Before I get to the activities, I should mention that several of the party-goers were in costume: Legolas complete with pointy prosthetic ears, Aragorn, Éomer, and others in mail shirts with shields, etc., boy Hobbits in tunics (Frodo with a gold ring on a chain around his neck), girl Hobbits in cheerful vests and skirts, Éowyn in a more Rohan-esque vest, blouse, and skirt, and of course Galadriel in white gown with golden crown (crafted from a dollar store windchime). Nearly all of this was made by Mom in the days leading up to the party.
On around to the swingset frame, where none other than Shelob – papier-mâché piñata courtesy of Mom, with wiggly hairy legs of doubled-up pipe cleaners and eerie bulging yellow eyes – awaited the group for yet another challenge. Each guest took a blindfolded turn at defeating the horrible spider, armed only with courage and of course Sting, one of many plastic swords in my parents’ grandchildren-friendly collection.
The spider proved so formidable that our initial Sting actually broke from its hilt and had to be replaced. Mom had cleverly given Shelob a segmented body, with two separate balloon-formed cavities. The nice thing about this was there were actually two piñata-bashing victories, and two candy spillages. When at last the beast was bested, its sugary sweet insides collected by the assembly, the group proceeded inside for the final challenge.
The front hall may not look like Mordor, but there at the foot of the stairs rose the fiery Mount Doom, another of Mom’s papier-mâché creations. Each guest was given ten gold rings, and standing above the mountain, took his turn at destroying the Ring of Power (or actually, getting the highest out of ten into its opening). (The rings were a dollar-store deal: 100 for $1.)
Finally it was time to depart Into the West – that is, about five minutes away to the home of Legolas – where presents were opened and Hobbit-hole cake (made and decorated by my sister) was served. Then, exhausted with knife, sting, and a long burden (or something like that), the adults crashed while the older kids stayed up watching The Return of the King and younger folk watched the much shorter Lord of the Beans. A fitting, restful ending to a truly fun and memorable day.