Harry Potter Birthday Party

This party is suitable for ages 7+ and can accomodate a large number of guests.  It's designed for two “birthday kids” (joint party) – but could be easily adjusted for 1 birthday child , or up to 4.  Best of all, the cost is relatively inexpensive, as the party calls for relatively simple props and homemade decorations.  The party was a huge hit with our kids and their friends: after this one, kids lobbied our sons to be invited to their next birthday bash.
  1. THEME.  An ongoing competition between Hufflepuff and Ravenclaw to successfully navigate their way through a day of magical “classwork” and earn points for their house team. At the end of the party the House with the most points earns the House Cup. Each birthday child serves as Head Boy for one of the houses, directing their team’s participation in each of the subsequent events.
  2. INVITATIONS.  We used parchment paper & envelopes, an antique-looking calligraphy font, a Hogwarts school logo downloaded from the internet, and wording as close to Rawling’s original as possible. 
  3. LOCATION & DECORATIONS.  Because of the size of the party & games, we rented a room at a local community center. On the walls, we hung big banners in the colors of each Hogwarts house (created at home using felt, scissors & glue). From the ceiling, we hung strings of banners sporting the symbols of the 4 Hogwarts houses (created at home using clipart, paper, scissors & string). For seating we set up two tables on opposite sides of the room, one decorated with balloons, placemats and centerpieces in the gold and black of Hufflepuff, the other decorated with balloons, placemats and centerpieces in the blue & silver of Ravenclaw. (Centerpieces were cute & homemade but too complicated to describe here(!); placemats were “woven” out of construction paper by the birthday boys.)
  4. GAME #1_DIVINATION. To provide structure while guests were still arriving, we had the kids proceed directly to Divination Class, a table against one wall equipped with all the supplies necessary to create fortune-tellers. Nothing more complicated than the paper fortune-tellers we all folded in elementary school, but created using parchment paper, Harry Potter stickers, and sporting funny Harry Potter-related fates such as “Due to a tragic transfiguration error, you will spend several years of your life as a sausage,” and “You will be stampeded by a herd or raging hippogriffs.” (We posted a list of fortunes such as these on a poster on the wall, for copying or to inspire creativity).
  5. GAME #2_QUIDDITCH. Once everyone had arrived, we launched immediately into Quiddich Practice, the objective of which was to be the first team to have every teammate successfully hit a bludger (balloon) through one of two goals (2 hula hoops hung by string from the ceiling) using the provided bats (nerf bats). This isn’t as easy as it sounds … balloons were flying everywhere! (This is why it is important to equip each team with different color balloons.) After each successful “goal,” the next player in line was handed the nerf bat & another balloon to try their luck, relay-style. (To make the game harder, set the hula hoops spinning.) Acquiescing to popular demand, we ended up playing 3 rounds of this game, awarding the winning team 50pts and the losing team 40pts for each round.
  6. GAME #3_TRANSFIGURATION.  Next came Transfiguration, the objective of which was for each guest to figure out who they had been Transfigured into. First, we lined the guests up facing a wall. Then, we affixed to each guest’s back a nametag displaying the name of a character from the Harry Potter series. Finally, we gave each guest a checklist of all the names that had been assigned. At GO!, guests had to run around the room chasing down other guests and checking off the names on their backs, using process of elimination to figure out their own mystery identity. Chaos ensued as the kids tried to simultaneously espy the nametags on other guests’ backs while concealing their own nametags from view! We lined up 7 chairs along a wall, labeled 1 through 7, and instructed the kids sit themselves down, in order, as soon as they thought they knew who they were. Whichever house had the majority of winning players (folks who guessed their names wrong didn’t count) was awarded 50pts, while the 2nd place team was awarded 40pts. At the kids’ request, we also played this game several times, in one case awarding both houses 45pts due to a tie!
  7. GAME #4_DEFENSE AGAINST THE DARK ARTS.  For this game, we created a “map” of Hogwarts, using a matrix (10 x 10) of pieces of parchment paper (8.5” x 11”) laid out on the floor with enough room between sheets so that guests could stand on adjacent sheets without touching. Each piece of paper was labeled with the name of a room in the castle (i.e., Potions Classroom, Dining Hall, Main Hall, 3rd Floor Corridor, Dungeons, Broom Storage Closet), with a paper labeled “Main Entrance” (i.e. START) on one side & pieces of paper labeled “Hufflepuff Common Room” & “Ravenclaw Common Room” on the other side, exactly the same distance away. This in effect became a “human game board,” with each House’s Head Boy (aka birthday boy/girl) acting as the game pieces for their respective House. Objective of the game was to be the first House to reach their Common Room, by avoiding various monsters, spells & other perils awaiting them on the hidden sides of the parchment paper “game pieces.” Using a coin for a dice (heads = 1 and tails =2), each team moved their Head Boy the appropriate number of spaces in any direction. Then, the Head Boy lifted the piece of paper they landed on to display the outcome. On the obverse of some sheets they found nothing – which meant that they had managed to achieve forward progress without running into any obstacles. But on the obverse of other sheets they found bad news – messages such as “There’s a boggart in the cupboard! Flee in terror to the Broom Storage Closet!” or “Your cauldron exploded while attempting to produce a sneezing potion; Professor Snape deducts 10pts from your house.” In some cases, the message contained a challenge for the whole house to perform, such as: “A mantacore approaches! Your House has 30 seconds to create a human pyramid which will serve as protection against the mantacore’s powers!” or “A sphinx guards your way forward! Either successfully answer it’s riddle or lose one turn” (whereupon the whole team has 60 seconds to guess the answer of a riddle). 50 pts was awarded to the team that reached their common room first, 40pts to the team in 2nd place. This chewed up lots of time but kept the kids riveted ….
  8. GAME #5_POTIONS.  Before reporting to the End of Year Feast, guests were dispatched to Potions Class (another table against the wall), where they found multiple bottles of 7-Up (any clear soda will do), each tinted a different color (using food coloring) – green, blue, red, and yellow. The kids had a ball mixing the various “ingredients” to produce drinkable “potions” in every shade of purple, pink, orange, and aquamarine! (Be sure to use clear plastic cups for this activity.)
  9. FOOD.  At the end of the party came the End of Year feast, featuring a buffet of food + cake. Goodies included celestial cheeses (cheese cut in the shape of moons & stars), dragon eggs (grapes), chocolate frogs (we found a frog candy mold at the local craft store & made our own), salted broomsticks (pretzels) and, of course, Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor Beans (jellybeans). The food was piled high on Harry Potter plates & napkins purchased from the local party store.
  10. CAKE.  For the cake, we used black icing to separate a rectangle sheet cake into four quadrants, then decorated each quadrant in the colors of the four Hogwarts houses. The sparkler-candles we bought at a local party store looked just like magic wands when lit.
  11. PRIZES.  While the kids ate, birthday dad – appearing attired in the purple robes, long beard, glasses and conical hat of Dumbledore – made an elaborate show of tabulating the house points and awarding the “House Cup” – a milk-chocolate trophy purchased from a local bakery – to the winning house. The Head Boy of the winning house thoroughly enjoyed smashing the trophy into bits and distributing them to his fellow students!
  12. GOODIE BAGS. Ensuring no grumpy feelings, everyone left with a “trunk” full of goodies -- explodings whizbys (party poppers), magic wands (sparklers), chocolate frogs, a bag of Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor Beans, a magic trick, Harry Potter glasses & a wand. The “trunks” were shoeboxes painted brown, hinged with brown felt straps (glued on), and equipped with pipecleaner locks. Honestly, the kids seemed to enjoy their “trunks” almost as much as they enjoyed the goodies they contained!

No comments:

Post a Comment