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)


(puffy cheetos)

(crunchy cheetos)


(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 . . .


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!