(credit: Mark Pokorny/Warner Bros. Pictures)

(credit: Mark Pokorny/Warner Bros. Pictures)

Peter Jackson’s first installment of “The Hobbit” series, “An Unexpected Journey,” based on J.R.R. Tolkien’s novel, will be released on December 14. If you’re a long-time Tolkien enthusiast or even a casual fan, chances are you’ve got a Middle Earth personality all your own. Read on to discover some ways to bring out the wizard, hobbit, elf or dwarf in you.

For Everyone: Costume Party

Sunshine Thrift Store
4304 S. Dale Mabry Highway
Tampa, FL 33611
(813) 831-4377

Nothing brings out fun and creativity like a costume party. Your best bet for crafting an affordable, homemade costume is to visit a Tampa thrift shop, such as Sunshine Thrift Store, which operates one store in Tampa and one in St. Petersburg. Browse over 30,000 second-hand items including men’s clothing, women’s clothing and shoes. You may also find some cheap props to go with your costumes, like a straight cane for Gandalf’s staff or a large gold-colored ring and chain to represent the One Ring.

For the Wizards: Reading Group

Wizards are admired for their ageless wisdom and extensive knowledge. Performing magic spells may be beyond mortal abilities, but studying up on all things Tolkien certainly isn’t. There’s no better way to prepare for the movie than by reading Tolkien’s masterpiece, so get a bunch of your fellow wizards together and start a reading group to read and discuss “The Hobbit” together. If you can’t seem to get a group going, there’s still an option for you: Tampa readers have organized an online reading group on booktalk.org to discuss “The Hobbit.” Participating in the reading group is free and will go through January 2013. If you want to read along and discuss this timeless classic with like-minded people without leaving the comfort of your pajamas, visit the online discussion at www.booktalk.org/the-hobbit.

For the Elves: Poetry Reading
Mystikal Scents

9545 E. Fowler Ave.
Thonotosassa, FL 33592

(813) 986-3212

Dates: December 11 and 18, 2012
Time: 7 p.m.

Tolkien’s elves were celebrated for their brilliant archery, poems and songs. Gather your elvish friends and your best song, poem or story and head down to Mystikal Scents for Open Mic(less) Night. Open Mic(less) Night is a place for the artistically inclined to express themselves, be it through poetry, song, dance, storytelling, stand-up comedy or instrumental music. Reservations are appreciated, but not required. Mystikal Scents also requests a $2 love donation.

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For the Hobbits: Botanical Gardens
University of South Florida Botanical Gardens
12210 USF Pine Drive
Tampa, FL 33612
(813) 974-2329

Hobbits love their plants and gardens. To celebrate the hobbit in you, visit the USF Botanical Gardens. This 16-acre garden is maintained by the USF College of Arts and Sciences and holds a collection of over 3,000 plants and animals, including an adopted cat named Rafters. Admission is $5 to visit this seemingly endless realm of natural beauty.

For the Dwarves: An Adventure in Architecture
Henry B. Plant Museum
401 W. Kennedy Blvd.
Tampa, FL 33606
(813) 254-1891

Dwarves are the builders of Middle Earth. Their skills in shaping rock and stone led them to create incredible buildings and cities. If, like a dwarf, you appreciate fine architecture, you will find it at the historic Henry B. Plant Museum. This national historic landmark was opened as a hotel in 1891. Plant himself referred to it as his “exotic palace,” and for good reason. The magnificent spires atop the building give the hotel-turned-museum a regal appearance unlike anything else in Tampa Bay.

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Amanda Mole has been writing since she was old enough to hold a pencil and cooking since she was tall enough to reach the stove. She believes that food provides more than just vital nutrients: it is an irreplaceable part of countless cultural and social activities. As a Tampa Bay resident for the past 21 years, she is well acquainted with the incredibly diverse range of restaurants, bars, and food festivals that the area has to offer. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.