So what does this Mom do when her now 9 year old asks for a Harry Potter birthday party? My response: “Oh yeah. Let’s DO this!”
The party was AWESOME (if I do say so myself). Here are my tips and tricks to throw a magical Harry Potter birthday party that won’t break the bank!
First: roll up your sleeves. This isn’t an expensive party, but it does require some prep work. We had 23 little wizards attending and I planned for 6 key activities over a 2 hour window: Sorting Hat, Olivanders Wand Shoppe, Honeydukes Candy Store and Owl Post, Potions class, Quidditch match and the Great Feast. You will also need a couple of family members or friends to help man the various activity centers.
1) Sorting Hat: The sorting hat is available on-line at Amazon for $30, but we just took an old witch hat and pinned brown cloth around it from JoAnns. The messier the better — it looked just like the real thing! For the party we hid a baby monitor under a chair draped with black cloth. We called each kid to the chair, placed the hat upon their head, and my husband (who was hiding in the house peeking through a window) announced their House placement. So fun!
2) Hogwarts at Home: To help transform your home to Hogwarts, scour the internet and print (I printed at UPS: color, 11×17 paper) free images for any and all of the following: Olivanders wand shop, Honeydukes candy store and jar labels, House signs for Gryffindor, Slytherin, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw. Glue signs onto black poster board to make a frame border and hang in the designated areas of the house for the party. I also purchased several iTunes songs from the Harry Potter movies to play in the house during the party, which really set the mood!
3) Olivanders: My husband helped a bit here. We purchased 6 long wooden dowels from Home Depot and he sawed them into 24 wands of varying sizes. We spray-painted them black and added descriptive tags to each with string, e.g. 12 1/2″, Unicorn tail, Aspen wood. Remember: “The Wand Selects the Wizard” (the wizard does not pick the wand) … So, each kid waved their hand slowly above our table of wands. When our table lamp magically turned on, the wand that the hand was over, had selected its wizard. Magic courtesy of our Ikea foot-press lamp.
4) Honeydukes: I picked up packages of Swedish Fish (Squiggly Fish), Whoppers (Fizzing Whizbies), Sour Patch Kids (Fighting Trolls), Gummy Worms (Squishy Snakes), Twinkies (Canary Creams) and mini-Twix bars (Chocolate Mice) from the grocery store and displayed them in varying bowls and platters. I tagged the platters with black chalk sticky labels from Michaels with their magical Hogwarts candy names (free labels on Pinterest as well). We also printed out Hogwarts newspaper articles and taped them on walls around the room. The kids loved visiting the candy store.
5) Owl Post: I created a little table next to Honeydukes where the wizards could write special messages to the birthday girl, another wizard, or back home. I laid some stuffed animal Owls (courtesy of my daughter’s infinite collection of stuffed animals), a globe from the study, and some markers on the table. I had my daughter cut up pieces of paper and roll them up into mini scrolls that we tied with string. We made a little box for the kids to drop their completed posts for owl delivery. My daughter loved reading all the Owl Post from her friends at the of the party.
6) Potions Class: For potions class, my husband (aka Dumbledore) created magical concoctions of dry ice, vinegar, baking soda, food coloring and water for some fun experiments. Pinterest has several ideas to help. I purchased these super cheap ($7 for 24!) mini glass jars on Amazon. We filled them with Gatorade juice of varying colors and labeled them with potion names from the books. Each child took home a magical concoction potion jar in their goody bag.
7) Quidditch: For the games, we used 2 brooms and 2 small baskets from the Dollar Store. The 2 Wizards from opposing houses had to hold on to the broom with both hands while carrying a small balloon (Quaffle) under their chin trying to get to the other side to place the balloon in the basket — whilst dodging foam balls (Bludgers) being tossed by the other team. The House games were a hit!
8) The Great Feast was by far my favorite. All the black table wear, maroon tablecloths and silver lined goblets were purchased at the Dollar Store (seeing a trend here?). Put together, it looked like a million bucks! My mom helped me create the strings of hanging lights (styrofoam pillars from Michaels with a fake tea light glued on top). We served Butterbeer (cream soda and ice cream mixed), cold cuts, chopped veggies & fruit and bread rolls. After we announced the Quidditch House champion (Hufflepuff), the kids roared with laughter and cheered one another with their goblets.
As for my daughter, my husband and I, we were all smiles. This was a magical birthday party I will never forget, and I doubt she will either.