My little girl LOVES to read. There are times when we have to remind her to blink, remind her to eat and remind her that there is school tomorrow so she needs to put away her books and those lights need to be switched off!!
Early last year she discovered the world of Hogwarts and Harry Potter. She devoured them all, one book after another and was hungry for more. The seven books in the series were followed by the Cursed Child which was followed by reading up all the “text books”, followed by emptying her “dollhouse” book shelf so she could make it into a mini Hogwarts of sorts. Soon her reading corner was converted into a Harry Potter zone, she started spending hours making miniature replicas of all the books, Harry-Ron-Hermione bobble heads were being created, bookmarks were being made, dressing up on Halloween had to be one of the characters from the book (Bellatrix Lestrange), all the movies were watched, she learnt how to play the theme music on her violin (She is playing it at a concert this summer as well!). Yes, in short she went a little crazy and thanks to her, I rediscovered both the books and the movies.
So there wasn’t any thinking required when it came to what the theme for her 9th birthday should be (gulp! I don’t know which one is harder to believe…that she is nine or that I have been a mum for nine years :)), you guessed it, A Harry Potter themed birthday for my little Potterhead who can beat a lot of adult HP quizzers, hands down!
I always enjoy planning her birthdays but I have to admit this one was too exciting. With our combined love and madness for the series it was difficult to stop us both. We were brimming with ideas, wanted to incorporate as many details as we could and as result got too many of “those” looks from DH and close friends who thought we had literally lost it.
So grab that mug of butterbeer, for we are NOW going to board the Hogwarts Express and it’s going to be a slightly long but a helluva of a ride!
Trust me it’s a lot of fun when you get accepted to a special preview at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry in honour of Hogwarts’ newest headgirl’s birthday (to sample a few classes plus attend a grand feast at the great hall) and receive it via owl post! Twit! Twoo!
I printed the invitation cards on handmade paper and sealed the envelopes with a blob of red wax seal and pressed a fake “coin” to make it look like a real seal. Next we blew up white mini balloons and doodled freehand owls on them. A jute string and a chopstick was added to make the owl stand and there we had it; invitation cards delivered via owl post to each of her friends. You can totally do the same with helium balloons but we wanted to keep the balloons tiny and tiny balloons can only be air filled. Hence the owls sitting pretty on the “branches”.
The children were requested to R.S.V.P. by owl or use their muggle telephone for the same so that the school could keep the materials for their classes ready. They were also instructed to take the Knight Bus or muggle vehicle to our house, “currently disguised as a muggle home. There you will find a magical door that opens only to friends and family of Sara. The password to open the door is Coggersnitch Snickerdoodle”. Once inside they found themselves on Platform 9 ¾ from where they were transported to Hogwarts for the sorting ceremony 🙂
When making the brick wall for platform 9 ¾ I came across several tutorials all of which used a sponge dipped in red colour to make “bricks” on white paper. I found it easier to paint lines on a coloured paper instead (much faster and cleaner I feel and also uses up very little paint).
Once on the other side of the brick wall, the kids found themselves into Hogwarts. We had cleared away as much of the room as possible. The dining area became the great hall and the other section of the living room was where we held all the “classes”.
Sara already had loads of Harry Potter stuff; some store bought and gifted souvenirs and most printed or created at home over the year for her Harry Potter corner. There are tons of free printables (I am including all of them in a Harry Potter Pinterest Board) that with a little creativity and customization can be transformed into the kind you want. We have an undying love for brown paper packages and so used a combination of brown and black paper and some twine to make a spellbook, a trivia book, a fortune telling and a house sorting cootie catcher, a marauder’s map, a would-you-rather HP edition, an educational decree issued by Dolores Umbridge and miniature books (all using free printables and tons of patience). We had made a frame carrying this really funny quote that comes from Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes for Sara’s washroom so we brought that out as well.
She found this HP Family Tree and a printable containing all the magical objects of the wizarding world online and that has been on her wall forever. So we used all of that as party décor.
Bookmarks, pretend letters she keeping writing, little bobble heads that she made of Harry, Ron and Hermione and a guide to wand motions that she made using stamps and markers were also already there, ready to be used along with all of her Harry Potter books.
With all of the above and a little more we created “Hogwarts” inside our very own living room.
We replaced the frames on the wall with some of the artwork, printables and bookmarks from her room. A cream bedcover, Hogwarts House Bunting that I printed for the party and fairy lights from her room became the backdrop.
I emptied a bookrack and filled it up with all of her Harry Potter Books, the other remaining Harry Potter stuff that I shared earlier, party favour bags, wands that I made for kids and photo props (more on the last three in a bit) and some random stuff from around the house that seemed to fit in with the theme.
For the potions, I printed some labels available online, we emptied some of the spice jars and bottles from the kitchen and Sara filled them up with a variety of things. Colored water and glitter, painted lentils, painted weathers, strings, bits of papers, etc.
We pasted Nox and Lumos on all the switches.
Sara wrote the words “Beware the chamber of secrets has been reopened” with an expired lipstick that I had been holding on to only for this.
No great hall is complete without floating candles. Now most DIYs will ask you to save toilet paper rolls, cut them and paint them white…let me tell you a secret…I used some thick heavy weight white paper and rolled them into candles added hot glue on top for wax drippings. Tadah! Done.
We added the led tealights to each one just before the kids walked in and it looked pretty beautiful!
There was also Hogwarts theme music in the background that we played through the entire evening. Once all the excitement of walking “through” the wall was over we began the evening with the mandatory “sorting ceremony” (with the help of a miniature talking sorting hat that Sara had received as a gift).
For the wands, I used wooden chopsticks (the ones that come with takeaway), loads of hot glue to make wiggly patterns on some and on some beads and baubles to give them a slightly different form than the others. Finally, a coat of acrylic paint with different colours and some shimmering powder.
The kids then had to practice all the spells at the Charms Class with Professor Flitwick. Silencio was the one that I ended up using the most:). They loved their wands and it didn’t leave their little hands all evening!
After practicing the wand movements and spells, we moved on to the next class which was Potions with Professor Slughorn.
In this class, the children were asked to take a shot of polyjuice potion (For the non-potter fans; polyjuice potion enables you to assume the physical appearance of another person, as long as you have first procured a part of another individual’s body to add to the brew…toenail clippings, dandruff or worse, but it is most usual to use hair and its effect is temporary). The potion is a greenish liquid so I used a kiwi and lime concoction for it.
I told them that each of their shot glasses had hair (I know totally yukh!) from one of the characters from the books and after drinking their physical appearance would change to one of those characters. The catch was that they didn’t know who they were going to be so their goal was to find that out. Before they consumed the magical potion we taped names of different characters on their back and gave them each the complete list of the characters (equal to the number of kids). So they had to run around figuring out who their friends had transformed into and striking those names off their lists to finally get the one that they were.
As expected there was lots of running and yelling in the class. After all that running around, we settled down for the next class which was a slightly quieter affair. Care of Magical Creatures with Hagrid.
The children were asked to “breed” their very own magical creatures (read: create one with the help of craft supplies like coloured papers, pipe cleaners, cellotape, glue, pens, etc.). They had to think about what magical abilities would they like their creature to have. After making them, they had to share that with everyone in the class.
The children came up with such innovative features; antennas to locate gold coins, wings that could transform into fins when you have to get into the water, breathing out fire like a dragon but with unicorn poop (ha ha), seeing through people’s lies and stories (so very important I tell you!) and so many more.
Then it was time for some more jumping and screaming! Transfiguration with who else but Professor Minerva Mcgonagall.
One kid at a time had to act like an animal/bird (could be real or imaginary) and the rest of the class had to figure out what their friend had transfigured into. Oh…we had flying turtles, dancing pigs and a phoenix which turned into ash right there in our living room and many more!
Throughout the evening I tried to maintain a certain kind of flow…one activity which involved jumping and running followed by a slightly calmer one (some for the kids’ sake and to be honest more for to maintain my sanity :))
The next class was Quidditch. With all of us in the living room we couldn’t really play quidditch but my little one really wanted to include that as well.
Well, you know what happened. “Because of a sudden attack by the dementors, all outdoor activities were called off until further notice. But with the quidditch selections just round the corner, Madam Rolanda Hooch would like to conduct a quiz on Quidditch to know if your class had the necessary knowledge about the subject before we step out for the final selections” 🙂
So a quiz on Quidditch it was! It was a mix of easy and tough ones. Sitters like; What colour is the snitch? How many points do you receive after a scoring a goal? What is the best ever broom to be invented according to the books? Harry Potter and Draco Malfoy both play the same position, what is it? What is the bird the Golden Snitch was based on? And some that were slightly tricky… Are you allowed to have a wand with you on the Quidditch pitch? Which of the Weasleys isn’t or wasn’t on the Gryffindor team? What is the name of the ancient German game that Quidditch first originated from? What author’s name appears on the cover of the book on Quidditch? Do you know the answers to some of these? Leave them in the comments and you will get one Gringott coin for every right answer via owl post I promise!
Off to the Herbology class with Professor Sprout next. Me being me, I couldn’t resist a bit of food education amidst all this fun. So for this class, I simply got my set of herb bottles out and numbered them 1 to 6. The children had to smell each one and write down what they thought they were. We had the easier dry mint, oregano and basil punctuated with some trying ones like sage, dill and parsley. The best response was from this one child; Herb IDK 1, IDK 2, IDK 3, etc for all. It stands for “I don’t know” in case you are curious 🙂
The children were really hungry by then (may be some of that credit can go to all those lovely smelling herbs and ofcourse all those tiring classes…school is never easy I tell you!) and couldn’t wait for the feast at the grand hall to begin so from herbology we moved on to our last class for the day; Divination with Professor Sybill Trelawney. Now we all know that Professor Minerva McGonagall thought it was “one of the most imprecise branches of magic,” but this very class left the kids with both their eyes and mouth wide open!
We were going to be tea reading! For this, I used my tiny bone china cups (you have to give me credit for the courage that I exhibited by the very act of handing over my precious china to the naughty wizards and witches :)). With some tea and hot glue I made different pictures on a transparency and cut them out. I hot glued the same into the bases of the cups (another sign on courage and faith) and left them like that until the day of the party.
Next, I boiled some tea and left it to cool down (we don’t want any burns right!).
Just before the class, I filled them all up. The kids were made to sit in a circle and select their cup. Next, they were to swirl it around and empty it into a common bowl (they really wanted to drink it and I had to keep telling them I was the worse “tea maker ever” and they shouldn’t risk it :), luckily they listened!.. couldn’t have said there is hot glue down there!).
Upon emptying the cup they saw tiny pictures of different shapes emerge! More squeals! I read out the predictions from the key I had for each one. Sun meant bright and a happy year ahead, tweety bird was for a letter or an email from a loved one, heart was for finding one’s true passion this year and so on. The best one was however, when Sara’s friend who is relocating next month got a kite and I said you are going to fly away from all of us! You had to see the look on her face; she just couldn’t believe that she got this prediction. Ofcourse she and the other kids knew what was going on but a part of them wanted to believe in the magic that they had just witnessed. Because it is so exciting making yourself believe in magic, right! Always believe that something wonderful is going to happen!!
Grand feast at the great hall calling!
The grand feast had to be ofcourse enjoyed in “royal” plates and flutes. So I kept it a mix of gold and silver and we raised a toast to our new head girl with some silver. The children enjoyed their feast under the floating candles.
For food, I wanted to stick to the theme as much as possible but cook food that the majority of the kids would enjoy.
There were Harry Potter Empanadas (but with a pizza style filling), Professor Sprout’s vegetable patch (vegetable crudités and dip), the Golden Snitch (potato and cheese balls with tortilla wings), Butterbeer cookies (sugar cookies with a simple butterscotch sauce) and lots of more polyjuice potion.
However, I made the cake earlier and I can share that with you. A Harry Potter theme birthday isn’t complete without a cake from Hagrid. But when you love the books as much the movies (okay…the books a little more…ahem…a lot more) then Hagrid comes visiting you with both the versions of his cake.
So we had both the pink and the chocolate version 🙂 More cake is never a mistake, I can tell you that.
By then it was time for the parents to pick their little ones (via the floo network or muggle transport from the platform itself after the completion of the session, they had been told) but before that we decided to have a bit more fun with the help of some props that I had printed. I attached those trusty disposable chopsticks to each one and that’s it. With ties around their necks and an over-sized pair of Harry Potter glasses, we went click, click, click.
We thanked them with these goodie bags that included:
- Free Dobby Socks: a pair of regular socks to which I simply added a free dobby label
- Magical seeds from Professor Sprouts: These were basically lavender seeds
- Magic Wands: the ones I shared in detail earlier
- Chocolates to be eaten after an attack from dementors: Bars of chocolates covered with some black crepe paper and a label with instructions.
- Gold Coins from Gringotts : Little bags of gold coin chocolates
- And finally the quills: For these I bought some pretty pencils, white feathers and jute twine that we had in our craft box and with some hot glue these were converted into quills!
I had a RIDDIKULUSLY awesome time putting it all together and I have a feeling the kids had a magical evening as well. I am including tons of more pictures for fellow Potterheads on the Orange Kitchens Facebook page. Have a look if you are hungry for more!
Happee Happee Birthdae Sara! May you always remember that words are our most inexhaustible source of magic and it matters not what someone is born but what they grow up to be.
You bring MAGIC to my life my little potterhead so here’s one for the little girl who loves Hogwarts like crazy!
Images: If you like any of the pictures on the blog and would like to use those please write to me. I put in hours of work behind each post and would love to share it with you but it would hurt me if use those without my permission. Just ask!