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Today marks the end of an era.
And by that I mean the last of the Hobbit movies is "officially" out in theaters (that is, if you missed the movie marathon on Monday, or the evening premieres on Tuesday). It's the final voyage into Middle-earth -- at least on film.
As I write this, I've already seen the movie twice. I got a good cry in, complained about a few things, poked fun at Legolas, ooooh'ed and aaaah'ed at the costumes, and generally did what obsessed fangirls do best: obsess.
But I'm not here to regale you with a review of the movie and all the things it did right, or its sins. Just wait for the How It Should Have Ended, if that's what you want.
Instead, I'm here to remind you that even though we're not getting any more movies, you don't have to leave Middle-earth for good. Just take matters into your own hands. Throw your own Hobbit-themed game night and cook up a feast worthy of Bag End.
So here it is: Everything you need to plan a spectacular Hobbit-themed game night, from the games to the food. If you want to work in a movie marathon, or even just turn the soundtracks on for background noise, by all means go for it.
After all, in the words of Thorin Oakenshield himself, "If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world."
Fun fact: My very first "real" gaming experience (we're not counting Candyland) was the Lord of the Rings edition of Risk. My parents bought it for me because it had Lord of the Rings on the box and they knew that I was obsessed. I was so excited to give it a go.
I was fortunate then, as I am now, to have friends who indulge my nerdiness, and they came over to play the game with me. Sadly, we got bored even before we managed to set up the board. So many rules, so much going on, and none of us had ever played before. We never even finished the game and I didn't actually play a game of Risk until almost a decade later.
If you have a copy of that game floating around (I think mine is still at my parents' house), by all means break it out. But you can also give these games a go:
I'm sure most of us have tried to play a word in Scrabble only to find out it's a proper noun. My friends and I have had more than a few arguments about what should and should not be allowed.
You don't have to worry about that with this Hobbit version of Scrabble.
The game play is mostly the same. The board is re-designed to reflect the movie, the word tiles are all green, and the O tiles look like the One Ring. This special addition also adds "Adventure" cards that you can play at the start of your turn.
The biggest change, though, is the expanded dictionary. You can use Lord of the Rings-related names and other words. "Azg Nazg Gimbatul" on a triple word score, anyone? OK, maybe not. But I've been waiting more than a decade to make that reference.
One Ring to rule Park Place, anyone?
Actually, that's not entirely accurate. This Collector's Edition of Lord of the Rings gives places on the board Middle-earth names and renames some of the cards to match the theme, too (the income tax becomes a Palantir, for example). The tokens are replaced with Bill the Pony, Gandalf's hat, Sting, Aragorn's crown, the Horn of Gondor, and an Elven brooch.
There are plenty of other Lord of the Rings games out there, too. There's the Lord of the Rings card game, the Hobbit and Lord of the Rings adventure games, and yes, even Lord of the Rings Trivial Pursuit.
Hobbits eat six meals a day (unless you're Peter Jackson, who gets to decide that Hobbits eat seven meals a day). The takeaway is that no Hobbit game night is complete without plenty of tasty food. Exactly what you'll serve depends on when you schedule your game night. Maybe it'll wind up being a "game day" instead of a game night, especially if you throw in a movie or two.
I went looking for ideas worthy of a Hobbit meal. There are a shocking number of Hobbit and Middle-earth inspired recipes online, some of which are fairly accurate (Tolkien himself focused on foods that had been prepared since the Middle Ages). Here's some of the foods mentioned in the book itself, and links to recipes, if you're feeling creative:
For drinks, there is of course tea, but also coffee, red wine and ale.
Some of my ideas to modernize or simplify this menu:
Set of a sandwich bar with some hearty bread, cold chicken (get a rotisserie chicken from the store or roast your own ahead of time), maybe some roast beef, and a few cheeses. It's not really period accurate, but people can serve themselves as they want, which is always nice.
A lot of my game nights treat meal time like a break, and so the games get put up and we have an actual entree. If you want to go that route, in place of a pork pie, you might considered a shepherd's pie, which might be a bit simpler. Plus, it's covered with mashed potatoes, and what's not to love about that?
A stew or soup would be great. Lamb stew (like this one made with Guinness Stout) would be a fantastic tribute to New Zealand, but you could also do a hearty beef stew, or a mushroom soup(Hobbits love mushrooms, after all). Get it cooking in a slow cooker or dutch oven and leave it alone for a few hours to save yourself some time and hassle. Don't forget a great crusty bread.
If you don't feel like cooking everything from scratch, head over to your local bakery to get an apple tart and some scones to go with some store-bought jam (or maybe something from your local farmer's market).
Keep some tea and coffee on hand, and break out the ale or wine for when after the kiddos fall asleep. A mulled red wine would be period-accurate and a great way to add a fancy drink to the menu.
If you're really going for an all-day event, I really like this NPR writer's planned out menu with seven courses spread throughout the day. Want more options? Check out this index of Middle-earth inspired recipes, or WB's Recipes from Middle-earth collection.
Ultimately, though, I think the most important part of any Hobbit-inspired game night is keeping the spirit of the thing: good food, good company, and good times.