This party has been 15 years in the making, though the Birthday Girl is just turning 9. An HP fan since the first book came out, I was so excited to be finally reading & sharing these books with my own daughter. She fell in love with them just as I did. So, naturally, we went all out for her party. There is really so much - too much?? - you can do. The Birthday Girl requested a "Hogwart's" theme with party guests attending various magical classes. We tried to stick to the basics since not all of her friends had read the books & we wanted all to enjoy the party. I think we were successful with that. I got some ideas straight off of the Pinterest feed, some I adapted to make our own & others I got carried away with a little & came up with myself. We had so much fun with it, and the party day was truly magical on all accounts.
Disclaimer: I am not a party planner! (Though I do love throwing together a good themed party for my kids every now & then!) I am a part-time high school senior & family photographer and this is my blog for them. BUT, I've had a lot of people asking me for these pictures & how I structured the party, so this is the best way for me to share that. Not all of these ideas are my own! Do a search for Harry Potter Party on Pinterest and you will see a lot of the ideas I used. Planning your own HP party? I would be happy to answer any questions for you. Just leave a comment below. Thank you!
OWL POST: We hand delivered the invitations & had the best time surprising friends with these invites that were actually letters from Hogwarts inviting them to attend classes.
PARTY ENTRANCE - PLATFORM 9-3/4: Guests entered through the hole in the brick wall.
OLLIVANDER'S WAND SHOP: We let "The Wand Choose the Wizard" in a "spin the bottle" type way. Wands were made out of chopsticks, hot glue & spray paint - you can find out how on Pinterest. My daughter enjoyed writing various lengths & cores (ex. 9" Hawthorn) and tagging them to each one. They were cheap & fun to make! The kids loved that their wand "chose" them and it really got the party going on the right foot. Definitely recommend this activity!
We found these wanted posters in various Google searches & posted them to our column.
NUMBER 12 PRIVET DRIVE: One of my favorite parts of the first book is when all of the Hogwarts letters start pouring out of the fireplace & Vernon Dursley goes to great lengths to try & stop them from coming. We decorated our fireplace as a little ode to the Dursley's - "flying" letters & pictures of Dudley all over the mantle. :)
SORTING HAT: Next up was the Sorting Ceremony where party guests were sorted into houses. For this one, we watched the clip in the movie where the Sorting Hat sings his song. Then, I called guests up one by one (last name, first name - of course!!.) The Sorting Hat was placed on their head while they drew out a badge from a velvet bag. The badge told them what house they were in - Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw, Slytherin. Houses were awarded points (colored jewels in goblets) for various tasks throughout the party. I made the Sorting Hat by gluing crinkled-up construction paper to a witch's hat.
POTIONS: Our first class - and everyone's favorite - was Potions, which was, naturally, in the dungeon (our basement.) Each "student" worked at a cauldron for the first task, Making an Antidote for Common Poison. Bottles were labeled: wolfsbane, phoenix tears, moondew, gillywater, and the like. Beforehand, I put drops of food coloring under baking soda already in their cauldrons. They would need to find the right ingredients (actually vinegar) & pour them into their cauldrons. I told them they would be graded on how well their antidote came out, which would be based on color: Green - Outstanding, Blue - Acceptable, and Pink - Troll. It was completely random & so fun (for me, anyway!!) to see who got a grade of Troll. :)
Each student also got to make their own vial of Felix Felicis to use at an opportune time. We mixed Phoenix Tears (corn syrup) and Doxy Wing Dust (edible glitter.) My daughter took hers the night the Cubs won the World Series, so there's that. ;)
DEFENSE AGAINST THE DARK ARTS: We dueled for this one! Two students faced each other & shouted out a spell. Whoever finished saying their spell first was declared the winner, best out of three. They did have the option: of yelling "Protego" - a shielding spell - which blocked their opponent's spell & required each of them to call out a new spell.
I MUST NOT TELL LIES: This may or may not have been me getting carried away...but this little wall space was devoted to the unforgettable Delores Umbridge and her cats. Of course, the carpet cleaners came a few days before the party & I tried to explain this display to them, to no avail. So, I'm sure I'm just Crazy Cat Lady to them, haha.
UMBRIDGE'S EDUCATIONAL DECREES: I had a whole wall of these - but just got the one picture. It's a close-up of No. 9: "The Birthday Girl & Her Party Guests Must Have A Magical Day, Or Else!"
THE FAT LADY: We decided to make Lily's room the Gryffindor common room. For Hogwarts-esque portraits, I did Google searches for old portraits & had them printed at our local copy store on 11x17 paper for less than $1 a page. The faux frames are just foam board spray painted gold.
TRANSFIGURATION: I neglected to get a picture of our third classroom. We traveled upstairs and played a game where students had to mold Play-Do into Harry Potter-themed objects (the Whomping Willow, Nimbus 2000, a snitch, a broom, etc.) while their house-mates guessed.
CHAMBER OF SECRETS-THEMED BATHROOM:
HERBOLOGY: We held this class outdoors on our back deck. Students were first asked to put on their ear muffs - which of course no one had!! - to transplant Mandrakes. I actually had an idea for this activity, but ran out of time. So, I scolded them & reminded them to never come to class without ear muffs! Who knows? Maybe next time we'll get to those mandrakes! Instead, I gave them a mini-lesson on how to tell the difference between cute & colorful garden gnomes and those pesky backyard gnomes. Then, I sent them out to de-gnome my garden (which was actually our front landscaping, since I never follow through with actually planting a garden!) We made this into a race between houses.
Here's one of those pesky gnomes hiding in my bushes!
And here's Lily racing to drop some gnomes in her house's bucket.
THE GREAT HALL: We transformed our dining room into the Great Hall and returned here for birthday cake & chocolate frogs. The birthday cake - modeled after the birthday cake Hagrid brings Harry - was probably the easiest thing I made for this party! It actually cracked all by itself in just the right spot after I frosted it in those horrid colors! Ha!