Looking for a different kind of party? Follow the map!
To make the mailing tube, photocopy a map of your neighborhood onto 8 1/2"x 14" paper. Use spray mount to glue the map to a 2"x 12" mailing tube. To make the invitation, trim the edges of an 8 1/2"x 14" piece of blue paper with scallop-edged scissors. Photocopy a second map onto 8 1/2"x 14" paper and trim 1 inch from each edge; apply spray mount to the map's back side and center it on the blue paper. Cut out two 3 1/2"x 2 1/2" green rectangles; trim edges with scallop-edged scissors. Affix one to the invitation and write in the party details. Glue the other to the mailing tube; add an address label.
As guests arrive, hand each child a painted treasure box. Have them adorn it with glitter glue and plastic jewels from a craft-supply store.
Spray a Styrofoam cooler inside and out with black paint. Trim the lid and base of chest with gold ribbon. Cut out two 4"x 6" 0rectangles from yellow craft foam; glue one to the center of the lid in the front and the other directly below, on the chest, to make the lock. Heap the chest with gold-foil-covered chocolate coins.
Write or draw clues for a treasure hunt and hide them and a treasure chest an hour before the party. (Make it easy on yourself by using our printable Treasure Hunt clues and game). Divide kids into two teams for the hunt. Each team gets a clue that leads to the next five clues. The last one leads to the chest. For nonreaders, draw pictures.
Play "What's Missing?" Fill a tray with familiar objects. Have the kids study it for three minutes. Secretly remove one object; let them guess what's gone.
As kids are leaving, fill their decorated treasure boxes with foil-covered chocolate coins, Swedish Fish, telescopes, and beads.
You'll strike gold with this treasure chest cake.
A double whammy of cake and candy, this loot-filled confection is an exciting finale for a pirate party. Key-shaped cookies, decorated with the children's names, make memorable party favors.
Prep and decorating time: 1 hour
Bake time: 1 hour
Yield: 8 to 10 servings
* Hard candies are a choking hazard for kids under 3.