As I’m sure you know, Hobbit Day (Bilbo and Frodo’s birthday) is generally held to be September 22. Excitingly enough, that falls on a Sunday this year, which means it’s totally possible use Saturday to prep for a movie marathon accompanied by all seven Hobbit meals. (Breakfast, Second Breakfast, Elevenses, Luncheon, Afternoon Tea, Dinner, Supper.) We’ve done this a couple of times and it is a memorable occasion, to say the least, but it does take some planning.
Read on for our top tips for pulling off a Hobbit Day movie marathon complete with all seven Hobbit meals (you’re on your own for Gandalf’s fireworks, though.)
Hobbit Day Tip #1 – Decide Which Movies To Marathon
Decide how much time you want to spend and which set of movies you want to use and check the run times. This helps you plan out your food timing. For example, the run-time of the Lord of the Rings Extended Edition DVDs that we have is approximately 11 hours and 25 minutes. (So, yes, you can’t start too early. If First Breakfast is served as Fellowship starts, it works out to about 1.5 hours between each wave of food.) Or, with the Hobbit movies, you can use the dwarves decimating Bilbo’s larder as inspiration and serve a giant meal all at once and then set out nibbles for the rest of the time.
If this is happening all in a single day, we call behind-the-scenes footage and interviews for another time. Most people don’t mind this (once I tell them we’re looking at 11.4 hours of actual movie stuff, they usually blanch a little and agree.) But, hey, if you’ve got a die-hard group and a couple of days, go for it!
Hobbit Day Tip #2 – Decide How To Break Up the Movie Marathon
Set some timing guidelines. We take a 5 minute break whenever we change disks to let people move around, refill food, etc. For the end of the movie swaps, we let the credits play and then start back in as soon as they’re done. Most people like to hear the song/see the main credits (usually ~4 minutes) and then scatter for bathrooms, etc. for the remaining time.
Hobbit Day Tip #3 – Decide What To Serve For Your Hobbit Meals
Menu planning time! The internet is full of options, overwhelmingly so. I’ve found that limiting your options by deciding if you want to do thematically appropriate, in-universe foods, or make souvenir-type food can give you just enough structure to make an effective plan. For example, a seed cake is going to work for the former style, while sugar cookies decorated to look like Bag End’s front door works for the second. For some of the ideas I’ve saved, check out my Shire Feast board on Pinterest.
Hobbit Day Tip #4 – Establish Guidelines for the Movies and Meals
I keep our invitations pretty laid-back. I tell people when we’re starting and let them know they’re welcome to show up as their schedule permits. We tend to have a core group who are there for the whole marathon, but having people come for their favorite parts adds an extra shot of energy, especially when we’re in the home stretch in front of the Black Gate.
Hobbit Day Tip #5 – Plan How to Serve Your Hobbit Meals In and Around the Movies
Consider how you want to stage food presentation and the actual eating part of it. I don’t have dishes enough to do seven meals, but regular disposables break the mood, you know? (I’m putting in the time and effort to make 7 &$*% meals; I’m not going to follow that up with generic white paper plates, YMMV.) I’ve compromised on bamboo disposables for at least a few of the meals. (They look appropriately rustic, but again, YMMV.) I do use actual dishes for the big meal, because trying to eat a roast (whether beef, pork or lamb) from disposables is annoying.
Hobbit Day Tip #6 – Don’t Make Too Much!
Make less of each individual food than you think you need. Seriously, cut it in half. If you can’t bring yourself to do that (I do understand), cut it by a third. Your refrigerator will thank you. The first year I did this, even the teenage boys were waving the white flag with 2 meals to go. (Hah! Yes! I out-cooked the food-eating machines. Success! Less of a success was eating the leftovers for a week.)
Hobbit Tip #7 – Temper Your Expectations
This is not a great time for the cook to engage with the movies. There’s a lot of food moving in and out, and the logistics of getting 7 meals served and cleared take a fair amount of brain power. Of course, you can always make it a group project and have others contribute, but there’s still more on-the-ground coordination happening than you might expect. My take on it is that whatever I might lose in viewing, I’m more than making up for with how I’m engaging with the text as I plan and coordinate the food. I can practically recite the scripts, but I have to stop and think about what *would* Hobbits eat? Should I lean to the other cultures for some of the food, too? If so, which ones at which time? (Elves for tea? Rohan for mead with supper? Dwarves for ‘red meat on the bone’?)
That being said, I absolutely do have my scenes that I will not miss and someone responsible knows to yell for me if I’m not in front of the TV as they approach. (We try not to pause or rewind, because it’s a long day just getting through the whole trilogy even once, but I don’t miss “My brother, my captain, my king,” for anything, so sometimes there is a pause. Or burned sausages.)
Hobbit Day Tip #8 – Get Some Extra Credit
The food part of this is a knockout alternate activity for a book report. Write up the menu, take pictures, cross-reference meals and foods to the books. It’s also a great way to involve kids in real-world menu planning and how to create shopping lists from those menus. It’s much more exciting when it’s for something like this rather than just boring old everyday life. (I have never seen kids volunteer to peel potatoes more enthusiastically.)
Hobbit Day Tip #9 – Try for Realistic Meal Planning
Like any big, important meal, this is probably not the time to try out brand new recipes. This is a lot of moving parts. Don’t feel like every single meal has to be something super-exciting. Scrambled eggs and bacon is fine for breakfast and some fruit and cream is excellent for Second Breakfast. Things you know how to make will help keep the stress low.
(I don’t follow #9 very well at all, but I’ll reiterate that it’s probably much less stressful if you do. Then again, we’re making seven meals for a Hobbit Day movie marathon–if we wanted simple and no-stress, we could pop popcorn and call out for pizza. (Which is also a valid option, just not the focus of this post!))
Hobbit Day Tip #10 – Record Your Celebration!
TAKE PICTURES. I forgot to until halfway through one year and it still annoys me. Look, you’re putting a huge amount of time and effort into this. Document your joy. (I also like to get a couple of action shots, just to pull back that Instagram curtain and show the real world behind the filter.) Again, this can be a great job for slightly older kids.
For a quieter, more book-based take on celebrating Hobbit Day, check out GeekMom Natania’s post Celebrating Simple Hobbits.
If you do end up having a Hobbit Day celebration, with or without the movie marathon and all seven meals, please come let us know what you did — we’d love to see it!