How to Have a Pirate Costume Party

Costume parties are great fun. With the success of Pirates of The Caribbean you can't go wrong choosing a pirate theme. Suitable for all ages and body sizes, follow our guide and you'll host a party to remember!


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    Send your invitations out about 4-6 weeks in advance. If you send them too early, a lot of people will forget, send them too late, and they may have already agreed to be elsewhere. It is important that you do specify on the invitation, that it is a pirate party and you must be appropriately dressed to be allowed in! If you give your guests the chance, a lot will choose not to join in with the dressing up. Now, you can be as strict as you want to be about the dress code. You must remember that not everyone does like to dress up, so maybe you'll let them in wearing a pirate hat and eye patch, it is really up to you. To keep in the theme, you can always state on the invitation that if they do not dress up they will have to walk the plank, or some other forfeit that fits with the theme.
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    Arrange with your local costume shop a party discount for your guests. If this is not possible, give them the names and telephone numbers of local shops and a list of on-line shops that you have checked out for them. This will reduce the risk of some people not dressing up.
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    Get some prizes in for the winner(s). Have categories, such as the funniest costume, the sexiest costume, the best pair or what ever you choose. Let your guests know that there is a competition. It is amazing how this can really get them trying to outdo each other!
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    Give your guests a list of suitable costumes. You need to make sure that you give a variety of ideas so that the people who are less keen can choose a more simple costume.
    • Some examples of ladies costumes:
      • Pirate Wench Ladies can wear a peasant style dress, or blouse and a long skirt. There are many versions that also have a lace up bodice and bandana. Although there are sexy, short versions on the market, there are also longer styles available.
      • Elizabeth Swann A character from Pirates of The Caribbean and governed by the Disney licensing laws. Elizabeth's costume changes many times throughout the three films. She wears Georgian dresses, long, off white shift dress and full shirt, long waistcoat and pantaloons when she is pretending to be a male crewman.
      • Pirate Crew These costumes tend to be similar to the men with a stripped top, pantaloons or skirt, sash tied at the waist and a bandana or hat.
      • Mary Read Mary Read was born in 1685 in England and was only 1 of 2 known women pirates. Ladies on board ship were considered to be unlucky and Mary had to dress as a man.
      • Anne Bonny Anne Bonny is probably the most famous female pirate. She was a ruthless plunderer, raider, and menace to the seafaring vessels in the Caribbean Sea. She is commonly referred to as "Toothless Annie". Although she dressed and fought as a man, she was soon discovered and instead of bowing down to the pressure from the crew, she killed all who opposed her. Not a lady to have a row with!
    • Some examples of male costumes & characters:
      • Captain Hook From Peter Pan. There have been a few interpretations of the villain Captain Hook. The character has starred in Disney's cartoon version of Peter Pan and in many films, including the film 'Hook' where he was played by Dustin Hoffman. Typically a long frock coat is worn with pantaloons and a frilly shirt. He wears long, black boots and a large hat. A long, curly wig, moustache and a hook finish off the costume.
      • Captain Jack Sparrow - From Pirates Of The Caribbean. This is a Disney production and therefore has strict licensing laws attached to it. A costume, unless licensed cannot be called Captain Jack Sparrow and you will probably see similar looking costumes called Pirate Captain etc. Typically a long, distressed frock coat or waistcoat is worn with a full shirt. Trousers are tucked into boots and he wears a bandana or a 3 pointed hat. Dark eyes and a goatee type beard finish off the costume.
      • Pirate Crew In most pirate films, the crew will play a part. They are normally dressed in stripped tops, cut away trousers, sashes tied around the waist and a bandana. They can be men or women.
      • Blackbeard Blackbeard's real name was Edward Teach. He was a ruthless pirate who was named after his long, black beard.
      • Long John Silver From Treasure Island. Ruthless pirate looking for treasure hidden by his old crew mate Billy Bones. Apart from the normal pirate attire, a peg leg is also required.
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    Plan a pirate themed menu. Pirate cuisine generally fell into one of two categories - plentiful or starvation. While at sea for long periods of time, fresh food would be scarce. But once the ships docked in the Caribbean, then the pirates would have plenty of food on which to feast. For your theme party I recommend a combination of shipboard and island dishes.
    • Salmagundi - This pirate stew, based on a British recipes, was essentially a conglomeration of whatever they had on hand.
    • Hardtack - This type of non-perishable biscuit was a staple aboard pirate ships. I would find some plain biscuits down at your local store.
    • Fish Food - Seafood would most certainly be part of a pirate's diet.
    • Jerk Chicken - When pirates landed on an island in the Caribbean, the eating was good. Barbecue was a common method for preparing food.
    • Puerto Rican Rice with Pigeon Peas - This is a very hearty side dish, and if you leave out the salt pork, it would serve as a main dish for any vegetarians at your party.
    • Sweet Potato Bread - This dessert bread incorporates many of the ingredients the pirates would enjoy on the islands such as sweet potatoes, coconut and bananas.
    • Coconut Balls - You could rename these little sweets "canon balls" to tie in with your party theme.
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    Try to theme your room as much as you can. It is possible to buy inflatable & feather parrots quite cheaply. Also, checkout your local balloon shop as they will do a range of balloons that should include toucans, Parrots, cocktail drinks, palm trees and pirates that will help to create your atmosphere.
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    Look at pirate themed party games.
    • A treasure hunt could be arranged (works well for the children). It will take some time to organise but great fun. You can either give a starting clue and they have to find the next clue until they find the treasure, or draw out a map, split it into 4 and they have to find the pieces of the map before they can find the 'treasure'. What about getting your guests to wear hooks and they have to Try to pick items off the floor, or pass balloons to each other. The ideas are endless. Please add your own if you have ideas for this theme.
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    Plan on serving Pirate Drinks
    • Planters Punch - This punch will capture the spirit of pirate grog with the rum and citrus flavors, add a few other ingredients make it much more interesting than that. Don't forget bottles of rum (probably mixed with coke)
    • Fruit Punch - Here's a punch for your friends who don't indulge in alcohol. Sadly, they'll probably win all the prizes for walking the plank without falling.


  • A sexy pirate lady will really need to wear fishnet tights. But what if you are not confident with your legs. A trick of the trade is to wear a pair of 'American Tan' type tights underneath and then wear the fishnets over the top. Not only will it give your legs a nice shape, you will look tanned too.
  • Take an old white shirt, cut off the cuffs and the collar. Roughly cut up the sleeve, if it frays so much the better. Do the same at the bottom. Remove top 3 buttons and make a hole near where they were sown on. Take some old ribbon or bootlaces and criss cross through the holes you have made and the button holes. Take a pair of old jeans or trousers. Cut off leg just below the knee and roughly cut up. Again, the more fraying, the better. Leave the shirt out over the trousers and tie up with an old tie or belt and you have a basic pirate outfit on the cheap. Just add cheap accessories that are available to purchase on the internet or from a traditional fancy dress shop.


  • It is possible to have too much fun at a themed costume party!

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