Hobbits love to eat, and boy, do they know how to throw a party.
If you’re a diehard Tolkien fan, you probably already have your midnight movie tickets for “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey,” director Peter Jackson’s first installment in the three-part prelude to “The Lord of the Rings.” By now, you’re doubtless looking for ways to celebrate the return of hobbits, dwarves, and wizards to the big screen. What better way to celebrate the accomplishment of literary mastermind J.R.R. Tolkien than to throw a party, hobbit-style?
The most important consideration when throwing a hobbit’s party is what’s on the menu. Hobbits eat seven meals a day, so an abundance of food is completely necessary. Hobbits are also very good hosts and they wouldn’t want their guests to leave hungry (and grumpy).
To throw your hobbit feast, here are some scrumptious food ideas:
• Stews – Stews are easy to make (especially if you have a crockpot), feed many, and are extremely delicious. They’re not easy to screw up, either, for those of you who aren’t the chefs of the family. Throw in your meat (try some rabbit), your fresh veggies (don’t forget po-ta-toes), and your broth.
• Meats – Roast, ham, rotisserie chicken, or cold meats for sandwiches. Much of Tolkien’s Shire was inspired by rustic villages of England like his childhood home, Sarehole. The same is true for the food. If you’re feeling brave, try cooking a traditional British meat pie.
• Mushrooms – Hobbits love mushrooms (especially Frodo, who stole them from Farmer Maggot when he was a young hobbit). Have them sautéed as a side, fry them, or stick them in a stew. Herb-roasted or mashed potatoes are a good side as well.
• Fresh breads and cheeses – This is a must.
• Eggs – All ways. As Tolkien says, hard-boiled in salad, scrambled for dinner, and poached in the morning. And don’t forget the bacon.
• Scones, biscuits, toast, and blackberry jam
• All kinds of cakes – You can’t go wrong choosing a cake. But, you definitely do not want to leave out seed cakes. Bilbo loves his seed cakes.
• Lembas bread! – Okay, so it’s not a hobbit dish, but Bilbo finds the elves beautiful and intriguing. No party celebrating Bilbo Baggins should be without lembas bread. For an added authentic touch, wrap your lembas bread in large banana leaves with twine.
• Drinks! – Lots of drinks! This is especially important. Hobbits also enjoy coffee and tea. I would recommend a British Earl Grey.
Now this may seem like a lot of food, and, well, it is. Hobbits eat a lot. Consider how many party guests you will have and cook for the appropriate number. If everything on this list sounds delicious, cook smaller portions, allowing each guest just a taste. If your hobbit party is on a budget, make it a potluck.
The second most important thing about a hobbit party is the entertainment. Below are some ideas for to make your party a real hobbit extravaganza:
• Fireworks! – Okay, just kidding. Fireworks are illegal in many states. Sparklers will do just fine.
• Music! – Hobbits can be found singing and dancing at every celebration. More importantly, music was a big part in softening the mood of “The Hobbit.” Break out the instruments and revel in the moment.
• Games are also important. Play rhyming games or take turns reading riddles – hobbits love solving riddles (and are quite good at it, too). Play any manner of “The Hobbit” or “Lord of the Rings” trivia games, or take any modern game and give it a Middle Earth twist. For example, the role-playing party game Mafia. If you want to be a little more creative, try the British children’s game Conkers.
Now let’s talk dress and décor. If you truly want to feel like a hobbit, dress in bright colors (yellows and greens with touches of neutral browns) and curl your hair. A particular physical feature of hobbits is curly hair. If you’re a man, carry a pipe, as most male hobbits do. Lastly, NO SHOES ALLOWED! Shoes don’t belong in the Shire and they should not be present at your party.
One exception: If you happen to live in cities like Buffalo, N.Y., known for their numbing temperatures and brutal snowstorms, you may wear shoes outside during your sparkler time. You don’t want any of your guests to get frostbite because unfortunately, we humans do not have protective hairy feet with thick soles.
If you want to make your party venue actually look like the Shire, here are some good budget-minded tips:
• Think Bilbo’s hobbit hole – rugged-looking, wooden furniture, a cozy rug with an earthy design on it, baskets filled with books.... check your local thrift store! You might be surprised at what they have. You may even find some old lamps or a chandelier.
• A green tablecloth – Don’t go out and buy a new fancy one, as these can be expensive (and you don’t want to buy unnecessary things when you will be spending most of your money on food). Instead, go to your local fabric store, purchase an earthy green cloth that is nice to the touch, and throw it over your table. Voila! You have an inexpensive tablecloth. Hint: Look for cheaper fabrics that don’t seem to fray as much and make sure you purchase enough
yards to fit your table.
• Hang lights around the room. It’s the holiday season and you should have no problem acquiring lights. Use smaller, softer lights, and don’t mistakenly buy only red and green. Hobbits don’t celebrate Christmas.
• Candles, lots of candles. Place candles around the room for more ambiance, or if you’re feeling extra creative, make your own hanging candles. Purchase ball jars with handles (check thrift stores and craft stores), place candles inside them (use stones to hold them in place), and string them up around the room.
• Add plants to make your party feel more like the Shire. Vines, big leafy plants, and flowers will do, real or fake.
And that’s it, folks. You now have all the key ingredients for a perfect hobbit extravaganza. Bring out your inner geek and party like a hobbit. But don’t lose your midnight movie tickets in midst of all the hustle and bustle. Keep them secret, keep them safe.
Pamela Cyran is a Monitor contributor.