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How to host a Harry Potter birthday party

Jessica Padykula is a freelance writer and editor in Toronto, Canada covering a wide range of  topics for several online lifestyle publications. She is a regular contributor for SheKnows, covering travel, style, relationships, health and...

Throw a wizard-worthy bash

In honor of the last Harry Potter film (opening July 15) we thought it would be fitting to bid the beloved world of dragons, potions, wands and magical creatures goodbye with a bang, and share our tips for hosting the ultimate birthday bash for any little wizards who may be turning a year older this summer. From food and drink to décor and fun, we’ve got everything you need to create your very own unforgettable wizarding world.

Harry Potter glasses

Décor

The most important thing about setting the scene for your Harry Potter-themed soirée is to have fun and let your imagination run wild. Ask your kids about their favorite aspects of the books and movies and use that as a jumping-off point for your wizard-worthy décor. We've also come up with a few ideas to help you turn your home into Hogwarts.

Train banner - Harry PotterSign: Welcome guests with a sign that reads Platform 9-3/4 so they know they're in the right place.

Colors: Green and orange are the official colors of Hogwarts, so stock up on balloons, streamers and other décor items in those hues to help ensure an authentic atmosphere.

Dragons: Since dragons are such an important part of the wizard world, we suggest creating some dragon's egg nests and placing them around the house. Buy some large plastic eggs from the dollar store and use gold, silver or glitter paint to give them a magical touch. Once dry, add your eggs to baskets and display where guests can see them.

Hippogriff GizzardsMagic ingredients: We love the idea of putting together potion jar centerpieces, since potion class was so popular at Hogwarts. It's a great way to really set the scene, and kids will love the jars filled with various magical ingredients. Here's what you need to do:

  • Gather glass jars of various sizes.
  • Print labels of all the ingredients you want to feature.
  • Fill the jars with household items that can stand in for the real thing -- for example, raisins as bat eyes, leaves or weeds in green water as gillyweed and cocktail onions as hippogriff gizzards.
  • Set up your jars in a prominent location and if you want to turn it into a game, leave the labels off and have kids guess the contents from a list you've printed out.

Golden snitches: No Harry Potter party is complete without the infamous golden snitches. Spray-paint plastic balls with gold paint and attach paper wings to each side. Hang them from the ceiling.

How to throw a Harry Potter party for adults >>

Food and drink

Even if you don't have a team of house elves to cook up a storm for your party, there a few fun and simple ways to bring a bit of magic to your party food that even muggles will love.

Bertties Botts Every Flavor BeansCockroach clusters: Pour melted chocolate over small clusters of trail mix or other crunchy mixture like pretzels or your snack mix of choice. Let your buggy creations harden in the fridge before serving.

Cauldron cakes: Chocolate cupcakes baked in mini muffin tins with a small piece of black shoestring licorice placed on top (as the handle of the cauldron) make for a fun, sweet treat.

Food-on-a-wand: This is just a fancy way of suggesting you serve some healthier options on magic wands – or skewers. Fresh fruit and cheese can easily be skewered the night before the party and brought out once the wizards arrive.

Bertie Bott's Every Flavor Beans: Mason jars filled with jelly beans (as many flavors as you can find) are a must for any Harry Potter party. Jelly Belly makes a line of their much-loved beans called Every Flavor Beans, which would work well. The box consists of tasty flavors – along with not-so-tasty-sounding flavors like dirt, earthworm, grass, booger and rotten egg. Eww.

Butterbeer: Root beer or cream soda can be a good stand-in for the ever-popular butterbeer. Or you can always keep a few flavors of soda on hand and let kids create their own version of butterbeer with what you've laid out. Get the recipe for butterbeer here.

Harry Potter-themed cocktails for wizards over 21 >>

Fun and activities

There are endless ways to bring some enchantment to your Harry Potter party activities, but we've put together some of our favorite ways to entertain any little wizards who attend.

1Sorting hatSorting hat house assignments

One of the first activities you can do once all the guests have arrived is assign them to one of the four houses of Hogwarts – Gryffindor, Slytherin, Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff. Buy a hat from a costume shop that looks like something a wizard would wear. Have each guest take turns wearing the sorting hat while they reach into a bag to get their house assignment. This will be their official designation for the duration of the party.

2Magical creature hunt

Pick up some plastic animals popular in the world of wizarding such as owls, dragons, dragon eggs, snakes, rats and frogs, and hide them throughout the house -- and in the yard if it's a nice day. To make things more interesting, assign points to each creature and either have kids compete individually or in their assigned houses. Whoever gets the most points wins. Be creative with where you hide things so the game isn't over too quickly, and add a twist by hiding a few special items that aren't listed (maybe a magic wand or an extra-large dragon's egg) for bonus points.

3Find the real golden snitch

You may have a houseful of golden snitches hanging from the ceiling, but they might not be the real thing. Tell your guests that the real golden snitch is missing and create a competition between the houses with the goal of returning it. Put together some Harry Potter trivia questions and every time someone answers correctly have them send a seeker from their house to try to find the real golden snitch (which you've hidden before guests arrive). Every time one group answers correctly they can send a new seeker out to search for a pre-determined amount of time. Winners get a prize.

4Plastic cauldronPotion competition

We love the idea of having guests create magic potions from ingredients you've laid out, then choosing a winning mixture -- you can get the birthday boy or girl to be the judge. If you can get your hands on plastic cauldrons (available at some party supply or costume stores), have kids mix their potions in those. Make sure to have them write their ingredients down as they create so you know what went into the winning concoction. Have a wide selection of juices, sodas, various colors of Kool-Aid and sports drinks on hand. You can make things more fun by assigning names to each (gillywater, leech juice, elderflower wine, pumpkin juice, etc.).

More tips for a Harry Potter birthday bash

Have fun and happy Pottering!

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