It seems like Harry Potter is everywhere this year as 2018 marks 20 years since Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets was first published. Coincidentally, my daughter is a fourth grader this year and recently started reading the Harry Potter books and loves them. So, when the subject of her 10th birthday party came up, she immediately said she wanted to have a Harry Potter themed birthday party. It turned out to be a great theme for a fall birthday party and is a great gender-neutral theme. The only drawback was sorting through all the ideas we found on-line and picking out the ones that would work the best for her birthday party. Read on to find out what we came up with.
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Ideas for hosting a Harry Potter themed birthday party:
Harry Potter Party Invitation
The invitation was inspired by Harry’s acceptance letter to Hogwarts. I used the graphics and text from paper trail design edited to fit our event and printed it on this parchment paper from Amazon. My daughter suggested trying to make wax seals for the envelopes. We settled on this clip art of a wax seal that we printed onto Avery label sheets and then my daughter cut them out and stuck them to the back of the envelopes. We also included a school supply list and ticket for the Hogwarts Express with the invitation. We got tons of compliments on the invitation!
In addition to the invitations, the parchment paper was used to print the favor labels, book covers, signs, potion bottle labels and the thank yous. The envelopes were used for both the invitations and thank yous, so we got a lot of mileage out of those purchases.
Venue for a Harry Potter Party
With an invite list of 15 kiddos ranging in ages from 9-11, I wasn’t to keen on hosting the party at home. I started looking around for a venue with a rustic, Harry Potter vibe where we would have access to the outdoors for a couple of fun activities. We found the perfect location complete with a fireplace at the enclosed shelter at Centennial Park in Waukee. You can reserve the shelter on Waukee Parks and Recreation’s website. The cost to reserve the shelter was just $40 and it can be rented from mid-March until about mid-October. (Since there is no heat or indoor restroom facilities, the shelter isn’t available for rent during the colder months.)
Harry Potter Party Décor
When discussing with my daughter what her vision for this party was, she mentioned that she wanted “house tables” and banners. To create the house tables we laid down black plastic table cloths on four tables and then ran a folded colored plastic table cloth (red for Gryffindor, blue for Ravenclaw, yellow for Hufflepuff and of course, green for Slytherin) down the middle of each table. I also printed house banners which I laid on the tables. I raided our fall/Halloween decorations and pulled out my fake pumpkins, gourds, and battery-operated taper candles. We also purchased a few mums for the tables.
In addition, to the house tables we focused our decorating efforts on the front door, fireplace and food table. (I was trying to keep it simple but ended up hauling quite a bit of stuff to the venue.🙄) By the front door, we hung a “Platform 9 ¾” sign, along with some old suitcases, a stuffed white owl (“Hedwig”), a birdcage and a broom. I also hung up a brick curtain, which was pieced together from this brick background I found on Amazon.
On the fireplace, I used this Harry Potter licensed tablecloth to drape across the top. We also inserted some battery-operated candles into the hearth and a mum, pumpkin and another little broom were placed to the side to complete the vignette. In front of the fireplace we placed a stool with the Sorting Hat resting on it.
You can’t have a Harry Potter themed party without some text books and a few potions bottles lying around, so we included those on the food table. I found the book labels and potions bottles labels on paper trail design. I filled in the rest of the table with some more of our fall/Halloween decorations and then hung house banners above the table to complete the decorations.
Harry Potter Party Games and Activities
Typically, early October brings great weather in Iowa. We had originally planned to be outside for a good portion of the party, but unfortunately, we’ve been experiencing a lot of cold and rainy weather. So, after looking at the weather forecast for the day of the party, I decided that we needed a few more indoor activities to fill the time
Sorting Ceremony: In addition to the house tables, my daughter was adamant that we’d have a “sorting ceremony” so, that was our first activity of the party. Each child sat on a stool, my daughter held the Sorting Hat on their head and then they drew a house badge from a bag that I was holding. It turned out to be a loud ruckus event with a lot of clapping and cheering.
Wand Making: Of course, all witches and wizards need a proper wand, so we had the kids make one. We gathered twigs from our yard, did a little sanding on them and used them as the base of the wand. At the party, the kids used rubber bands to wrap around the wands and create cool looking handles and other details. Once, they had put the rubber bands on, they used brown or black paint to cover everything. To really jazz up the wands, they then used gold or silver paint to highlight some of the details. They turned out great!
Horcrux Scavenger Hunt: We used this Horcrux Scavenger Hunt, but Instead of hiding the actual objects like they did on the website, I blew up the picture of each object and printed it out. Once we were at the venue, my hubby hid the seven objects in the park. The kids were divided into their house teams and had to write down where they found each object on the Scavenger Hunt sheet. We didn’t know how long this would take, but the kids found the items fast! They were ready to get outside and ran from one object to another! I think it took them less than 15 minutes, to find all seven Horcruxes! Much faster than Harry😉
Create Your Magic Name and Harry Potter Trivia: After running around on the Scavenger Hunt, the kiddos needed to go inside to warm up and get a drink. This is the activity I threw in last minute and am so glad I did. It was fun to hear the wizard names and the kids did a great job on the trivia questions.
Quidditch: When you think Harry Potter and fun activities, do you really think of anything but Quidditch? My handy husband put together Quidditch rings using the directions from here. We ended up using pool noodles for the rings, as I discovered that it’s really hard to find affordable hula hoops in the fall. So, instead of using a hula hoop, he used a piece of PVC pipe that he attached to the wood and then attached the pool noodle to that. We used the Quidditch rules from Better Homes & Gardens to play the game.
Food & Drink for a Harry Potter Party
The Harry Potter universe is known for an assortment of delicacies that will tantalize your taste buds. From Butter Beer, to Treacle Tarts, to Chocolate Frogs to Cockroach Clusters, you could easily go crazy with the food. We however, did not. The party was scheduled from 2:00 to 4:00 pm and from my experience, kids tend not to eat a lot at birthday parties and they either end up throwing it away or you’re stuck with a lot of leftovers, so we kept it simple.
Birthday Cake: We modeled the birthday cake off the one that Hagrid makes for Harry. I am not a cake baker, so we had a local bakery make the cake, but if you are a baker or even if you aren’t, this would be an easy cake to make, as it’s supposed to look messy.
Pumpkin Pasties: Taking advantage of the season we purchased Little Debbie brand Pumpkin Delights at the grocery store.
Apple Slices: It’s fall, and I thought we needed to serve something a little healthy, however a few of the kids asked if we had any caramel to go with the apples. 😂
In addition, we put buttered popcorn in cauldrons for the kids to snack on during the party and provided bottled water for them to grab when they needed it.
Harry Potter Party Favor Bags
I must have used up all my energy on the décor, because we also kept the favor bags pretty simple. Simple enough, that my daughter put them together. We used brown paper sack bags that we already had on hand and then my daughter stapled on a simple favor tag. In the bag we included, a box of Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Beans, a pair of Harry’s glasses, a candy “Snitch” that my daughter made using the directions here and a “Beginner’s Guide to Wand Motions” (printed on the parchment paper). The kids also took home the wands that they made at the party.
What do you think? Do you have any other ideas to throw a magical Harry Potter birthday party? We’d love to hear your tips in the comment section below.
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