When you live in a small house, and have invited fourteen nine-year-old boys to come over with swords for a homemade hobbit birthday party, the last thing you want to hear is that thunder battles are predicted for that day’s weather. If you have any pull with the storm giants, please ask them to simmer down by late afternoon, so we can take our more raucous hobbit birthday party games outside.
Whenever we do a homemade birthday party, I aim for an hour of structured activity in the middle. Depending on the number of guests, that means time for around four games, which is as much structure as a bunch of excitable kids can be expected to handle, when cake beckons from the side board. I mostly stick to the classic party games I knew as a kid, like Pin the Tail, and Pass the Parcel, or Hot Potato, which can be adapted to any theme.
I asked all three of my kids for ideas for hobbit birthday party games, and here’s what we’ve got planned:
Guests try to answer riddles. The person who answers the most riddles correctly wins a prize. I put my sixth grader to work on this one, gathering clever riddles from the internet, and collating them into a document. He is counting on being the “Riddle Master.”
Ring, Ring, Who’s Got the Ring?
Based on Who’s Got the Button. Kids sit or stand in a circle with the birthday child in the center, holding a ring between his palms. Everyone keeps their own palms clasped together, while the ring master goes around the circle, tapping each set of hands with his own. Along the way, he secretly transfers the ring into someone’s hands. When he has gone around the circle completely, he stands in the middle and chants, Ring, Ring, Who’s Got the Ring?, pointing to someone to make the first guess. If the child guesses incorrectly, the guess passes to the child to his left. The child who guesses correctly takes the ring and becomes the Ring Master for the next round. Everyone wins a Ring Pop in the end.
Pin the Tail on Smaug
We’re lucky to have several talented artists in this house! I’ve asked my fourteen-year-old to draw one of his fearsome dragons on poster board for a game of “Pin the Tail.” I can’t imagine anyone alive doesn’t know how this game works, but just in case: guests take turns being blindfolded, spun around three times, and pointed toward a target with a paper cut-out of the missing element (in this case, the tip of the dragon’s tail) in their hands. The tail has a bit of tape or removable glue dot on the back, so it will stick to the poster (or the wall). The person who comes closest to the target position wins a prize.
Spiders and Dwarves Tag
Based on the tag game, Sharks and Minnows, one or two children are selected to be the spiders. The rest of the kids (the dwarves) have to try to cross Mirkwood forest (the front yard) without being tagged. Whoever is tagged joins the spiders. The last dwarf tagged is the winner.
Our homemade hobbit birthday party pinata is (mostly) dry. It needs a little patching, and then it will be ready to paint and fill.
I like to give about half an hour for guests to arrive. Sometimes I’ll have a simple craft set out to keep things from getting completely out of control. Still thinking about what this might be. I found a bucket of flat craft gems last night in the craft supplies box, and am thinking they could be used to decorate drinking cups or something. Any suggestions?
Prizes and Favors
I suppose it’s considered kind of barbaric in the 21st century, but I am kind of old school when it comes to party games. There are winners and a few special prizes (hoping I can find a few inexpensive geodes at our educational supply store today). There are also activities where everyone gets a treat, like Ring Pops for playing Who’s Got the Ring. There will be more sweets and treats in the pinata. And of course, everyone gets a favor to take home (we used to call them loot bags). I’m leaning toward bubble pipes, but gold chocolate coins have also been suggested.
After games, the birthday boy opens cards and presents (again, old school), and we have cake. Which so far looks like this:
Are you seeing the Lonely Mountain? With a cone on top?
After cake, it’s outside until pick-up time, supposing we all have to huddle on the front porch and watch the thunder battle. I’ll take my chances with the storm giants rather than stay inside with fourteen caked-up dwarves with weapons.
So much left to do today. I’ve got more bunting to hang, a troll head to paint, a mountain to build, and prizes to find. In the words of Prince Humperdinck, I’m swamped. Come back for cake tomorrow.