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.
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.
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.
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:
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:
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.
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:
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 allrecipes.com 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:
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.