My son, Luke, turned 8 this past Thursday. For months, he had been asking for a Hobbit-themed birthday party. Now, you have to know this about me: I’m not a natural fit for throwing parties. I’m an introvert who can barely cook, who can’t craft, and who has the fine-motor skills of a nine-year-old. Not to mention a limited budget. However, I am also an English major, and as such, am a sucker for literary-themed parties. Last fall, for instance, Pinterest and I threw a heck of a Harry Potter party after my son finished reading the series. Buoyed by that success, I decided to tackle The Hobbit.
One thing I found when turning to my trusty Pinterest for inspiration was that there were a few Lord of the Rings-inspired birthday parties, but not many Hobbit parties. Or at least, not many Hobbit parties with activities taken from the plot of The Hobbit. I was still able to glean my share of inspiration (shared in the links below), but my 8-year-old Tolkien nerd and I had to come up with our own games.
And since Pinterest has helped me ever-so-much with party planning, I decided to give back with a detailed blog about how to throw an Easy/Epic Hobbit Party. It’s easy because all my crafts, foods, and games were ridiculously simple to make. It’s epic because the kids had a ball (and full disclosure: it’s also epic because, simple or not, preparing this much stuff for a party still takes a lot of time and a lot of trips to the dollar store)!
Each of our party-goers received the following: a cloak, a sword, a shield to decorate, an Elven leaf clasp, some lembas bread, a map, and a treasure pouch for their journey (which they would fill with gold chocolate coins). I got my inspiration for most of this from this blog, which details a really cool Lord of the Rings party. As a final party favor, they got a bag of “Gollum’s goodies). My mom made the cloaks, so I really can’t help you with that one other than to say, Find an awesome person to make cloaks for you.
I can, however, help with the swords. I had read from one blogger that they got theirs at the dollar store, and I’m sure that was true for them…but I went to about twenty dollar stores (not even kidding), and found ZERO swords. Bow and arrows? Yes. Guns? Yes. Swords? NO. So let me save you some trouble. These swords from Oriental Trading Company are $4.75 each and totally awesome. They are super sturdy (not one of ours broke, despite the many swordfights throughout the night). Furthermore, one of the user reviews said they could be used to break open a pinata, and I can now testify that that is true.
I used sturdy cardboard for the shields, which we decorated with markers and black, silver, and gold duct tape.
For the elven leaf clasp, I googled an image of the leaf clasp, printed it out on cardstock, then bought a hot glue gun (ugh), glued the cardstock to cardboard and hot-glued a large safety pin to the whole thing.
Again, I got the idea for lembas bread here, although I had my friend, Leah, make her yummy recipe for communion bread instead. If you don’t have a friend named Leah who makes yummy communion bread, you can use this recipe instead.
For the maps, I googled black and white copies of Thorin’s map, and then printed them out on this paper, which I also used for all my signs and food labels. There’s also a black and white map of middle Earth if you want to use that.
I ordered the pouches from Amazon, and they ended up being the perfect size for gold chocolate coins.
We set the whole thing up in the “Blacksmith’s Shop.” That was Luke’s idea. He couldn’t think of a good location from The Hobbit, but he said there’s a blacksmith’s shop in his Lord of the Rings video game.
Gollum’s Goodies: Swedish fish, gummy worms, plastic treat bags, twine. You can so do this. I got the idea from the same source as the rest, but in a different post. She really threw an amazing party.
The activities are where we had to be original. I’m not actually a huge Tolkien fan myself, so again, I had to rely on my son for plot-driven party games. But first, the party-goers decorated their shields in the blacksmith’s shop:
Then, they reveled for a little while in their newfound equipment…
…followed by a simple “What Dwarf Are You?” party game. I can’t believe I don’t have pictures of this, but I printed out several sheets of these images, and then cut bigger versions out to tape on each person’s back. Using the full sheet of dwarves for a guide (because really, who would know the difference between Ori and Dori without a visual aid), they went around and asked each other yes or no questions to figure out which dwarf they were. I also gave them pens to mark out the dwarves as they ruled them out.
After we got our identities sorted out, it was time for our quest!
We skipped the troll part of the book and the main enc0unter with the goblins and went to Gollum’s cave, where we had to find the ring (a plastic gold ring) before Gollum did. Gollum, in this case, was Luke’s little sister, Anna.
Gollum found the ring first! (And I’d like to draw attention to my ridiculous face in the background as I transition the kids to round two of the game). Once someone found the ring, they had to answer riddles to keep it. I used some of the actual riddles from The Hobbit, but frankly a lot of them made no sense, so I also used some more basic riddles. If you couldn’t answer the riddle, you had to pass the ring to whomever could.
To make Gollum’s cave, I just hung black plastic sheeting (found a 10 X 25 sheet at Lowe’s in the building supply section) around the bottom of our tree house. You could really make any kind of tent/cave like structure with whatever you have available. But if you use black plastic sheeting, just know that you will have to tie it up somehow. Duct tape alone will not do the job.
Armed with the ring, we ventured into the Forbidden Forest…wait, no…Mirkwood Forest. Oh, I don’t know. Some forest from Tolkien…
In the forest, we had to defeat a daunting mixture of Wargs and Goblins using only flaming pinecones:
This game was so simple to set up: print out internet pictures of Wargs and goblins on cardstock, and tape them to trees. Then paint (or spray paint) some pinecones, and give everyone two chances to hit one with the pinecones. As they hit them, I tore the pictures down.
(Sidenote: shout out to my dad for finding and spray painting pinecones for me, as they are NOT as plentiful in Nashville as they are in Georgia).
As the second round of pinecone launching wrapped up, I realized that we probably would not be able to take down the last Warg. Also, we were running out of pinecones. Because of that, I told the kids that if the last pinecone missed, we had to immediately charge the Warg as a group and defeat him with our swords. The kids took this task unbelievably seriously:
You should have heard the war cry!
Once the Wargs and Goblins were defeated, the dwarves had to face the spiders!
The spiders in this case were Anna and her friend, Allie. (It’s great to have siblings who are up for being bad guys!) To make this game, Luke and I…tied yarn between trees. That’s it.
The dwarves then had to make their way through the “web” without touching it. If they touched the web, they were stuck to it unless a fellow dwarf tagged them and freed them. I gave the dwarves a head start, and then sent in the spiders.
Two of the dwarves got caught, which meant Anna and Allie got to wrap them in toilet paper. (I had spider outfits for the girls, consisting of black clothes with spider legs—made from black dress socks from the dollar store, stuffed with black tissue paper—taped to the back of the shirts. Anna, however, balked at wearing the spider legs, so I didn’t push it. And Allie still has on her cloak, but trust me, she’s a spider!) The girls had a little bit of trouble wrapping them up, so before things got too slow, I sent in the rest of the dwarves, who had circled back, to rescue them. They had permission to cut through the web with their swords.
Again, I was very gratified at how much all my dwarves enjoyed this simple adventure.
Lastly, of course, we had to defeat Smaug:
Good luck finding a red dragon pinata. The best we could do was a black and red one from Party City. But it worked fine:
The kids had fun having one whack each at it with their swords, and it was sturdy enough that all the kids got a shot before Smaug was vanquished.
And what was in his belly? Gold (chocolate) coins, of course!
(Note: in the Tennessee heat, we were sure to hang Smaug right before we attacked him. Couldn’t have all that chocolate melting, could we?)
My dwarves were very proud of their accomplishment:
After Smaug, I went to get dinner set up, while the dwarves thoroughly “desolated” him. We were picking up pieces of poor Smaug from all over the yard!
My party foods are always incredible simple. Having a themed party actually helps in this area because you can take simple foods and give them a themed name and Voila! It’s cute and “creative.” I got the idea for the Council of Elrond and the tater tots from this blog post; they are Lord of the Rings-themed, not Hobbit, but they were too cute (and EASY) to pass up.
I almost always serve Swedish meatballs and pigs ‘n a blanket at my parties. I haven’t met a kid who doesn’t love these meatballs, and I haven’t met a meat-eating human being who doesn’t love pigs ‘n a blanket. It’s bizarre. You may think you don’t like pigs ‘n a blanket. But if you are at a party…you will eat them. Then I let my 8 year old think of names for them. For the Harry Potter party, the meatballs were “Hogsmeade Cornish balls,” and the pigs ‘n a blanket were “Hippogriffs in a blanket.” For a Hobbit party, the meatballs were Goblin Heads, and the pigs ‘n a blanket were “Dwarves in a Sack.” I thought of pretzel “River Barrels” and “Raw and Wriggly” goldfish all by myself, which made me proud, and I added “Shire Strawberries” just because we needed some fruit.
I also made these “Hobbit Door Cookies,” shown on this blog.
The drinks were inspired by the first food blog post I linked to, and I made a minimalist version of these Hobbit door plates for our ice cream cake. You may notice on both of those linked blog posts that they have these absolutely amazing cakes. Ummm…we had an ice cream cake from Dairy Queen:
It was originally a fishing-themed cake, but I had them leave the boat-and-fish picture off and just write “Happy Birthday, Luke.” Because this is an easy party…
After dinner, we opened presents, and then later we ate our ice cream cake. For Luke’s “big” gift, we got him the Hobbit video game, which both entertained the kids and continued the theme of the party.
And once it was bed time, we watched part two of The Hobbit:
And that was our Hobbit party. It did take a good bit of work, but nothing about it was too difficult, and no one thing took a ton of time to prepare. Plus, all the preparation was worth it to see how much it was enjoyed by all the party-goers, both Tolkien-lovers and the uninitiated. From set-up to finish, the party ended up being a wonderful adventure to everyone involved!