Kate and I have been reading Harry Potter and in February (I know, I know, this post is a bit late) she decided to have a Harry Potter party for her 7th birthday. I did A LOT of searching for ideas for the party and found several sites that were so helpful so I'd like to add my two cents to the Harry Potter birthday party pool. As I was hosting the party I didn't get pictures of everything so if you have questions, please ask. I'll try to remember everything I did in as much detail and describe it here. Unfortunately I got a new computer so the bookmarks I had linked to all the awesome sites I used are gone but I'll find ones that I remember and post them here.
To start, I created the invitations on Illustrator. I found a Hogwarts crest and put it at the top, used similar wording found in the first book, and created an invitation to attend Hogwarts school for the day. I used the fonts "Pieces of Eight", "French Script", and "Witched". Here are links for a couple of the fonts:
I personalized each with the recipient's name and printed them on a cream colored paper to resemble parchment. I had a little wax seal and wax from an artsy phase I went through in college so I used it to seal them closed, then tied a green ribbon around it. I have included a slightly altered picture of the invitation.
Decorations: I got a sheet of pseudo-brick on Amazon for pretty cheap, cut it to fit, found a nice little sign for platform 9 3/4, and stuck it up on the front door. As it was February it was a good option for keeping the door closed while still giving the impression of stepping through the barrier to board the train.
Once the kids entered, they were greeted by several helpful witches and wizards (my awesome helpers) to direct them to Diagon Alley. There they got an equipment list for their trip through the stores.
They got their school case with the Hogwarts crest on it when they first arrived. These were created out of cardboard boxes that my dad had for business and didn't use. I spray painted them black, folded them up, and pasted the Hogwarts crest on the front. When they received their case the helper witch at Flourish and Blotts wrote their name on the spine in gold marker. Everything they got went into the little box. It turned out to be immensely helpful in keeping everyone's things somewhat together.
Within Diagon Alley I had three stores: Flourish and Blotts, Madame Malkins, and Ollivanders. I made signs out of poster board for each shop. At Madame Malkins they received their wizard hat and robe. These were actually quite simple to make. I ordered a whole bunch of black adult T-shirts and cut them up the middle to form the robes. Not especially beautiful but it was quick and for the purpose it was perfect. The hats were made out of black felt.
Here are some links:
Notes: I didn't put the crest on the hats and I made a few different sizes just in case. They are so easy once you get them going in batches that it wasn't a big deal to alter the size a little. The robes on the link are awesome, but I just didn't have time as we had about 20+ kids coming. I literally just cut the T-shirts up the middle. It worked.
The wands were maybe my favorite part of preparations. Again, once you get the hang of it, doing it in batches is pretty easy and they are so fun to create. I secretly made one for myself. I mean really, how can you help NOT wanting one...
Here's a link for making the wands:
You only need paper, hot glue, and paint. They looked AWESOME.
The boxes were a little trickier since you have to cut the lid and bottom to match. I collected all the cardboard I could find for a couple of months and then did them in batches again.
Here's a link:
Notes: My wands were all different sizes (again, I had like 25 of them) so I had to make the boxes big enough to fit all of them. I found this wrapping paper for about 50 cents for a gigantic roll on the JoAnn's Christmas clearance rack. I put an Ollivander's label on top and two decorative rectangles on each end. On one end I labeled the type of wand wood, its core, and its length. On the other end was the new owner's name, once the wand found them. Inside the boxes I put some mushed tissue paper on the bottom and hot-glued gold crushed velvet over it to make a nice cushion for the wand itself. The boxes were by far the most time consuming project but they turned out beautiful.
Jon played Ollivander and did a great job helping each wand find the right owner.
At Flourish and Blotts the kids got their school supplies. They got a little notebook, a quill, a little plastic black cauldron, a small vial, and stirring sticks. The notebooks and cauldrons were from Oriental Trading company and I pasted the Hogwarts logo over the front cover to make the notebooks ready for school.
The vials I got on Amazon, though they can be found at craft stores as well. They were only about an inch high and perfect for potions class. The stirring sticks were also for potions class.
The quills I made using craft goose feathers from a local craft store. I got a couple different kind of cheap pens from Walmart, took them apart, and found which ink wells from inside the pen fit best in the feather shaft. I cut the ink wells to the right length, added some hot glue to the outside of the ink well, and slid it inside the feather shaft. They turned out great.
After everyone got their supplies and robes they were ready to be sorted into their houses. I made flags by getting basic cotton material in red, yellow, blue, and green, then sewing a banner shape. I left a hole at the top for the wooden dowel to slide through. Then I printed pictures of each house logo I found on the internet and just glued them on.
I read a lot of suggestions about how to do a sorting hat but in the end I found the easiest and cheapest method was to use an old Halloween costume witch hat. I got some cheap brown fabric and layered it, little by little, all over the hat, hot-gluing it on as I went. I had a couple of straps hang down to look like the real sorting hat. The tricky part was figuring out how to make it speak. I'm actually pretty proud of how we pulled this part off. I made a trap door about halfway up inside the hat out of the brown fabric. I glued down 3/4 of it and made the last quarter stick with Velcro. Then right before the sorting, I called Jon on my cell phone, put it on speaker, put the phone up in the hat and Velcroed it shut. Then Jon went in another room (he could still hear us so he knew when the hat was on the next child because I yelled "next" each time) and he pretended the sorting hat was considering carefully each time. He did a wonderful job. We had planned before that Kate would go first so he knew which house to do first (she insisted that it was her party and she MUST be in Gryffindor, of course).
The inside of the hat with the Velcro:
After the kids were sorted, they each got a badge with their house logo and pinned it to their robes. The badges were just blank create-your-own-pin kind that you get at craft stores. I printed off the house logos and put them inside the badges.
As each child was sorted, they would stand under their house banner, ready for class.
We had three classes: Divination, Potions, and Care of Magical Creatures. Potions was a double session, so we had two houses do Potions class while the other two houses attended Care of Magical Creatures and Divination.
Divination was held upstairs (just like Trelawney's classroom). I got a bunch of silvery balloons, filled each with a silly fortune (you will become Minister of Magic, you will crash your hippogriff into the Whomping Willow, etc.) and a little bit of glitter. Then I blew them all up. I set up a table with a large black table cloth over it and hid the balloons underneath. My sister-in-law, Kim was Professor Trelawney and did it beautifully. She was supplied with pins and each student got to look into their crystal ball (the balloon) and pop it to see what their future held. It was great.
For Care of Magical Creatures I got a bunch of dragon toys at the Dollar Store and my mom (Hagrid's assistant) hid them around the room. We had the class look for Hagrid's lost dragons. Each child got to take their dragon replicas with them, just like the miniature dragons from the Goblet of Fire Challenge in the fourth book.
Potions Class was just awesome, due almost entirely to my incredible friend Sue Skeen. She BECAME Snape. The kids got their notebooks and quills out, wrote out their potions, then got out their potion kit. I had the potion recipes hanging around the class and Sue led them through the potions, demonstrating two, then letting them try the exploding elixir in their own cauldrons. Afterwards they made their Elixir of luck in their vials, corked them, and I sealed the tops with hot glue for them to take home.
For decoration I got some glass bowls and things from the dollar store. I put plastic snakes and bugs, colored liquids, and dry ice in the containers around the class. The potion ingredients were in some clear plastic jars and I labeled each one. Sue had a cheat sheet so she knew what each thing was.
Volatile Solution: Vinegar
Mandrake Root: Baking soda
Spider Eggs: black peppercorns
Basilisk Venom: green dish soap
Leprechaun Elixir: food color
Dragon spit: blue dish soap
Pixie dust: different colors of glitter
Bowtruckle legs: rosemary
Devil's Snare seed: dried orange peel
I don't think you can get a better friend than the one that not only comes to your aid for your kid's birthday party, but does it with absolute gusto. She's just awesome.
Dry ice makes everything cool.
The Potions class really did take a long time so while the other two houses waited after finishing their class, they visited Diagon Alley again, this time to Honeydukes Sweet Shop (which magically appeared during class). My incredible sis-in-law Sarah became a Honeyduke employee and helped each child fill their sacks with sweeties.
Bertie Botts Every Flavour Beans: Just regular Jelly Belly flavours. I don't think anyone minded not getting Booger-flavoured.
Here's the link for making the boxes:
Chocolate Frogs: I got a frog candy mold on Amazon, made chocolate frogs, from chocolate flavored candy melts, and made the little boxes to put them in. If I remember right, this is the site I used for the boxes:
I found images of chocolate frog cards, cut them to size, and put them in the box under the frogs. They were so very cute. Time-consuming, again, but it's the little things that make you feel like you really are at Hogwarts.
The licorice wands were just plain licorice. I used a lot of lollipop and treat bags for all the treats.
I got a large tub of double bubble (is that the name?) gum at Walmart and divvied them into bags.
Okay, I know this isn't technically a real Honeyduke's sweet, but they were so cute, I couldn't resist. These are Ferrero Rocher with feathers hot-glued to the sides.
For Honeyduke's best chocolate bars I got mini chocolate candy bars, wrapped them in foil, then created a label in Photoshop. I thought they turned out well too.
The Ton-Tongue Toffees were those caramels with the white center - can't remember the name.
The cockroach clusters were chocolate covered peanut clusters.
Okay, this one was (at least to me) a big disappointment. I had read several sites that talked about using Pop Rocks on Dum-Dum suckers to make Acid Pops. It just didn't work. The Rocks lost their pop and they just didn't taste good. Oh well. It was sugar and the kids didn't seem to mind.
We swapped classes and after everyone finished with each class we went into the Great Hall for treats and cake. For the life of me I can't remember what Butterbeer recipe I used but there are tons of them out there. I added some dry ice to spice it up a little and there you have it: the gut warming, delicious butterbeer. It went really fast. I should have made about three times as much.
The Cauldron Cakes were chocolate cupcakes hollowed out and filled with whipped cream. Delish.
Chips and veggies. I was raised in a house where you had to have veggies at every meal. It was ingrained deeply. They didn't really get eaten...
I'm not super proud of this cake but honestly for how little experience I have with fondant and rice crispy treat formations, I feel pretty good about it. Kate saw a picture of a cake with Hedwig on it and fell in love with it. She loves Hedwig. So I gave it a try. It turned out okay. I can't honestly tell you how to make this because I just made it up. I'm no pro but the smile on her face was enough to please me.
Happy girls! We had a great time being witches. Long live Harry!