My 3-year-old was not interested in the potty (the link with pirates will be clear in a moment here... bear with me). She has the dexterity to dress and undress herself. She has the ability to communicate the need to go. She is perfectly capable of staying dry for extended periods of time. But whenever I tried to sit her on the potty, she would refuse to go and inevitably wet herself within the next 10 minutes.
We tried bribing her with dance lessons.
We tried bribing her with getting her ears pierced.
Then one day she announced that she needs to have a pirate party. I said, "You can have a pirate party when you start using the potty like a big girl." She said, "Okay." We made a "treasure map" with a path of potties leading to the promise of said Pirate Party. Each day she used the potty for the whole day, she could earn a check mark on the treasure map. Once all the potties had a check mark, then she got her party.
The first two days went okay with the exception of a few accidents. This was okay... at least she was trying! Then she decided to take a day or two off. I kept reminding her about the super awesome Pirate Party. She started trying again. After some more accidents and a few small breaks (usually a day or less), she finally started going to the bathroom. All. By. Herself. (If you have ever potty trained a particularly stubborn child, you can relate to my barely contained excitement at this point.)
The check marks were adding up. She was wearing underwear all day. If she did wear a diaper on a long car trip, it stayed dry. Finally, we reached our goal... Party Time!!!
So in the space of about three days, I threw together a Pirate Party. Very few things were handmade because of the time factor, but I was still really happy with how it turned out. We had a bunch of family in town from Florida, so the timing was perfect to make a REALLY BIG DEAL about my little girl's major milestone.
One thing I did get to make was this custom banner. I used my computer to print out the letters and pirate clipart. Then, I pasted the letters onto colorful scrapbooking paper and cardstock. I decided to go with the triangle shape this time to make them look like flags. The color theme was just kind of generic, tropical brights. If you thought pink dinosaurs were hard to come by, pink pirates are even worse!
(Obviously the banner is longer, but it included my daughter's name, and I want to give her some anonymity here.)
Since my 7-year-old nephew was in town to celebrate with us, I decided to set up an arts and crafts table for the kids. They had construction paper, markers, and stickers to make their own treasure maps. They could also use the paper towel tubes to customize their own telescopes. I found the wooden pirate and sea creature masks at the local JoAnn Fabrics for a dollar each. I was a little miffed that I could not find girl pirates anywhere. Really, people?!? This is 2011. Girls don't have to be princesses anymore!
I got a combination of solid-colored and pirate-themed tableware for the party. My daughter especially liked the pirate map plates. As you can see, I grabbed random Beanie Babies and shells to decorate the buffet station and the craft table. The floral patterned fabric is just a 1-yard by 1-yard drop cloth that I use under my daughters' chairs. I thought it looked fitting to the tropical/ pirate thing and used it to decorate here.
Most of the party was outside so we could play in the kiddie pool and the sprinkler. The water was a tad chilly for the Floridians, but my kids loved it anyway. We just set up a bunch of folding chairs and a picnic blanket under the shade tree in our back yard and let the breezes keep us cool. We even enjoyed our pirate-themed dinner (fish sticks, french fries, and "golden coin" carrots... daughter's choice!) outside.
Of course, the center piece of the party was the amazing Treasure Map Cake that I made. Check out There Be a Pirate Party (Part 2)... And Treasure Map Cake! for the tutorial.