Monday, October 13, 2014

Harry Potter!

The Harry Potter Party.  It happened.  And it was magical.
But where do I even start?  You see, Saturday's celebration was so much more than an event--it was the culmination of an obsession.  For months and months, our children have lived, played, and dreamed in J.K.Rowling's fantastic world.  Even though Brooklyn's only read the first three books, she's poured over them so many times that fiction blurs reality.  The munchkins are constantly playing different characters, casting spells, and filling our home with pictures of Hippogriffs and diagrams of Diagon Alley.

Nearly a year ago, Brooklyn and Talia decided that instead of having individual birthday parties this year, they wanted to join together for a Harry Potter party.  All summer long they plotted and planned, filling entire notebooks with their dreams for the big day.  They talked our ears off for hours and hours, describing their great schemes in painstaking detail.  In fact, they talked so much that they eventually were forbidden from planning any more in our presence because we adults simply couldn't bear to listen to another word.  Undeterred, the two girls would stay up late at night whispering in bed as they made more schedules and drew more sketches.  Their excitement and enthusiasm was unabashed.  They even trained Eli to be an outstanding Gryffindor.  While he may not have read any of the books yet, his Harry Potter trivia knowledge quite possibly trumps yours.  At any rate, he casts spells right along with the best of them.

In order for our Harry Potter party to be understood, you have to appreciate this background.  Before you hate my guts for going all out and setting a party standard unachievable by mere mortals, please recognize that this party was not mine.  In fact, this celebration was really the antithesis of everything I cherish in a party--a small group, not too many sweets, and above all, simplicity.  This party was for my children.  This was a once-in-a-lifetime celebration where I put my own preferences aside and did all I could to support them in creating their magical dream.  All of the planning and preparation was joyful because it was for them.  This was their day.  I did it for them.  Not Pinterest.

The Preparation:
The girls knew we would need some very specific supplies, so we did get online for some ideas.  I'll include the links in case anybody else foresees a Harry Potter party in their future.

First off, magic wands!  Ollivander's apprentices, (aka Aunt Callie and Uncle Adam) made these awesome wands out of wooden dowels, paper, hot glue, and paint.  I created a few more when our guest list turned out to be larger than expected.  Overall, a pretty fun project, especially if you have a belt sander to create your pointy ends.

A closer look.  Aren't those handles awesome?
All set up for display on party day.
Next up, the Sorting Hat.  This project was super easy.  We just covered a witch hat in torn-up brown paper lunch bags and mod podge, and then used binder clips to create the creases for the mouth and eyes as it dried.  The eyebrows are a little extra rolled up paper stuck on top.
Brooklyn's looking pretty as Hermione.

Here's Eli hoping for Gryffindor.  (He cried on party day when Hufflepuff got drawn out the bag.)
Annika joins in the Hogwarts school fun.
Platform 9 and Three Quarters
I picked up an old red curtain for .99 at Goodwill and painted the brick mortar with white paint.  Yay for cheap.  Plus yay for Jason's lashing skills with garden hoes.

Bertie Botts Every Flavour Beans.   These bad boys, while cute, were labor-intensive, particularly when multiplied by twenty-four.  For a crowd as young as ours, I think we could have gone for something much simpler without losing the effect. 

Chocolate Frogs and a Golden Snitch.  The wizard trading cards came from this site; my Mom was kind enough to laminate them.  The frog mold came from Amazon, and the snitch was just a painted wiffle ball with tulle stuck through the middle as wings.

At last, the big day arrived.  Time to set up!

Diagon Alley:
Our treehouse had a temporary makeover. 

We were incredibly fortunate to have gorgeous weather.  It was cold before, rainy after, and just remarkable in between.  While I'm not presumptuous enough to assume that God made the sun shine just to bless two little girls, it wouldn't surprise me either.  Regardless, we've sent Him many prayers of thanks.

Jason hung candy from the trees in the back to create our Whomping Willow.

 And of course, let's not forget to set up the Hogwarts Express.  (We borrowed somebody's Polar Express and gave it a temporary makeover.)

Party Time!
As guests arrived, they picked up a bag for their loot from Honeydukes, then came to Ollivander's where each wand selected a wizard.
Brooklyn quite appropriately identifies herself with Hermione.  Here she is selecting her 10 3/4" dragon heartstring wand.
Here's West, carefully inspecting the merchandise.
Cassie and Julia compare wands.  Phoenix feather or unicorn hair?
These two wizards, Hector and Javier, are the cutest things ever.  These twins moved into Brooklyn's class from Spain just a couple of months ago, but they've already memorized all the spells in English.
After begin fitted with wands, our witches and wizards made their way over to Madam Malkin's Robe Shop where they could try on a robe and pose for a picture.

Our Hermione was first in line...
But Harry was not far behind.
Talia with her little witch friend, Johanna.
Elena came dressed as a black cat--Professor McGonagall as an animagus.

Fede--another great gent from Brooklyn's class.

One more photo of the Spaniards.

And here's our tiniest witch, um, I mean pumpkin.  Annika fell in love with this little pink owl that one of our party guests brought.  At the end of the party, this little girl gave to Annie to keep.  So sweet!

Time to run through Platform 9 3/4 to board the Hogwarts Express!

As you can imagine, the wizarding crowd was quite excited to sample the treat cart.  Here's NomiAnn pouring everyone some Pumpkin Juice.

Bertie Botts, anyone?

Thanks to some of my Mom's great friends, we even had homemade pumpkin pasties.  Jen (on the left) made the sweets, while Vickie (right) was indispensible in helping run all the party stations.

NomiAnn says, wow!  These pasties are delicious.

All aboard!
Lily, West, and Annika

Talia and Fede

Sophia and Ellary
Look closely to the left of this picture and you'll spy Crookshanks eating a chocolate frog.  I think this is the only picture with Eli in full costume since the fur got too hot pretty quickly.  Don't worry--I'm sure there will be more come Halloween.
After the train arrived, Hagrid appeared to greet the students.  Everyone seemed thoroughly impressed!
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Next on the agenda, sorting into Hogwarts houses.
Even though she wasn't sorted into Gryffindor, Hermione thought it was great fun.
Adelle makes a pretty great Ravenclaw.
So what about Annie Mae?
 For the rest of the party, we let the kids wander between different stations.  Remember that whomping willow?  Well, it was guarded by a Whomping Pillow.

 Near Hagrid's Hut, the kids decorated plain mugs with Sharpies. 

Of course, the best use of the mugs was at Potions class where everyone mixed up their own butterbeer.
Here's Crookshanks savoring his butterbeer.  You can also see the fruits of Herbology.  Everyone grew their own Veggie garden pizzas.
Fede brought his butterbeer into the Three Broomsticks.  You can see that he's paid a recent visit to Eeylops Owl Emporium.

Back outside, the tree house was home to Gringotts.

Inside our witches and wizards played Harry Potter Bingo on boards that Brooklyn and Talia designed.

I don't have any pictures, but a couple more stations were set up beneath the tree house.  In Charms, Hogwarts students could make a feather fly by casting a spell of "Wingardium Leviosa."  (The spell only worked when someone up above gave a good tug on the dumbwaiter.)  In Defense Against the Dark Arts, students used their wands to pop evil bubbles.

Quality Quidditch Supplies gave everyone the gear they needed for some pick-up games of Quidditch.

The slackline was quite popular as well.  Annika kept trying to dangle from it like a monkey.

Of course, Madam Hooch's  Flying Lessons were probably the greatest hit of the day.  Everybody loves a zipline!  (And we love how everyone was safe.)

Hagrid waited patiently at the bottom to help everyone unload.

As you can imagine, he was pretty bushed by the end of the afternoon.

Hermoine's cat looked tired enough to nap right on the spot.

All too soon it was time to say goodbye to good friends.  Here's Brooklyn with a pal named Erin who attended Crestridge last year.

Is Fede enthralled with the Hogwarts invitation letters shooting out the fireplace?

Naw, he's enraptured by my Dad's flying bat.  Leave it to the gadget man to steal the show.

During the final moments of our party, we held a brief scavenger hunt.  Nothing but familial love can draw forth cheesy lines from my stunted poetic soul.  Thank heavens it doesn't happen often.

The Sorting Hat’s Soliloquy
Brooklyn and Talia, girls clever and strong,

both dreamed of a party.  Oh how they did long

to make merry magic with wizards and witches,

and cheer “Gryffindor” on Quidditch field pitches.

All summer long they plotted and planned

their great celebration on Hogwarts’ fair land.

From Diagon Alley to Hagrid’s huge hut,

They dodged whomping pillows and flew on brooms, but

One little worry made the girls panic.

Their presents had vanished from sight, just like magic.

To find the gifts, first search for the snitch.

Golden in hue, it yearns to be rich.
Most of the kids were having so much fun that they wanted to play outside instead of watch Brooklyn and Talia open gifts, so the Sorting Hat made some last-minute revisions and we all went in search of cake instead of presents.  As for the cake, we let Costco do the baking so that I could focus on other things instead.  A brilliant idea, if I do say so myself.  The truth is that everyone was so stuffed with butterbeer and pumpkin pasties that few people were much interested in cake by that point.

A few final pictures with my wizards and witches:
The two cutest gals in second grade: Adelle and Talia.
Harry, Hedwig, and his Nimbus 2000.

Aren't Brooklyn and Talia's costumes amazing?  Many thanks to my Mom who assembled them.

This will undoubtedly be a day that my daughters cherish forever.

All in all, even though this party was far more ambitious than anything I would have ever dreamed, it ultimately exceeded my happiest imaginations.  With all the joyful recollections of this day whirling around my mind, I might have to conjure up my very own patronus.

Be ye muggle or magical, may I wish you a Happy Harry Potter Day as well.