Amelia's "Harry Potter" Birthday


Amelia really enjoyed the first Harry Potter movie. So much so that when we asked her what she wanted us to do for her 5th birthday she decided that she wanted to have a Harry Potter Party.

We had no idea how much work it would be or how much fun we would all have

The Plan The Party Pictures

The Plan

Go ahead, click on this link to search for "Harry Potter Birthday Party" in the Google search engine, I dare you. Heck, I double-dare you.

Did you get over A MILLION results? Now imagine you have a whole month and a half to browse through all those great ideas. That was what we had. Plus, we attended a "Harry Potter Night" at Fairytale Town and the first movie had just come out on video/DVD so the stores were still packed with merchandise. So many ideas to try out.

Right off, we knew that we wanted to have a Hogwarts-style party; kids dressed up with a bunch of "classes" that they could participate in. The next step was figuring out which ones. A quick scan of the books and we figured we needed Charms, Potions, and Care of Magical Creatures. That was a good start, we'd add more activities later.

To get the guests excited, we made extra special invitations. I found a Potter-style font and printed "Hogwart's School of Witchcraft and Wizardry invites you to Amelia's 5th Birthday (etc)" on parchment. We, carefully, burned around the edges to give it an old look and we sent them in mailers that included a 3-inch stuffed owl that "hooted" when you squeezed him. We were informed that these where a HUGE hit.

We had a lot of work to do to get ready. We found items for the goody bags and planned the food and the classes. We got into decorating which was a bit of a problem because we all had a LOT of ideas.

But first we needed outfits. It was getting close enough to Halloween that costume shops were starting to spring up. We found adult robes, but didn't like the "kid" stuff. Then one of our friends told us about They had a great Hermione robe for Amelia. Once we added in some school uniform pieces from Target, she was all set. Allcostumes also had a set of "School" banners that we figured would look good "somewhere."

One more stop at the net to go; we needed Chocolate Frogs. It turns out there are "official" Chocolate Frogs, but we didn't like them very much. A candy supply company had molds that made 8 cute little (about 2") frogs. I learned all about melting and molding chocolate from their web site and made over forty of the little guys.

A week before the party, I was looking at the big fort and swing-set structure in the backyard. I knew that I didn't want a bunch of kids in long robes playing in it or knocking each other down with the swings. But I couldn't figure out how to make it "vanish." Then, I said "I wish we had a fake castle front to put over it." That was that, and I rushed off to Home Depot for ideas. Luckily, a lady in the Paint Department knew exactly what to do. Two big sheets of plywood would cover the front of the structure (once the swing set seats and the slide were removed). She found cheap gray paint from the mis-tinted pile and drew a picture of me. First, we painted the plywood gray. Then, while it was still wet, I sprinkled sand-box sand all over it. That gave it a nice stone look. Sure, it would wash off in a couple of days, but I only needed it for a day. Then, to make the outlines of the bricks I used the thickest black permanent marker I could find at Office Depot. Highlight paint was added to give the bricks depth and "sky" was painted in to hide the square shape of the plywood.


The Party

There were supposed to be 13 kids at the party. One pulled out at the last minute (her Mom felt that it would be "too scary" for her).

The first activity was Wand Making. As everyone arrived, they were given a 12" wooden dowel and directed to a table containing glue, glitter, feathers, paint, and other assorted items.

Once everyone was there and the wands were put up to dry, we started the Snitch hunt. We had taken Styrofoam balls and spray-painted them gold. We learned quickly to do a light first-coat to seal them or the paint would eat the balls (I hate when that happens, don't you?). After adding two white feathers, we had Snitches. We hid them around the back yard and each kid was told to find one and put it with their wand.

Potions Class was next. Kids paired up around a big table. Each was given a big bowl. I went around filling them with warm water from a big Thermos jug. When a kid asked, I said "it's magic Dragon water." They laughed until one kid stuck his finger in, pulled it out with a yelp and said "he's right, it's really hot." Everyone else had to test it and soon they were completely enthralled. Everyone took a couple scoops of Borax (I called it something like "ground-up Unicorn horn") and stirred. Then I poured in a bunch of white Elmers glue and added a couple of drops of green paint. This gave the kids a watery mess. Gak is a super-polymer with strange behaviors; when at rest, it relaxes into a thin ooze. But, when you stir it, it binds up. The harder you stir it, the tougher it gets. A couple of the kids screamed the first time they started stirring because some "magical" force pulled the spoons right out of their hands. One boy stirred so hard that his gak turned almost solid and snapped his spoon in half. Months later, kids were still talking about the Potions Class

We packaged up the gak for sending home and sent the kids to Charms Class. We gave them back their wands (hint: glitter-paint takes forever to dry, avoid it) and put a chocolate frog in front of each kid. They practiced their "swish and flick" and assorted magic words trying to levitate their frogs. Finally, We said "these must be non-magic frogs, why don't we help them," picked one up and popped it into our mouth. The kids all did the same.

History of Magic class was next. We read them a couple of Halloween books while I got the food ready.

We had a Feast with pumpkin pasties and giant fingers (little hot dogs baked in dough).

By then the Magician had arrived. The kids sat on mats while he entertained them in-front of the castle. He did a great job and involved the kids in most of the tricks.

The last class of the day was Care of Magical Creatures. We made owl puppets based on a design we had seen being made at FairytaleTown. We pre-cut all the pieces and let the kids assemble them and clue feathers on.

After cutting the Harry Potter cake purchased from the local supermarket (I came to my senses before I started making a castle cake from scratch), everyone headed inside for gifts and goody bags. The bags contained another chocolate frog, gold coins, snakes, and stickers.

Of course, as everyone was leaving one parent looked around the yard at the decorations and the remains of the activities and asked "do you realize how much pressure this is going to put on me to make MY son's birthday special?"



Welcome to Hogwart's

Making the wands

Potions Class

Owl Puppets

Make a wish...


The Magician

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