Oct. 28, 2013 at 7:48 PM ET
Official Hogwarts invitations
Set the tone of the party ahead of time with authentic invitations that look like they came directly from Hogwarts!
What you’ll need: Parchment paper and envelopes in “natural," Hogwarts seal (found online), red sealing wax, seal stamp and calligraphy pen (optional)
Directions: Place the Hogwarts seal at the top of your invitation design, and the title “Hogwarts School of Witches and Wizardry” along the bottom. Add the party details, utilizing a clever language style inspired by the movie. For example: “We are pleased to inform you that you have been invited to a special birthday celebration in honor of new head boy/girl _____________. The festivities will commence at the stroke of noon.”
Tip: For extra authenticity, close the back of the envelopes with a red wax seal and use calligraphy for the mailing addresses.
Enchanted dragon egg decor
Dragons are an important part of the wizard world and a favorite of Hogwarts gamekeeper Rubeus Hagrid, who even kept one as a pet! Use these Enchanted Dragon Eggs for Magical Creature Hunts or as extra party décor.
What you’ll need: Large plastic Easter eggs, metallic gold paint and fleck-stone paint (available at craft or home improvement stores)
Directions: Find an open, outdoor space to paint the eggs. Protect the surface that you’ll be painting on with a layer of newspaper or plastic trash bags. Spray some of the plastic eggs with fleck-stone paint for a mysterious, speckled finish and others with metallic gold to reference Harry’s first task in the Twiwizard Tournament from Goblet of Fire: stealing a golden dragon egg from a nesting mother.
Tip: For extra “enchantment”, add a final coat of shimmery glitter spray to the painted eggs.
Potion jar centerpieces
Potions is one of the most popular classes at Hogwarts, so make sure you have an ample supply of Gillyweed and Hippogriff Gizzards on hand!
What you’ll need: Glass jars in different sizes, labels for jars, food coloring, water and a variety of odd-looking substances to serve as “magical” ingredients
Directions: Fill the jars with different substances and label them according to the potions and ingredients mentioned in the Harry Potter movies. The more creepy and gross-sounding the better! For example:
Tip: Need help with the jar labels? Download our printable label templates.
Kids will stare wide-eyed as they watch clear water or soda transform into a vibrant color… must be magic!
What you’ll need: Plastic party cups, food coloring, ice, water or lemon-lime soda
Directions: Place 2 to 3 drops of food coloring at the bottom of each party cup and let dry. Just before serving the drinks, fill each cup with ice to hide the food coloring. While each child watches, pour the drink over the ice, and the clear water or soda will “magically” turn into a color as it fills their cup! Use different colors of food coloring so that the kids won’t know what color to expect from their “magic” soda.
Tip: Add a “fortune telling” element to the drinks by assigning a meaning to each color and displaying the different meanings on a small sign near the soda. For example, purple = royalty, green = wealth, yellow = long life. Whichever color each guest’s soda turns also predicts their personal “fortune.”
Licorice wizard wands
Expecto Patronum! Whether they’re casting spells or disappearing into bellies, these super-easy treats are a fun addition to any wizard party.
What you’ll need: Black licorice sticks, white Candy Melts, white nonpareils (candy sprinkles), wax paper, baking sheet, orange M&M's
Directions: Line baking sheet with wax paper and set aside. Melt the candy melts according to package instructions. Dip tips of each licorice twist into the melted candy to create the top part of the “wand,” then sprinkle with white nonpareils while the candy is still wet. Place the wands on wax paper and let dry until the candy coating is firm. Display in a bed of orange M&M's.
Tip: To create multicolored wands, use Rainbow Twizzlers instead of black licorice, along with different shapes and colors of candy sprinkles.
Wizard hat cupcakes
These adorable, sugar cone-topped cupcakes will entice both aspiring wizards and Muggles alike!
What you’ll need: Chocolate cake mix, vanilla icing, silver cupcake liners, sugar cones, chocolate chips or chocolate Candy Melts, chocolate sprinkles, and yellow decorator frosting.
Tip: Even easier: Start out with purchased chocolate cupcakes and chocolate frosting, and skip all the baking!
Honeyduke treat mix
Honeyduke's Sweet Shop is a candy and treat store in the Village of Hogsmeade. In addition to being a favorite among Hogwarts students, it also serves as one of the secret passages out of the school.
What you’ll need: Honey Nut Chex mix, burgundy and yellow M&M's, novelty gummy candies like frogs and worms, mixing bowl and mini plastic cauldrons or small treat bags (available at craft or party stores)
Directions: Pour Honey Nut Chex Mix (or your own favorite party mix) into a large bowl. Add burgundy and yellow M&M's, gummy candies and any other novelty candies that you’d like to include. Stir and mix well. Serve from a large bowls/jars or fill individual treat containers with the mix.
Tip: Label the bowls of mix or individual treats with a special sign that reads “Honeyduke’s Treat Mix.”
Sorting hat house assignments
Just like the students in the books, use a Sorting Hat to “magically” assign party guests to one of the 4 houses of Hogwarts. This is a fun activity on its own, or a great way to break guests up into teams for party games and activities.
What you’ll need: Costume Sorting Hat, stool or chair, and buttons or badges representative of the 4 houses of Hogwarts: Gryffindor, Ravenclaw, Hufflepuff and Slytherin
Directions: Gather everyone around the Sorting Hat stool or chair. One by one, ask each guest to sit in the chair and place the Sorting Hat on their head. Next, have them close their eyes, reach into a bag and pull out a button or badge that bears the name of one of the 4 houses. This is the house to which they are officially “assigned.” Use the teams as table assignments or just for fun.
Tip: Create your own house badges by searching for the Hogwarts house crests online. Print and glue the crests onto nametags or use them to create your own buttons.
Magical creature hunt
Turn the “Care of Magical Creatures” class from Hogwarts into a fun party activity for the kids!
What you’ll need: Toy or candy creatures relevant to the wizard world, such as rats, frogs, snakes, owls, dragons and dragon eggs
Directions: Assign varying point values to each type of “magical creature” and hide them around the house or yard. For example, gummy rats = 1 point, toy snakes = 2 points and speckled dragon eggs = 3 points. Announce the point values before the game begins. Allot a short amount of time for the hunt and award special prizes to the kid(s) that rack up the most points.
Tip: Make sure to include a few extra-valuable creatures, such as a golden dragon egg, a large toy creature or Hedwig (Harry’s pet Snowy Owl).
Create your own Harry Potter photo booth, complete with various movie-inspired props for guests to dress up with and get their pictures taken!
What you’ll need: Large black sheet or curtain for the backdrop, duct tape, camera, “photographer” (usually mom or dad) and various costume elements such as school robes, toy owls, wizard hats, magic wands and Professor Moody’s mad eye patch
Directions: Use duct tape to affix your backdrop to a wall. Iron or steam out any wrinkles first to ensure the best results. Set the dress up items on a nearby table so that guests can pick and choose as they please. Encourage them to act silly and have fun while the photographer snaps pictures!
Tip: Include a copy of each guest’s photo when you send out the thank you cards. If you have access to a Polaroid camera, these photos also make for great “instant” take-home favors.
A real life magician!
Magic and fortunes and reptiles, oh my! What could be better entertainment for a room full of aspiring wizards?
What you’ll need: Kid-friendly entertainers and space for them to perform
Directions: Hire a magician to perform magic tricks or an animal trainer/care-giver that specializes in reptiles to give the kids a lesson in “The Care of Magical Creatures.”
Tip: Can’t afford to hire out? For a budget-friendly alternative, ask a friend or family member dress up as a fortune teller and pretend to read palms and give out fortunes.
Quidditch broomstick favors
As a nod to the most popular witches and wizard sport, send party guests home with their very own Quidditch broomstick.
What you’ll need: 2 standard lunch-sized paper lunch bags per broomstick, scissors, gold ribbon and candy or another treat filler
Directions: Trim 2” off the top of the paper bags. Open the first bag, push out the base until it forms a squared-off triangle shape and fold in the left and right sides to flatten it out. Starting from the top, cut the flattened bag into thin strips, stopping short of the base (just above the bottom crease).
Cut just the top of the second bag into thin strips, approximately 1.5” deep. Fill this bag with treats and place it inside of the first bag. Gather the sides of both bags, insert a pretzel rod in the middle and cinch the tops of the two bags together around the pretzel rod. Secure with gold ribbon.
Tip: To play up the theme, include gold foil-wrapped chocolate balls in the treat bags to represent the Quidditch “Golden Snitch” (a small, winged golden ball).
A version of this story originally appeared on iVillage.