Monday, September 24, 2012

Boys' Harry Potter birthday party 2012

I am mostly recovered from birthday party prep now that the party has been over for almost a week and a half. Not that you could tell from the state of my house.

This year Yaya wanted a Harry Potter-themed party. Mr. Man could care less, but he loves Lego Harry Potter on the Wii so I figured he'd be cool with it, and he was. The great thing about a party theme as popular as Harry Potter is that there are tons of tutorials available for everything you could possibly plan to do, which was a great help to me. I'll link the ones I used, and then some, at the end of the post.

Here we go, get ready for some picture overload.

First, the invitations we sent out--classic Hogwarts acceptance letter. I also thought about doing a Daily Prophet-style newspaper page. (I just noticed this isn't the final invitation, as the party time isn't included. Oops. We added that after the party date--September 15--in the version that was sent out.) And of course each invitation was individually filled with each person's name before printing. We printed these on linen resume paper.

Handpainted brick wall, done on what Hobby Lobby calls banner paper with a Dollar Tree sponge and two colors of acrylic paint.

Close-up of the sign, printed on cardstock, mounted on foam core with the edges colored black with a Sharpie.

When you came into the living room, you would stop here to get your wand from Ollivanders, your Harry Potter glasses, and to take a quick Spells and Charms refresher. All signs were printed on cardstock and mounted on foam core.

Gryffindor banner.

Food. The party started at one and the second it was time, the boys headed for the donuts, which we had instead of cake. The food was under a Leaky Cauldron sign hung on the window. We kept it simple this year--donuts instead of cake, fruit, chips and dip, and candy at Honeydukes. For drinks we had lemonade, fruit punch, and butterbeer, plus a make your own hot chocolate bar, which is not pictured. The toppings at the make your own hot chocolate bar were chocolate sprinkles, marshmallows, marshmallow cream, peanut butter chips and vanilla syrup. We could have done without the peanut butter chips (no one took them) and I wish I'd been able to find candy canes or hard candy I could be sure was mint and not cinnamon or those weird soft mints. Barring that, I should have bought some Andes chips, which I've seen in the baking aisle at Wal-Mart.

A note on the butterbeer: I made it using one of the more popular recipes on Pinterest. Everyone hated it, and I'm pretty sure it was because, between the double batch of butterbeer and the marshmallow fluff/whipped cream topping, there was a whole bottle of rum extract and about half a bottle of butter extract. It was overwhelming, to say the least. So my advice here is to mix equal parts of root beer and cream soda and call it good. At the very least I'd halve, if not quarter, the extracts. If you want the topping, mix a jar of marshmallow cream, one cup of whipping cream and a teaspoon of vanilla extract. It'll be kind of like a marshmallow-y vanilla-y root beer float, which sounds good to me.

Honeydukes. I figured with the donuts and hot chocolate bar I didn't need to go crazy with the candy.

Potions class. The little bottles are from Hobby Lobby (sand art section) and filled with Sprite.

The bottles were all thrift store finds (and thanks to my love of glass I already had about half of them, and the other half were pretty easy to find) and filled with various flavors of Kool-Aid. Some of them had a bit of sugar added, like 1/4 cup per packet, when the amount of powder looked a little paltry. We figured the Sprite would add enough sweetness, and it did.

We used both Kool-Aid and generic packets for fruit punch and grape flavors, Kool-Aid lime or lemon-lime (we can't remember which) and Kool-Aid peach mango. The whitish powder is Hawaiian punch individual packets that I can't remember the flavor name, but it turned blue.

I love the blue color.

Baby Girl really wanted in on Potions class.

Doesn't my neighbor's overgrown yard make an excellent Forbidden Forest?

Our somewhat ill-fated Divination activity. B and I wrote/culled from the internet about a dozen fortunes, which we printed on the same linen paper the invitations were printed on, rolled up and put into balloons. The kids would pick a balloon and pop it to get their fortune. We did a similar activity at the Batman party, but one of our guests had developed an aversion to loud noises since then. Needless to say, it wasn't his favorite activity.

Defense Against the Dark Arts class. We got the pinata from Party City and B glued an old piece of black fabric to it to make it a Dementor.

Yaya's turn broke the handle that lets you hang the pinata, so we just had Monkey whale on it for her turn. I tried to get her to give me a thumbs up, but instead I got this.

I wouldn't let Baby Girl have Sprite, but I broke down and let her suck on a sucker for a few minutes. Of course she loved it.

And to finish up, present time! The younger guests helped.

And now for resources. Disclaimer: unless I specifically state otherwise, I didn't create any of this stuff. I just found it and am now linking it for you. Also, I tried to bookmark everything I used as I found it, and I think I got everything but I may have overlooked someone. If you see something I've done here that you wrote a tutorial for but it's not linked, please contact me and I'll update the post.

Invitation wording ideas:

Invitation fonts used, all free:

Spells sheet fonts, also free:




Our fortunes and links to a few of the resources used to find them.

  • You will catch the Golden Snitch at your next Quidditch match.
  • Your house will win the House Cup.
  • The Monster Book of Monsters will not bite you.
  • Watch out for stampeding Hippogriffs.
  • You will receive a Howler.
  • You will blow up your cauldron.
  • Forego the frightening Forbidden Forest.
  • A Firebolt will blaze into your future.
  • Beware of the Gillyweed; it has turned.
  • If being good is your plan, you shall avoid Azkaban.
  • Be careful going to and fro and skip the need for Skele-gro.
  • The Daily Prophet tells of your success.
  • Harry Potter-themed fortunes

Other resources you might find useful, some of which I've used above but have other items that might be of interest:

Whew. This party was so much fun, but so exhausting. We got calls the next day that the kids were still playing with their wands and everyone complimented us on everything, so it was definitely worth it. Yaya's room is now decorated in Harry Potter party decor because I can't bring myself to throw any of it out. I have a vase of leftover wands and glasses sitting on the console table in the living room. I can't wait to see what we do next year, although right now my preference is us and the kids at Chuck E. Cheese or something, with grandparents over for cake the next day. But odds are they'll probably want something elaborate again and I'll probably jump at the chance to do it.

Linking up to Serenity Now's Weekly Bloggy Reading party.


  1. Ummm, yeah, forget my kids! I'm making my hubby throw a party like this for ME! Thanks for sharing this post! It is an amazing reference to anyone who wants to throw the perfect HP party! Nice work.

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  3. Wow! Yaya’s birthday party looks like it was a blast! I’m Harry Potter geek myself, and I think it’s just great that your kids were able to experience the ‘magic’ themselves. That ‘Power-up Potion’ drink is just brilliant! I wouldn’t be surprised if they suddenly shouted ‘Expelliarmus’ at the party!

    @Nita Digirolamo