After our family's dream vacation to Hawaii, we decided to celebrate our son Jordan's eighth birthday with a South Seas flair. I planned a swashbuckling pirate party for his guests and their families.

The young buccaneers could opt for miniature hot dog boats, cheddar cheese dolphin crackers and fresh fruit kabobs. But in order to guard against a mutiny by the older ruffians, "Captain Cook" prepared a bountiful buffet with Tropical Island Chicken, Colorful Veggie Coins, cocktail shrimp, a whale of a watermelon basket and breadsticks.

Lads and lasses of all ages reveled in the sweet treats—South Seas Sugar Cookies and Treasure Chest Birthday Cake.

We set the mood with pirate map invitations. When guests arrived, their first stop was at "Captain Hook's Dressing Room," where a trunk overflowed with pirate hats, eye patches, bandannas and sashes (cut from colorful remnants), flowered leis and grass skirts.

After donning costumes, Jordan and his friends were handed a pirate's map of our backyard. An "X" on each map marked the spot where a miniature treasure chest filled with take-home loot was hidden. The lawn was also littered with candy for the pirates to search for as they waited for Captain Cook's dinner bell to sound.

Our guests went wild over Tropical Island Chicken. The marinade gives delectable flavor to the poultry. It grills to a deep golden color and smells terrific.

Slices of carrots, yellow squash and zucchini were right on the money in Colorful Veggie Coins. Along with cauliflowerets and garlic, they make up this memorable medley.

My mom's favorite Christmas cookie recipe got an island makeover to become South Seas Sugar Cookies, shaped as palm trees and pineapples.

The Treasure Chest Birthday Cake was perfect for the occasion. To make it, I stacked two 9- x 13-inch rectangular cakes and frosted them with fudgy homemade icing.

A lid for the chest was cut from cardboard, covered in foil and edged with icing, then propped open with skewers. Gold and silver foil candies and coins were heaped atop the cake.

The kids feasted aboard a pirate's ship table we made from an old door. It was topped with dowel masts, muslin sails and the Jolly Roger flag!

After dinner, the fun included walking a wooden plank to pin an eye patch on Captain Cook…sifting through a wheelbarrow full of sand for pennies and gold toy coins…and more.

We sent guests home with little bottles filled with sand and shells that contained this message: "He finds a treasure who finds a friend. Thank you for the gift of your presence."

Aye, mateys—it was a grand time and a fun theme to share!