I love to party. I think those are the words my kids will finally go with engraving on my headstone. With all its customs, accomplishments, and challenges; life is for celebrating and I take any chance I can to do so. Christmas. Valentine’s Day. National Donut Day, you name it!
My favorite party times though are my kids’ birthdays. It’s my labor of love to them and I hope they remember it the way I remember my mom sewing my Halloween costume each year or my Nonnie teaching me how to crochet. So this year when my oldest requested a Harry Potter themed birthday, I got so nostalgic, I actually told him I would double his allowance! Is there anything better than planning your child’s birthday theme from the books that made your own childhood? Only He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named would say so!
Currently my family is in Arizona attending medical school, so budgets are a little pinched at the moment. But that doesn’t mean we can’t have fun! I’m going to show you how my Wizarding Potter Party turned out, along with some tips on how to save, how to splurge, and how to modify it for different ages. Putting this together was such a treat, and seeing my little guys face light up made me melt like a Chocolate Frog in a dragon guarded Gringotts vault! Happy Birthday baby boy!
NOTE: We only do friends parties every couple years since I can get so out of hand and, apparently, we still need to eat and pay the bills. So while this party was tailored for a small family experience, the activities could easily be adapted for a larger group.
Whenever I plan a party, with my theme in mind, I always start BIG and then simplify. When my little guy said Harry Potter, I knew I had to have a Great Hall feast, a couple “school classes” for the activities, and a Honeydukes Treat Trolley stand.
My list for absolute must haves for a good Honeydukes Trolley include:
- Bertie-Botts Every Flavor Beans – Jelly beans
- Droobles Best Blowing Gum – Pink bubble gumballs
- Licorice Wands – Licorice sticks
- Jelly Slugs – Gummy worms or you can make actual slugs with this recipe here
- Cauldron Cakes – Get the recipe here
- Chocolate Frogs – Get the recipe here and this is where you can get the chocolate frog mold I used in the picture above.
You can buy actual genuine Potter candies online but ain’t nobody in medical school got funds for that, so we DICY’d it (did it cheaper ourselves) and used normal candies for an improvised twist. I also didn’t want to waste money on candy my kiddos would inevitably spit out – Boogie Beans anyone?
I laid out baggies for the kids to stash their favorite trolley treats for munching throughout the day. Had we been doing a big friend party I would have sewn up some black baggies with a Hogwarts insignia painted on it and had the kiddos take those home as their party favor.
If you really want to go for an authentic Wizarding World feel, consider packaging your candies. (I got slapped with a cold the night before so chose to sleep instead of boxing). Check out this amazing printable for a DIY Chocolate Frog Box, complete with Wizard collecting cards:
And this beautiful package for the Bertie-Botts you can download here:
At times like this, I find having four kids terrifically convenient. Four kids. Four houses. I couldn’t resist.
Obviously, sewing up shirts like these for a full party of wizard friends isn’t a reality (at least not for me – that is a challenge I don’t wish to accept).
Sorting Ceremony: If you’d like to have an official “Sorting Ceremony” with the kids, get yourself a sorting hat and tape your phone under the sorting chair. Have hubs call in from the basement on speaker to be the voice of the sorting hat. Then send your kiddos to their new Hogwarts house where they can color in their house colors on stenciled ties on white shirts.
Of course, black robes were a must. I bought the cheapest fabric I could find at Walmart (about 2 bucks a yard) and whipped out these easy robes faster than it takes Polyjuice Potion to cure. Patterns for both these robes and the Sorting Hat will be coming to you in a future post!
TIP: If time or effort is your concern, purchase cheap black shirts in extra large from Walmart and then simply cut them down the center front to make robes in seconds!
Great Hall Decor
Now, listen folks, the only other words which may compete for my headstone spacing are “avid thrift shopper”. I love seeing the potential life in something called junk and giving it a new story to tell. I call it a gift. My husband calls it a condition. Call it what you will, I scored big time for this party. I found all our goblets, a cast iron cauldron, two silver candles sticks, the silver platters, every serving platter, and those adorable black bowls that serve perfectly as mini cauldrons at the local Goodwill for under 50 bucks! Thats a steal better than Mundungus could make!
After piecing it all together, though, there was still something missing. Duh! A Sorting Hat! So I scoured the internet aaaaaannnnnnddddddd….nothing. Of course – I was being particular. I wanted a Sorting Hat the kiddos could actually play with. It needed to be durable and comfortable (so that nixed any paper mache options) but also didn’t cost me a bag of Galleons (be honest, are my references bugging you yet?). In short, what I wanted didn’t exist… yet. One hour, some scrap fabric, and a piece of cardboard. Voila!
The quintessence of all my DIBY’s! I dolled him up for his birthday debut and the kids loved talking to him at mealtime. Future post for this bad boy coming your way soon!
TIP: Leave the kids with hubby or a sitter and hit the local thrift stores. Thrifting takes time and its guaranteed what you’re looking for is hiding under something and kiddos aren’t as patient as your game of hide and seek needs them to be. Go in with a vision of what you are thinking and then adjust based on whats available. I went in looking for golden goblets and came out with these glass ones and I was thrilled! I know – all of your husbands hate me now.
Though its simple, when matched with some refreshing Pumpkin Juice, bacon and eggs is the perfect Potter breakfast and it is oh so good! I had a couple friends advise me against pumpkin juice as I was planning. Several people said while it was nostalgic they couldn’t really recommend it for tastiness. Oh my friends, how I scoured and BEHOLD my answer! This glorious book I found on Amazon has the most delectable Pumpkin Juice recipe.
If you are planning your own Potter Party or simply enjoy a good authentic British dish (I’m talking Black Pudding authentic) I highly recommend it. The Pumpkin Juice in here is anything but nasty and my kids made it disappear quicker than a house elf. Ten points if you are catching my shoutouts! Magical aren’t they? Ok I’ll stop.
For our parties, I’ve found my kids do really well with one structured game or activity, and one hands on freestyle activity. This time around we went with two hands on and one structured.
Our first activity was Wand Making. While we all know the wand chooses the wizard, the wizard really makes it his own. I picked up a pack of dowels in the Walmart craft section for less than a buck and then came home and loaded one end of each with a huge amount of glue with a hot glue gun to make a handle and let them dry in a mason jar, wet tips out.
After the initial hardening, I went back over them with different designs to give each one a unique look. I wanted the kids to design their own rather than having them pre-made so I pulled out the acrylics, glitter and paintbrushes and let them go at it themselves.
TIP: For pre-made wands to have when guests arrive, use a couple different tones of brown to get a genuine looking knotty wood look in your handles.
Our next activity planned was “Transfiguration Class”. I told the kids that Transfiguration is the magical ability to turn an object from one thing into something entirely different. Then I extended the task of turning black pipe cleaners into Harry’s glasses. My littlest guy needed some help from Daddy but by the end they were really shaping up into some genuine wizards!
Our last planned activity was a Scavenger Hunt using the Marauders Map. Every kid loves maps so I put together this trifold with an empty space in the inside for some riddles leading them to the objects we needed to make our potion/homemade root beer.
[otw_shortcode_button href=”https://doitbetteryourself.club/download/10153/” size=”large” icon_position=”left” shape=”square” target=”_blank”]Download Your Own Blank Marauder’s Map[/otw_shortcode_button]
Drop in a text box and then using these incredible (and free) Harry Potter fonts, and design your own scavenger hunt or game!
Activities for an Older Audience
For games for older kids, have guests bring their own broom and play Quidditch! Use a balloon as the Quaffle and let the kids try and hit it into a hanging or standing hula hoop. Tie a yellow balloon around the “Snitch” players ankle and whichever Seeker can stomp the balloon ends the game and wins their team 10 points.
For an adult Potter Party, sew up a giant chessboard blanket with black and white strips (plan ahead) and play Wizards Chess in the backyard!
Great Hall Feast
Our grand finale came at dinnertime with a glorious feast in the Great Hall! On the menu was:
- Rock Cakes – Recipe from Real Irish Food (also a must for St. Patty’s Day)
- Corn on the Cob
- Herbed Chicken Drumsticks – recipe from Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook
- Butterbeer – The butterscotch syrup recipe from here is heavenly! We did a non-ice cream version with ginger-ale for dinner.
Decorations for dinner remained the same except all the platters were FULL, candles were lit, and I had to string twinkle lights overhead for our “floating candles”.
TIP: Make your own floating candles using this tutorial or go above and beyond and take your dinner under a real nights sky outside with floating lights strung above you!
And then, of course, we have one very Harry Potter-ish birthday cake (recipe from Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook)
One of the best things about planning this party was the opportunity to be a little wild with things. The birthday cake is supposed to look homemade because Hagrid made it! Rock cakes look like rocks! The Sorting Hat can have wonky looking patches because bless its leather heart it’s hundreds of years old! Even my black banners were left with raw edges. There really is no right or wrong way to do things here!
During the days down time, I had these coloring pages available for the boys to color on. They loved seeing all the characters we’ve been reading about together put into shape. You can find tons of them here.
I also had an acceptance letter waiting for J when he woke up. I used the fonts I posted earlier and customized a letter just for him with a list of required equipment he would need for the day.
Use parchment paper or tea stain white paper to get a really ancient feel to all your paper supplies and envelopes! For a final touch of decor, scatter or hang Daily Prophet newspaper clippings or Wanted Wizards Poster signs.
I hope this got your Wizarding Wheels turning! One of Jessica’s passions with this blog (surprise-she is my sister!) is empowering women not only to do, but specifically to do better. That goal becomes a reality when we make things our own. Not ON our own, but when we OWN them through our passion for them. “Better” isn’t an across the board standard, but a reflection of our strengths in our work. This is what makes it the absolute best!! I hope you had fun viewing our day and I can’t to see what you do to make your Potter Party your very own! It was a blast to plan and even better seeing it come to life sans-Resurrection Stone. Cheers!
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