do it yourself, my works

My daughter’s hobbit birthday party: Food and decor

(Scoot over here for the full post on preps for this DIY party!)

Now I had enlisted the help of a lot of friends and family to decorate the venue and set up the party. But as I said before, my daughter’s birthday, while falling a couple days after Bilbo and Frodo Baggins’ actual birthday, is also right smack in the middle of typhoon season. And unexpectedly (or expectedly), a typhoon hit Metro Manila the day before. I’d been on the verge of canceling (I also had people texting me that day if the party would push through), but my husband said to wait it out until we’d seen the effects of the typhoon. Thankfully, it wasn’t as destructive as previous typhoons or habagat rains, but it still altered our party plans drastically.

Many of my hobbit helpers ended up not coming at all, as they were either stranded in their homes or had to do post-typhoon damage cleanup. So it was basically just me, my husband, and a handful of friends to set up. Naturally, we weren’t able to put up everything I’d planned. Ah, but what can we do against nature’s mood swings? 

A lot of guests who’d initially RSVP’d they were coming also could not make it, so we ended up with a rather intimate get-together. We hired my sister’s catering company, Pink Plate Food Company (which also catered our wedding), to come up with the customized hobbit-food-only menu, as follows:

Squash soup of The Shire, served in little shot glasses
Squash soup of The Shire, served in little shot glasses
Bombur's Minced Meat Pie
Bombur’s Minced Meat Pie
Meriadoc's Pasta with Sausages, Tomatoes, & Nice Crispy Bacon
Meriadoc’s Pasta with Sausages, Tomatoes, & Nice Crispy Bacon
Samwise Gamgee's Roast Chicken with Shrooms and Carrots
Samwise Gamgee’s Roast Chicken with Shrooms and Carrots
Gollum's Fried Fish & Poe-Ta-Ters (despite the name, this dish was a hit!)
Gollum’s Fried Fish & Poe-Ta-Ters (despite the name, this dish was a hit!)

We also had Aragorn’s Athelas Tea for drinks, which was really my sister’s great-tasting concoction of iced lemongrass-pandan tea. I got Tonette Maniquis of Food Serendipity to make the hobbit-hole birthday cake (pictures later) and she offered to make mini sweet cakes using the same icing from the main cake.

Hobbit-hole sweet cakes from Food Serendipity
Hobbit-hole sweet cakes from Food Serendipity

Now on to the decor~!

The entrance to the party venue
The entrance to the party venue

We placed a crate of toy bows, arrows, and swords for the early birds to take, but with a sign that said, “Park your weapons here.” You know, for wandering elves and rangers and such. The wooden crate is from Urban Abode, which I had previously installed with wheels and which we use on regular days as the babycat’s toy box.

At the entryway, guests are greeted with a map of The Shire, which my husband lovingly and painstakingly drew on manila paper using a projector.

We littered the entryway table with green crepe paper and gold chocolate coins. That small version of the Party Tree was something I’d crudely fashioned out of a vase, craft and crepe paper, and lots of tape. The 3D karton letters from Divisoria promptly spelled out “#MAYAISONE,” which guests obediently used as the official party hashtag.

I got the idea of having guests pick their hobbit names from another friend’s kid’s North American Indian-themed birthday party. With the help of a hobbit name generator online, I came up with a list of male and female hobbit names, printed them on sticker nametag labels, and placed them in baskets for guests to pick from.

The giveaways—guests’ share of Bilbo’s dragon hoard (gold chocolate coins in burlap bags tied with rope)—were placed on a long table just behind the entryway wall, which is what guests see on their way out of the party venue. The toy leather chest was something I’d received from press giveaways back when I was still a magazine editor. We didn’t place all the chocolate coins in bags (I didn’t know how many guests were actually going to come), so we just put up a sign that said “Help yourselves to gold from the dragon’s hoard.” Inside the toy chest were more gold chocolate coins and burlap bags that guests greedily filled with their share of the loot. It was such a hit among kids and adults alike that we didn’t even get to take home bags for ourselves!

My husband and I initially planned on using the gold hula hoop as a ring of fire which we’d hang from the ceiling so that kids could jump through it. But since we didn’t have as many hobbit helpers to set it up, I had to improvise and put it up on the wall instead as The One Ring. Those leafy vines were also something the hubby and I had worked for over a week on (while marathon-watching the extended LoTR films, of course) out of green crepe paper and glue.

For the stage area, I printed out a bunting-style birthday banner which I hung from rope. I’d planned on putting up an elaborate ceiling treatment—soft, billowing swags of white and green crepe paper to mimic a tree-laden venue—but alas, no helpers meant simplified version. Again, we do what we can with what we are given.

We placed another table on the stage covered with brown cloth (oh how I wish I’d ironed those tablecloths the night before…), green “leaves”, and the hobbit-hole cake by Tonette Maniquis of Food Serendipity.

Tonette and I had discussed the cake only over Facebook messenger. We volleyed several ideas (at first I wanted it to look like Bilbo’s actual birthday cake from the film), but then we saw some hobbit cake ideas on Pinterest and decided that a hobbit-hole chocolate cake would be much more appropriate. She’d baked the fondant-made pumpkins, stone steps, and door a couple of nights before and excitedly sent me photos. It was so fun “collaborating” with her on this one (really, it was all her), and we couldn’t be happier with the result!

Check out the portrait my hubby made of the babycat. We made her wear her hobbit dress a few days before and took a photo, which the husband drew on parchment paper. We wanted it to look like one of Bilbo’s illustrated portraits.

Oh look, recycled Gerber jars! At the last minute, I decided not to use the Divisoria-bought Gerber jars for the butter/jam/peanut butter spreads because I wasn’t sure of their origins (trash, most probably), so I had a lightbulb moment when I saw I had an extra bag of soil from the potted plants for the table centerpieces (more on that later). I filled each jar with soil, and voila! Instant food-label stands.

This is where the Gerber jars from our own (clean!) personal stash were used: as receptacles for butter, peanut butter, and strawberry jam. I used popsicle sticks as both label and spreader. I pre-ordered about 150 rolls of freshly baked pan de sal from our neighborhood bakery and placed them in small baskets. Those cardboard rings lying on top of the dried palay bunch are actually made from toilet paper cores that I’d saved for over two months, then cut up and spray-painted gold.

The day before, I picked up ten pots of these plants (I’m sorry I’ve forgotten what they’re called!) from a nearby plant nursery, because what’s a hobbit party without the flora? In hindsight, it would’ve been nice to have potted herbs instead as well. Or, um, weeds 🙂 The printed-out maps of Middle Earth and The Shire nicely rounded out each table centerpiece.

I don’t really like cleaning up after a party, so I made sure the centerpieces and most of the decor were things guests could take home. And take them home they did—from the baskets and plants down to the bread spreads and maps!

Check out the third and last installment of this throwback post for pics of the guests, the costumes, and the games!

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