Posted by: Hannah | 07/28/2013

an unexpected party

So when Harry said he wanted a “Lord of the Rings” themed birthday party, I panicked a little bit, for some very good reasons:

  • I’ve never thrown a kid’s birthday party in my life
  • I’m an introvert and large groups of hyper kids alarm me
  • Lord of the Rings is many things, but an awesome excuse to throw a party? Not so much
  • most eight year olds haven’t read Tolkien yet, so how would that even work?
  • I’ve never thrown a kid’s birthday party in my life (yes, I said it twice. It bears repeating.)

However. Crowd-sourcing party ideas is the best thing about the internet, ever. Better than Kickstarter or IndieGoGo or a limitless array of shirtless Chris Hemsworth photos.

Pinterest was a big help. Every time I found anything that seemed even remotely helpful, I pinned it. If you are ever confronted with planning a Tolkien-themed party, feel free to use my small but practical board on the subject. I also bored my friends and family to tears for the past two weeks picking their brains for ideas.

Here’s what we ended up doing for planned activities:

Make Your Own Shields

I cut shield shapes out of heavy cardboard. Then I punctured two rows of two holes and threaded pipecleaners through and secured them into loops for handles. I provided coloured pencils, markers, crayons, craft foam offcuts, and stickers. This was the kids’ first stop when they arrived, and it was great – gave them something to occupy them while we waited for the other guests to arrive, and gave me a chance to get to know them a little bit before they started running around yelling.

8th Birthday 005


Choose Your Weapon

Well, not choose – everyone had the same weapon. Foam swords from the dollar store, $1.50 each. Soft and flexible so pretty harmless. Each kid got to take one home, as well as their shield, of course.


8th Birthday 002

Battle the Orcs

Michael and I took turns being the Orcs. Nothing kids love better than ganging up on the nearest adult and just whaling the tar out of him or her. Once everyone was sweaty, I brought out water balloons. Michael took cover behind the craft table with his ammo, and the kids all charged his position. Everyone got soaked (and they helped clean up the balloon bits afterwards.)

Pro tip! Maybe because they were Wal-Mart balloons… maybe because they are designed to break so the rubber is especially weak… or maybe it’s because they were sitting in the sun… but we lost a fair number of balloons when they spontaneously popped all on their own. You definitely have to prep the balloons ahead of time, but expect some losses and over-stock.

8th Birthday 028

Dwarvish Beards

I found this as a suggestion for a relay race; each kid in line puts the beard on the kid behind them. That sounded like a bad, stupid, possibly dangerous idea, so instead I just gave everyone a handful of shaving cream and told them to make their own beards. They took to it with a ridiculous amount of enthusiasm considering a can of shaving foam costs $2.99:

8th Birthday 036


Multiply this by seven kids and then add arms, legs, and hair, and you’ll get the idea. We needed several buckets of water and towels to clean everyone up, plus we’ll soon find out if shaving foam kills grass. Brilliant fun though, if you don’t mind a mess.

Pin the Tail on Bill the Pony

After the water balloons / shaving cream / beating grown-ups about the head excitement, it was time to slow it down a bit before we ate. Bill the Pony is of course the dependable pack animal that Samwise Gamgee brings as they set out on their quest. No one will ever call me an artist, but I sketched one out, made a bunch of tails, and stuck it to the fence:

8th Birthday 003


I was surprised at how popular this was. They were very much into it and were disappointed to hear that I didn’t have a limitless number of tails (or indeed the time to run a second round!) Classic games are often the best.

We took a break for drinks and a snack. Fruit trays and root beer floats in frosted mugs. Not one child at the party had ever tasted a root beer float. I’m a big believer in nutrition and healthy eating habits, but what are we doing to our children??? This is just sad. Anyway, they enjoyed the floats. And now every mother hates me, probably.

Next up!

Defeat Smaug and Steal His Gold

Now, I know that Smaug is actually from ‘The Hobbit’ but stealing a dragon horde is much more understandable for non-readers than making a sacrifice in order to defeat ultimate evil. So. Dragon.

The closest thing to a dragon pinata that I could find was a slightly cross-eyed dinosaur. I modified it by adding wings, a spiked tail, a crest, and flames shooting out of its mouth with some cardstock and scotch tape. Took about ten minutes:

8th Birthday 004


He was stuffed with gold-foil wrapped chocolate coins, caramel cups wrapped in red foil, and individually-wrapped butterscotch candies. Very treasure-trove like.

Protip # 2 – DO NOT STUFF A PINATA WITH GOLD FOIL WRAPPED CHOCOLATE COINS. Just don’t. I don’t know what pinatas are made of, but we actually broke the plastic ‘pinata bat’ before we managed to even crack that damn thing, and the kids were hitting it hard. Michael finally had to step in and take a baseball bat to it, and even then we ended up kind of cracking it like a lobster and pouring the candy out. By that time, a lot of the foil had come off the coins, and they were pretty smushed. Lesson learned. Next time, hard candies only.

The kids gathered all the loot up into a basket and I quickly divided it up into treat bags. There was a modest amount for each kid, plus the swords and shields. Very inexpensive treat bag option, and all fitting the theme.

Finally, the cake!

The One Ring

Now, I had the idea of making a cake in a Bundt pan and decorating it to look like the One Ring. Then I went on Pinterest and found out that someone had the idea already. But at least I knew then that it could be done!

I made a cream cheese pound cake because I wanted a good solid base to work from. The icing recipe I found on and is specifically for cake decorating (both cake and icing recipes are included in my pinboard). Both cake and icing were dyed yellow.

I then found the One Ring inscription online and with a Wilton sparkle gel tube, I free-handed the script around the cake. I then dusted the whole thing with pearl dust and ta-da! One ring to rule them all:

8th Birthday 045


I was so pleased with how it turned out, and it was actually much easier than I was expecting. The cake was delicious, too.

All in all, it was a lot of fun. Harry’s friends were really sweet, polite, up for anything, and so kind to both Ron and George, that it was a pleasure to have them and I was honestly surprised at how fast the two hours went by.

I guess my tenure as “The Mom Who Doesn’t Throw Birthday Parties” is at an end.



  1. That looks like such an awesome party!
    You rocked it!

    • It was fun. One of the kids said “you guys are NUTS” in tones of respectful awe.

  2. I’m so impressed, especially by the inscription on the cake. Great job!

    • I have never had much success piping before – but I used to do calligraphy as a pre-teen. This was very similar and it all came back to me very quickly. In fact I’m thinking now that I might get a calligraphy set again. I always enjoyed it.

  3. WOW — that looks like a great party.

    I used up all my party throwing mojo by the time my eldest turned 6. Now I give the birthday boy $100 (what I was budgeting for their parties and gift) and let them spend it or save it as they see fit. Cos I’m lazy now.

    • Up until this year when Harry’s birthday rolled around I always said “now, you can have a party OR a big present, but not both”, because I’m an asshole and didn’t really want to throw parties for little kids. This time he got a present – a new bike – but he needed one anyway because he’d completely outgrown his old one, and we agreed to the party once we found out he only wanted a half-dozen kids.

      Of course now Ron wants a party for *his* birthday, in April. I’ll be curious to see if he wants LOTR as well, or something else entirely. I just hope it’s not Pokemon. I don’t know from Pokemon.

  4. Looks absolutely awesome! Great job!

  5. Oh my! I saw all your plans on twitter, but that was awesome! My oldest daughter really wants. Harry Potter theme for her next birthday and you’ve inspired me:)

    • I’ve got a Harry Potter birthday party pinboard too – that’s for me 😉 – you’re welcome to take a gander.

  6. A plus, Hannah. Damn, you’re good.

  7. Nice work! I am always impressed by peoples’ birthday parties. The make your own shield plus sword is quite brilliant and I will attempt to remember for 5’s party next year.

    This was the first year I threw one for one of my kids in my house..which is a townhouse, without a proper yard. It went better than I thought it would but still not my favourite part of parenthood.

  8. […] Via HodgepodgeAndStrawberries […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: