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Make a Pirate Treasure Chest

  • June 14, 2024
  • 3 min read
Make a Pirate Treasure Chest

The year my son turned six, we decided to have a pirate birthday party at the beach. We bought some secondhand jewellery at the op shop and some chocolate coins, and I made a cardboard pirate treasure chest out of recycled boxes and paint to bury the loot in.


I knew what shape and size I wanted, and this post box was a good start. It just needs a higher lid, so I tore the top off a pizza box and cut some extra panels.


I stuck them on with masking tape until it looked right. I left the original hinges and the fastening. I did this stage while my child was at school camp, so he didn’t see it.


I bent the top pieces to look like planks of wood, to help them bend over the curve.


Then I mixed up a brown paint from red, green and a touch of yellow. Brown is the easiest colour to mix! If you blend all your colours (you won’t need black or white, for a colourful sort of brown), you’ll probably end up with brown. I made enough of this paint to give the outside of the box one good coat. Some areas with writing got another quick coat as the paint dried. I pulled the brush in the direction of the ‘wood grain’.


There was some writing on the inside too, so I decided to do that black because it would show up the jewels better (and I’d run out of the brown colour). While my child was in bed a few nights later, I quickly coated the inside of the treasure box.


I also added some gold corners and a painted on lock. I was going to fashion a real lock for the box and padlock it, but I ran out of time.


I filled it with sparkling pirate treasure: gold chocolate coins and secondhand jewellery we’d collected from the op shop. This was my favourite bit! So pretty! Then I hid the filled box on a high shelf.


I wrote clues that six year olds could read by themselves, and rolled them into scrolls.

pirate ship in the sand at the beach with kids running around

On the day, I gave them the first clue and a story about a hidden treasure chest, and they all raced over the sand to find the clues. I had to point them in the right direction a few times! Past the pirate ship in the sand…


There were just four clues, in fairly obvious places. This was plenty!

children dressed as pirates following a treasure trail

The treasure chest had been buried in the sand inside a cloth bag, and the spot marked with an x made of driftwood. The sand flew as the children all dug it out.

pirate treasure chest

Then the pirate treasure was shared around. I didn’t get a photo of that bit, because I was trying to make sure the coins didn’t get hoarded. That’s a lot of fun for $4 of chocolate coins and a handful of old jewellery!

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