 printed pirate flag (‘Jolly Roger’) from it. (See the link)

Face in a Hole

Here is the link to the image. Open in mspaint. Hopefully, the settings are intact that will make the picture split on multiple pages. Take printouts and join the pages together like a puzzle, stick it on a cardboard. Cut out the hole. 

Treasure Chest

a.       Base
Take a cardboard box, and cut one of the top flaps. The other flap will go under the lid

a.       Lid
Then, take another cardboard/s, and cut them in two semicircles. Now get a cardboard that is length of the curved part of semi-circle (circumference) and as wide as the front face. Give it incisions every 4 cms or so from the inside to allow it to bend and hug the semi-circle snugly. Now wrap it on the curved edge, and stick it with strong tapes. Cover it with inside face of the semi-circle with brown paper.

Before you stick the chest lid give the flap as well incisions on the inside, so it touches the underside of the lid closely. Use glue and strong tape to bring the two together.
c. Decoration
Brown paper for iron work, highlight the nails, stick on a latch and lock. Here is the final product

Jolly Roger (Pirate Flag)

Here is the visio for the Jolly Roger flag. Visio viewer is freely downloadable

Money Notes

I wanted some money to be put in the treasure chest (we also ran a game around team stealing most from the chest wins. I copied note images using created British currency notes in word and put them in tables, to ensure that the images don’t resize in case they are big. Also you need back to back printouts. Attached is the document that you can use for printout.

Note that the margins need to be adjusted so that the back and front face line up exactly. They are slightly skewed, and I ended up cutting the corners slightly in to remove white in each side.

Here is the link to the doc.

Costumes, Games, Props etc.

We ended up making the jacket ourselves. Rest we bought, stripy, black and white, lose frilly stuff and co-ordinated the pieces with each other to make a complete costume.

Decorations, plates, glasses, table covers and other clothing accessories – Amazon, ebay, poundland, 99p shop

Games planned and props for the day are here

Names Badges

On Birthday day, kids were asked to pick a pirate names from the list, write it on the badge, and pin it on their costume/dress. The template for the badge is in the doc.

Ship Names/Team Names

Kids were put together in teams, and asked to pick a ship name to represent their team.

Sea Shanties/Pirate Songs

I downloaded stuff from youtube (using, and torrents. These, I played in the background during games, eating.

Song that my daughter liked the best (she doesn't understand the naughty lyrics yet)