So this year, I decided to do both at the same time. My sister and mother-in-law did a great job putting together the pirate ship! (Now I just have to rebuild it in my basement.)
While they built, X-man worked on coloring the steering wheel.
It worked out. We had 7 little boys who were able to come out of 10 (due to the crazy amount of illness going around, I consider that not too bad). The boys arrived and got to choose between Legos and coring a cardboard pirate ship. Then the Savoy Rec Center employees took them to the gym. They played pirates versus the British in dodgeball. They played kick ball. And they got to ride around on their own pirate ships (i.e. scooters) in the gym. Then they came in the activity room for cake and fruit. Afterwards, X-man opened presents and then MacTroll brought out his treasure map. He had designed a treasure hunt around the rec center. And the boys LOVED it. He took photos of where the clues were if they weren't able to find them by hunting for the numbers that he'd put on the walls with post it notes.
And here's the "grown up" table.
X-man got a LOT of cool gifts for his birthday. But this is one we keep sitting down to do. It's a Snap Circuit Jr. X-man likes this configuration best so far. He sets up the current, throws the switch and the helicopter spins. Then when he turns it off, it makes the helicopter part fly into the air. He can also turn on a light bulb, configure it to play music and all kinds of other fun stuff.