Last Thanksgiving I started reading the Harry Potter series to my younger girls. They immediately fell in love with the characters and stories, and we soon began to collect an assortment of Harry Potter paraphernalia – robes, wands, LEGOs, chess sets, stuffed owls….
So it was no surprise to me that they wanted a Harry Potter theme for their 10th birthday party.
The girls immediately started making lists of Potter-themed food and games. They started making House banners.
I, of course, went to Pinterest for inspiration. Naturally, we were not the first family to plan a Harry Potter party, and I shamelessly borrowed some fantastic ideas. A stroll down every aisle at Michaels, and finding a few items on sale, further stimulated our imaginations.
The week before the party, the girls and I made a dozen golden snitches. Inspired by SpicyPinecone, we wrapped ping pong ball-shaped styrofoam balls with gold foil (meant to wrap candies), poked holes in the sides with a toothpick, and inserted white feathers dipped in Elmer’s glue.
It worked beautifully!
I decided that their party agenda would follow a first day at Hogwarts Academy. Using colored game pieces and a baseball cap, we started with Sorting. The Houses would then collaborate and compete in classes later.
Next up, school photos. The girls were inviting friends from different parts of their lives – school, after-care, swim team, Girl Scout camp – and sometimes children who don’t know each other need a little help to feel comfortable at a party. Fun-Filled Flicks had a great idea for a Harry Potter photo booth, so we kicked the party off with a photo shoot. The children had a lot of fun passing around props and giggling at each other!
I took it one step further and made a sign on both sides. The kids loved making expressions to match their character!
Because the party started in the evening, we went right to the feast in the Great Hall.
My daughters decided on the kid-friendly menu items, named each food, and hand-wrote the identifying cards. Droobles (chicken nuggets), Pixie Flats (quesadillas), Grindyroots (carrot sticks), and Moon Crescents (apple slices) were on the menu along with Elixir of Life (water), Pumpkin Juice (mango smoothie), and Felix Felicis (sparkling apple cider) to drink.
At the dinner table, each child found a copy of the Hogwarts Lesson Book. I got this fantastic idea from My Harry Potter Party who threw the Harry Potter party to end all Harry Potter parties and documented every step of it. I had so much fun putting together this book, and although it was a bit of a time-consuming project, during a week in which I had a major product launch at work, I was completely rewarded by the kids’ enthusiasm when they found the books.
After the feast, the children attended History of Magic class, where I gave them a short test based on Harry Potter trivia. Because the party-goers had not all read the entire set of Harry Potter books, I had to be careful that the quiz didn’t contain any spoilers. The Harry Potter Wiki was a great source of information for the Lesson Books as well as the trivia quiz.
The next class was Care of Magical Creatures. One of my daughters came up with the idea of Pin the Tail Feather on Buckbeak. She drew the bird on a piece of newsprint and cut and colored tail feathers. I wrapped a Gryffindor scarf around each child’s eyes, spun them around a few times, and pointed them to the wall.
My husband was a champion! Not only did he gamely heat up the hot glue gun to create personalized wands (pieces of bamboo reed with glow sticks glued inside) but he led an impromptu game of Quidditch in our front yard in the dark!
The piece de resistance was Potions class. I placed ingredients in various bottles and jars, labeled them, and instructed the children that while any of the individual ingredients were edible, I wasn’t quite sure that combinations they concocted wouldn’t be poisonous or have other deleterious effects. Our potions ingredients were swamp water (neon green Gatorade), Boomslang skin (tea leaves soaking in water), daisy root (masa flour), Gillyweed (cilantro in water), Pufferfish eyes (cocktail onions), Floo powder (colored sugar), beetle eyes (black peppercorns), and Ashwinder eggs (dried lentils).
The children were totally engaged mixing potions and tasting theirs and each others. Every once in a while a child would come running into the kitchen to rinse his or her mouth out with cold water! Amazingly, every child sampled potions. And the mortar and pestle that I dug out of our spice cabinet was a huge hit!
We capped off the evening with cupcakes and Butterbeer (they loved the idea but not so much the taste).
One of the wonderful things about children is that you don’t have to be perfect. They’re not critical, they just want to have fun. I couldn’t completely transform my house into Hogwarts, but with some simple decorations and props, and some fun games, and their enthusiasm and imagination, the party was a success!