Friday, February 6, 2015

Happee Birthdae Betty (a Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone 11th Birthday Party)

So I've been teasing you guys on this one long enough, huh? Here it finally is. The most important detail, of course, is that Betty had a really great time, and so did her friends.


But there are a LOT more details than that. I've got a lot of kids. They have a lot of birthdays. I like throwing parties, so that's what we do. I've got it mostly down to a science. I have a set party agenda, that I just tweak a bit to fit with whatever theme the birthday boy or girl has chosen. Craft + food + a couple backyard games + cake + piñata + goodie bag = done.

But THAT was before we had a Harry Potter party. Betty got to start reading the books this summer, and started saying she wanted to have a Harry Potter birthday party almost immediately. She wanted her eleventh birthday party to be specifically based on just the first book, so that she could then have six MORE birthday parties based on the other six books in the series. We'll see, I guess. I wouldn't put it past her. She's a very constant little thing.

Even with just the first book to pull from there were SO MANY fun things we could do. If we didn't go completely over the top -- and probably we did, but if we didn't -- it was only because we decided to actually throw the party exactly six days before we had the party. So there really wasn't time to go too nuts. But with Betty and Jack and I all having read and loved the books, there were a lot of crazy ideas flying around.

Here's what we ended up with . . .

- The Decorations -

This was my favorite. It turned out really awesome. The photos don't really do it justice. We recreated the scene in which the Dursley's house is flooded with Hogwarts acceptance letters.




We ordered 100 regular white envelopes and Bright Red Flexible Glue Gun Sealing Wax and a Hogwarts Crest Seal from Amazon. We laid all the envelopes out and sprayed them with a mix of water and brown food coloring to age them, then sealed and stamped them (some had something inside, more on that later). Then we hung them from the ceiling with Invisible Nylon Thread , and made it look like they were exploding out of the fireplace.


We also had a lovely birthday banner donated to us by reader Jessica, who whipped it up for her own daughter's birthday, then had a baby, then popped the banner into the mail to me! We also ordered these Hogwarts Crest Peel And Stick Giant Wall Decals to put on the windows.

The rest of the decorations were just printed out signs I found online or made on picmonkey.

- The Activities -

This is where things veered way off course for us. These are much more detailed and involved than our usual party games. It was a lot more involvement from me during the party itself. But it was fun.

Jack had the idea to play Scooter Quidditch. We asked guests to bring scooters if they had them, and Jack created two hoop goals and put them on either end of our cul-de-sac. Guests were divided into two teams, on each team were some chasers and one seeker on scooters, and some beaters and one goalie on foot. And one kid on foot was the snitch. It was chaos, but fun. They were throwing bludgers (various little nerf balls) at each other and running and scooting and chasing and trying to get the quaffle (soccer ball) in the hoop.






Next, I lined the kids up and brought them into Diagon Alley, formerly known as our playroom.




I designed and printed out paper signs for . . .

The Leaky Cauldron:



The snacks were . . .

(regular jelly beans)

(sunchips)

(puffy cheetos)

(crunchy cheetos)

(grapes)


(and pumpkin juice: peach juice + apple cider + pureed peaches + can of pumpkin, in the blender, serve over ice)



Ollivander's Wand Shop:




Betty made the wands almost completely herself (I helped with some of the glue gunning) from this tutorial. The guests got to bring them home with them after the party.



Madame Malkin's Robes for All Occasions:


We rounded up all the various capes in the house and hung them up to let the guests borrow one for the party.




And Flourish and Blotts:



Just for fun.

- The Sorting Ceremony -

Once the guests had their snacks and wands and robes, we headed back into the living room to be sorted.

We ordered this Harry Potter Sorting Hat from Amazon. Kids came up one at a time, and sat on a stool. I put the hat on their heads, and asked them two silly "Would You Rather" questions (from here and here). Then I had them reach into a bag and select one of four tokens I had made, one for each Hogwarts house.


They each got awarded a fleece scarf in their house colors. I made these over the course of four very long evenings. They turned out really, really cute and are actually quite sturdy. But sewing the strips of fabric together with a joining stitch was really time consuming. I can't in good conscious recommend that you do it. But, if you were going to ignore me and do it anyway, you'd need three-quarters of a yard of each color. Before you cut the fabric from selvage to selvage you should mark it with pencil or crayon. Draw three lines, from top to bottom (from one cut edge to the other) on the fabric: a line down the center, and a line down each quarter. Then cut them into seven three inch strips and one five inch strip. Alternate the colors, line up the marks on each strip to keep the fabric from pulling while you sew, (I didn't use pins, I just eyeballed it) and machine sew with a joining stitch (looks like two straight stitches with a zigzag in-between). It takes time and a lot of thread (I had to refill the bobbin three times per set of scarves), but they ended up costing less than a dollar a scarf (as long as you need 40 of them).



Eventually all the kids were sorted into their houses.


At which point I told them that they needed to collect all the acceptance letters, and open them up. Inside were color coded words. Each house collected the words that were in their two house colors, and they had to figure out their two clues. When all four houses put their clues together, they figured out that they needed to go to the "Astronomy Tower:" the highest point in the back yard (aka the platform of our play structure) for a flying lesson.



Jack and Grandad just happened to design and install a zipline in the backyard at Christmas, so the kids got to ride their "brooms" down the zipline and get off on the other side of the yard, where they found . . .

Gringott's Bank:



and got to help themselves to the treasure chest full of chocolate frogs inside. Made by Betty with this Frog Chocolate Candy Mold .


Then it was time to come inside for the feast in the Great Hall . . .


of roasted chicken, mashed potatoes, broccoli and cheese, salad, and bread. No funny signs. It was supposed to be kinda fancy.

- The Cake -

Then there was cake. At first Betty was thinking she wanted the cake that Hagrid brings to Harry in the book.


Which would have been very cute and VERY easy. But then she decided on a four layer Hogwarts Crest cake instead.




I made the decorations using a chocolate transfer technique, like this, only I don't have fancy bottles, so I just cut a tiny tip of the end of a ziplock sandwich baggie. Seems to work. This technique is GREAT for folks like me who are utterly incapable of freehand drawing.

-The Piñata -

Last but not least, there was the piñata. Jack was in charge of that too. He made it out of paper mache over a punch balloon.


It was Professor Quirrell/Voldemort!




We whaled on him with a stick. And that was that.

I can't believe many people made it down this far, but on the off chance that you did and aren't completely tired of my blog by now, here are some related posts you might enjoy . . .

TO THE HARRY POTTER FINGER-WAGGERS: SORCERY IN THE BIBLE VS LIVING IN A MAGICAL WORLD


We're at Disneyland today, testing our measles vaccines and celebrating Betty's actual birthday (which is today) and Anita's upcoming sixth birthday (next July). We go to Disneyland as a family for each kid's sixth birthday, but since this new baby's birthday is also supposed to be in July, we decided to make the Disneyland trip a few months early, so I can still fool the ride operators. 'Cause I'm crazy pregnant like that.

Happy Birthday Betty, we love you!


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32 comments:

  1. Wow! This is amazing! I want to copy this exact party for myself, but at this point I probably should wait until I have a little one of my own to throw the party for :) I've thoroughly enjoyed the Harry Potter posts this week.

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  2. Oh my Hogwarts, woman! You throw one heck of a party. I'm so impressed.

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  3. Can i PLEASE have this birthday party for my next birthday (36)? IT IS AMAZING. I literally got choked up at how awesome it is and how i could only wish to throw a party that incredible some day for my kids (that is IF they love HP as much as i do)...kudos to you for your ingenuity, stamina, and excellence in carrying out this theme!

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  4. I loved everything about this party and am amazed and in awe of the creativity you have encouraged in your children...such amazing imaginations and skills! They could open their own party planning business today. Have a GREAT time at Disneyland.

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  5. This is seriously the coolest birthday party I have ever seen! Thanks for the inspiration.

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  6. Welp, I've officially joined the conspiracy theorists who think you're a robot.

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  7. I love that your whole family gets involved. Happy birthday Betty! (and Anita 6 months early :))

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  8. This is the best birthday party ever! And I love that whole families come and kids off all ages can play. Homeschooling perk :) She's set a high standard for the next 6 birthdays. Happy birthday, Betty! Have fun at Disney.

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  9. It would take me six months to plan, prepare and execute such a party. I am not exaggerating. Wow!

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  10. SO STINKING COOL! I wish some adults would have parties this cool!

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  11. Yes, you kept us waiting! We just got back after leaving for our house to be shown. I told the kids to grab their school books while I checked email, and I was like, okay everyone. You have to wait! Uh. amazing. You so rocked it, as usual.

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  12. Wow! This is amazing! You are the birthday party planning queen!

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  13. Wow! You really went all out - looks incredible and like a lot of fun!!! I am envious of your skills! <3

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  14. This has got to be the most awesome birthday party I have ever seen! It looks like you all had so much fun!!! Great job!

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  15. That is one amazing birthday party! If you put a bunch of 30 year olds in there instead of 11 year olds, it would have been just as fun, maybe more if the fire whiskey was real. IDK how you ever made so many scarves in that amount of time, i would have been slap-dab crazy by the end. Awesome job and happy birthday to Betty!

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  16. this is the BEST! Pinned it and can't wait to steal ideas in 6 years when my oldest turns 11- ha!

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  17. I love, love, love all of the cool little touches you included! And the zipline is just frankly AWESOME! Happy Birthday Betty! Thanks for play-by-play Kendra!

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  18. WOW this is so awesome! This reminds me of all the HP release parties we had when I worked at a children's bookstore... I love the zipline-flying lesson touch and the sorting! I really hope Betty sticks with the theme because I feel like her 14th birthday party could be super fun (because dragons and mermaids!). It's actually making me think I want my 25th birthday to be Harry Potter themed. Thanks for writing it up - looks like she had a blast!

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  19. Looks fabulous! Betty comes across as such a delightful young lady and I'm glad she had a great party! *hugs* Heather

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  20. Gah! Of all the Tierney parties to miss, I can't believe it was this one. I really hope Betty wants book 2 for next year. I won't miss it! Oh wait, I mean WE. ;)

    P.S. Happy birthday to one of the sweetest kids I know.

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  21. Happy Birthday, Betty!

    Can't wait to hear about what a magical time you're sure to have at the Happiest Place on Earth. We are Disney World fans, but there's a chance we might get to visit Disneyland when we visit friends in San Diego this spring. I've heard nothing but good things about Walt's old stomping grounds.

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  22. Wow! That’s all I have to say...oh my goodness you are amazing. Happy birthday to your little girl!

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  23. This is astonishing. You need to send this blogpost to J.K. Rowling herself. She would be honored to see it come to life so wonderfully in a fan's home.

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  24. Super, duper, amazing. Now I want to do another HP party for a birthday in our house!

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  25. What a fun party! Such creative minds you all have!

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  26. Disneyland looked like fun! Any concern about the measles outbreak? I am assuming everyone is up to date on their shots. Many people don't remember how devastating this seemingly harmless disease can be. Which is sad because it is so easily preventable.

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  27. Wow! You did such an amazing job, and all while battling morning sickness? It looks like it was as much fun to put together as to attend! :)

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