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For an 11-year-old magic lover, a Harry Potter birthday party is essential. But in these weird times, a normal celebration wasn’t on the table. Here’s how we planned an outdoor party straight out of Hogwarts with plenty of safety measures and fun.
Party Planning in a Pandemic
The first step for planning this particular party was determining if we would even have guests. The girl’s school is meeting in person in small cohorts, so the whole grade never mixes.
She wanted to invite some kids from different cohorts and some from her own, so first I emailed the moms to make sure everyone was OK with an outdoor party with masks. They were, so the planning could begin.
I think the key to good parting planning in this time is just being really open with the other parents about what’s going to happen and how. I told them upfront how many people were invited, that they were all from school, that we haven’t been going places, that we would mask and social distance.
The kind of things I would want to know if my kid were invited to a party, right? It’s really just an extra level of disclosure we didn’t need before but that feels like the right thing to do right now.
Invites were sent via email, but I found this printable online. Totally cute, right?
Harry Potter Birthday Party Decor
Most of the planning had to do with decorations to set the theme. Because it was a Harry Potter birthday party we had a lot of options, but we kept it pretty simple.
Platform 9 3/4: the entrance to the party was through our backyard gate, so the girl drew a 9 3/4 symbol so kids could walk through the “wall” to begin their journey.
We also rigged up a wireless speaker to play train noises (thanks, husband!).
Journey to Hogwarts: the bottom part of our yard is a gravel path through trees, aka the forbidden forest, which opens up to the playset on top of a little hill (the castle).
Castle crest: for the side of the castle the girl made a crest out of posterboard. She painted it in school colors, then added cutouts of the different house animals she found online.
Tissue paper pompoms: to decorate the side of the deck, she made tissue paper pompom flowers. The smaller ones use the individual colors of each house, while the larger mixes them. This was actually the only supply (other than paper plates and napkins) that we had to buy for the party, we already had everything else!
Funny signs: To add to the fun we had some little signs around, such as Moaning Myrtle in the bathroom and a seat for Nearly Headless Nick to enforce social distancing on the patio.
Favors, Food and Activities for a Harry Potter Birthday Party
As part of the party favors for our guests, we made wands out of wooden dowels and beads. I used Sugru (they sent me a bunch to try out; a little more on it below) to attach the bead to the dowel. Husband also made some using wood putty and stain. These were decorate in various ways and the kids got to choose their own wand.
In addition to the wands, we also made chocolate frogs. Husband bought a frog candy mold a long time ago and we used melting chocolate to make our little frogs. So cute and delicious!
I also made them Harry Potter cloth face masks, because 2020.
For cake we did cupcakes so she could still blow out candles (from a safe distance, away from the guests) on her own cake. We used the marble cupcake recipe from Will Cook for Smiles and added powdered sugar icing colored green to resemble grass. Then we added a pretzel stick and a little chocolate drizzle to make a broom on top. So cute!
No one ended up playing it because they came up with their own things (and it was really bright in that part of the yard) but we also set up a “Quidditch” game with circles drawn on the fence in chalk they were supposed to throw a tennis ball to hit. I still thought it was a good idea!
Easy Homemade Wizard Wands
Of course we needed to have wands for out little wizards, and they were pretty easy to make. And I was pretty proud that we already had everything we needed in our house. (OK, to be honest, in my office.)
I filled the hole in the bead with Sugru and poked the dowel inside. In the pictures you mostly see white, but I also used some black, which was actually better because you can’t easily paint over it.
Let dry overnight (or at least a few hours) and decorate.
(You can also do this with wood putty or wood glue if you like.)
Some of the wands were decorated with varnish and paint, one got wrapped with yarn, and one was even spangled with some fingernail polish.
Kids got to pick their own and take it home.
Let them Be Kids
I know it’s a crazy weird time and we just want to keep our kids safe, but I feel like it’s really important to give them these little moments where they are still being safe but it feels normal.
It was really nice to get to have that for her Harry Potter birthday party even though it wasn’t exactly what we imagined. And these memories will hopefully be a bright spot when she looks back on this time years from now.
Have you had any celebrations during this time? I’d love to hear how you did it!