Harry Potter Party was officially the coolest birthday party we have ever thrown! It beats the one where the favor bags totaled over $200 and the one where everyone got scooters and every room was decorated as an emotion from Inside Out. Maybe I am biased because I am personally a huge Harry Potter fan, but this birthday was by far the most involved in terms of activities and very very Harry Potter themed. What all the above mentioned birthday parties have in common, though, is the fact that the ideas came to me a week before the birthday and it was a completely last minute thing.
Alexis started getting into Harry Potter about 6 months ago and it was a very quickly acquired and very intense love for the Harry Potter storyline, books and movies. We have listened to most of the books on Audible, watched all the movies several times, visited Harry Potter land twice and have discussed the stories ad nauseum. Alexis would watch behind the scenes and storyline explanations and history on Youtube, learning as much as she can about the author, the characters and the actors. At this point, her favorite character is Professor McGonnagal because, and I quote, “her character went through so many losses and heartache, losing the boy she loved, and yet she has recovered and used those losses make herself stronger and kinder and smarter.”
THE PLANNING PROCESS
Alexis requested a Harry Potter party pretty early on and I bought the basic decorations almost right away. That’s where the planning ended for me. I got busy and figured we would just get a Harry Potter birthday cake and food and will be ok.
About a week before the Harry Potter party, I “made a mistake” of going on Pinterest to check out Harry Potter ideas. Oh boy, there was so much we could do…. The ideas started flowing and there I was again, a week before, with about 100 ideas in my head. Since I am a huge Harry Potter fan myself, it was fun planning all of the activities, so I did not stop myself. I blocked a 4 hour chunk out of my work day and started pinning anything, remotely connected to Harry Potter (I now have a pretty complete Harry Potter Party board if you want to check it out)
Based on everything I saw, I started developing my own ideas, adding borrowed ideas and ones that were coming in from Lexi, her dad, and Joe and we had a complete plan- albeit only a week out. I quickly ordered everything we needed on Amazon and gave Andrew a shopping list for the rest. I was determined to make this A TON OF FUN for Lexi and her friends and do it on time.
THE HARRY POTTER PARTY FINAL PLAN
When I explained all that I am hoping to accomplish for this birthday, Lexi got really excited and threw some of her own ideas into the mix. It was HER idea to make all the activities as full on Hogwarts classes and after some brainstorming we came up with the perfect plan.
Our house would turn into Hogwarts, a school for magic folk. Upon arrival, all the kids get to knock on the door 3 times and get greeted by Alexis who welcomes them to Hogwarts and hands them a personalized Acceptance Letter and a Platform 9 3/4 ticket. They get directed to the Sorting Hat to get them sorted into their house.
I had Harry Potter music playing at all times on Alexa (via Amazon Music) and there was a speaker connected to my phone behind the sorting hat chair that would play Sorting Hat clips announcing one of the houses.
Once the guest got sorted into a house, they were to pick out a pet from the collection of Lexi’s stuffed animals that they were going to use during their time in Hogwarts. Then they proceeded to platform 9 and 3/4 for their pictures. As the kids were arriving faster and faster, it was almost impossible to do all the activities, so some kids skipped the backdrop and picture. Hindsight being 20/20 I should have recruited more adults to direct some of these activities, because I couldn’t do it all alone.
WAND SELECTION AT OLIVANDER’S
Each child would pick out one of the plastic wands, and try it out on the flying winged keys floating overhead. They would swish the wand in the air and say a spell. The majority of kids were not familiar with any spells, nor could they pronounce the basic one I was giving them (Vingardium Leviosa), so I just suggested they either say “Leviosa” or don’t say a spell and just swish. If it was the right wand, a bell would sound. If the wand wasn’t right for them, a horrible loud crash would echo throughout the room. All of the sounds were controlled by me through my phone and projected to the external speaker. I downloaded the sounds through some Halloween albums on Apple Music. It was hilarious to watch kids’ reactions to the sounds of breaking glass when someone would pick the wrong wand.
HARRY POTTER THEMED HOGWARTS CLASSES
After almost everyone had arrived, we started on the Hogwarts we planned out. Everyone followed the spiders to the first class:
DEFENSE AGAINST THE DARK ARTS
The concept was for one of us, adults, (it had to be me, because no one wanted to do it) to dress up as a dementor and have the children use their “Expecto Patronum” on me. When they would say the spell successfully, a bright light would shine (Andrew hiding with the switch to the softbox), and the dementor would collapse onto the ground in a ball.
Before we brought the kids into the room, I gathered them all in Lexi’s bedroom and gave them a little warning and a pep talk. Considering how many kids had no clue about Harry Potter or details of the story and how many were terrified of simple sorting ceremony and wand selection, we figured we would warn them about the dementor being scary. Luckily by that time, most of the children (even introverts who were afraid of or shy during the previous experience) had warmed up and being gathered together felt a lot more secure. I explained to them the story of why dementors are here and what they are, how to defeat them and how they are strong and can do it.
“Who is going to fight dementors???” Me! Me Me!- everyone shouted, except for a few more tenantive kids.
We instructed them to think of their happiest thought and say the spell loud and clear. Lexi took the time to explain which thought she uses to power her Patronus charm (which was when she came out of her mommy’s tummy :D). Joe was holding down the door while I prepared to transform into a dementor.
When the time was right, Joe opened the door and let the kids in. Instead of coming in one by one, they all stormed in, wards ready, like a little midget mob and ran towards me screaming, Expecto Patronum!!!!!!!!! 😀
Once the Patronus light became bright and the kids could see me behind the “creepy cloth”, they started screaming “We know who you are! You’re Lexi’s mom!” and all wanted to try being a dementor for a change! When we were done, they were so pumped and ran to tell everyone how brave they were and started asking about what they next class was going to be. They were hooked!
The next class was herbology where the goal was to plant Mandrakes, plants that make ear drum shuttering screams when pulled out of their pots. We had succulent for the kids, along with Harry Potter themed owl pots to replant them into. On my count, they were to pull them out (while we scream) and plant them into the owl pots, water them and then hand them to their parents to keep as a Harry Potter party favor. Everyone loved this activity and then joined us in the screaming just for fun.
HARRY POTTER PARTY POTION MAKING
This was probably everyone’s favorite activity in the Harry Potter party. I had provided little empty potion vials for them to use and plenty of glitter, shiny shapes, colorful feathers and fillers like water, oil, and corn syrup to make different types of Harry Potter themed potions. Oil, water, and corp syrup behave differently when combined with glitter making all kind of fun effects. Even the kids that were too scared to participate in other activities slowly came out from their hiding places and joined in and loved this activity. Some made more than one. Alexis, of course, made a love potion which looked beautifully! We were all amazed at the creativity that children displayed with their potions. I wish I had taken pictures of them all, but I was a bit busy directing.
We should have had them hand the potions over to their parents who were hanging out in the living room, because a few kids dropped their potions running around the house (cleaning up glitter and corn syrup off the floor wasn’t fun! haha).
Then it was time for ADVANCED POTION MAKING
This was a super fun activity for adults and kids, and everyone came out from the house to see what was happening. We had a big bowl of ingredients that were smoking and making kids jump from excitement. Then I took a soapy cloth and created a big bubble over the bowl that was smoking and blowing up and getting bigger. The kids waited with baited breath for the bubble to birst. It was inflating and getting jiggly and so much fun to watch until it burst with a cloud of smoke coming from it! All the kids loved the experiment and kept asking for more and more! We kept doing it over and over again. “This is the best Birthday party ever!” someone screamed out!
Potion making got everyone excited for the next activity…
The art of Divination in Harry Potter stories was lead by a quirky, tangly hair, thick glasses wearing Professor Treloni, and I was tempted to dress up like her, but decided I had enough on my plate. Instead we did a presentation on how this would work with Lexi explaining how to predict future. We handed everyone clear cups with clear ice and then pour La Croix into them and watched them turn different colors. Depending on which color you get, your future could be full of money, happiness, love, adventure, or sadness. We really shouldn’t have put a negative future into play as some kids got sad about it if they got sadness as a fortune prediction.
What’s next? What’s next? Everyone was so psyched to hear what the next Harry Potter themed class was going to be.
For this one, we took an easy way out and played Headbandz, where you have to guess what animal, thing, or food you are. When you successfully guess it, you have managed to “transfigurate”.
HARRY POTTER BIRTHDAY CAKE
Soon it was time for birthday cake, because the birthday party was already going on for 4 hours and some people needed to leave soon due to their schedule. As always we ordered our Harry Potter birthday cake from our favorite bakery: one Harry Potter themed cake for the kids and one plain for adults, the only difference being that the adult one had Grand Marnier.
The cake was themed after the Book of Monsters, a fun and recognizable object in the Harry Potter books and movies. Funny thing that happened was when it was time to blow candles, Alexis was nowhere to be found. While someone was out looking for her, I asked kids questions , as they were lined up in front of the Harry Potter cake waiting. Then we started chanting “Lexi! Lexi! Lexi”. She stormed in, upset, grabbed her cardboard camera and said in a stern and upset voice, “Someone sat on this camera AGAIN and crushed it!” It took us all about 10 minutes to get her out of this mood enough to come blow out candles. All the kids tried to help with solution suggestions and being nice. Finally she came out and we blew the candles out with a wind spell (had to do it twice because I helped her the first time and she DID NOT LIKE THAT! :D)
MAGICAL CREATURES ESCAPE
All of a sudden we had a letter delivered that all the magical creatures escaped and the classes were suspended until all the creatures were found, captured, and put back. Prior to the birthday party, Alexis hid a few of her animals in the “Forbidden Forest” all over the backyard and the kids ran out to find them before we had a chance to put shoes on them. The creature collection activity transitioned into quidditch as soon as they made their way to the front yard.
The last activity of our Harry Potter party to burn off some birthday cake calories was quidditch! We had 6 hoops set up outside and a dodgeball and the kids didn’t skip a beat before grabbing the ball and running around while the little girls were still tending to magic creatures. Quidditch got quite rough, to be honest, but so much fun! Everyone was having fun playing and took it pretty serious! By that time it was already almost 6pm (the birthday party started at 1pm), and parents were antsy to go, but did not want to pull the kids away because they were so engaged and were having so much fun!