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Pirate Party Decorating Ideas

Decorating Ideas For A Pirate Themed Party

Ahoy maties! Add another dimension to your nautical decor by hosting a pirate themed party.  Just use nautical decorations plus a few symbols of the notorious seafaring buccaneers of the 18th and 19th century. 

The iconic Jolly Roger flag along with ships, parrots, treasure chests, booty & loot, such as gold coins and sparkling gems, transform a nautical event to a swashbuckling affair. 

Whether for a birthday, banquet, or in honor of International Talk Like A Pirate Day (September 19th), take a gander at some suggestions for decking out your party area in elevated pirate fashion.

Pirate Party Colors

If ye spy a pirate theme party on the horizon, never again fear for the party planning details. The first step is to choose your theme colors to set the tone for your event, specifically:
  • Black & gold for rustic and traditional
  • Black & red for whimsical and lighthearted
Front Entrance & Foyer

Create a dark & foreboding entrance to your pirate's lair:
  • Line the entrance walkway with skulls on stakes alternating with tiki torches
  • Paint the name of your event or location in black paint on weathered wood, such as "Pirate's Cove", "Davy Jones' Locker", or "The Crow's Nest"
  • Raise a Jolly Roger skull & crossbones flag or use a string of Jolly Roger pennants
  • Stand one or more tombstone props in the front yard illuminated by a lantern or flameless tealight candle
  • Flank the front door with a pair of life preservers with terms like "Landlubbers Beware!" and "Avast ye Scallywags!". Or, take a less sinister approach with "Ahoy Me Hearties!" and "Sail Ho!". Use the back (blank) side of "Welcome Aboard" Life Preservers to write your warnings/greetings or add "Un-" to the front to read "Un-Welcome Aboard".
In the foyer, think 18th century wharf or tavern:
  • Use green, yellow or blue colored light bulbs to create an eerie effect
  • Arrange wood cargo crates, fisherman nets, and barrels as props
  • Stand a barrel or drape a table with burlap and include 
    • A guestbook and feather pen
    • A pillar or taper candle on a large candlestick or candelabrum with dripping wax
    • A pirate treasure map
    • Stacks of plastic gold coins
  • Lay down a walkway of weathered wood planks
  • Make your own pier pilings, click here
  • Scatter hay or straw (sparingly) on the floor and walkway
  • Bubble dry ice to create an ominous fog; drop in a glow stick for added effect 
Party Area

Continue the 18th century ambiance in the party area with period artifacts and nautical items. Some ideas for inspiration include:
  • Captain's wheel
  • Anchors
  • Swords
  • Noose
  • Skeletons & bones
  • Jolly Roger flags
  • Cobwebs
  • Wood signs
  • Alligators
  • Muskets/Pistols
  • Rats
  • Conch shells
  • Monkey fist knots
  • Skulls
  • Casks & barrels
  • Parrots & exotic birds
  • Hurricane lanterns
  • Tombstones
  • Rum "XX" bottles
  • Glass buoys
  • Candlesticks
  • Sails & rigging
  • Telescopes
  • Wooden buckets
  • Rope
  • Fishermen nets
  • Tankards
  • Chains
  • Wood crates
  • Spittoons
  • Palm trees
  • Burlap sacks
  • Treasure map
  • Rope railings
  • Wood trunks/chests
  • Voodoo/tiki gods
  • Nautical charts
Then mix in some booty! Some ideas of treasures to fill a chest and scatter about include:
  • Gold/silver bars
  • Candelabras
  • Gold doubloons/coins
  • Jewels & gems
  • Rings
  • Tiaras
  • Goblets
  • Silver pieces
  • Diamonds
  • Money bags
  • Crowns
  • Brooches
  • Ornate picture frames
  • Gold beads
  • Pearl necklaces
  • Bejeweled sword
  • Bracelets & bangles
Make cheap and everyday items worth a fortune overnight: 
  • Use gold and/or silver spray paint:
    • On blocks of sanded wood to make gold/silver bars
    • On plastic plates, bowls, trays & goblets (for decoration only)
  • Hot glue plastic jewels to swords and goblets
Construct a macabre vignette featuring a skeleton in a pirate ship's brig (iron cage jail): 
  • Lay down black poster board for the bottom of the jail
  • Position a skeleton on the poster board
  • Add a bandana or hat, eye patch, tin plate, chain, cobwebs and rats
  • Optionally, give your skeleton a hook hand and/or wooden peg-leg
  • Attach evenly spaced strips of black crepe paper from the floor to the ceiling for the iron bars or construct your own jail with PVC pipe & wood, here's how
  • Or, instead of an iron jail, place a sword through the rib cage of the skeleton
  • Replace the tin plate with an empty rum bottle (Chianti wine bottles wrapped with straw work well)
  • Place 1 plastic gold coin next to his hand
  • Alternately, hang the skeleton with a noose
Decorate the ceiling and transform the room; here are some suggestions:
  • Droop ivory or white sheets end-to-end to resemble ship sails
  • Suspend nautical or hurricane candle holder lanterns
  • Crisscross Jolly Roger and/or theme-color pennants
  • String up large-link plastic chains 
  • Hang tattered ivory or white muslin, sheets or cloth
  • Hoist Jolly Roger skull & crossbones flags 
  • Dangle round paper lanterns in black & yellow-gold or red at varying heights
  • Affix ceiling swirls in black & yellow-gold or red
Drape the walls with fishermen nets overlaid with Buoy Float String Lights and/or glass buoys; use burlap, muslin and/or gray & brown fabrics to cover more wall space

Include blue and/or green LED floral accent lights in vases and arrangements to add a creepy oceanic glow

For the birds, incorporate the ubiquitous parrot, then add pelicans, sea gulls and/or other exotic tropical species

Make party signs with pirate slang and jargon; for a collection of pirate terms, click here 

Dinner & Serving Tables 

For dinner parties and/or serving areas, create a mini swashbuckler scene centerpiece or transform the table into a pirate ship.

X Marks The Spot
  • Start with fishermen nets over a white tablecloth
  • Place a round sand-colored placemat at one end of the centerpiece area to build an island
  • To create ocean waves, lay 14 blue silk flower leis down the center and around the edges of the round island placemat
  • To build the island:
    • Center a shallow round glass dish on the island placemat 
    • Fill the dish with sand
    • Optionally, use a riser to create a hill using less sand
    • Add a palm tree, like a palm tree votive candle holder or palm tree balloon weight
    • Cut and color a red "X" and place on the sand island
    • Optionally, add a Jolly Roger toothpick flag near the red "X" on the sand island
  • Position 2 mounted wood pirate ships in the ocean blue waves/leis; the waves/leis should hide the mount so the ships appear to be on the water.
  • Add plastic pirate treasure maps as placemats for each guest
  • Roll black or blue napkins (to match the leis), then loop gold party bead necklaces around each napkin several times to create a napkin ring and party favor
  • For placecard holders, use a captain's wheel or treasure chest with each guests' name printed on parchment style paper
  • For lighting, use low profile votive candle holders, like yellow hurricane-style mini lantern candle holders
Weigh Anchor
  • Build a pirate ship mast and sail for dinner and/or serving tables. You will need:
    • 1-3/8-in x 8-ft round dowel (1)
    • 3/4-in x 48-in round dowel (2)
    • 3/4-in x 36-in round dowel (1)
    • 1/4-in twisted sisal rope
    • Small, long nails (3)
    • 2 yards of muslin, fabric or drop cloth
    • Jolly Roger flag
    • 1 plastic black bucket
    • Tools: drill, hammer
  • Here is an excellent detailed DIY tutorial for building a pirate ship mast: www.momendeavors.com.
  • Optionally, stencil skull & crossbones and/or swords to the sail and bucket.
 
The Cut Of Your Jib
  • Convert your serving table into a pirate ship with a:
    • Triangle jib from striped or black cloth
    • Jolly Roger pennants
    • Wooden dowels 
    • Rope and/or twine



Serving suggestions from PartySwizzle.com:
  • Place Shiny Gold Coins in the center of each dinner plate or charger; it also makes great table scatter if you have serving areas to spruce up
  • Serve appetizers on imposing Skull & Crossbones Serving Trays
  • Use gruesome serving utensils like a set of 4 Assorted Bloodshot Eyeball Handle Spreaders for dips and spreads
  • Hoist Jolly Roger Pirate Flag Toothpicks in hors d' oeuvres and garnishes
  • Enhance the experience with blue & red hurricane lanterns or Admiralty anchors salt & pepper shakers
  • Insert mini skeleton hands reaching up from appetizers and cupcakes
Bar/Back Porch
  • Serve up your spirits in a memorable way by creating your own makeshift bar. Throw a door or wooden planks over 2 barrels to make a rustic vignette for the carousers
  • Hang a large Jolly Roger skull & crossbones flag behind the bar
  • Add some whimsy to the bar scene with a swarthy pirate made out of coconuts, along with a colorfu parrot
  • Fill a small tabletop chest or wood box with plastic gold coins, pearl necklaces, over-sized diamonds and gold beads
  • Use Skull & Cross Swords or other pirate-themed beverage napkins to serve the buccaneers 
  • Light it up with Davy Jones' hand reaching up from his watery grave, using a Ghoulish Green Hand Votive Candle Holder
  • String Hurricane Lantern party lights along the edge of the bartop
  • Skewer drink garnishes with Multi-Colored Sword Picks
Guest Bathroom
  • Arrange tabletop decorations for a mini pirate scene in the bathroom with a wood pirate ship, tombstones, small treasure chest and scatter gems, skull, carved balsa wood parrot or coconut pirate
  • Shaped soaps like treasure chests, seashells, palm trees and alligators are always a big hit with the deck hands
  • Add nautical themed hand towels featuring captain’s wheel and anchor designs for a notable detail
  • Sprinkle pirate themed confetti on the counter top
Pirate-Themed Wearables & Accessories

Invite your guests to attend in costume, but if the bounty’s been good lately, christen the crew with a few choice themed wearable decorations to set the tone for swash-buckling fun. Some suggestions include:
  • Eye-patches
  • Bandanas
  • Hand hooks
  • Pirate hats
  • Large gold earrings
  • Skull & bones party beads
  • Parrots
  • Pearl and gold party bead necklaces
  • Add-on mustaches and beards
  • Toy swords &  pistols
  • Tattered sashes
  • Belt
  • Vest
  • Boots
  • Tattoos
  • Dreadlocks & beaded braid

Hopefully we have your decorating juices flowing...check out food & drink ideas for more creative ways to make your pirate themed party memorable.