Harry Potter Party 3yr - Potions & Grimoire
Melissa in Burbank, CA, USA
July 2003 Winner
Even though my daughter is only 3, she loves the Harry Potter movies and goes around "swishing and flicking" a crayon at me while correctly pronouncing "wingaridum leviosa" (its Levio-sa!, she tells me). Her favorite activity is the wizard duel (wherein I have to throw myself backwards when she "spells me" and she does same) and she walks around reciting dialog in a bad British accent. So we threw her a Harry Potter party.
We sent out invitations (decorated with the Hogwarts School crest, which I downloarded onto sticky paper) on parchment (with green metallic ink), cordially inviting everyone to her third birthday, to be celebrated at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry (signed by Albus Dumbledore himself), and sealed it with red sealing wax and a fancy "H" seal. We added that supplies will be provided for first-year students (brooms, wands, and hats) and that muggle mommies and daddies were also invited.
A suit of armor greeted them at the door (It helped that I work at a New Age bookstore- many of the props were borrowed from them!)and the soundtrack was playing in the background. The dining room was decorated with gothic candle holders, felt banners (in each of the house colors) hanging from the beams, stuffed ravens and owls, with golden snitches (I added puff-paint designs to styrofoam balls, painted them gold and glued on golden wings (actually they were really pretty, delicate leaf outlines found at a craft store) and fuzzy bats hanging from the ceiling. The table was set with a dark blue tablecloth with gold cardboard stars and little sequin stars, a crsytal ball, hourglass and various little bottles and spell books.
Naturally, we had jelly beans, gummy and chocolate frogs, and gummy worms in chocolate cookie "dirt" in bowls all round the table. Her daddy dressed in robes, and I wore a long black dress with a witches hat, decorated with pheasant feathers ala Professor McGonagall. Near the fireplace was a paper-mache egg, pained metallic black with glitter, with a toy Norbert I found on ebay (he moves around and burps and "breathes fire")that just "hatched" (I guess you could call it "care of Magical Creatures class" the kids all took turns petting him and holding him) As they arrived, they sat and decorated their wizard hats (black felt) with glitter glue, cut-out stars and moons and sequins. The older kids helped the littler ones (the ages were from 1 to 12) and it kept them busy while we waited for everyone to show up.
When all the "students" had arrived, we had the sorting ceremony. I made a sorting hat out of brown felt, and used a fabric stiffener to make the folds in his face and stiched around his mouth and brim. The back was open so we could move the mouth. Each child sat and was sorted into a house, Gryffendor for the older kids who knew the movies, while the younger ones were Hufflepuff or Ravenclaw. (We even had a few good natured "Slytherns", who we blamed for everything that went wrong). They each got a sticker with their house crest (downloaded from the internet onto sticky paper) and were told that they would earn points with good behavior, manners and such, and would lose points if (we unrolled a parchment about 5 feet long) they fought, cheated at anything, whined, cried, threw food, and so on and so forth.
The first class was Potions. I set the table (outside, in case it got messy) with as many old and quaint looking bottles (filled with colored water) as I could find, along with a mortar and pestle, and bowls of salt, baking soda, frog tongues (pink pop-rock candy), etc. Beforehand I placed plastic cups with black spoons (and a drop of food coloring on each spoon, so they couldn’t see it) out, one for each child. Next to it I had a rainbow colored bottle filled with white vinegar. I told them that someone in Slytherin turned all the punch into water, and we had to do a spell to make some for the party. As I poured the "rainbow water" into each of the cups, it "magically" changed into a different color in each cup (yellow, then red, then green, then blue, according to the colors on the bottle). I had them add the powdered mugwort (baking soda) and of course, pretended to be peeved when their mixtures blew up and fizzed out of the cups. They tried using the frog tongues (pop rocks), but they just sizzled and snapped. Finally we tried dragons milk (two cups of white glue) mixed with oil of sunshine (1 1/2 cups of water with yellow color) to 2/3 cup warm water in which we dissolved 2 teaspons powdered asfoedel (borax landry detergent). The older kids helped put it together and stir and although it was nothing close to punch, EVERYONE enjoyed playing with the resulting "troll bogeys".
Finally I consulted my magical grimoire (actually an old leather bound book of poetry), told them I found the perfect thing to make the punch, and pulled out a packet of grape Kool-ade (we mixed it with Sprite and it was actually pretty good). With that done, we had our feast (Fried chicken, corn on the cob, and a cauldron of chili beans and the table was set with gold colored paper plates, gold forks and knives and fancy plastic goblets for the kids) and they sat down to watch the movie for a bit. Then it was back to class: we practiced Enchanments next. Each kid got a wand (a 7/8" wooden dowel, smoothed and shaped and stained in different colors (ebony and cherry and oak), and painted with a UV-sensitive paint so they turned purple in the sunlight). I passed them out, giving a description of each ("ebony, 10 1/2", with dragon heartstring- "willow, 9 3/4", with hair of unicorn") We even had a Ron Weasley hand-me-down wand, bit and chewed up (by Scabbers, I presume) and taped at one end. We didn’t think anyone would want it, but a few kids requested it and the one with the most points at the end took it home.
The littler kids got a plastic wand I found at a party store, which lit up at the end. For enchantments we practiced "immobulus", wherein the kids had to boogie down to music, and when the "wizard" who was practicing yelled "immobulus!", the music stopped and they had to stand perfectly still. If a kid moved, he or she was "out" and they got to be the wizard who practiced next, so everyone basically got a turn. The 3 left were awarded points. On to their broom-stick flying lesson (we found small halloween bamboo brooms on the internet), which was set up so that as they were supposed to take off flying, one of the "teachers" burst out of the house yelling that there was a troll in the front yard! In the front, they found a "troll" pinata (okay- I was trying to find "Shrek", cause he at least closely resembled the troll, but we had to make due with "Mike Wachowski" from Monsters Inc. Everyone thought it was quite amusing that our terrifying troll was only a foot high. But it worked for me!) We filled it with candy of course, but also plastic bugs and lizards and such, cause trolls eat anything.
Then we went back inside for cake and ice cream, and just before we tucked in, we had a contest were the kids could win extra points by eating the gross jelly bean flavors (earwax and vomit and sardine) in the Bertie Bott Every-Flavored Bean bags. The Slytherins had a chance to win back all the points they lost, just for being Slytherin (we took points away from them for everything from laughing to loud, to not dancing enough, but as I said, they had a good sense of humor. I wouldnt suggest it with sensitive kids). We then had cake (decorated with the mini Harry toys (Harry and Hermione and Ron and Hagrid, and their pets and wands and things) all gathered round a tiny Hagrid's hut in the corner) and passed out dragon hatchlings that Hagrid found (paper mache eggs, painted gold, with a tiny plastic dragon in each) and goody bags. The more points they had, the more goodies they got- Harry Potter coloring books, magic trick kits (found at the 99cent store), glow in the dark bouncy balls, chocolate frogs (with wizard cards), bugs-eye telescopes, scented or flavored bubbles, gemstone charm braclets (for the girls) and glow in the dark frogs for the boys. They also got to take home their wands and brooms. As we handed them the bags, we awarded them special points (for excellent manners, bravely taking on the troll, taking part in the activies, etc.) They were given their wizard hats for graduation (they were dry by then). I'd have to say, it was wicked fun