A few weeks ago, Eliza had her very first kid-centered birthday party… almost two month after her actual birthday. But it took us awhile to be ready after Christmas break, and we had to post-pone because of snow, so we’re okay with that.
Eliza wanted a Harry Potter theme, so we put on our DIY hats and rocked it!
*I’ve blurred the faces of the kids at the party for their privacy.
The kids were welcomed at Platform Nine and Three Quarters. The sun was at a bad spot when I took this picture, but you get the gist. We made the door a “brick wall by taping a faux brick wall behind the glass, so they’d have to go through it when they went into the party. We wanted to hang the “brick wall” in front of the door so they could run through it, but it was super windy. Also, we didn’t want kids to run through it and into the door.
To make the Nine and Three Quarters sign, I simply painted white over something else I didn’t love and added on vinyl numbers cut with my Silhouette. The font is Modern No. 20. If you don’t have a cutter and want to make your own, you could just as easily print the numbers, cut them out with an exacto knife to make a stencil, and paint the numbers on.
The “brick wall” was made by drawing a brick pattern on a $1.75 red tablecloth. I used a quilting ruler and a rectangle cut from cardstock to make the pattern.
We set up a table with wands, which is the first thing the kids saw. We were planning on Jake pretending to be Ollivander and having the kids select wands one by one. He’d play videos of explosions and things on the laptop until they picked up the right wand; then he’d play a video with magical sparkles. Turned out, we underestimated how chaotic 20 first graders can be. So they just picked their own.
They turned into swords pretty fast, so we had the kids put their wands in paper bags with their names on them. We probably shouldn’t have busted these out until well into the party, but this is our first party for kids. We have a lot to learn.
Jake made a bunch of wands out of small dowel rods and sticks, smoothing them and adding ridges and turns. He asked Poppy (my grandpa) if he thought that he could try turning a few on a lathe (out of curiosity), but there’s no way Jake wouldd be able to learn so quickly. A few days later, my grandpa just showed up with 30 turned wands (which I’m pretty sure he made from the slats on our old piano). So we used those. He rocks.
If we were being super cool, we’d have added little cards with the wand wood, core, and size on them.
Honeydukes was a big hit. We made chocolate frogs and included rock candy sugar sticks. We considered buying a bunch of normal jelly beans and mixing them with Bertie Botts Every Flavour Jelly Beans, but then we took an inventory of all of the sugar already and decided against it.
The little description cards were made with the font Harry P.
Making the frogs was super easy. We melted chocolate using a metal bowl in boiling water, stirring it often. Then we poured the chocolate into a Chocolate Frog Candy Mold and let them cool for a few hours before popping the chocolate frogs out and starting again.
We put a few on a cupcake stand and put the rest in little baggies in a Plastic Cauldron.
The kids liked playing shop owner, so they kept the cupcake stand stocked (and the frogs eaten–they ate them all!).
The kids also sorted themselves into houses. Eliza presided over this, for the most part. This helped us determine teams for Quidditch.
Eli made the sorting hat out of brown paper sack. She traced a large bowl for the brim and cut a smaller hole out of the center. Then she wrapped a rectangle in a cone and smooshed the top. We taped these parts together with packing tape. Then we added strips of paper around the rim (again, with tape) and she drew on a face.
Pretty darn spot on, I think.
The biggest hit at the party was probably potion making. My sister Taylor was in charge of this station. The kids chose between apple juice and white grape juice, and used some of our flasks and beakers to mix “potions” (juice colored with different sorts of food coloring). This took some bravery (20 kids walking around with cups full of food coloring!), but it went over REALLY well.
This was Jonas’s favorite part. (Well, that and hitting unsuspecting party goers with wands.)
We opted for a cold version of Butterbeer and mixed cream soda, vanilla ice cream, and a bit of butterscotch ice cream topping. It was pretty much perfect (and the easiest version of homemade Butterbeer you’ll find). It was GONE before I could get a photo of it in a glass, but the color was perfect.
The most important part of the party was Quidditch. Poppy made Eliza Quidditch goals a few months ago, and we cleared out a room so that the kids could have plenty of space to move around.
We used a regular playground ball for a Quaffle, skipped the Beaters and Bludgers (because we were playing inside and that would have been a disaster), and made our own Snitch out of a ping pong ball. (Eliza painted it gold and we cut out wing shapes out of faux leather and super glued the wings on.) We didn’t get any photos of the action because it was CRAZY.
We separated the kids into teams based on how they got sorted, then filled in the teams with kids from the other houses to make it even. Everyone wanted to be the Seeker, so I had kids pick numbers between 1 and 20 to determine who got to do the different positions. We only had one set of goals, so I stood watch and kept count for points.
We did the snitch a couple of ways. The first round, we hid the snitch in the room and the Seekers had to look for it. The second round, we played it the intramural college way and had one of the kids be the snitch, so it was like a game of tag. (Side note: Eliza was the Seeker on that round, and she broke down a few times. First, because the Snitch was running and that was against the rules–E is really big on rule enforcement–and second because her team won, but she didn’t know she was playing for Slytherin. SHE WAS NOT IN SLYTHERIN.)
For the main food attraction, we had a giant pizza from our favorite place, d’Bronx. I’ve always wanted to buy one of those! We also had fruits and veggies with ranch and hummus.
We ate all of these on regular (clearance) party plates. We totally recommend going with non-themed party stuff: themed table cloths, plates, napkins, etc. are super expensive and do not pump up the awesomeness of the party by much.
I love that most of the “To”s on gifts said “ZaZa,” which is her nickname in class.
My mom made a Snitch cake. She’s the cake master, and she’d like me to remind everyone that she didn’t have her fancy cake tools when she made this one, so it’s not at the awesomeness level she’s capable of. I don’t know what she’s talking about, I think it’s amazing. Cake! That sparkles!
Overall, it was exhausting, but was the best time ever. The party took some prep, but it was totally worth it to DIY and have it at our house. Everything was so cheap! We pretty much only spent money on food.
And it was magic. The kids are still talking about it. Let’s just hope that no one expects us to top this next year.
Have you ever thrown a kid birthday party? How did it go? Did YOU have them as a kid?
Other stuff not pictured:
Our friend Laura set Eliza amazing post cards and a tour book from the Harry Potter Studios in England, and we used these as decoration. Now we’re going to get them framed to put in our hallway. So awesome! Thanks, Laura, you’re the best.
We used our Harry Potter Lego sets all over the place for decoration (or, rather, they ARE all over the place and we left them there).
Other ideas we had but didn’t do:
Drawing / printing Chocolate Frog cards for party favors, cutting out large cardboard trees and painting them to create a Forbidden Forrest, the mixing the jellybeans thing, coming up with some sort of dueling game, and making pumpkin pasties. We also were going to play movies in the background with the sound off, but we weren’t sure that all of the kids were allowed to watch them.
P.S. You might also like the party invitations.