How to Host a Harry Potter Party
One of the hashtags I’ve been using since American Grit is #BikiniMom. I’ve done a lot of “bikini” posts due to competition season, so I figured it’s about time to do a “mom” post now.
My daughter, Rylee, turns nine this week (gasp!) and we decided to go all out and throw her a Harry Potter party. Usually my party planning involves going to Walmart and buying a Disney-themed cake with making paper plates, but this party actually involved some creativity and effort from the whole family.
I’ve been loving the Harry Potter series since 1999, so this was thoroughly fun. Most of the ideas I borrowed verbatim from Rylee’s friend, Rachel, who had the same party earlier in the year. I figured if it works, copy it! Here is how we did our party, feel free to share it if you want to throw your own.
Rachel blew up helium balloons, drew an owl on each one and hand-delivered it to the girls in the neighborhood. There was a scroll inviting the guest to Hogwarts School for Witchcraft and Wizardry and were told to dress as a wizard, witch or Muggle. (A “Muggle” is a regular person, so kids who don’t have a costume don’t have to feel left out.) Disclaimer: I didn’t have my act together enough for the balloon owl, so I just texted all the moms and mentioned the wizard/witch/Muggle dress code thing.
Welcome to My Castle/Décor
We put a sign on our door that said Hogwarts Express Platform 9 3/4. (For all you Muggles, there is a special train that takes young wizards to school and it’s hidden in a brick wall at the Underground Station in London.) We found that image via a Google search.
My husband also searched the web and found a set of banners for Hogwarts and the four house flags on Amazon, but you could make the flags just as easily if your kid likes to draw.
What Should I wear?
My husband dressed up like Professor Snape. He wore a long black coat from an old Matrix costume and an Elvis wig we had in our Halloween box. I dressed like Professor McGonagall, which is a standard witch costume. Pretty much every mom I know has a witch costume somewhere because what else are you going to wear when you’re pregnant, right? But I digress.
A lot of the kids came in either black robes or black capes. Some carried sticks for wands.
One boy dressed like a dementor, which was really cool. (A dementor is like a cross between a scary ghost and a skeleton and they suck out a person’s soul. They work in conjunction with “Death Eaters” who a bad guys/gals who follow the ultimate baddy Lord Voldemort.)
The Sorting Ceremony:
When children arrive at Hogwarts they have to be sorted into different houses: Gryffendor, Ravenclaw, Hufflepuff and Slytherin. OMG, I had no idea what a big deal this was to eight and nine year-olds. They kept saying, “Not Slytherin! Not Slytherin!” Except, of course for the dementor kid who wanted to be there.
In the movie and the books there’s this magic hat that sorts everyone based upon their personality. We took a grocery bag, wrote “Harry Potter University” and threw in a bunch of slips of paper with different house names. Each kid chose their house and then we pinned a house patch on their robe. We found the symbols on Pinterest, printed them, cut them out and pinned it on with a safety pin.
Every witch and wizard needs a wand and you don’t choose the wand, the wand chooses YOU.
We made a sign that says Ollivander’s Wand Shop outside my office and had the kids line up outside the door. On a folding table we placed a selection of wands for each child to choose, one at a time.
The child would choose a wand, but to make sure it was the right one, they had to reach back into the sorting hat and pull out a slip of paper with one of the four houses written on it. If the slip of paper matched their house (i.e. – Gryffendor-Gryffendor) then they got to keep that wand. If the paper didn’t match their house (i.e. – Gryffendor-Ravenclaw,) then the wand wasn’t right and they had to keep choosing until their wand matched their house.
How to Make Awesome Wands:
I have to give my husband props here, he did an amazing job creating custom wands. (I purchased glow sticks, but they were quickly voted down.) My husband bought dowels from Home Depot and then made little designs on them with a hot glue gun. When they dried he spray painted them brown. Then he found some glow-in-the-dark hot glue sticks at Walmart which he put on the end of the wand.
I have to admit, they are totally badass wands.
Hogwarts is just like regular school, only instead of learning things like math and science, you learn wizard things like how to cast spells and make potions.
The night before the party my BFF Regina and her husband, Payman, and all our kids created the potions. We found potions labels online and printed them out and then taped them to a bunch of mason jars I bought at Walmart.
It was ridiculously fun to figure out what to put inside the jars. My favorite was Werewolf Fangs where Payman used cashews and put a little red frosting from my baking supplies on them to make them look bloody. For slimy pond water I used some of my green protein shake powder. There were several lizard and rat type potions were we took some plastic Dollar Store toys and cut the heads off and then poured some olive oil on top.
My friend’s daughter, Sophia, created a very complicated 27-step spell (add three eyeballs and two drops of love potion, mix counter clockwise three times…) that Snape read. Each child got a chance to add ingredients to the bowl and mix it up.
If this party took place around Halloween we would have loved to find some dry ice to make the potion end with a dramatic puff, but since the party was on Memorial Day weekend we just said, “Good job, don’t eat the potion!”
Every Harry Potter story involves a mystery to be solved with lots of riddles that lead you from one place to another. Well, since I was busy last week driving to Houston to be on Great Day Houston, flying to NYC to be on Bikini.com and then competition in a bodybuilding competition all day Saturday, we totally outsourced this part to the babysitter, who is also an Harry Potter enthusiast.
She and my daughter, Rylee, thought of different characters and made a rhyming riddle which lead to the next clue. So for example, the first riddle asked what was the thing that freed Doby from servitude? (Doby is a house elf.) The answer was an old sock, which we had in the living room. The next clue was inside the sock, which led them to the bathroom where we had a picture of Moaning Myrtle (she lives in the toilet, it’s a long story) and so on and so on. The kids found all the clues and it eventually lead them to Lord Voldemort.
Destroying Lord Voldemort:
It’s very important to take down the bad guy. “He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named,” a/k/a “You-Know-Who” a/k/a “the Dark Lord” was actually a Darth Vader piñata, only we printed out a picture of Lord Voldemort and glued it to his face. The kids gleefully beat the crap of him, following the typical piñata protocol (kids go smallest to biggest after the birthday girl, wear a blindfold, are spun around a few times and then handed a bat and told to go at it.)
Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Beans:
The wizard world has their own special foods and treats, including Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Beans. They are like regular jelly beans with flavors like cherry and cinnamon, but there are also gross flavors mixed in, like vomit, dirt, booger and earthworm. For real.
My husband found a box of them online and we had each kid line up and sample one jelly bean. The flavor took a few seconds before it kicked in so it was pretty funny to see their reactions when they realized they got an earthworm one.
If the actual boxes are too expensive or hard to find, you can always just get a bunch of different flavored jelly beans and throw in some sour candies into the mix.
Mandrakes are kind of like potatoes, in that they are buried in the ground and you pull them out by the top, only instead of a potato they are actually screaming babies that kill you from their piercing screams. (Do you see why kids love these books?)
Here’s what we did: We took plastic miniature babies, the kind that you use if you are baking a King Cake for Marti Gras, and glued a fake plastic fern on each head. The babies were found at Hobby Lobby and generously loaned to us by Rachel’s mom, since they were really hard to find outside of Marti Gras season.
Since we only had four “real” mandrakes and about ten kids, we had to make decoys. After the brownies were baked we put in the four mandrakes and then about ten random ferns. We also broke up cinnamon sticks I had with my baking supplies to make it seem more dirt-like.
Each child had to pull out a fern one at a time. If they pulled out a fern, all was well, but if they pulled out a mandrake everyone had to cover their ears and scream. The kids LOVED it! (And I was very thankful there were only four mandrakes).
Broomstick Goody Bags:
I was in a rush and bought some My Little Pony goody bags. OMG, you would have thought I said Hermoine liked Harry Potter instead of Ron Weasley. So instead we made broomstick bags by putting the candy inside a brown paper lunch bag with a pretzel stick sticking out top. They did look really cool, I have to confess.
Overall, the party was a huge success. A lot of the moms said to me, “I want to come too!” The kids had a blast and, as adult Harry Potter fans, we had a lot of fun putting it together. It worked well as a birthday party and I could also see how it could be expanded into an Halloween party for adults and children with people dressing up as their favorite characters.
So grab your wand or your broomstick, solemnly swear that you are up to no good, and enjoy your own Harry Potter adventure.
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Lisa Traugott is a Mom’s Choice Award winning writer, fitness blogger, wife and mom of two….and Original Cast Member of AMERICAN GRIT, starring John Cena, Thursdays at 9 PM EST/8 PM CST on FOX!!!
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