If you’re set on serving a main dish, fish and chips will do the trick. Or offer hot dogs and call them Salty Dogs. Just serving snacks? Stick to the maritime theme and fill bowls with Chips Ahoy, Swedish Fish, Goldfish crackers, and Pirate’s Booty.
Create a “dessert island” and serve Treasure Hunt Cake (shown), which guests can bite into in hopes of finding hidden treasure (read: gummy candies). The first pirate-in-training to bite into a candy receives a prize, like a plastic bead necklace ($10 for 48, orientaltrading.com). Give the remainder out as p-ARR-ting gifts.
Make-your-own-telescope station. Let crafty types decorate cardboard paper-towel tubes with stickers and glitter, then cover one end with blue cellophane (secured with a rubber band) so kids can see how things appear “underwater.
Go fish. Create a wave using poster board or a cardboard box (shown) and let kids fish for prizes. The person hiding behind the wave can use tape to attach the prize.
Peg-leg race. Divide kids into pairs and tie an ankle of each pair together with a bandanna, as in a three-legged race.
Walking the plank. Let kids take turns walking across a long wooden plank. Whoever finishes first without touching the ground wins. (If someone does touch it, yell “Shark bait!”)
Cannonball toss. Children stand in a circle and toss around a water balloon until it bursts. The person who gets wet is out, and the circle gradually gets smaller until there’s a winner.
Treasure hunt. Hide a bunch of plastic gold coins in the backyard and let partygoers race to find the most loot.