As International Talk Like a Pirate Day is coming up, I am in the midst of my annual preparations for our 3rd Pirate Party. This year is probably the most organized we've been about the affair. I've learned a few things in the past few years putting on these events, so I thought I would share some tips here for making your party a success.
- Pick a good date. This year's Sept 19th falls on a Monday, which works well for holding a party at the office, but not so well for a party with friends. We tend to choose a Friday or Saturday for our festivities.
- Dress like a pirate. For the past few years, Target has had a selection of foam swords in their $1 section, in preparation for Halloween. In fact, the idea of holding Talk Like a Pirate Day was a stroke of genius by the creator, because it makes getting a hold of costumes much easier.
- Encourage guests to dress up too. The first year we held the party, we put a lot of emphasis on the "talking" like a pirate, not much on dressing. In later years, we've made sure to mention it in invitations.
- Music can set the mood.I've done some research into MP3s available through Amazon, and built up a wish list for possible future purchases. If I can only recommend one, it would be the double album Rogue's Gallery: Pirate Ballads, Sea Song And Chanteys It features recordings of many "classic" pirate songs by modern artists, some well known for making music, like Bono and Sting, as well as obscure guests John C Reilly and Ralph Steadman. With few exceptions, every song here has an old world feel which could really help set the mood for your party. Something I found on my journey that is not very "traditional" pirate or seafaring music, but still beautiful is Alela Diane's The Pirate's Gospel. For a full wish list, check out my Pirate Songs Wish List. (Listmania Lists can't have MP3 Downloads for some reason)
- Have a Pirate Name. Google "pirate name". Encourage your friends to do the same.
- Pirate Games. Pirate Fluxx is a great variant on the Looney Labs classic of ever-changing rules with a few extra goodies thrown in like the Scurvy card. There are also countless Pirate Board Games, such as Avalon Hill's Sword & Skull, which a friend gave me one year. I've also thought of putting together a "pin the eyepatch on the pirate game." All you'd need is a photo of any celebrity (black out a tooth or two and scribble on a beard with a magic marker) and a piece of black construction paper with some Scotch tape.
- Visit the Party Store. We got some great stuff at a party supply store as well as our local Hobby Lobby - props like a fishing net, cupcake holders, toothpicks with flags on them, cocktail accessories and much more. We also have a huge sign one our front door warning "Baware of Pirates".
- Visit the Flea Market. I found an awesome brass flagon with a glass bottom, and we also found an old cigarette lighter that looks like a pistol.
- Drink Pirate Drinks. I found several drink recipes online with neat names like "Bilge Water", "Crow's Nest" and "Foul Weather". There are also many competing recipes for Grog out there.
- Eat Limes. We normally go for a few tropical fruits - we make something called a Hawaiian Wedding Cake, which has pineapple and coconut in it, as well as serving sliced pineapple and anything with fresh lime. Maybe next year we'll spring for some Key Lime cupcakes.
- Get inventive with the food. Trying to research what pirates ate didn't get us anything interesting, so we decided to make it up. We get these mini-quiche from the wholesale store and stick some of the Jolly Roger toothpicks in them - they almost look like little boats. My philosophy is that if you have access to all the world's oceans, then you could really put anything on the menu, since you're currently "at port" during your party. Eating what they would have had after long weeks at sea is mostly maggoty bread and meat. Wasa is my preferred hard tack, if you must know.
- Make your own costume. You will be more satisfied with your costume if you buy a real shirt and a separate hat, and then just wear some black dress pants or jeans instead of getting a cheap Jack Sparrow costume - they fall apart, don't fit well, and don't look good either. There is a costume shop near our house that had some great peasant shirts, and I used a piece of scrap fabric to make myself a bandana and a sash for around my waist. Some of the cheap "boot toppers" will go a long way too. Since we have this party every year, I am slowly building up a costume that is much nicer by purchasing one new piece a year. Last year it was a cool telescope with stainless steel and leather trim from Hobby Lobby. A fake earring and a cheap eye patch can help too for a male costume. For the female costumes, you may need to be more of a tomboy, unless you want to be a slutty pirate or a bar wench.
- Mood lighting. Lanterns, candles, and tastefully placed lights can certainly help a costume party of any kind. Seeing everyone in stark light is not as good as something a bit more subdued - let the imagination fill in the details.
- Nametags? We are going to try nametags with your chosen Pirate Name this year to see if that helps the theme out. Results TBD.
- Provide Dress-up accessories for guests. Make sure you aren't making it too difficult for your guests to participate. We decided the nametags with some pre-selected names and having a few dress-up items like eye patches, temporary tattoos, earrings, etc can help people get involved without investing in a costume of their own.
- Have fun. Don't stress out. I recommend setting a budget, and planning to stick to it. You can always do it bigger and better next year!
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