As you might recall, a few weeks back I mentioned it was my birthday. I love to plan themed parties and I was itching to do it, so after my trip to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, I decided to throw together a Harry Potter party last minute. I usually have a little one each year on July 31st, but I wanted to go big since it was in celebration of my birthday and despite having a small time frame to pull things together, it was a great success and didn’t break the bank.
I set the party up so that everyone would be sorted into different houses, competing for the House Cup. I kept track of and awarded points. Every person competed individually as well for the “Truest Fan” award for which I had a prize; basically whoever won the most points for their house won. Sounds fun, huh?
As a matter of fact, I overspent on what I thought I would need for my party. I can’t give you the exact numbers because I’m going to be returning a bunch of things that I bought thinking I would need and then didn’t end up using at all. I maybe spent $100, but I came to realize that I could’ve easily cut that down to $60, probably even less.
I know many other bloggers have blogged about their Harry Potter parties, but I feel that many aren’t too in-depth or that I’ve always had to pull from multiple sources to get enough ideas. And if you’re still reading at this point, you’re most likely interested in hosting your own Potter Party someday. So I will try to share the wealth of knowledge I’ve accumulated and write a complete guide to throwing a successful Harry Potter bash.
These ideas were intended for adults but could be used for kids or teens as well.
There’s a million ways to hand out Harry Potter party invitations. For my party, I was boring and decided to just make a Facebook event and correspond via PM. That worked for my party since I only had about a week and a half to prepare. Many people though like to make replica’s of the Hogwarts letter. The method you choose is up to you. Some people go crazy fancy with it and include little owl stuffed animals and such. Personally, I wouldn’t want to spend that much time and energy into invitations.
If you do want to send physical letters though, here’s a step by step process and two budget friendly methods:
- Make and print the letters yourself. You can open your copy of The Sorcerer’s Stone and type it up word for word or find a template online. When I made letters before, I also googled Minerva McGonagall’s signature and added the image to the bottom of the letter.
- Age the envelopes and paper using the tea bag dye method, which I will describe further down in the decor section.
- Method 1: Drive to the address of your invitees and stick it in their mailbox.
- Method 2: Buy white helium filled balloons, one balloon per letter. Draw an owl on the balloon. Roll up your letter and tie the balloon string around it. In this case, you’ll probably want to print on heavy paper or roll something into your letter in order to keep it weighed down. Then drop this off on the front porch of your invitees.
Regardless of your method of choice, I still recommend creating a Facebook event to further communicate with your guests. It’s the easiest way usually to follow up with RSVPs and to give out any other info your guests need to know like that they should dress up. For my party, my Facebook event was crucial, more details on why to come.
This is where I tend to spend the most money and time because I think the environment sets the whole mood for the party. Many things you need though can be found around your house, at the dollar store, or online. With some pre-planning, you could also borrow decor like bird cages and such from neighbors and friends, who are bound to have some since bird cages were all the rage a couple years ago in interior design.
The Living Room is the first room you see when you enter into our house so I wanted it to be catchy. We turned our living room into an all-House-inclusive common room. I decorated it with the Harry Potter books and any Harry Potter merchandise that I owned. All of my Harry Potter funkopops were set up. I kept the boxes of the wands and chocolate frogs I bought at Universal Studios and set those out. My son has an owl stuffed animal that I put in a decorative bird cage that we happened to have. I wrote Common Room on this chalkboard pennant banner that I happened to find at Target for a few dollars in the dollar section they always have at the front of the store. These are super nice because if you’re careful wiping the chalk off, you can use it for another party or as home decor. You can buy them on Amazon for super cheap too like this one here.
I also found some interesting glass bottles with cork tops of different shapes and sizes at the dollar store. I filled them with water and then added food coloring to them. They were a fabulous enhancement to the room and food table. I was also able to use them for a game later.
All around the house, I had little notices that I made using this Educational Decree template from DeviantArt.
I also had these mason jars at the front of the room to keep House Points in. As you can see, each house had it’s own jar. The points were then represented by these small decorative gems, the kind people put in jars or in fish bowls. I bought these ones at the dollar store, and I’ve also seen them at Wal-mart. You only need a bag or two of them.
I wanted to have a Student Roster for people to sign for the Sorting Ceremony and to keep track of points earned by the individual on. So I took one of our small tables in our living room and set it by the entrance of the room. Here is the STUDENT ROSTER document that you’re free to use. I also put a mason jar of round wooden dowels of varying thickness on the table and taped an Ollivander’s sign to the jar. These would be wands for people who didn’t have one. The dowels came in a pack from Wal-mart and cost 97 cents. We also had this cool chalkboard that I used to remind people to sign the roster. The pieces of wood on the table were re-used from my wedding, which me made by chopping down one of my parent’s birch trees that was dying. Though I’m sure you could get something similar from Hobby Lobby.
I don’t think I spent a dime on the kitchen besides the food. I wanted the kitchen to be fun and colorful like a Hogwart’s feast! So I had more of the potion bottles in here. I also googled Quibbler and printed out a couple images of Quibbler cover replicas that I liked and then put them on the tables where the food would sit. I used books, bowls, and glasses to give the food different height and dimension.
I wanted to get the enchanted sky-ceiling effect. So I cut out and aged large stars that I then hole-punched and hung from the ceiling using twine. There was already a fixture over our table that made it easy for them to hang from, but you could easily tape them to your ceiling. We also used a lot of candles in here.
To make the food table more fun, I also made a little name card for each dish. I had this particular font on my computer. It’s called JaneAusten, and I believe I got it off dafont.com. For the ink splats effect, I used a font called WC Rhesus from http://www.1001fonts.com.
With some help from Google images, the bathroom became the Ministry of Magic. Basically, I decorated the walls by googling “Daily Prophet” and printing out some of the cool replica pages in black and white. I also searched for “Ministry of Magic memos” and printed out a few of those. I folded them into a simple paper airplane and then taped them to the walls in different ways along the fold lines.
Stark white paper doesn’t fit Hogwarts to me so anything I had to print that was too white like the food labels, stars, and student roster, I aged with herbal tea bags that I had in the house. It’s super easy! All you do is put the tea bag in some water (doesn’t have to be heated) for a minute or two, and then paint the tea bag across the paper you want to age. It’s essentially water colors with a tea bag instead of a brush. When color isn’t spreading across the paper anymore, dip the tea bag back in the water and resume. Obviously different teas will have different color. I tried out a couple from my pantry and ended up using a Dandelion Root tea because it had a nice strong, reddish color.
When you’re done painting, lay a couple of paper towels on top of the paper to soak up extra water. If you want the paper to still stay really flat and not dry into any strange shapes, then also put a regular towel onto of the paper towels and set heavy books on top. It couldn’t be easier. And it drys fast as well.
We saved a ton of money on food by making it into a potluck! The twist was that we asked our guests to bring a dish from the books, inspired by the books or characters, or that was a British recipe. We then gave each dish fun, Harry Potter names like Mountain Troll Casserole or Nagini’s Spawn. It was great to have a Facebook page in this case in order to coordinate to make sure no one was bringing them same thing or had too much of a certain type.
We did provide some extra goodies. We made butterbeer, and you can find my recipe here. We also made a replica of Hagrid’s birthday cake to Harry using a Cherry Chip cake box since the party was in honor of my birthday. We also bought all the candy. Candy is cheap though and we bought all of ours from the dollar store: gummy worms, fun colored licorice (licorice wands), lemon heads (lemon drops), and jelly beans (Bertie Bott’s). You could go more crazy than that with candy, but it was sufficient for us.
Since our party began near dinner time, I also made a big pot of Mountain Troll Casserole. In real life, this is one of my favorite Irish recipes that I make throughout the year and on St. Patrick’s. It’s essentially deconstructed cabbage rolls, which are delicious but more time consuming, and you can make it in one pot! I will include the recipe on my next post since this one is already so lengthy.
Our guests were fabulous and came up with all sorts of fun food from pumpkin pasties to English tea cucumber sandwiches to butterbeer cupcakes. I just asked that they let me know what they were bringing ahead of time so I could make a fun label for each item.
THE ACTIVITIES AND GAMES
Just to recap, I wanted my guests to compete for the House Cup for their house and compete individually for the Truest Fan prize, which was a pair of Luna Lovegood Spectra Specs, which are only $11.00 on Amazon. What I ended up doing was sorting my guests so that every House was proportionally represented and keeping score in mason jars every time someone earned points during a game using the decorative rocks. Each rock represented 5 points. I also put a tally mark by the name on the Student Roster overtime someone scored points. Each game had its own scoring system and ways for people to earn points.
Additionally, each game also corresponded to a class. So after the Sorting Ceremony, everyone would mingle or eat, and then I would announce that a class was beginning and we would play the game!
Before the party I asked my guests to give me one word to best describe themselves, what their patronus would be, and what their top two House choices would be. Whatever House corresponded to their answers best was usually where I put them.
To prepare for the Sorting Ceremony, I borrowed a witch’s hat and set it on the stool in the middle of the room. I also ripped the audio files from this youtube video and cut it down so that I had an audio clip for each House:
When each person sat on the stool and put the hat on their head, all I had to do was play the audio clip!
Potions | Potions Identification Game
Remember those potions I told you about? I had four potions, each a different color, each corresponding to one House. For this game, I made a list of potions that were described in the book. Guests had to figure out in their House teams which potions on the list were the four that I had. It was a great way to get people talking and recalling the books. Each House earned 5 points for each potion they identified correctly.
Here is the Potions Game for your use and the answers are:
Red potion – Amorentia – We only know the aromas for Gryffindor students Hermione Granger & Harry Potter, and Ron Weasley was affected by a powerful love potion.
Yellow Potion – Felix Felicis – Matches description in the book, and Hufflepuffs are lucky if you ask me.
Blue Potion – Veritaserum – Matches description in book, blue represents truth and honesty, and Ravenclaws value facts and intellect.
Green Potion – Polyjuice Potion – Matches book description, was used to turn into Slytherin Students, and also used by a deatheater.
Amazingly, one House got all four correct while the others got at least 2.
Charms | Quote Off
I made a list of quotes and read them aloud. Whoever knew who said the quote first earned 5 points for their team. They earned an additional 5 points if they knew which book the quote came from.
I gathered way more quotes than needed, but here’s all the ones I came up with. They vary in difficulty. You’re welcome to pick and choose which you’d like to use.
History of Magic | Who am I?
Everyone knows this game! I wrote down a bunch of Harry Potter characters on slips of paper, and then taped a paper to everyone’s forehead. We took turns asking yes or no questions to figure out who was written down. This was fun because we had everyone from Hermione Granger to Salazar Slytherin to Fluffy the Three-Headed Dog. I gave the first four people to figure it out points.
Flying | Indoor Quidditch + Trivia
This was fun! So before the party, I bought a yellow ball and hid it in the main area of the party. We also had a rubber ball and made a small quidditch hoop. To play, we matched up two of the houses into Huffledor and Slytherclaw. Each team appointed a seeker, a beater, and the rests were chasers. The beaters were given a pool noodle.
Each team took turns answering trivia questions. If the team answered correctly, their seeker could go look for the snitch. For additional points, a chaser had two tries to throw the rubber ball quaffle throw the Quidditch hoop from a designated spot. On their second throw, the opposing team’s beater was welcome to whack them with their pool noodle. Once the Chaser had taken their two throws, the Seeker had to return to their team and their turn to find the snitch was over.
I took my trivia questions from this site: http://the-quiz.com/questions-with-answers-harry-potter-quiz.htm
Defense Against the Dark Arts | Wizard Duel
This game was basically the theater game Bang. But instead of an imaginary gun, we used wands. And instead of saying bang, each guest had to respond with one of the following spells: Stupefy, Expelliarmus, Protego, or Confundo.
Basically, the guests stand in a circle with one person in the middle. The person in the middle points to someone and says their name. That person must then duck, while the two people on either side turn to each other and try to say their spell the fastest. The one with the quickest reaction time wins while the other person is out. You repeat this until there is one person left. That person wins house points.
For more detailed instructions on how to play Bang, click here.
Pin the Spectra Specs on Luna
Just for extra fun, I set up this game on the back of our front door for guests to do when they felt like it. I wrote a funny little poem for guests to read so they’d get what the game was. I’ll included the documents I used so you don’t have to scour the internet if you don’t feel like it.
And that’s it! I hope it helps you throw your next Harry Potter event! If you do use any of my ideas or documents, I’d love a shout out!
We ultimately had a blast. We’ll definitely be using these ideas again.