I love birthdays. I love all birthdays, not just my own. I love giving presents (and, let’s be honest, receiving them). I love getting the chance to tell people how happy I am they were born and why. And, my normal personality aside, I even love birthday parties. Something about celebrating life gives me great joy.
As such, I enjoy letting my kids have themed birthday parties. We have had tea parties, Shopkins parties, Star Wars parties, Ninja Turtle parties, Strawberry Shortcake parties, color themed parties (including a four year-old’s gray party), and, one year, even a Yoda only party. Every time a child is picking their party theme, I subtly suggest books they could base their party on. Every time those subtle suggestions lose out to the mass commercial appeal of whatever it is they had in mind.
Until this year!
Finally, my eleven year-old decided she wanted a Harry Potter party. And I was thrilled. My daughter and I had a very fun time brainstorming and planning. Our idea was to have the party mimic a day at Hogwarts. The only trouble was reigning myself in and staying within our allotted birthday party budget.
After innumerable trips to entirely too many stores, endless reconfigurations for how to pull somethings off, a difficult decision to forgo one whole part of the party, and a comment from my husband that, “This party got out of control,” we were ready.
Guests were greeted at the door with beautiful Hogwarts house crests from DGS. The center Hogwarts crest comes courtesy of my creative sister.
Front door decor
The invitations were made from a picture of the Hogwarts Express.
Once the guests arrived at the party, they first visited Ollivander’s. While Ollivander’s is not at Hogwarts, we wanted them to be able to have the wand choosing experience but did not have the time to make a whole extra Diagon Alley part of the party. Although I am purist, and strongly hold that source material should be changed as little as possible in any given setting, I blurred with the Potterverse lines here a bit.
Sticks work just as well for wands
Our wands were simply sticks from the yard with these fantastic labels on them from Tattered and Inked. We did not go full Pinterest on the wands because of time. Each child was blind folded and spun around, then they searched around the whiteboard until their wand found them. The kids had a fun time comparing their wands while they waited for the rest of the group.
With wands ready, the Hogwarts school day was ready to begin. The first class on the schedule was Potions.
We started the class with a Potions demonstration from my husband. He made dragon’s toothpaste.
The kids then paired up to make unicorn’s milk dance.
Dancing Unicorn’s Milk
Once they had practiced their supervised Potions making, they were set free to make troll drool (or slime).
Troll Drool (or just slime)
They needed no instruction here! If there is one thing I have learned about fifth grade girls, it is that they are expert slime makers. For the actual slime making, I got disposible plastic containers for each girl. Then we got cauldrons that they could keep their finished product in.
After Potions, the girls went to Magical Creatures.
There was a “magical creature” for each person hidden in the yard.
The kids had to search the yard looking for their magical creature and then bring them back to Hagrid. This was a fun change of pace and gave me time to clean up the mess of Potions and set up the next class:
Here the kids planted mandrakes.
We used plastic planters from the Dollar Store. First, they had to put “dirt” in their planters. This was a layer of chocolate pudding and then a layer of crushed Oreos. Next, for the mandrakes themselves, we used sour patch kids with two toothpicks sticking out. We stuck a green Twizzler into each toothpick. This way they were able to grab the “leaves” and pull their mandrake out.
When they did, my husband played a squealing sound on his phone. The kids loved it!
The last class of the day was Defense Against the Dark Arts. Here the kids had to learn to fight dementors. As they defeated their dementor, they discovered their patronus.
We bought animal charms for bracelets and then put those inside a balloon before it was blown up. Once the balloon was blown up, we put a large, black garbage bag over it. On the garbage bag we cut a small corner off the bottom. That hole is what we stuck the bottom of the balloon through. This way we were able to hang the dementors up so they could blow in the breeze and give off the effect of flying. It was awesome. The kids each found a dementor and, with wands ready, said “Expecto Patronum.” Very carefully, with a thumb tack, they popped the balloon and discovered their patronus as the charm fell out of the popped balloon.
They were able to keep their patronus by putting it on a key chain, which was really a hoop earring with a lobster claw hook attached. While we were making jewelry, we added a snitch to the key ring, because, why not?!
Keepsake “key chain” with their patronus and a snitch
We ended the day with a trip to the Great Hall and Honeydukes. Yes, I know, I messed with the integrity of the story, not once, but twice. It is inexcusable, but for a fun cause. The birthday cake was a spinoff of Cauldron Cake.
I used this amazing recipe for mason jar strawberry shortcake from Cooking Classy. It was delightful. When they were done with their cake, they could go “shop” at Honeydukes.
They could choose from:
- Candy Wands (Twizzlers)
- Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor Beans (Jelly Belly’s, although we did have one box of the real thing for the brave-hearted)
- Dumbledor’s Lemondrops (Lemondrops)
- Snitches (Lindor’s truffles)
- Cockroach Clusters (Snickers bites)
- Dragon Eggs (Whopper Robin Eggs)
- Fizz Whizzbees (Sour Patch worms)
- Broomsticks (pretzel sticks with half a cheese stick on the bottom)
The party was a lot of fun and a lot of work. There were so many more things I wanted to do, but for the sake of time, money, and sanity, we left them out. Those left out things are a post for another day. Thankfully there are three more kids in our home turning eleven sooner or later. Chances are I will get to use those ideas someday!