Harry Potter is a favorite in our home, so it's no surprise that two of my children opted for a Hogwarts-themed party on their birthday. That means that I have tons of Harry Potter party ideas to share. If you are looking to host your own party, this is the place to find ideas for crafts, food, invitations, Harry Potter party favors and more. I'll even share some printables to make things easier for you.
Crazy me loves invitations as much as parties, and I think the invitations for this party are my favorite because they get to be delivered by owl post!
Check out this post to find out how to pull these invitations off. Please buy a few extra balloons, because you’re bound to pop a couple! (I lost two before I even left the store!
It’s really fun when the guests RSVP by sending back the owl, but most opt to keep it instead.
Setting up the party
Of course, you have to make the party look authentic! The guests need to enter through Platform 9 ¾, and you'll need to label the Whomping Willow outside the house so that no one gets hurt.
To start off my first party, the kids went to Flourish & Blotts to pick up their school books, Madam Malkin's Robes for All Occasions shop to take a picture in a wizard robe, and Ollivanders to make a wand. There was also a Hunt for Magical Creatures activity that took the kids to the Forbidden Forest, the Quiditch Field, the Womping Willow, and Diagon Alley.
The kids swam during the second party, so signs pointing to the Black Lake and identifying the First Floor Girls Toilets were a must.
You'll find printable signs for the locations I listed at the end of this post.
My decorations mostly consisted of using the signs creatively and setting up a sweet shop. If you'd like some amazing Harry Potter party decorating ideas that are a little fancier, check out From My Side of the Room.
New Harry Potter Bingo Games!
I'm interrupting this party post to show you my latest bingo games -- Harry Potter style! Revelio Bingo! Click on the image to check out the games and maybe even download a free printable.
Every party needs a great start, and It's tricky to find things for the kids to do while they are waiting for all of the guests to arrive. For younger kids, it's great to start with a coloring activity. It's not crucial to the party, but it helps control the kids when they first arrive. As the kids get older, it's not so much about crowd control. It's more about breaking the ice.
Spell Books and School Shopping
When the younger kids arrived at our Harry Potter party, they went school shopping. They visited the stores I mentioned above to get their wands, school books, and robes. You'll find more details about back to school shopping -- Harry Potter style in this post. (I'll be sending you back to that post a lot because it contains the details of the first party.)
I used the Book of Spells and Magical Drafts and Potions books from Dirt and Sunshine and added some puzzles and this printable potion recipe to make the textbooks look like those they might use at Hogwarts. The kids worked on the puzzles while they were waiting for the other guests.
The Owlery Activity
For the older kids, we started off with a trip to the owlery to pick up their new owls. (This was definitely a favorite activity.) I copied this idea from Buggy and Buddy and added my own twist.
To do this activity, I created a birdcage from a cheap outdoor lantern I got at Deseret Industries (similar to Good Will). The broken lantern made a perfect cage once I removed the glass. I purchased inexpensive stuffed owls from Michaels over a period of time using a 40 or 50% off coupon for each owl. Then I created some printable keys. You can download them for yourself at the end of this activity description.
The printable has two copies of each key. I tied one copy of the keys to an owl (one per owl) with ribbon, and let the guests select one of the other copies. Each guest matched her key up with an owl. That owl was theirs to keep. (Squeals from the party guests!)
*Hint for doing this activity yourself: As the guests find their owls, have them choose a name and write it on the key attached to their owl. This makes the activity last longer and keeps the owls from getting mixed up.
Download the keys for this Harry Potter party game by clicking on the download link below. Your pdf file will open in a new window. You can print from there or save the file to your computer to print later.
Sorting into Houses - 2 Ways
Of course, you'll need to sort your party guests into houses. At the first party, we put a big witch hat on each kid and let them choose a house badge out of a bag. Whatever house was on the badge was their new Hogwarts house, and they wore the badge for the rest of the party.
At the second party, we used sorting hat treats (from Buggy and Buddy) to determine the guests' house. The birthday girl also created house bracelets for each guest. She came up with the idea all by herself and quickly made the bracelets right before the party.
To make these treats, sort M&M's by color. Fill sugar cones with yellow and red M&M's (Gryffindor), blue and brown or yellow M&Ms (Ravenclaw), yellow and brown M&M's (Hufflepuff), or green and brown (Slytherin). I never include Slytherin because I don't think kids want to be in that house, but it's up to you.
Next, squeeze frosting along the outside rim of the cone and stick a cookie on top. Flip the cone over, and you have a mini sorting hat. Place the hats on a plate. When it's time to be sorted, let each guest choose a cone.
Harry Potter Party Activities
Potions Class -- fun for younger kids
The potions class for the original Harry Potter party was really fun. The kids watched Snape do some dry ice demos that looked really cool, and then they all created a potion that blew up balloons. (The recipe for that potion was in their spellbooks. They also made their snack in potions class. You'll find the details for the younger kids' potions class in this post.
Harry Potter Luck Potion Slime Activity
We could easily have used the same potions activities at the party for the older kids, but the birthday girl really wanted to make slime. So, we created a recipe for a topical version of Liquid Luck, and it was a hit.
You'll find the printable recipe, directions, and bottle labels in this post.
Magic Wand Activities
We all know that in the world of Harry Potter, the wand chooses the wizard. But, since Olivander was captured in the Deathly Hallows book, there's no wizard qualified to make wands. That means the kids had to make their own.
For the younger kids' party, the guests dipped pretzel rods in melted chocolate and created a "wand snack." The older kids did something a little bit more complicated and a lot more fun.
While half of the kids were making a Luck Potion with Professor Snape, the other half created wands with me. I purchased a couple of long dowels at Walmart and cut them into foot-long pieces. In hindsight, I wish I had used my sander to grind the tips down to more of a point. I would definitely do that next time.
This activity is definitely for kids who are a little older because they have to be able to handle a hot glue gun. I like this one because it is cordless, which I think is a little safer for the kids.
To make the wands, kids simply used the hot glue to create designs on their dowels. Some kids patiently and slowly built up layers of glue to create a grip for their wand. I think those turned out the coolest. Once the glue dried, we took the wands outside, and the kids sprayed them with black and/or gold spray paint. No two wands were alike. They turned out really well.
Missing Magical Creatures Scavenger Hunt
During the first Harry Potter party, the guests participated in a hunt for missing magical creatures. Their potions class was interrupted by an urgent owl from Professor McGonnagal. She requested the kids' help to find magical creatures who had escaped and were roaming freely around the school grounds.
You'll find details about the hunt and the free printable urgent letter here and here. My original Harry Potter posts contained a virtual party in one post and more details in another post. Confusing, I know.
Swimming in the Black Lake
At the original party, the kids took Transfiguration and Charms classes. (You guessed it. You'll find details in my other posts.) Since our current home has a pool, we skipped those activities and sent the guests for a dip in the Black Lake.
Harry Potter Party Food
You can make your party food simple or difficult. I prefer simple. It's really easy to duplicate the smashed cake Hagrid made for Harry on his 11th birthday. Google a picture of the cake. Using it as a pattern, frost a two-layer cake with pink frosting, copy the misspelled words and writing style from the cake, slash through the frosting on top to mimic the smashed look, and you're done!
Pizza may not be very Harry Potter-ish, but it's always a good standby for a party. Add a little butterbeer (I used this recipe), and you're good to go.
I also like to make my own Bertie Botts Every Flavor Beans and chocolate frogs for the kids to take home, but that's a lot of work! Find out how to do it here, or go the easy route and purchase them from Amazon.
Keeping it Real
Let's be realistic here. Planning a party like this is a ton of work. In addition to the work, this party can be done on the cheap or it can become quite expensive. Not every parent has the time, energy or funds to do something like this.
I post lots of parties on my site, but I want overwhelmed moms (and dads) to know that these parties are a once-in-a-while thing. My kids' birthday parties are definitely not this fancy every year, and they don't have to be. My kids have been just as happy with simple parties (and sometimes nothing but a small family party). I'm the one who likes to go overboard!
My daughter went to a party the other day where the guests played games and stuffed themselves with junk food and candy while they watched a movie together in the family room. She had a blast! She came home raving about the party and raved over how much fun she had.
It doesn't matter if your party is fancy or casual. Kids still have a great time when they get together. If you are overwhelmed with trying to do a fancy party, remember that the non-fancy kind is just as fun. The important thing is that your kids know you cared enough to plan something for them -- no matter how simple. So, next time you're kicking yourself because you can't do everything, please remember that you don't have to.