Yo ho, Ryan and Jo!

Our younger boys Ryan and Jo have birthdays six days apart so we threw a joint celebration for them on the weekend before Chinese New Year.

We settled on the theme quite late – because we couldn’t decide on one! It’s really hard to find themes that would work for both genders, and Ryan kept insisting on having another Ninja Turtle party (like last year)! I finally managed to convince him to go for a pirate theme – not the most original idea – but even till the day before the party, he was still asking me if we were having a Ninja Turtle party!

The older boys are at the age where they fully understand the concept of birthday parties and are not old enough to shy away from them yet. They insisted on the full works – balloons, goody bags, piñata, lots of games, presents. I hope I didn’t disappoint them!

I pulled everything together in under three weeks (urgh I never learn) – I probably should have started sooner because most of things I ordered online for the party did not arrive in time!

We blew up red, gold and black helium balloons for the party. The boys got dressed in their cute pirate outfits from My Mini-Me. The red bandanas and eye patches would have completed the outfits perfectly but they refused to keep them on!

This party, I told myself I would put in more effort for the cake instead of buying a store-bought one. So I spent the better part of the day of the party baking the pirate ship cake – which was a bit stressful because I wasn’t very confident of my cake baking skills and I had no back-up plan if the cake flopped.

Thankfully the cake turned out okay. I also experimented with fondant for the first time – but I spent a ridiculous amount of time rolling out the fondant for the blue base that I didn’t have any time left to cut out their names. In fact, I was still putting last minute touches to the pirate ship cake when the first guests arrived! I thought the pirate ship cake looked very good with all the LEGO pirates, big sails, chocolate gold coins strewn all over and sharks swimming in the water.

The party didn’t start off too well because it started to drizzle just as we were setting things up and starting the fire for the BBQ outdoors. We made a quick decision to shift everything back indoors. It was a bit crazy squeezing so many people into the house. Thankfully the skies cleared after a while and we could all venture outdoors. Thank God for that!

Foops and my brother Leon got the BBQ pit going. My mum and helper spent the entire day in the kitchen cooking up dishes to supplement the BBQ chicken wings and hot dogs – we had our usual fried beehoon, potato salad, fish and sotong balls, deviled eggs, guacamole, fruit kebabs and homemade orange-lime juice. (Thanks, Ma!) 

I set up a little dress-up booth – with bandanas and eye patches – and a tattoo parlour. I think the girls were not big fans of the eye patches but thankfully they definitely liked the bandanas and colourful tattoos.

There was also a small craft station where the children could assemble and decorate their own egg carton pirate ship. It didn’t work out too well in the mayhem of the moving the party in and out of the house. Ah well.

Just for fun, I set up a sand corner where kids could dig for treasure (I put small water guns, rings, play doh tubs, bendy animals) and play with sand. It was quite popular as I saw children gathered around the tub at all times!

To warm up the children, we started with a new game – bobbing for pretzels. Figured it was easier than bobbing for apples. It wasn’t easy to tie the pretzels to the bamboo pole – they kept dropping off or the kids would find them irresistible and grab them with their bare hands. The game itself was a bit haphazard – and kinda gross coz some kids went for the half-eaten pretzels, oops – but it was good for laughs. Gonna have to rethink this game if I want to play it again!

The kids got ring sweets as a reward for finishing the game. I thought the ring sweets would suit the pirate theme to a tee and the kids loved them!

We played Pass the Cannonball (or Pass the Parcel) next. Everyone loves this game. Even little Jo sat there obediently passing on the parcel whenever it came around. We played songs from Jake and the Neverland Pirates, and I included lots of small gifts and pirate-themed forfeits, like ‘Yell ARRR! like a pirate’, ‘Dance like a drunken pirate’, ‘Give the birthday boys fist bumps’ or ‘Squawk like a parrot.’

For a change, we decided the bring the cake-cutting forward because it was always such a rushed affair to do it after all the games and sometimes the sky would be all dark by then. LOL!

The kids gathered round the pirate ship cake to sing the birthday song, and the two birthday boys enthusiastically blew out their candles.

I finally got a nice family picture with the cake and everyone (kinda) smiling – SO HAPPY! I think the scarf look suits me 😉

Next up, the treasure hunt. I gave out the goody bags and the kids set off to hunt for pirate booty. My sis actually drew a gorgeous treasure map with pictures of all the items they were supposed to find but in the madness of trying to hold the overly enthusiastic kids back, I forgot to hand them out!!! (Sorry, sis)

Ah well, the kids had fun running around and filling up their goody bag with treasures (Caprisonne drink, Hello Panda, Yan Yan with sprinkles, Goldfish and sesame biscuits, chocolate gold coins, gummy sweets).

Finally, the piñata. So funny that the kids all know the drill of our parties by now – they dutifully queue up for their turn and hold on to their goody bags to collect the bounty.

It’s my first time making a non-round piñata and making one from a cardboard box was definitely easier than making one using the normal balloon and papier mache route!

The treasure chest was very, very sturdy. As enthusiastic as the kids were, I think they hardly made a dent on it! Let’s just say Foops had to give them a hand in the end 😉

It was a very successful party if I may say so myself. The weather was great and it was still bright out when we were done with all the games so we brought out the sparklers. The kids loved them – I am going to have sparklers for all our future parties! They played and scooted around a bit while the grown-ups chatted on.

Thanks to everyone who helped out in one way or other, and for coming to celebrate the boys’ birthdays. Love the pic of the boys with their birthday presents – we are still opening them slowly!

Happy 4th birthday to my darling Ryan and 2nd birthday to sweet Jo! We love you very much!

Some post party notes if you are interested:

Balloons: I chose to have red, black and gold balloons. It is so much easier now that we get our own helium tanks (from Spotlight). Just blow them up before the party! 

Dress up corner and tattoo parlour: We told our guests the theme was pirate or seaside (in case the girls balked at the pirate theme). For the dress-up corner, we had bandanas and scarfs (from Daiso), eye patches (Spotlight/Aliexpress) and fake earrings (Spotlight). As for tattoos, we just used what we had from our stash and we have A LOT! You will need a spritz bottle for tattoos.

Pirate ship craft: I always try to have a craft for the parties because it is a nice way to occupy the kids and warm them up to the party theme. I chose to let the kids make/assemble an egg carton pirate ship. Egg cartons from my market egg uncle and sails from origami paper (Daiso). I included lots of nice origami paper so hopefully the girls would like them as well. No skull motif for us. The kids could personalise their sails as they wished.

Costumes: The boys are dressed in Jake and the Neverland Pirate outfits from a local costume rental shop for kids, My Mini-Me. Rental is about $10-20 – I think it is worth paying for if you don’t foresee wearing the costume much!

Cake: I used my mum’s chocolate cake recipe which was a bit risky because the measurements are a bit vague and there is no timing or oven temperature to speak of. Gah! So I had to wait till she was around to bake it. Thank goodness it turned out alright. The base is made of store-bought fondant. I cut the cake into the shape of a ship, added a layer of chocolate frosting and decorated it with paper sails with their names/ages, LEGO pirates, chocolate gold coins and LEGO sharks in the fondant water. Will experiment more with fondant next time!

Sand pit: It’s a nice little activity for the children. I filled it with play sand (Far East Flora) and small toys like water guns, Play Doh, bendy animals. No food stuff!

Cake:

Goody bags: My sis drew cute little pirate boys and girls on the kraft paper bags. The mix of children attending our party are a bit older now so I got them stationery (notebook and scented pencils) from Smiggle. Everyone loves stationery, right? 🙂 I gave the younger kids a fishing game. It’s a good idea to hand out the goody bags out just before the treasure hunt/pinata so they don’t lose it and can use the bag to keep all their booty from the treasure hunt and piñata.

Pass the parcel: This is probably the best game to play in a party because it takes up quite a bit of time, it is not competitive (compared to Musical Chairs where the older children always have an advantage) and children of all ages can play together. My boys have come to expect it at all of their parties. The most time-consuming part is wrapping the parcel. I usually do about 10-12 layers and use up a lot of newspapers and wrapping paper. I include a theme’forfeit’ and a small gift in each layer.

Treasure Hunt: The treasure hunt is another good game to play at parties. We have a nice garden next to the BBQ pits so it is pretty safe for the kids to run free. I always give the younger kids a head start and try to limit to one of each item per child (you can do this by listing out the items in a list or treasure map).

Pinata: The treasure chest pinata was a no-brainer. Just used an old cardboard box and covered it with brown crepe paper and yellow washi tape. I have since concluded pinatas made from cardboard boxes are easier to make and far more superior!

That’s it! Next party in half a year’s time 😉