Epic Harry Potter Party: Part 1
Location. Location. Location.
An epic Harry Potter Party begins with location. Depending on the time of year and the weather in your area, you could choose to have it outside. A natural atmosphere lends itself well, if you have lovely gardens and foliage, and can avoid modern ugliness like power lines and trash bins.
If you have a beautiful, gothic church like this one in your neighborhood, you’ve hit the jackpot!
Alas, I am not a member there and no amount of money would grant me access to the fellowship hall. I considered joining the church, but thought I might burn in Hell for such a disingenuous declaration of faith, so instead I turned to my garage.
The first thing I did was empty it of everything that could be moved. I covered in sheets things that had to stay (which added to the atmosphere of a dusty old castle) and I borrowed banquet tables and used every chair in the house to set up the “Great Hall.”
Before I get too carried away talking about the rest of the decorations, after you set a date and have a location, you must send invitations. There are a million places online to find Hogwarts invitation ideas. Here is what mine looked like:
If you are rich and really want to piss off the other parents, you can deliver the invitations with an individual Hedwig Owl plush. (I did not do this. I only used Heddy to stage the photos.)
Otherwise, you can just hand them out at school or mail them like a normal person. (If you go to Universal Studios in Orlando, they sell HP stamps, valid with the U.S. Post Office, in The Wizarding World, otherwise, swallow your pride and use muggle stamps.)
The premise of the invitation is that each child has received an Acceptance Letter to Hogwarts, which lends itself to activities designed around attending magical classes (more on that in Part 2.)
Back to the decorations: atmosphere is the most important element after all.
I hung individual taper candles from the ceiling using nearly invisible fishing line. Again, if you’re rich and also agile on a ladder, you can buy a hundred candles and fill the ceiling with them, but I used only a dozen, and then hung icicle lights across the remaining ceiling to give the effect of floating candle light.
I hung a chandelier that I bought for $10 at a yard sale many years ago over the food table.
I also hung three Dementors, made from black tulle and Styrofoam balls. I used paint to give them red eyes and screaming mouths (dusted with glitter.)
You can buy inexpensive Hogwarts banners online.
Now’s the time to get out your Halloween decorations, skulls and ravens really jazz up the Potions Classroom.
A once-white birdcage that I bought at a junk shop to hold cards at my wedding reception has long since been repurposed with a coat of black spray paint for Halloween décor.
Here it holds Hedwig.
I used an old trunk, that I got for $5 at a junk shop, as a place to stash gifts. I propped a Harry Potter broom in it to add to its authenticity.
The last thing that I created was a Station 9 ¾ which was necessary to access Hogwarts. A cream colored sheet or canvas, some red paint and a large rectangular sponge make an awesome brick wall. Use your design skills to create the sign, print color copies from the internet and glue onto cardboard or order a pre-made one from the many online sources for this sort of thing.
The “brick wall” hung over the door to the garage, thus creating the entrance to Hogwarts. I simply held it aside to let the students go through the door.
So, that’s it. Yes, I just about lost my mind, but I got great exercise hauling a thousand pounds of crap out of the garage and I conquered my fear of heights on the ladder. These ideas are simple, inexpensive, and doable. Adjust them to whatever you find in your closets and go visit a few thrift shops!
Check out Part 2 for ideas on food, favors and activities!