Harry Potter and Mom Make Magic
by Mommy MD Guide Sigrid Payne DaVeiga, MD
I am a huge fan of holidays and gift making, so it is no surprise that April is my favorite month of the year because both of my kids’ birthdays are in April. This year for my son’s eighth birthday, we threw a Harry Potter sleepover. I had a great time learning all about Harry Potter from my son in the weeks leading up to this party and seeing what a literary person he is becoming. We worked through so many details together, and seeing his face light up with new ideas every time we talked about the upcoming party was awesome. We tried to make the experience like an authentic trip to Harry Potter’s Wizarding World, so we made everything for the party ourselves with a little help from some craft and party stores.
This event was so much fun for us that I wanted to share some of the ideas and concepts for throwing a Harry Potter theme–based party. For me, the magic of this event was truly in the details, and I have to say, the kids took note of everything, and every minute I put into this was worth it! I will take you on a tour of this party and will try as best as I can to give credit to any Internet resource I used. I have to give a BIG thank you to all of the other moms and Harry Potter party throwers out there who were so willing to share some of their ideas on the Internet before me. So, here goes…
The children’s party invitation included a ticket to the Hogwarts Express and instructed them to meet us at Platform 9¾. I was shocked to find that every single child actually brought his or her ticket to the party for entry. Our front porch was Platform 9¾, and I made the sign by painting a piece of sheet board from Michaels a dark red and then glued the printed letters and number 9¾ onto the board (www.dirtandsunshine.com). I used a large sheet of red felt and a Sharpie marker to draw bricks to create a curtain within our front door that was cut down the middle that the children could walk through. The children presented their tickets and entered into the Wizarding World. We have an amazing used bookstore near our home, and I was able to find an extra copy of The Half-Blood Prince. I used the pages to create a Happy Birthday sign with overlaid red and yellow letter cutouts.
Their first stop was at our fireplace, which was Gringott’s Bank. The Gringott’s sign was made from large printed black letters printer on watermark paper and cut into small flags and hung on a ribbon, which we strung across the fireplace. Their shopping bags and pots of gold were labeled with the Hogwarts symbol (www.potterpartymania.blogspot.com) and each of their names. They each got a pot of Galleons (cauldrons and gold coins from www.orientaltradingcompany.com) to use for shopping at Diagon Alley.
Next stop, Diagon Alley for their purchases. Here, the children paid a Galleon each for a potion and spell book, magic wand, and a potion jar. The Internet was a huge resource for Harry Potter potion ingredients and spells; I was shocked and amazed at how easy it was to find this information! A great website for this material is The Harry Potter lexicon (www.hp-lexicon.org). I made the spells and potions book myself and divided it into two sections each with a back page for notes after the spells and potions sections. Amazingly, on their own, the kids actually took notes in these books and even wrote essays about their potions class! The magic wands were from www.orientaltradingcompany.com, but we made the white ends black by coloring them with a Sharpie marker. The potion jars were varied ingredients; some examples were Daisies (paper flowers from Michaels), Rat Claws (cloves), Doxy eggs (clear marbles), Beetle parts (broken black foam), Bubotuber pus (yellow goo from Michaels). The kids also received a Harry Potter Hogwarts scarf here. My mother made these for me by sewing together strips of maroon and gold fabric, cutting them long-ways and then ironing on the kids’ initials. These were a serious hit, and some of the kids are still wearing them long after the party!
Once the kids had all of their Wizarding materials, they sat down to eat and get sorted into their Hogwarts houses. For dinner, we served chicken nuggets, chips, and carrots (because my son told me they eat regular food at Hogwarts), but we were able to find these awesome Butter Beer labels at www.serendipitycreative.blogspot.com, which were color printed and glued onto some Boylan Cane Sugar Creme soda bottles for an authentic Three Broomsticks beverage.
I was able to find a great Sorting Hat at www.amazon.com. This particular hat had a compartment in it where we could put a cell phone on speaker, and my husband would say the child’s house into his phone in another room to create the illusion of the talking hat. The kids caught onto the trick fairly quickly, which resulted in a hilarious chase around the house to find out where the voice was coming from. Along with a pin with a Hogwarts house name, each child received what looked like a Marauder’s map (www.harrypotterparaphernalia.blogspot.com) sealed with a red wax seal (wax seal kit from Michaels). Inside the staged Marauder’s map were instructions to locate the lost owls that were in nests all around our house. To do this, the children had to work in their Hogwarts house team to conquer a series of obstacles (written quiz questions) using the spells in their spell book.
After the owl hunt, the kids went digging for Magical Creatures in a pot of green slime (aka green gelatin). Each team stuck their hands into this pot and pulled out various magical creatures. These were just small plastic creatures such as a cat, mouse, frog, etc. that might be used for the Harry Potter stories. I found these in a tube set of creatures at Michaels, but I’m sure they could be found at any toy shop.
For potions class, my husband donned a hilarious blue wizard’s hat to play Professor Snape. His potions station was created with a potions sign and Snape’s printable book pages from www.twodelighted.com to look like Professor Snape’s open potions book while he was teaching. The kids mixed one fish bowl of Dragon’s Blood (red cabbage juice) with Dragon’s spit (white vinegar). In a mason jar, they mixed the Dragon’s Blood with Unicorn Horn Powder (baking soda mixed with sparkles). The contents were then mixed together in the fish bowl creating an amazing bubbling-over dark blue mixture, which was Exploding Fluid. The kids loved this, and in the morning decided they wanted to take a potions test when they had to mix these on their own without instruction from Professor Snape.
After potions class, the kids proceeded to candy shop at Honeyduke’s. We created Honeyduke’s by labeling old vases with various candy names, including Bertie Bott’s Every Flavored Beans (Jelly Belly jelly beans), Drooble’s Best Blowing Gum (Target brand gumballs), Chocolate Wands (chocolate-covered pretzel sticks from Asher’s Chocolates), Gummy Worms, and Lemon Drops (one of Prof. Dumbledore’s favorite Muggle candies). The labels were printed and slightly adjusted from www.twodelighted.com. We had a candy price list, and the kids used the remainder of their Galleons to purchase the candies. In a strange twist, kids with leftover Galleons the next morning raided my cabinet and purchased various items, such as Goldfish snacks and cranberry juice. This was unexpected and just cracked me up.
After candy shopping, we enjoyed an amazing Hogwarts cake. The plastic pieces of the Hogwarts cake set were purchased at www.amazon.com. My parents purchased the baked cake layers and then constructed the cake for us. We loved it!
For a game of Quidditch, we painted ping-pong balls gold, red, and black to represent the Snitch, the Quaffle, and the Bludgers. The kids threw the balls through this Quidditch hoop (Nerf Aerobie).
Overnight, the kids were to sleep in The Common Room. After talking with a friend who had held the first sleepover for some of our kids, I followed her suggestion and had the kids split up. Kids who wanted to sleep went into one room, and kids who were not quite ready were able to stay up a little later in a different room.
In the morning, we had pancakes, fruit, and bacon for breakfast. The kids successfully passed their morning potions test and all received their diplomas, though, one little boy shouted, “No! I don’t want to graduate!”
This party was such an amazing time for my son and his friends; and what a pleasure for my husband and I to have been able to participate so fully in this with them. It was such an immense investment of time, thought, and creativity. And honestly, I am pretty sure it took me a week or two to recover. It was absolutely worth it, though, and really felt like magic. One of the children’s Platform 9¾ ticket was faded and folded when he arrived for the party, and his father told us he slept with it every night until the party. Another little boy sleeps with his owl every night after leaving the party. So, it just goes to show, dreams can come true…right in your house. And, my son is already planning for “Hogwarts, Year Two.”