Lord of the Rings—Gandalf Costume—Age 8—Grand Prize Winner
Submitted by Jessica of Tampa Florida

For the invitations, I bought gold parchment paper and I scanned my Lord of the Rings DVD for the front page, and using Old English font typed “You are invited to join the Fellowship on their journey across Middle Earth… On the inside I added a black shaded box. I enlarged a picture of the ring and cut off any background, including in the center of the ring, cut foam tape in small thin pieces and mounted it with small, thin pieces of foam tape that I cut on the black background so it really stood out. Below the ring, I finished with  “…to destroy the Ring. Please meet Gandalf at the Shire at (our home address).”

I decorated the front of our house was a sign that said "No Admittance Except on Party Business". For the landscape, brown and green plastic went over garden furniture to portray hills and mountains. We made hills that they could easily be climbed with wood platforms in ascending levels with footers of different heights (no more than a foot off the ground) and mounted artificial grass mats that were cut to fit onto the platforms. I made cloaks with green felt and threaded ribbon across the tops to tie on. For the girls, I made headbands with floral wire and silk flowers. We made orcs out of cardboard, with pictures of orcs’ faces on the top and painted the rest of the cardboard. I placed dowels in the ground with the cardboard leaning against them alongside the house so the kids could easily and safely knock them down with their swords that we made. We had the movie playing softly in the background.

My father came as Gandalf. We fixed him up with a long cloak and pointy hat and a long white beard that I made. I purchased a long white wig as part of his costume and cut some of the wig to make a beard by gluing it to felt, made two holes in the felt and two in the hat and tied the hat and beard together. He used a long tree branch as a walking stick. My father welcomed everyone with open arms and thanked them for “joining the fellowship for this very noble quest” and he led them to our garage and quickly took off. The garage had a sign that said “The Inn at the Prancing Pony” with my husband dressed up as Strider. He motioned them to come closer, told them that he was a friend of Gandalf’s and gave them letters with instructions to follow Gandalf and details about the journey they’ll have to take.

The first stop on the journey was at the Mines of Moria where Gandalf greeted them again and explained the game. We made this game with a tall maze that we built with cardboard and then painted it. The kids played a game of tag with the ring. The first person with the ring would disappear by hiding until someone found and tagged them and they would take the ring and run and hide. We played until everyone had a turn to hide. Then they decorated swords that we cut out of cardboard and they climbed the mountains with the platforms that we set up and used their swords to take down the orcs that were alongside my house. We gave them some horses and they went on to Rivendale. On the way to Rivendale though, they had to cross a river where they encountered more Orcs that I placed alongside my fence and we gave them water balloons to throw at them. When they finally reached Rivendale, they got some rest and peace and had a buffet of chicken legs, onion rings (for the ring, of course), baby carrots in a butter sauce, melted cheesy bread (lembas) and molten chocolate lava cakes (Mount Doom) in individual bowls with berries, sliced apples, cookies and chips, ginger ale (ale), soda and apple juice. After they left Rivendale, they fought off more orcs. I had pictures of orcs on a line that we tied between a fence and a tree and I gave out archery sets so they could attack them. Gandolf told them that the first person to kill their orc first will get a chance to run to Mount Doom and be the first to throw their ring into Mount Doom. Then last game had them throw plastic rings that I spray painted gold into Mount Doom which we formed with cardboard boxes and painted gray with red lava paint on top.

The cake was shaped into a volcano for Mount Doom. I glued a plastic ring that I spray painted gold onto a skewer and placed the skewer into the top of the cake. I made a recording of the part of the movie when they were at Mount Doom and played it when we brought the cake out for a dramatic effect. I used red goody bags for Mount Doom and made ring cutouts from a graphic and mounted them on the bags. In the bags were LOTR figures, LOTR bookmarks, ring pops, chocolate coins. They also took the cloaks and swords with them. For the thank you cards, I used a graphic of the hobbit hut on the outside and a group picture inside with a thank you message “Now that everyone has safely returned home and the ring is in it’s place, I want to thank everyone for a wonderfully adventurous birthday!”