A Very Happy Harry Potter Birthday: Mischief Managed
It's been awhile since I threw a birthday bash for my son. It's been all rainbows and candy and pink glitter vomit all over everything. To be fair, this wasn't my choice. Because last year my ten year old asked to go to Vegas. Yep. Vegas. To stay in a hotel, stuff himself with buffets and walk the strip. Classy, right?
The best part was having to explain why the streets are littered with pictures of naked girls like discarded Pokemon trading cards.
So this year when he asked for a Harry Potter-themed birthday party, I was all hell to the yes. Let's do it. And because it was his big 1-0 and also because he'd seen me slave and lavish his sister with multiple intricately themed parties for the last few years, I wanted to go BIG. Here's the problem. His birthday comes just a few weeks after Christmas. When I'm still suffering from DIY fatigue and giving my pile of unwritten thank you cards the evil eye of procrastination.
So I girded my loins after New Years, picked up my glue gun and thought—CRAP! I have a lot to do. Like so much.
And it was hard to whittle it down because I'm kind of a Potter aficionado myself and really, I wanted to do it ALL. So I stressed and stayed up late shellacking and here we are. A magical afternoon of mischief managed.
Our invitation set the stage for a Hogwarts themed extravaganza. I snagged this nifty printable from Etsy, based on a rendition of The Marauder's Map. I prefer to do this for parties because once you have the file, you can do whatever you want with it. Facebook event cover, poster sized prints for party decor, whatever. It keeps the theme consistent with minimal hassle.
Our party starts at the front door, where guests entered through Platform 9 3/4. I covered the length of the front door with brown craft paper, painted with a rectangular sponge dipped in fire engine red paint to create the illusion of bricks. Check out instructions for doing your own Platform 9 3/4 here.
After entering, guests follow a spider trail up the stairs, where Hedwig style owl balloons are perched on the railing. Dangling from their talons are rolled messages for each child, adorned with their name, that accompany them home at the end of the party via owl post. For owl balloon tutorials, check this out. If you'd like to get a whole bazillion spiders, I recommend Amazon.
I lost hours searching all over town for spiders and let me tell you, if ain't Halloween, there aren't any spiders. Just give it up.
I always chalkboard a themed schedule and sometimes a menu for parties. It helps me stay on track and feel like there will be an end to the madness.
At some point, no matter how much chaos the party has decayed into, you get to open the door and shove everybody out. Bye-bye, kiddos! Mischief Managed!
Upon arrival, guests were offered Harry Potteresque glasses, a Gryffindor tie and the option to have a lightening bolt scar face painted on their foreheads. Want to make your own ties? Tutorials abound- I used this one.
I also highly recommend using this face paint.
My daughter has eczema and she reacts to everything but she can tolerate this stuff.
It's non toxic and all natural and such a god damn relief to know you won't be sending someone home with hives.
Next guests were instructed to choose a wand. This is where there were some ooohs and ahhhs because these wands are just chopsticks, hot glue and some paint but they look seriously badass. Authentic and shit. I highly recommend following these instructions if you' like one for yourself.
Ollivander would be damn proud, right?
We handed out a house quiz next and once each guest had completed it, we conducted a ceremony with the sorting hat. I could have invested in a fancy sorting hat, but we just fashioned one out of brown paper and called out names. It was pretty ghetto but I am positive the kids could have cared less.
Everyone was eager to move on to Potions class, where we used supplies from your average pantry to make bubbling, frothing concoctions. There were partners and print outs and we started passing out the bat dung and blind cat eyeballs and went at it. Some serious fun was had. If you'd like to try your hand at it, I recommend this tutorial because you can download the printable potion recipes and she even provides labels for your supplies. FANCY.
We played a few more games, like Hide the Snitch and Charms class.
If you're wondering how on earth to make a snitch, I have one word for you. Ferraro Rochero Hazelnut Chocolates.
Yep. They're in gold wrappers and everything. See how that works? If you're still puzzled, check this out. Also, if you'd like a handy dandy guide to all the spells in the Harry Potter books, you know somebody has already made it. And you're pretty much guaranteed it has found its way to Pinterest. Here you go. You're welcome.
And now, the important part. Food. Here it is, in all its magical glory.
First we begin with Butterbeer. Because if you're going to begin anywhere, it ought to be with beer. This was a super easy recipe but I'll warn you that you're going to have trouble tracking down butter extract. Just save yourself the hassle and buy it here.
Next come these little beauties, both featuring pretzels.
Why so much pretzel? I don't know. Why the hell not?!
White Chocolate Dipped Pretzel Wands
These pastries were my favorites- the infamous Pumpkin Pasties. Both the Pasties and the Knickerbocker Glory came from the pages of The Harry Potter Cookbook, which I highly recommend. It's kid friendly and has pretty much every variation of food mentioned in the books.
You can pick up a copy here.
Finally, we come to the confections. Lovely little golden snitches, winged and ready for flight. I made chocolate frogs using an inexpensive mold and followed this recipe that actually makes the frogs squishy instead of hard. More like eating a real frog, I'd imagine. Ewww!
Hey, Harry Potter and his friends eat booger jelly beans. They're kind of a gross crowd.
If you'd like to snag the frog mold for your own purposes, you can find it below.
Last but certainly not least comes the cake. I went with something manageable for me, which doesn't involve fondant or any of that complicated shit. I don't do fondant. The inside of this four layer white cake sports the Hogwarts house colors while the exterior is a scene from a quidditch match.
This is a recipe I adore for a typical white cake, although when I made it this time, I really fucked something up. So don't do that. Whatever it is that I did.
It was so lopsided I almost couldn't salvage it with mountains of frosting. Almost. Those flying figures I picked up inexpensively online and I fashioned the quidditch hoops myself out of straws and construction paper. Here's the link for the cake toppers if you're interested. They were really well done for the price.
I have a few more little decor notes to share with you on this party, including some of the bathroom decor.
Nobody discovered it for a little while and I forgot about it until I heard shrieking from the hallway. Playful shrieking.
I desperately wanted to make these dementors out of black cheesecloth. But do you know anywhere that has black cheesecloth? Me neither. So we got a ghost. That's supposed to be a dementor. You get the idea. If you find black cheesecloth, have at it here. Also, I spent some significant time on the signage. I aged the papers I used in coffee and then burned the edges to get just the right affect. It was important to me. Why? Hell if I know. But it made me happy, so there's that.
Almost all of my favorite decor elements were fashioned out of paper.
See those chains? That's my kindergarten teacher showing.
And those wanted posters you can find all over Pinterest-see here. I simply downloaded one and put in images of my son for each year of his life. It was super cute.
What is even more adorable is his sister horded all the Wanted notices and posted them on her walls after the party. Like a weird fan girl.
This was by far my favorite decor element of the party.
And I'm glad because addressing and sealing all those letters with wax took a really long fucking time. I was so relieved to discover it was worth it.
My husband, the token tall person, helped me suspend these from fishing wire extending from the ceiling to appear as if they are flying out of the fireplace. It's definitely a magical effect.
We sent our guests home with these jelly bean favors, packaged with one of my favorite JK Rowling quotes. Most of the kids were a little put off by the flavors, but they gleefully packaged them into ziploc bags so they could have the joy of passing vomit flavored jelly beans off on unsuspecting siblings.
If you'd like to sample Bertie Bott's Every Flavor Beans, you can buy them below.
"It's important to remember that we all have magic inside us."
Thanks for taking this magical tour of a very happy Harry Potter Birthday Party. Come back next year because I'm pretty sure I am going to have to figure out how to make a death star out of cake and tears.