I’m way late with this one: my boy turned eleven last summer (months ago!). Eleven means, of course, a Harry Potter birthday party theme… so OBVIOUS, right? Right?… It is around here, anyway.
My aim for this party was three-fold: a lot of (geeky) fun for the kids (and us!), keeping the whole thing simple and manageable and, last but not least, low budget. I challenged myself to plan the event on the smallest budget, to see what I could pull off while cutting all possible expenses.
This meant playing to my strengths, which meant coming up with a couple of printables to support a few activities.
As a fellow Harry Potter fan, my 9 year-old daughter was more than happy to help me plan the activities for the party. We settled on a « first year of school » sub-theme, with classes followed by a great feast. Here was our line-up:
- Letter of acceptance / invitation (pre-party)
- Welcome « students » and offer a bag of school supplies
- Sorting hat ceremony
- Divination class
- Potions class
- Botanic class
- Great feast
Letter of Acceptance
For an invitation, each guest received a letter of acceptance at Hogwarts. Here’s the printable for you! Click on the image to download a PDF you can use for your own party.
To make them a little more authentic, I added wax seals to them, using red crayon and… a button! Since we had all of these supplies at home, the total cost was: 0$.
When they arrived, each guest stopped by our mini-shop to pick up a bag of school supplies. I printed Hogwarts crests, which we fixed on all-white gift bags with stick glue. Inside were most of the printables (school notes!) they would need for the party. The bag also became their party favour bag. Cost: around 6$ for the white bags.
Many of the « students » had dressed up with capes or bits of costumes, which added to the fun.
Sorting Hat Ceremony
I had ordered inexpensive pendants with the houses crests many weeks before. We used an old witch hat from our Halloween costumes stash, stuck paper eyes on it, and taped a phone inside! We put the phone on speaker, and I went outside to hide and become « the voice » of the hat. While the kids probably figured out the trick quite fast, they still had fun putting on the hat to find out their house, before receiving their pendant. Cost: around 14$ for 10 pendants.
Using old scarves and plastic glasses from an old Halloween costume, I dressed up as a divination teacher. We have an electric globe that I also used for effect — not quite a crystal ball, but we made it work. I played the character in a theatrical way, had the kids read fortunes in tea leaves in a cup, then made silly predictions for each of them:
- The birthday boy would encounter a lot of « green » in the coming week, with exceptional adventures… but, ah, good ones. (He was going away to scout camp for the next week.)
- Another kid would make many discoveries in the coming week.
- Another would eat hot dogs before the end of the month. (In Summer, this seemed a safe bet!)
- Another would have a great long dream in 3 nights… and forget everything by morning.
- Another would have his pet look at him with weird eyes.
- Another would have a world-changing idea on Tuesday, and would forget about it 5 seconds later.
- A baby would be named in the name of another kid, in a far away land.
- Another would loose a sock on August 23.
- Another would have 5 ants visit her room.
Students then moved to the dungeon, where a friend of ours (the father of 2 of the kids) channeled his inner Snipe to lead a potions class. The kids had to prepare a potion from their potion book (from their supply bag!).
The ingredients were juices, sodas, sugars and pieces of fruit, conveniently labeled with ingredient names from the potions book. The kids mixed their own sugary drink.
Download the printable « Little Book of Potions » : Just cut and assemble!
This class took place in the backyard. We placed labels on a few of our yard’s flowers and shrubs (see below for the printable labels!) and a large table at the center with potting soil. After answering a couple of questions for the teacher, the kids had to transplant 2 types of herbs (basil and chive, masquerading as magical herbs). Cost: around 22$ for colored plastic pots, basil plants (the chive came from our garden) and potting soil.
Great Feast and Hagrid Cake
By then everyone was getting hungry. Time for the feast!
We prepared all sorts of yummy food: drumsticks, breaded shrimp, fries (loads of fries!), veggies, etc. Kids and adults each grabbed a plate and dug in to the food. (Cost: the biggest portion of the budget!)
For dessert, we had cake, complete with pink frosting and a green (badly spelled) message, like the one Hagrid brings Harry on his eleventh birthday.
After dinner and presents, free play ruled. The kids even made up a game of quidditch!