Being a parent is a big responsibility. You have to make sure that your kids eat healthy food, are reasonably clean, know how to convert decimals to fractions, don’t consume pieces of other children, sing the opening of Lion King at sunrises, and don’t go to school in their pajama pants.
But the biggest responsibility you take on when you decide to become a parent is making sure that your child receives an invitation letter to Hogwarts on their eleventh birthday. Not only managed to get an invitation letter to my own children, but to every member of their class, for a Harry Potter bash that they (darn well) better remember for the rest of their lives. It was not quite on the epic scale of our movie parties, in part because there were small fourth graders at heel and in part because it was a Fish Friday. However, it was grand enough that I’m hoping that the Board of Adulting will overlook the fact that one of my dinosaurs went to school in his pajama pants last Thursday.
There are many places you can download templates and guidelines for creating your own Hogwarts party invites, but we began with ideas and images from AllTangledUp and Potter Party Mania. With the fonts Lumos and Magik, you can customize this document for your own party invitations:
Rather than a movie party or Quidditch match, the party was organized around a set of first-year classes at Hogwarts. Many ickle firsties met us at school and carpooled to the party because the drive is so far out of town. There, they met Hagrid, who took them around to the entrance, a brick curtain labelled Platform 9 3/4. Several students came in their own robes, Halloween costumes, or black graduation gowns, but the ones who brought a white button down shirt also had costumes waiting for them inside…
Professor McGonagall greeted students at they arrived, with the announcement “Welcome to Hogwarts. The start-of-term banquet will begin shortly, but before you take your seats in the Great Hall, you will be sorted into your houses. The four houses are called Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw, and Slytherin. Each house has its own noble history and each has produced outstanding witches and wizards. While you are at Hogwarts, your triumphs will earn your house points, while any rulebreaking will lose house points. At the end of the year, the house with the most points is awarded the house cup, a great honor. I hope each of you will be a credit to whichever house becomes yours.”
When they entered the party room, the first activities were set up on a table for students to get prepared for Hogwarts. By closing their eyes and selecting a wand from the display, the “wand chooses the wizard.” Wands were made with cooking chopsticks (15-in+ available at Asian markets) and hot glue, similar to this tutorial. Then, students pinned a laminated Hogwarts badge onto their shirt and assembled a fortune teller to determine their proper house. As they finished, they colored a striped tie in their house colors (held on with elastic) and tried on the movie props for photos. Our head girl, a Hufflepuff seventh-year student, was on hand to help with this.
The first class was Care of Magical Creatures, where some of the kids made owl balloons similar to ones on pinterest. Most of the kids were more interested in dueling with their new wands, so we did not have time to conduct an owl race, as we had planned.
Instead, we went into the class Herbology. Before the party, we set up cups with a minced assortment of common potions ingredients; in our case, we had rosemary, thyme, leek, celery, ginger, red cabbage, sage, mint, and onion. We printed a few copies of the quiz and left them on the table and gave the students 5 minutes to try looking at, smelling, or tasting the plants. Then, the professor quizzed them on each sample and gave 10 points to each house when a student answered correctly. This was a fun and exciting game for the children, though I should have printed enough copies for every student to write their own guesses, possibly before I even told them what the options were. Using fonts Magic School and DJB I love a ginger, you can edit this Herbology quiz:
The next class was Charms, where students colored and cut out objects on shrinky-dink sheets. While students waved their wand and recited “Minimalis Totalis,” the professor heated it with a heat gun over a baking sheet. Some objects came out very nice, while some students still need to practice their Charms homework, unfortunately! If you do this activity, I recommend printing Harry Potter clipart onto paper for kids to trace onto their own shrinkydink plastic, and using images no larger than 1 1/2 in square. A toaster oven also works as well as a heat gun.
In the middle of the party, we took a break for the Start of Term Feast in the Great Hall. Although we had originally thought to use roasted drumsticks and dinner rolls, all great Hogwarts style food, when the party was moved to a Fish Friday, we decided on cheese pizza for all! Using green peppers, olives, string cheese, and tomatoes, we made various Potteresque pizza designs. Of course, the best birthday gifts are the ones your friends make, so the boys’ cakes were styled after Hagrid’s pink and green atrocity in the movie. Although our own first-years only got soda, there are many fun, fizzy drink ideas for Hogwarts parties out there.
Our last class after dinner was potions, where a number of common household items were transformed with labels like “asphodel powder” and “dragon drool.” I got several of the ideas from Mrs. Nesby’s World and The Leaky Cauldron. You can adjust any clever home science recipes with the list of potions and ingredients at Harry Potter Wiki. With fonts Magic School and DJF I love a ginger, you can start with these four potions:
We planned more activities for the kids, like coloring animal masks for transfiguration class, but corralling them around took up too much time and the train back had to leave. Each student received a box of candy from Gringott’s and O.W.L. certificate as they left. Usually first-years don’t have to take O.W.L.s, but the Ministry of Magic is on quite an accountability kick these days! AllTangledUp had everything I needed for the certificates, with fonts Magic School and Magik.
OWLS certification (doc)
OWLS certification (pdf)
The candy box included Bertie Bott’s beans, gold coins left over from Hannukah, ring pops, and golden snitches made from Party City caramels and printable wings.
As you can see, we brought back a lot of our decorations from past parties, like potions bottles, covered books, and house banners from the last Harry Potter party we held a decade ago. The castle wall and dungeon doorway are plastic wall hangings from the Halloween sales rack, and other odd household objects also filled in. There are still boxes of Hoggy-hoggy-hogwarts paraphernalia that can be used…for next time.