There’s no denying that I’m a pretty huge Harry Potter fan. I make no secret of it. I’ve read the series three times. I’ve seen the movies about three hundred times. We play the Harry Potter edition of Trivial Pursuit on a regular basis and whenever my mom comes to Gatineau for a visit, we always throw a Harry Potter movie marathon with the kids.
I admit without shame that if I didn’t have kids or a husband, I probably would’ve moved to Universal Studios in Hollywood ages ago and gotten myself a job at Ollivander’s or The Three Broomsticks so I could permanently live out the fantasy.
(And let’s be honest…I still secretly dream about doing that from time to time.)
So when Bianca’s 11th birthday slowly started to creep around the corner and tiny whispers of a party began fluttering in my ears, I won’t deny that I may have, just very casually, suggested a Harry Potter theme. You know, if she wanted. No big deal.
It might have been the proudest moment of my life as a mother when her eyes grew big and she responded with a resounding, “OMG, WE CAN DO HOGWARTS LETTERS FOR INVITATIONS!”
The way magic is passed on from wizard to child, so has my passion for all things Potter. The fandom is strong with this one.
It took about 1.2 milliseconds for me to start hitting up Pinterest for ideas, and another 2 milliseconds for all the details to start coming together. Everything just fell into place. It was like…magic.
See what I did there?
You can check out the Pinterest board I created for this party:
Our first order of business was making the invitations. For Easter, we gifted the kids each a ton of craft supplies, specifically intended for making their own birthday invitations. Bianca got black cardstock with matching envelopes, a high quality gold pen, red wax and seal, and some fun scrapbook craft paper and stickers.
The results were amazing, and we had such a blast making them together!
Each envelope included a personalized Hogwarts Acceptance Letter disguised as an invitation and a Hogwarts Express Ticket. Below are the PDF versions in both English and French.
- Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizard Invitation PDF
- Lettre Collège Poudlard – PDF
- Hogwarts Express Tickets – Poudlard Express Billets – PDF
*Ideally, you can send these via actual mail if you have everyone’s address and enough time. I think it adds a really nice touch.
Next up were the decorations — which basically made up more than 90% of the entire party. We didn’t have a huge (or even big) budget, so I made most of these myself. We did cheat a little and purchased some inexpensive Harry Potter themed balloons (not recommended; they weren’t great quality), napkins, plates, and plastic tablecloth from Walmart. We also ordered this fantastic Platform 9 3/4 curtain from Amazon:
The rest was all homemade, printed using free printable templates I found online (again, see my Pinterest board to find some of the ones I used).
The Great Hall
- Floating candles: Made of recycled toilet paper rolls, hot glue gun “melting wax”, and white spray paint. I did NOT want to pay a ton for those LED tealights, so instead I just glued some glowsticks on the inside! (Sadly, I didn’t get a picture of them glowing, but it was pretty cool!)
- Snowy Owl Balloons: White balloons and a black sharpie. Does it get any easier (or cuter)?
- The Sorting Hat: My pride and joy! I decided on this craft at the last minute. I’d seen a bunch of similar ideas on Pinterest and thought, no way, ain’t no one got time for that. But then I had this brown wrapping paper, metal wire and liquid glue staring me in the face, whispering, “Go on…Make me.” And so I did. I’m not including the tutorial because there are about a million online, and admittedly, I just winged this. TIP: Here I used a bit of brown and black paint for effect, but you can also use cocoa powder mixed into the glue for some color.
- Old Spell Books: Another DIY papier-mâché project using brown wrapping paper, twine, and glue. Add some random styrofoam into the mix, and there you have it! Some ancient, mysterious looking books fit for the Restriction Section in your library! TIP: I used stamps from the kids’ craft box to add the lettering and symbols.
- Weathered Potion Jars: Some old clear jars, a bit of brown and black acrylic paint, some glue, and free printable potion labels found online. I used this site for the tutorial and labels. TIP: Don’t have cork stoppers for that potion-y look? No problem! Use old scraps of fabric and twine to cover your lids!
Honeydukes Candy Station
Probably what the kids loved and appeciated the most! And it was all fairly easy and inexpensive. I hit up Bulk Barn, Dollarama, and Sugar Mountain for the candy supplies. These include gummy worms and frogs, sour spiders, candy mints, candy brains, and an assortment of Jelly Bellies. I didn’t get the authentic Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor Beans…They were too pricey for the amount I wanted. I also taped cute Golden Snitch wings to some Lindt Chocolate. Easy!
The labels and boxes were printed using templates found on this site.
Inspired by several dishes referenced throughout the books: Classic British Shepherds Pie, Glazed Carrots, Traditional Yorkshire Pudding, and of course, Baked Beans.
Some way, somehow, I managed to forget to take a picture of the meal! Just imagine a huge spread of British fare, and that’s pretty much how it was.
Butterbeer: My own take on this famous wizarding world drink. 1 part Cream Soda, 1 part Root Beer, a scoop of vanilla ice cream, whipped cream, and a drizzle of caramel sauce.
The Cake: A Hagrid-inspired “Happee Birthdae Bianka” chocolate cake (letters an’ all) with Cookies n’ Cream filling and classic vanilla buttercream icing. Oh, and cupcakes. There must always be cupcakes! (These are Butterbeer flavoured, loosely based on this recipe.)
Unlike Fiona’s party, Bianca’s party required quite a bit more involvement on my end as it pertained to activities. Exhausted from making all the decorations, food and whatnot, I didn’t want to go too overboard with games. Given the age group (10-11 years old), I tried to focus on activities they could do mostly on their own — with some help.
- The Sorting Ceremony — an absolute MUST for any Harry Potter party, no matter what age.
- Tea Leaf Reading: A roaringly fun activity for a group of 10-11 year old girls! I sorted out the tea bit, they did all the rest! I made this document using a tea reading guide I found online, along with my own “fortunes”.
- Scavenger Hunt: Using bits of text pulled directly from the books, I had the kids go around the house to find a bunch of clues that ultimately led them to the tray of the homemade Butterbeer, ready to enjoy!
And that’s it!
The party was an enormous success! The kids had an incredible time, they enjoyed the food, games and movies, and everyone left tired, full, and happy!
I wish I could say it’s time for me to rest after all this work, but alas, I need to go pack! We’re going to Australia!!!