So you’ve decided upon a Pirate-themed birthday party for your child. You’ve bought food, drinks, and party favors. You’ve chosen the pirate costumes and selected the party music. But what are you going to do for entertainment, matey? If you don’t entertain them, your pirates are going to get rowdy.
Fortunately, there are many fun pirate-themed party games. Most of them are relatively easy and inexpensive to set up. And with a little creativity, many of these games can be easily modified to satisfy different ages, including party games for grown-up pirates. There are many variations for most of these party games.
There are many great websites if you need additional suggestions for fun party games, free downloadable printouts, and general pirate-themed party ideas. If you don’t mind spending a little money, there are excellent commercial versions of games that can be easily purchased online.
Note: We cannot overstate the importance of having costumes available for all of your little pirates. Costumes and props are essential for a proper pirate party. You cannot have a pirate party without little (or big) pirates running around.
This is a pirate version of the classic “musical statues” game. Players dance, move, shimmy, or jump around as the music plays. When you stop the music, players have to immediately freeze and remain frozen in place until the music restarts. Those who get caught either moving when they shouldn’t or if they are unable to remain still while the music is off, are out for the remainder of the round.
Walk the Plank
Who would have ever thought that walking the plank could be so much fun? There are many variations of this fun game. But in all versions, you will need a long wooden board to act as your plank. After all, you can’t walk the plank without a plank.
You can make your own plank at home, by adding four small cinder blocks of wood under the board to act as legs. Your plank can be placed over a soft green or blue tarp, blanket, or bathing pool (small rubber pool) to look like the sea. The plank should only be a few inches off the ground. For a fun effect, scatter plastic sharks and sea creatures in “the water” for added realism. One clever idea I’ve seen used black paper cutouts to look like the dorsal fins of sharks. Place these fins throughout your makeshift sea.
Have all of the players line up to walk the plank. Players will take turns trying to cross the plank without falling into “the water”. Those who succeed can try more difficult variations during the following rounds, such as walking backward, sideways, or blindfolded. For an interesting variation, you can make them wear eye-patches while walking the plank.
Adult Version: Here’s an exciting version for adults. If you own a pool or have access to one, see if you can construct a plank that goes over the pool for an added sense of realism. Make sure that all players know how to swim, if it is placed over the deep section, and be careful with any players who may be inebriated. Drunken pirates may get hurt.
Find the Crocodile
In this version, players take turns playing the role of the notorious villain Captain Hook from Peter Pan. Attach a timer to a stuffed or plastic crocodile/alligator. Have Captain Hook step out of the room while the rest of the players hide the crocodile. When Captain Hook returns he has to find the doll before the timer goes off. If he fails, he gets “eaten” by the crocodile.
Allow everyone to get a turn playing the role of Captain Hook. In other variations, you can have the whole group searching together for the crocodile. If you don’t have a regular timer, you can use your cell phone or a conventional stopwatch. Alternative Version: You can decide to give a prize to those players who successfully find the crocodile before the timer goes off.
This game celebrates the notorious peg-legged pirate. But don’t worry. You don’t need a wooden leg to play this fun game. Have a contest to see who can stand on one leg for the longest period of time. Then try testing them with the other leg. Make it more difficult. Have them close their eyes, or balance an egg on a spoon while standing on one leg. Alternative version: Older kids can have relay races while hopping on one leg.
Pirates are notorious for being an aggressive bunch. So what kind of pirate party doesn’t have a rowdy sword fight? Instead of real swords, use styrofoam, inflated, or plastic swords as a fun and safe alternative to a swashbuckling sword fight. Have a free-for-all clash. You can arrange one-on-one duels or designate teams and have them go after one another.
After running around playing physical games, younger children may enjoy a bit of quiet time to catch their breaths. Sitting down and listening to an exciting pirate-themed story can be a fun way to cool-down. Use props and act out the different parts to keep their interest piqued.
Older children may want to watch an exciting pirate movie such as the classic Swiss Family Robinson film, which features pirates.
Online Pirate Games
There are many fun pirate games online. Some are free, others are not. While you want to have your pirates running around and having fun, playing some online games is an option particularly at the end when the party is settling down, and people are leaving. But don’t make this the main part of your party. Pirates are an active bunch, and you don’t want them to vegetate in front of the computer screen all day.
Long John Silver/Captain Says
This is the pirate version of the classic Simon Says party game. Players have to follow the leaders’ instructions, but only if he says Long John Silver Says” or “Captain Says”… Those who follow instructions without hearing “Long John Silver” or “Captain Says”, are out for the remainder of the round. The leader should steadily increase the speed of his commands.
Pirate Treasure Island
What better time to have a treasure or scavenger hunt than during a pirate-themed party. There are dozens of ways to have a treasure/scavenger hunt. Hide fun objects, make a map, provide clues, and send your pirates out to search for the loot. You can create separate teams where the winning team wins a prize.
For older kids, you can modify the game and make the game even more challenging. Purchase a small novelty treasure chest, fill it up with goodies (candy, small toys, etc.) and bury it in the backyard. Leave several clues and make a map for the entire group to find the chest. Mark the spot with an X.
Pass The Pirate Booty
This is a variation of the classic British party game “Pass the Parcel”. Wrap a small gift or toy in several layers of newspaper or gift wrap and pass it around while the music plays. Ideally, the children should sit in a circle. When the music stops the child holding the parcel gets to remove a layer. Keep going until the gift is uncovered. The child with the final wrapping removes the layer and gets to keep the prize.
Build A Pirate Ship
This is a fun project that the whole group can do together. Find a giant box for the entire group to paint or decorate with fabrics and other craft items. Alternatively, you can have small milk cartons for everyone to have their own individual projects. A trip to the craft shop will provide endless options for this activity.
Following the project, you can suggest that the children play with the ship. They can play tag and the ship can be the safe “base”. Have your pirates pose next to the pirate ship for photos.
This was an interesting take on bowling that I hadn’t seen anywhere until I stumbled upon this blog. The game is simple enough. Instead of bowling balls, roll coconuts in order to knock down make-shift bowling pins. The pins can be made out of the cardboard interiors (big and small) of toilet paper rolls. The palm tree leaves can be made out of green construction/craft paper. You can make a bowling lane out of wooden planks or you can just use the walkway.
Attack the Pirate Ship
When the pirate ship is completed, hand-out water balloons as cannonballs and have fun bombarding the pirate ship. In alternative versions of the game, you can build two pirate ships and have each team defend their ships with their water balloons, or using very soft balls. You can also play a version where you throw balls into the other side’s ship and then count which team has the most balls in the opponent’s “ship”.
Pin the Tail on the Pirate
This is a fun variation of the classic pin the tail on the donkey game. In this version of the game, blindfolded players take turns trying to pin or stick an eye-patch or hook on a picture of a pirate. Check online for free downloadable printouts.
Captain Hook’s Ring-Toss
There are many commercial ring-toss games available for purchase. But you can easily make one yourself. Go to the novelty or party shop and purchase a dozen plastic pirate hooks. If you can’t find one you can customize your own with aluminum foil. Using a big piece of cardboard or corkboard and attach the hooks to or through the wall. Customize the board in any way you want. The rules are simple. Players take turns trying to get the rings on the hooks. The player with the most rings is the winner.
Pirate Shark Attack
This is a fun active game where players take turns playing the role of the hungry shark. See if you can find cheap shark hats/visors. Players have to escape from the designated shark. If the shark catches a player, the “bitten” player dons a shark cap and becomes a partner shark. Keep it up until everyone becomes a shark. When every player is a shark, let them have a shark frenzy, running around and having fun. Play some fun pirate or shark-themed music.
Alternative version for little people: Toddlers and preschoolers can run around while you play the song Baby Shark.
Check your local party shop. There are many types of pirate-themed pinatas. You can go with the classical eye-patch pirate, a treasure chest, or a pirate ship. Fill the pinata with candy or small toys and let the blind-folded kids take turns whacking the pinata. Make sure to supervise the game so that no one gets hurt with an arrant whack from the stick.
Capture The Alligator
Here is a version of the classic “chasing” style games that I made up. It’s not terribly creative but it can be a lot of fun for energetic groups. Have an active adult dress up as an alligator and have the group of pirates try to capture him.
If you want additional realism, rent an alligator costume from a shop or create one yourself. Make sure that the group doesn’t become too rowdy or aggressive when the crocodile is finally captured. Use makeshift nets to aid in his capture.
Use Your Imagination
Get creative! See if you can create your own pirate-themed games. Many classic games can be easily adapted for your pirate party. Think of modifying popular party games and you can have Pirate Hide & Seek, Pirate Tag, Pirate Hot Potato, Pirate Eye Spy, and so many others. With a little more effort, you can get even more ambitious and create new and fun games that are entirely your own.
Don’t be afraid! Use your imagination! Make up your own pirate party games and share them online!