When my then 4-year-old decided she wanted a Harry Potter themed birthday party, I was met with both excitement and panic. I had just gone back to work full-time, both my really little ones had surgeries a month before their combined party, it was going to take a lot of focus… and a little bit of magic to pull this one off.
So after some deep breathing exercises, I got to planning. I envisioned the party room to mimic the Hogwarts Great Hall. Floating candles, house colors, centerpieces, all that you can think of, I wanted it. A few hours on Pinterest and I realized I was drowning in not only Pinterest fail potential but also I was probably going to have to get a part-time job to cover the budget for this. It was ridiculous. What came of all the hassle and projects that didn’t work out, was a magical party, Harry Potter-inspired and my girls had a wonderful time.
All photos were taken by Jessica Garver
This article goes into detail how to create various items for your Harry Potter-themed party.
I ended up going with the obvious choice of printable Hogwarts Acceptance Letters. They were personalized for each kid in attendance. I ordered a Hogwarts Crest wax seal kit as well from Amazon. Using the little candles that come with the kits was the most frustrating part. I would suggest buying melting seal wax and one of the metal pourers if sending out more than a handful of these.
I printed the Hogwarts Acceptance Letter from Housewife Eclectic on some parchment looking resume paper. Ended up being a little thicker than I would have liked but, I will say it would frame well. To add to the aged effect, I used some honest to goodness eyeshadow to smudge the papers a little. Most sites will tell you to buy some expensive mica powders from the craft store… you can now skip that altogether and use up one of those expired Sephora palettes we all know you’ve got sitting in your makeup drawer. No? Just me??
I think one of the greatest things about a Harry Potter themed party is being able to draw inspiration from Hogwarts itself. We had initially thought about doing a “Yule Ball” theme since my girls’ birthdays are so close to Christmas, and winter in the north means lots of “snowy delight”. I started with a Floating Candle Hack which led to me accumulating more toilet paper rolls any one household should hold … only to not have enough time to actually execute this amazing idea. I will say that I tried it, exactly like the blog described and it was cute. So on a smaller scale than I was trying to fill, and in the right space … these are amazing.
Another cute “flying idea” is flying keys. We did actually end up having keys but used them as a giveaway instead of suspending them. It was super easy to find bulk antique looking keys (once again on Amazon) and a dear friend of mine cut out 2 dozen paper wings which we super glued to the keys. We wrote numbers on each of the wings and used them for a raffle of Harry Potter quotes 8×10 posters.
You don’t even have to go over the top with the different house colors. We ended up just buying balloons that represented each house and a helium tank. You can of course easily go with different colored plates or napkins to add to the effect. We added a couple themed party favors on each table as well, there was some Slytherin plastic watch games, Ravenclaw mini notebooks, Gryffindor puzzles, and Hufflepuff pencils.
We used black tablecloths and faux gold (plastic) plates to really add to the Hogwarts Great Hall feel and used black plastic cauldrons from Halloween as centerpieces. They were filled with “Golden Snitches” made from Ferrero Rocher chocolate … whose wings may or may not have existed. But don’t judge me! I was pressed for time at this point. Add a couple of fun Happy Birthday banners and honestly, you are pretty much set on decoration. (Of course, it’s up to you how spectacular you go, there are so many awesome blogs and videos with ideas.)
We kept it simple with the soundtrack playing softly in the background, a cute little raffle, and of course taking loads of photos. One easy way to make memories/keepsakes for everyone is to set up a photo booth. I did a quick search for a Platform 9 ¾ backdrop and those cutesy photo props you sometimes find at weddings. It was a fun conversation piece and if you are anything like me, you’ll find a use for those props again.
For the younger kids, coloring pages is an easy way to keep them busy in between the food, presents, and cake. But Jonesing To Create has a bunch of really cute ideas for different games you can play too; from dementor pinatas to potions class, there’s sure to be something to at least pique your interest.
Honestly, this was the hardest area for me and largely depends on the type of party you are having. If you are holding an evening party, with older kids or even an adult only birthday party, you can’t go wrong with the Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook. I had many pages bookmarked on things I wanted to try and make. Ultimately, I ordered pizza … a muggles gotta eat … but I was also blessed by a very nerdy and crafty amazingly awesome friend who I had commissioned to make a cake (more on that in a minute). I showed up to pick up the mystery cake (after telling her to just be inspired and surprise me) and not only did she make the best cake ever but also a plethora of themed snacks. From “Pink Ice” to “Exploding Truffles,” we had sugary delightfulness covered.
Now you can totally make a cake to drop on someone’s head if you want to get a real authentic vibe, I’m only kidding of course, but there’s a ton of different options you can choose for the choice dessert. Cupcakes in the shape of a broom, a tiered cake with adorable fondant characters, this is another area with a little wiggle room depending on which way your artistic vision is taking you. I think no matter what, it’s cake … they’ll love it.
I ended up telling my dear friend Krissy B. that I wanted her to have fun with the idea. I sent her a couple of pictures from google of ones I thought was cute. She asked me a few questions about the girls and what houses I think they’d be in, and she ran with it. She’s a master when working with fondant so I knew I would be in good hands. Not only did she make all the incredible treats mentioned above (including the chocolate frogs) but she also made the most adorable Harry Potter unicorn cake.
If you are wanting to have a Harry Potter-themed party, what’s stopping you? Dream big but don’t stress yourself out too much. There are lots of easy little ways to turn any space into a mini Hogwarts escape.
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Featured image credit: Jessica Garver/Geek Gals