Pirate Party Activities and Games

Bring on the pirate party games! To entertain your pirate pals you'll need some adventurous party games and activities or there'll be mutiny in the air. Arr!

Pirate Party Treasure Hunt

You're at a pirate birthday party so it must be time to get out there and do pirate stuff. Right?

Hold on. You might be a buccaneer at heart but you still look like just a kid. As for pirate party games this one is super fun. In it you'll earn your pirate gear with harrowing challenges and if you survive you might even find some hidden treasure.

Soak a piece of white paper in coffee and let dry. On it hand draw a treasure map and burn the edges. You'll want to make sure to add some scary sounding landmarks they'll have to go through on their way to the treasure. These are pirate party games afterall.

  • Dead Man's Pass

  • The Boiling River

  • Captain Hook's Cave

  • The Forest of Skeletons

  • and of course the big red X marking the spot of the pirate treasure

At each stop on the pirate birthday party map have a challenge for the kids. Upon completion each child wins a part of a pirate costume (eye-patch, bandana or pirate skull cap, and plastic sword or hook. The last stop on the treasure map which should be a big red "X" will house a treasure. A must in great pirate party games. If you can bury it all the better.

Now to plan the challenges at each place on the treasure map. All pirate party games should have fearsome challenges. Your imagination is your only limit.

Here are some ideas:

At Dead Man's Pass - Have kids stand in a circle arms length away from each other and blindfold them. The challenge is to pass a dead man around the circle without dropping him. Make it more challenging by not allowing the kids to use words and not telling them where on the circle you are starting the dead man. Make a dead man by stuffing a pair of pants and shirt with leaves, pillows or batting.

pirate map

At Boiling River - Lay two jump ropes on the ground about 15 feet apart from each other. These will represent the two river banks of Boiling River. Tell the kids that the river itself is boiling lava or acid (whatever works better for your tale). Give the kids 2 pieces of wood about 3 or 4 feet in length. The challenge is to get all pirate crew mates across without falling in. Tell them that the wood is from a tree found only in the Forest of Skeletons and will not burn in the Boiling River. Trust me you'll get the question. If someone falls in to Boiling River all the pirates have to go back and start over. This is a ton of fun. Time the river crossing then see if the pirates can beat their time.

At Captain Hook's Cave - Place a laundry basket on the ground or on a table. The challenge is to see if each pirate can make a hook shot with a cannon ball into the basket. Use crumpled up paper wrapped in black tape as cannon balls. Alternately, if you have a basketball hoop use that as the target for your cannon ball shots. A hook shot is a one handed shot hooked over the head.

At the Forest of Skeletons - Bury the bones from a dismantled plastic or paper skeleton in a sand box or small plastic pool. The challenge is to find all the skeleton parts and reassemble the skeleton on the ground. Or instead of burying the bones in sand you could hide them around the yard or house. You can control the level of challenge in this pirate birthday party game by the number of parts you break the skeleton into (i.e. a whole arm versus a hand, lower arm and upper arm).

At the Big "X" - Great pirate party games end in a treasure. Hide a treasure chest filled with whatever you like. Gold Mardi Gras beads, plastic gold coins and other trinkets are always a fun display. You could also put candy or a take home toy for each child.

Swab the Deck Game

Just because you are pirates doesn't mean you can't keep a tidy ship. This game is tons of fun and a favotite among pirate party games.

Line kids up in two lines. Each line is a team. The first pirate in each line is given a broom and 3 inflated balloons. Using only the broom the pirate must sweep his balloons into a box lying on its side 15 to 30 feet away. Then the pirate runs back and gives the next pirate in line the broom. This pirate must sweep 3 new balloons into the box. Then runs back and gives the broom to the next pirate in line. And so on.

Set a time limit based on the number of kids you have at the pirate birthday party - say 2 minutes. At the end of two minutes the team with the most inflated balloons in their box wins. Popped balloons don't count. Nor do balloons that roll out of the box before being counted.


  • 2 brooms
  • Balloons inflated by mouth in two different colors. Have enough for each child plus extra to account for any popped ones.
  • 2 boxes

Surrender Yer Booty, Arrrgh!

More pirate party games. What is more fun at a pirate birthday party than than getting a competing band of pirates to surrender their booty?

pirate birthday party - Surrender yer Treasure

This is played like capture the flag but pirate style. The goal is to find and steal the other team's "booty" (pirate word for treasure). The first team to do so wins.

Break the kids into two teams. Divide the playing area into two islands with a small neutral area in between (call this the ocean). It is best if teams cannot see clearly into the competing team's island (maybe front yard vs back yard with a house in between if playing outdoors or walls if in the house). Each team meets for three minutes to discuss strategy and hide their booty. You can use anything for the booty - a box, a towel, a toy - as long as the other team knows what it is looking for.

Booty can be placed anywhere on the island but must be able to be able to seen from 3 angles by the other team if they are within 10 feet of it. Give each team 20-25 cannon balls - crumbled paper wrapped in black tape or balled up clean black socks (I guess the clean part is optional but remember when the pirate birthday party is over these pirates are really your friends).

Each island will have a clearly marked and accessible from all sides area that will be the "brig" or jail. If a competing pirate is on your island you can fire (throw) a cannonball at them. If hit, then that pirate is your prisoner and must go to the brig. You can only fire cannonballs when on your island at someone from the other team who is on your island. You cannot hit anyone in the neutral ocean area or on their island.

To free one of your crew mates from the competing team's brig a player on your team must run over and tag them before being hit by a cannonball and captured. After being freed the just released pirate must go back to the neutral ocean area or their own island before trying to steal the other team's booty.

Those are the rules. Now go get 'em. This game is always a favorite among the pirate party games!

Materials Needed:

  • Two items to designate as "booty" (pirate word for treasure). It can be anything - a toy, a towel, a box, a flag - so long as the other team knows what they are looking to steal.
  • Cannonballs - crumpled up paper with black tape around it, rolled up clean black socks or even water balloons, if weather permits. If you go the water balloon route make a ton (100+) ahead of time and place a bucket of them on each island.

Walk the Plank

Let the pirate party games continue. In this pirate birthday party favorite your pirate pals will be forced to walk the plank over a tank of man eating sharks.

Place cinder blocks (or other sturdy supports) on either side of a plastic pool filled with water and blow up sharks. Lay a strong piece of wood on these supports and challenge the pirates to walk over the pool without falling in. The narrower the wood the more difficult this will be.

To add more challenge try walking it blindfolded or backwards.

Design Your Own Pirate Flag

Add a craft or two to your pirate party games to round out the fun. In this craft activity each child designs their own pirate flag to take home as a momento or wave in celebration during the pirate party games.

Materials Needed:

  • Black felt piece - one for each child - available at craft stores
  • White felt piece - one for each child - available at craft stores
  • Glue
  • Silver Glitter Glue for writing name of pirate ship on flag
  • Optional: Templates of skulls, bones and swords made from sturdy card board


  1. Use the black felt as a back ground of the flag.
  2. Cut out your design from the white felt and glue on the black felt.
  3. Use glitter glue to write the name of your pirate ship on the flag.
  4. Let dry.
  5. Make sure to label the flags with the kids names on them.

Make A Pirate Chest

These treasure boxes can be used to hold booty and plunder from some of your pirate party games above. In this craft activity each child designs their own pirate chest to take home as a gift from your pirate birthday party. These are great to keep the treasure from the Treasure Hunt activity above.

Materials Needed:

  • Baby wipes box or shoe box with lid attached painted black - have one for each child
  • plastic gems
  • Glue
  • white and red paint
  • paint brushes
pirate birthday party treasure chest


  1. Use the black box as the treasure chest
  2. Glue gems on for decoration
  3. Use paint to decorate.
  4. Let dry.
  5. Make sure to label the chests with the kids names on them.

Additional Games for a Pirate Sleepover

At a sleepover pirate party you and your crew mates have been in a ship wreck and are marooned on a deserted island. Do all the pirate birthday party games and activities above and add some additional pirate party games and survival skills. Plus night time fun with a camp fire.

Build a Lean-to

First things first when you're marooned on a deserted island - you have to have shelter. It is fun to build a lean-to to play your pirate party games in but you will probably sleep in a tent or in your house. Here's how you and your crew mates can build a lean-to:

  1. Find a sturdy horizontal brace - a fallen tree, a large rock, a strong branch laid between two trees or since you're at a pirate birthday party in your back yard and not lost in the wilderness a fence or table will do.
  2. Lay a series of long branches against the horizontal brace (one end on horizontal brace and the other end touching the ground).
  3. This will form either one or two slanted sides.
  4. If you were using this for real shelter you'd now layer pine boughs, leaves and moss over the slanted branches. The more you layer on the better the insulation. Again you are in your back yard so a beach towel or tarp will do nicely.
  5. If this was made for real shelter you'd want to make sure your lean-to wasn't in or too near a river bed in case of rains and a flash flood.
  6. In a true survival situation you'd also want to make sure your lean-to was recognizable by a search and rescue party. Lean-to's because they are made from what you find in your environment blend in with the background.

Hide Yer Treasure

More pirate party games. The next thing a pirate would do is hide his treasure and make a map to find it later. Time for you pirates to do the same at this pirate birthday party.

Break into two teams. Each team will hide their treasure - it can be anything (a towel, a ball, a toy) as long as the other team can recognize what they are looking for. Next each team will make a pirate map with directions as to how to find their treasure. Make them accurate but silly to add to the fun. Try Something like "ten paces from the swing-set go left 4 front tumbles then hop like a bunny six times and dig".

When the maps are done and the pirate birthday party treasure is hidden the teams switch maps and race to find the other team's treasure. First team to find the treasure wins.

Keep in mind that a team will forfeit the win if the map they drew doesn't really lead to their own treasure. Pirate party games must be fair after all - we're only playing pirate. Right?

Host the perfect Pirate Party!

Follow each of these links to learn how to throw a swashbuckling pirate bash.

Return from Pirate Party Games to the One-Stop Birthday Ideas home page