New This Month

Ahoy! This is How You Throw an Epic Pirate Birthday Party

Yo ho ho, me mateys! It's time for a celebration and ye've come to the right place. A pint-sized pirate named Eli turns four years old — and it's a worthy cause for a swashbuckling soiree.

Advertisement
Advertisement

On a chilly overcast day in October, a family of pretend buccaneers donned their best tricorn hats, skull bandanas, glittery gold chains, and eye patches — all in celebration of Eli's fourth birthday.

 

"It was a small party, held only for our immediate family, but it was such a blast!" says Eli's mom and planner of the themed party, Shannon Von Eschen. "I've always been obsessed with Halloween and pirates, and The Pirates of the Caribbean ride at Disney is my all-time, most enjoyable memory growing up." To prepare for the big day, Shannon plotted out a full afternoon of adventurous fun, sourced vendors for every detail, and enlisted the help of talented friends and family.

Advertisement
Advertisement

Ye Be Invited

Calligrapher Taryn Eklund Ink designed the invitations and handmade place cards — scrawled in gold ink with all the guests' names — at the main table. The paper edges were carefully burnt by candlelight to give the look of aging parchment. Additionally, each card was adorned with a skeleton key as a favor.

A Pirate's Stronghold

The spooktacular venue? A 100-year-old schoolhouse owned by the family.

  • pirate birthday party

    Ye've been warned! A makeshift sign painted with skull and crossbones greets the entering guests.

  • pirate birthday party

    Dare to walk the plank? These mateys, perched on the rooftop of the house, have been waiting... a long time. 

  • pirate birthday party

    Come aboard me ship! At the entrance to the schoolhouse, a plank is made with sturdy rope and wooden pallets. A pair of tattered pirate flags flutter in the wind.

  • pirate birthday party

    Eli and his two proud parents donned their best pirate attire — and pirate-like scowls for the camera!

  • pirate birthday party

    Ye've been warned! A makeshift sign painted with skull and crossbones greets the entering guests.

  • pirate birthday party

    Come aboard me ship! At the entrance to the schoolhouse, a plank is made with sturdy rope and wooden pallets. A pair of tattered pirate flags flutter in the wind.

  • pirate birthday party

    Dare to walk the plank? These mateys, perched on the rooftop of the house, have been waiting... a long time. 

  • pirate birthday party

    Eli and his two proud parents donned their best pirate attire — and pirate-like scowls for the camera!

"Eli's face when he walked into his party is something I'll never forget. He stood there, opened mouthed and couldn't move for almost two minutes as he took it all in. When he spoke, he was floored with excitement and whispered to me that this was "the best party ever!""

A Pirate's Bounty

At the main table, a full-on fall feast was prepared by Eli's close family members, including his aunt Kendall Von Eschen. Think: freshly-picked apples, juicy pomegranates, mounds of nuts, candy apples, charcuterie boards piled high with snacks, skull-faced cake pops, glasses of crisp cider, and a ham — more than enough to feed hungry rogue pirates. "I wanted it to be very gluttonous," says Shannon, "like true pirates would be."

Take a Seat

To capture the true jovial spirit of a pirate's feast, the wooden tables were set with flickering pillar candles, eucalpytus branches, and gold coins. And for an extra touch of shine, snacks were served in gleaming antique dinnerware courtesy of Karen Vaught. The soundtrack from The Pirates of the Caribbean Disney ride played throughout the party and fog machines were hidden behind the walls to set a dark, mysterious mood.

Buried Treats

Among the treats? Courtesy of Shannon's mother, Cheryl Wu, guests enjoyed snacking on bright red candy apples and these pirate coin cookies (psst: they're actually chocolate wafer cookies coated in edible gold metallic paint).

A Pirate's Hangout

Eli's grandfather Frank Crabbs of CreekSide Tree Nursery (dressed as "Black Beard") pitched in to construct the wooden props used to transform the schoolhouse's interior into a pirate's hideout. The master carpenter created a full jail cell, a life-sized ship's wheel, multiple wooden display and banquet tables, a fire pit, the pillories, the pallet wall for a ring toss game, the signage, the rickety bridge at the entrance, and the life-sized pirate ship for Eli, complete with a movable cannon.

  • In the days of pirates, a guilty felon was sentenced to be locked in this pillory, and there he would spend the rest of his days. At this party, it makes a great photo opp.

  • pirate birthday party

    Wooden pallets and pirate hooks were used to make a fun game of ring toss.

  • No swashbuckling allowed on this wooden ship — but fun is definitely encouraged.

  • The kids (ahem, aspiring buccaneers) who attended the party were all given eye patches, treasure/treat bags, bandannas, treasure maps, and pirate tattoos.

  • pirate birthday party

    Dog is a pirate's best friend. But oh no, he's snatched the keys to the jailhouse!

  • A row of teeny-tiny wooden pirate ships are docked on a shelf, ready for play in make-believe seafaring battles.

  • In the days of pirates, a guilty felon was sentenced to be locked in this pillory, and there he would spend the rest of his days. At this party, it makes a great photo opp.

  • The kids (ahem, aspiring buccaneers) who attended the party were all given eye patches, treasure/treat bags, bandannas, treasure maps, and pirate tattoos.

  • pirate birthday party

    Wooden pallets and pirate hooks were used to make a fun game of ring toss.

  • pirate birthday party

    Dog is a pirate's best friend. But oh no, he's snatched the keys to the jailhouse!

  • No swashbuckling allowed on this wooden ship — but fun is definitely encouraged.

  • A row of teeny-tiny wooden pirate ships are docked on a shelf, ready for play in make-believe seafaring battles.

"X" Marks the Spot

Over the hours, kids played ring toss on the pirate hooks, munched on "pirate's booty," and then nibbled on chocolate donuts suspended on string from the ceiling while blindfolded. There were toy swords and pirate masks for mischievous play, and a pirate ship pinata. 

And at last, the big reveal of this buried treasure! This chocolate cake — baked from scratch by Kendall von Eschen — was piled high with dark berries, halved figs, and dripping juice. (Even pirates love cake.)

Credits

Photographer/Event Design/Stylist: Shannon Von Eschen | @shannonvoneschen | facebook.com/shannonvoneschenphotography
Calligraphy, Invitations, Name Cards: Taryn Eklund Ink | @taryneklundink
Vintage Stamps: Virginia Sauder with Verde Studio | etsy.com/people/VerdeStudio | @verdestudio
Wooden Props/Decor: Frank Crabbs | etsy.com/shop/twigsandtreen
Culinary Design: Kendall Von Eschen etsy.com/shop/GraysWoodenKitchen | @kendallvve
Family Portrait Image: Laura Murray
Baked Goods: Cheryl Wu
Antiques & Silver Pieces: Borrowed from Karen Vaught & Amy Von Eschen

Advertisement
Advertisement