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Totally Nautical Kids' Birthday Party

This kids' party is a boatload of fun.

Striped cups and napkins enforce the theme, but could also easily be reused at a later date – even by grown-ups!

Ships ahoy! Let your little one’s imagination set sail on his birthday with a nautical-themed party. This theme is a great choice for a kid’s birthday party — the supplies are easy-to-find, kids love the ocean and the subject lends itself to many fun activities. A water-centric event is also a great choice for a hot day, especially if you are blessed with a backyard or neighborhood pool to make it a swim party.

Crafted from plain white cards and scrapbook paper, this invite is a snap to make. For an extra touch, make custom envelope liners from matching paper.

Send a Whale of an Invitation

While you could easily purchase store-bought invites with a seaside scheme, a handmade card is an affordable and fun way to greet your guests. To make this whale invitation, you’ll need a packet of plain, white folded cards and envelopes, two patterns of blue scrapbook paper and a glue stick. The interior text should let guests know about the nautical theme and indicate that the party will be a “whale of a good time.”

Create a garland of paper flags out of triangles of scrapbook paper in red, white and blue patterns like dots and stripes and a length of grosgrain ribbon. Use double-stick tape to affix the flags to the string and hang.

Set the Sea Scene

Turn tin cans into ship-tastic serving vessels with hot glue and twine.

Whether you’re right on the beach or landlocked, you can give your party an air of the high seas. Opt for a palette of blue and white with touches of red and lots and lots of stripes. Stringing up a garland of nautical-style flags keeps things fun and festive. Galvanized metals and natural rope and twine echo the accoutrements of a ship. Start by recycling cans: Wash, remove the label and dry each can. Then dab a dot of hot glue at the base of the can and press twine to secure; next wrap the twine all the way up to the top rim, where you can secure it with another spot of glue. A piece of grosgrain ribbon finishes the look. If you have seashells, starfish or other beach-y accessories on hand, bring them out to add to the party’s atmosphere.

An obvious choice for a sea-themed soiree, goldfish-shaped crackers can be served into cupcake liners for a quick and easy way to distribute the snack.

Create a Fisherman’s Lunch

While you don’t need to serve lobster rolls or freshly shucked oysters to little tykes, you can still make the menu seaworthy and kid-friendly. If you’re serving lunch, fish sticks or tuna fish sandwiches are natural choices; for an extra touch, use fish-shaped cookie cutters to cut sandwiches into fishy shapes. Most kids like mac and cheese; make some with pasta shells for an allusion to the sea. Lastly, round out the meal with a few veggies like carrot and celery sticks and Goldfish crackers for snacking.

It's the tiniest touches that add up to overall impact. For example, short lengths of ribbon tied into knots turn red and blue drinking straws into sippers worthy of a sailor.

Go Fish!

A nautical theme is a rich source of inspiration for games and activities. One fun option is a live-action game of "Go Fish." Cut bamboo garden stakes down to size, tie on a length of string and hot-glue a powerful magnet to the other end of the line. Then, cut fish shapes from heavyweight paper and affix a paperclip to each one’s nose. Place the paper fish in a bucket or empty kiddie pool and let the kids “fish.” For younger children, inexpensive plastic toy boats floating in a wading pool would also provide entertainment. With older kids, you could show them how to fold origami boats and then float them after they have been made.

A mixture of well-chosen snacks and a little bit of ingenuity is all you need for a delightful treat bag.

Send Home a Memento of the Sea

For a salty spin on the usual goodie bag, cut blue paper treat sacks to form a wave shape. Fill the oceanic bags with treats that give a nod to your nautical scheme: Life Savers, Swedish fish and lengths of Twizzlers tied into sailor’s knots are all great options, while saltwater taffy would be fun for older children. Other favor options include packets of cards for playing "Go Fish," plastic fortuneteller fish and, for brave parents, squirt guns.

Laura Fenton is a Brooklyn-based writer and stylist whose work has appeared in many publications, including Country Living, Family Circle and Good Housekeeping. She is also a regular contributor to Shelterpop.com.

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