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This party took awhile to plan, but there are tons of great sites and blogs and Pinterest, of course, that gave me inspiration. The invites were printed to mimic the letter Harry gets- kids were very excited to receive them. Morning of the party we put up our "brick" wall (made from brown paper and stamped with a sponge) and our 9 & 3/4 sign (posterboard and a free download.) We put an old trunk out on the porch, along with a birdcage and a "Hedwig", along with a cinnamon broom to sub for Harry's broom. We hung tealights wrapped with paper from the ceiling to mimic the floating candles at Hogwarts. As the kids arrived, we handed out robes, toy money that the kids later redeemed to buy candy at Honeydukes, cauldrons to keep everything in, coursebooks for their different lessons (had sections on spells, magical creatures, potions, divination, transfiguration and herbology), and their wands- we had each child pick a wand from a jar while I held a light up ring under the jar, hidden in my hand. When the "wand chose the wizard" it would light up the jar :) We then sorted the kids into their houses, giving each of them a felt tie with their house colors. From there, we split the children into two groups, that way we could conduct two classes at a time without the rooms being overcrowded (our house is small.) I did an easy paperbag owl puppet, and to save time and prevent confusion I cut out the pieces each child would need the day before and placed them in individual baggies, along with a glue stick. The kids then found the correct spell in their course books to make the transformation complete. Hubby was Snape, he did a simple baking soda and vinegar potion recipe we found on the blog dirtandsunshine.com It was easy for the kids to do, again, though, we prepared everything the night before for it, so it would go smoothly. One class finished before the other, so we had our friend Jenn act as Professor Trelawney and do a tea leaf reading, in which, you guessed it- the night before- I drew a shape at the bottom of a cup in marker, then glued loose tea leaves on top of the shape. During the class, you have extra tea leaves dumped on top of each cup, have the kids shake the excess leaves into a jar, etc, and they are so surprised to see a shape revealed underneath! We then took turns reading from our books, deciphering their meanings. We then went outside and split in two groups again- Herbology, where the kids went over a lesson about mandrakes and then planted "mandrake seeds" (wildflower seeds) into their little pots, and then Care of Magical Creatures- they went on an egg hunt (we spray painted leftover easter eggs gold and then hid them), and then had to "hatch" them (I made homemade slime from mixing elmers glue and borax and water, and then placed small plastic creatures like snakes, flies, spiders,etc in the slime). The kids had to go to their coursebooks and figure out which creature they had found and how to "care" for it. Then they all met up for Spells and Charms, where they got to just run around and use their wands on each other for awhile, and then they had to figure out which charm to cast on the pullstring pinata before they pulled a string. After that, everyone came back inside for our feast, and to sing Happy Birthday to my son, Liam. Then we opened presents and while the parents started to arrive for pickups, each child got to go to "Honeydukes" and use their money to buy whatever candy they wanted (and this way I get to keep the play money and reuse it for a future party :)
Cauldron Cakes (Boston Creme Cupcakes inside cauldrons), Eye of Newt Cupcakes (lemon with green colored icing), and a trip to Honeydukes :) with Chocolate Frogs, Dumbledore's Favorite Lemondrops, Bertie Bott's Every Flavor Beans, Very Scary Vampire Fangs, Sour Squids, Fizzing Whizbees, Cornish Pixies, Mad Eye Moody's Eyeballs and Droobles Best Blowing Gum.
So many! Wands, spellbooks, wizard robes, cauldrons, sickles and galleons (they used these to buy their Honeyduke's candy), felt ties that they wore after being sorted into their houses, paperbag owls (which they made during Transfiguration), Magical Creature Eggs filled with slime and a creature, Mandrake plants, plus during each class they earned a star in their books per class, and one child each class earned an extra prize (like Mad Eye Moody's Bouncy Eye-Ball, etc.) And of course, each child got to "shop" at Honeydukes!
Activities / Games
I made a course book for each kid that included information and tutorials for each class. We had Spells and Charms (they had to figure out which spell to cast before pulling a string on the pinata, which was a train that I converted to the Hogwarts Express), Herbology (they planted "mandrakes"), Care of Magical Creatures (they went on an egg hunt for golden eggs filled with goo and a creature, then had to "hatch" them), Divination (we read their tea leaves), Transfiguration (they turned paper lunch bags into owls and used their spells to animate them),and Potions (they made Mandrake Draught with Professor Snape.) We also did a "Prisoner of Azkaban" photo shoot for each kid.
I started out with $100 budget, which quickly expanded.... we ended up spending $180, but when you break it down, that's only $10 per kid, so it wasn't so bad! And that was for everything- food, favors, decorations and invitations.
What People Ate
Dragon Fingers (chicken fingers), Magic Wands (pretzel sticks and string cheese), Herbology Bites (veggies and dip)
What People Drank
Butterbeer (cream soda, butterscotch syrup and whipped cream)
Potions- the kids loved seeing their "mandrake draught" turn from yellow to red
Each "trick" we did (tea leaves, potions, etc) the kids would say "Is that real magic??!!!!
All the kids! They all had wands and wizard robes, which we made for each child
Most Touching Moment
Using the castle cake topper from my son's baby shower on his cake this year :)