A *Brilliant* Harry Potter Birthday

I may be a muggle, but boy do I love me some Harry Potter. Our oldest read the entire series several years ago. John Paul just began book three and a few months ago, when he asked if we could do a Harry Potter themed birthday party, I’m pretty sure I even scared he-who-shall-not-be-named with my YES!

My Pinterest page got a workout and John Paul and I had an absolute blast putting all this together. Happy 9th birthday, John Paul!

It all started with these. At first, I cringed a bit when I mapped all the addresses and saw where we would be driving, but you know what? The benefit that I never accounted for were all the smiles we got. People don’t just “drop by” other folks’ houses anymore. So, to see the sheer joy when we pulled up with an owl and an acceptance letter from Hogwarts was priceless. I got to know some great moms a bit better, we set up a few playdates and happily drove to the next house. It may have just been my favorite part of the party planning. The supply list? White balloon, sharpie marker, twine, invitations and about 30 minutes. I freehanded the owl using one I found on Pinterest, designed the letter and signed Professor McGonagall’s name.

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9 3/4 Platform
When the boys arrived, we recreated a bit of the 9 3/4 platform, along with a little broomstick parking for our Quidditch match. One of the moms painted a broom and added “Nimbus 2013″ for her son to bring. *love* For the 9-3/4 platform, I purchased some brown fabric, dipped a large sponge in red paint and got to stamping. Just make sure you put a drop cloth down before painting. Fortunately, I took that advice from several other sources. We used an inexpensive tension rod to affix the wall to the door frame. I just couldn’t bring myself to cut the sheet, so we left it as is.

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Sorting Ceremony
We gathered the boys together for the sorting ceremony. We affixed a walkie talkie to the bottom of the stool and my husband was our “hat.” He was hilarious. The boys each received a house shirt with the applicable tie. At first, I thought I would have time to design these, but then I turned to Etsy. I printed the ties out on transfer paper using an inkjet print and then ironed them onto the shirts (just inexpensive Hanes t-shirts from Target). Lesson learned here? Use an injket printer, not a laser one. Um, yeah, I learn the hard lessons so you don’t have to y’all.

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Potions Class
I borrowed a cauldron from a neighbor and inserted some dry ice for a little dramatic effect. The boys claimed this as one of their favorite classes. There was an awesome idea on Pinterest to put a few drops of food coloring in each cup, let it dry, then add ice. When the boys came to class, we added “hippograf saliva” (Sprite in a colored bottle) to their cups and each cup turned a different color. For a little extra, we threw in some pop rocks. Why did I underestimate the power of colored Sprite and pop rocks on nine-year-old boys? Total hit. The best part is they really thought it was a potion and it wasn’t until we told them to drink it that they hesitantly took a sip. HA! So fun and so, so cheap.

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Magical Creatures Class
Boys love to run, so we gave them their chance in Magical Creatures class. Michael’s had an assortment of mini dragons and jungle animals, so we hid them throughout the backyard and then set the boys off in search of them. Lesson learned? Supervise your 3yo when he offers to help hide the creatures. That little stinker found some good places. It’s a good thing he remembered where they were hidden!

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One can’t really call it a Harry Potter party with a Quidditch match, right? Oh, I wish y’all could’ve seen my oldest and I at Academy asking the store clerk, “Soooo, where’s your Quidditch aisle?” After we told him about the match, he helped us find a quaffle, two bludgers and a perfect golden snitch. We made the rules super easy (found from Flax & Twine) and the boys really did pick them up lightning fast.

1. The broom must stay between your legs at all times.
2. Pass the Quaffle from player to player. You can take no more than three steps with the ball.
3. If hit by a bludger, you must freeze for three seconds.
4. If you catch the snitch, you win.

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We used two hula hoops, manned by parents as the goals for the quaffle. We teamed them up by house since we had four boys in each one. It worked beautifully and the boys had a blast. We completely lucked out with awesome, awesome February weather. 65 and sunny, no wind. Y’all do not know how much I prayed for pretty weather.

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Great Hall Feast
After all that house sorting, potion making, creature hunting and quidditch playing, I had some very hungry boys on my hands. We transformed our dining room into the Great Hall. We adorned the walls with the house flags made from felt and I crafted the Happy Birthday banner by scanning in the chapter pages from book one and then adding the letters in different colors. I removed all the chairs, added the table leaf and had them all stand for dinner. It made things so much simpler.

On the menu?  Butterbeer (yum-O!), Slytherin Snakes, Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor Beans, Ollivander’s Chocolate Wands, sandwiches, cookies and golden snitch cake balls by the fabulously talented Polkadots. I know, when I saw those snitches I may have passed out, too. The kids kept asking, “Can we eat the glitter?” And I replied, “Only if you want to see what happens after you do.” I spray painted a styrofoam ball red to act as my quaffle, cut off the bottom and then stuck all the snitches in it. Way easier than making a cake and having it fall apart! Hedwig even adorned the table.

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After some feasting and happy birthday singing, we sent the troops over to the party favor table.

Party Favors
The boys enjoyed a little taste of Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes by filling their bags with puking pastels, levitating lemon drops, pop rocks and, of course, wands. I’m only sad Fred and George weren’t on hand to pass them out.

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This is always my favorite part of the party. I’ve talked about this before. If party details were a love language, then it would mostly definitely be my top one. I must say that my husband was such a trooper. Every night the week of the party, after getting the kids in bed he turned to me and said, “What do you need me to do tonight?” I love you, sweetheart. Thanks for helping make this party so special for John Paul.

My buddy Jayme, a fellow party lover, had her husband build this for her son’s circus party. I asked if we could borrow it and transform it a bit. Love the way it turned out. Oh, and those “wands” were just birch from Michael’s that my husband cut into one-foot pieces. A sidenote about that table that holds the wands and shirts. My paternal grandmother was a huge lover of books (especially all things Hogwarts) and gave us our very first Harry Potter book. In it, she penned a sweet note. When she passed away two years ago, my parents gifted us this table from her house. In a way, it felt like her spirit was there. She would’ve loved this party.

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With some inexpensive yard stakes from Home Depot, a quick coat of black paint and a silver paint pen, I transformed these into directional signs with our favorite Hogwarts hotspots.

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Beyond all the party details, the shimmery snitches and the empty butterbeer mugs, a big hug from the birthday boy and a, “Mom, this was the best party ever” was all my heart needed to hear. It was a fabulous day celebrating a fantastic kid. John Paul, you are loved. Happy birthday, big man.

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Vendor Credits
Digital Harry Potter Tie Transfers: Chickadee Digital
Cookies, Cake Pops: Polkadots
Potion bottle printables: Over the Big Moon (free!)
Water bottle printables: Over the Big Moon (free!)



  1. says

    Holy Schmoly, Kathryn! That party was Magical! (And I’m being corny but also sincere.) You did an amazing job. Wow. You set the standard very high, my friend.

  2. Michelle F. says

    Fantastic party! How loved your son must feel that you gave so much effort on his behalf. Now, can you please do a HDYDI on where you find the time to plan and create such wonderful party in such a busy life?! (Seriously…I’m not kidding.) You must have non-stop energy!

    • says

      Um, some seriously late nights is my only secret. It took a few days to recover but I am SO hoping another child wants this party. Next time would be a breeze! Pinterest and I became BFFs. At one point, I just had to stop because there were so many awesome ideas. It’s not often that I love the theme as much as my kids. Harry Potter renewed the wonder of reading to two of my boys. A priceless gift. So, while it was work it didn’t feel that way. I felt like a kid again :)

  3. Kathryn Cunningham says

    I subscribed to your blog because of your Johnny Manziel post. It was wonderful to see the joy on your son’s face in the photo of him with Johnny Football.
    I just want to give you a big “atta girl” on your efforts for John Paul’s birthday party. You did a fantastic job and it all came from the love in your heart. Congratulations on a job well done.

  4. Nicole says

    Seriously AMAZING! What a fantastic party. I was so looking forward to this post, and it was beyond all expectations. Way to go, Mom! He will remember this party forever.

  5. Connie Hayley says

    When your kids are all in their 50s & 60s – they will remember the fantastic parties their fantastic Mom always managed to pull off! You amaze me still! <3 ya

  6. says

    I’m a big HP geek, so naturally I shed a little tear at the love poured into this amazing party. I especially loved the sorting, such a neat and I’m sure super fun touch! Wow oh wow. You made me want and need to reread my favorite books. So wish I could have joined in the fun. Great Job Team Whitaker! Is there a potion to make us into party superstars!? I loved JP’s reaction, so sweet. Thanks so much for sharing! btw, what/where is teh recipe for butterbeer!!!? CIao bella.

  7. Gabriel says

    MAN OH MAN!!! that is AWESOME i think when we have kids we may need to hire you to assist us since you will have few left for yours :D

  8. Mary Lee says

    So I started blog stalking you when you posted your open letter to Johnny Football, as I am a huge aggie football fan. I have now decided we need to be best friends. What a fabulous party! I am a HUGE HP fan!! I may or may not have sent this link to my husband so he knows what my expectations are for my 30th birthday coming up this year! :)

    • Kathryn says

      Friends, indeed. You love my two favorite things! I hope your 30th birthday is spectacular. And, thanks for stalking. Happy to have you here.

  9. says

    WHAT! This is insane! I found this post from Jen Fulwiler’s Quick Takes this week, in which she described your superior birthday parties, and boy do you deliver, Kathryn! The snitch cake pops, the invitations, the cute little cupcakes…love it all. Have a good weekend!

  10. says

    What great fun! We love our birthday parties too and I’ve kind of been a little sad that with all the fun themes my kids have chosen, Harry Potter hasn’t come up yet. Reading your post makes me want to cry in my butter beer, now. :)

  11. says

    2 years ago I went to harry potter world in Orlando and some of the things you had at this party were better than some of the awesome souvenirs they have there :) Ever since I first read one of the harry potter books I always wanted to play quidditch :) Such a fun birthday party!!

    • Kathryn says

      That was definitely the best part, Beth Anna. Quidditch was just such a blast to watch. We made so many great memories that day!

  12. Amy says

    Everytime I read the HP books, I imagine myself somewhere in the story. Well, this party would bring me fantastically close! I love, love, love all of these ideas, and I am hoping that my 15 month old little guy will be a HP fan one day so that I can bring that magical world to life for him!! Thank you so much!

  13. Lisa says

    Kathryn, I am in complete awe. This party decor looks amazing, and the party so much fun! You should be a professional party-thrower. :)

  14. says

    Hi, Kathryn! Bonnie sent me a link to your party and said she had showed you my blog post about my son’s HP party a year ago. Now he is turning 10 and I can’t believe it. We are doing something totally low-key this year; I don’t think I’ll ever live up to the HP party of his 9th year, so why try?! LOL. You did a fantastic job on this party. I definitely love all your graphic design touches that just make it look that much more professional and perfect! The Ollivander’s sign is awesome in particular. I totally agree about personally delivering invitations. That was so fun for my boys, and for the boys who were there to receive their owl post in person. :) Anyway, just wanted to say hello and great job!

  15. Caitlyn says

    That’s really cool, nice ideas there
    I’m turning 15 years old and I really want a Harry Potter birthday party, I just don’t want my friends to think my party’s babyish or something
    Any ideas
    Please help if you can

  16. LAL says

    So glad I found this! I did a HP party for my daughter last year and spent so many VERY nights working on all the details. She wants ANOTHER this year, (GAH!) but I was fretting “what are we going to do NOW?” Lots of things here we didn’t do last year, so I have some fresh ideas!

  17. Beccah says

    Wow! Amazing! I am helping my next door neighbor with a Harry Potter party for her 11th birthday, and I needed all the ideas I can get. This helped SO much! Thanks for sharing!!!

    • says

      Oh, good! I’m so glad it helped. It was THE most fun party to plan. We had an awesome time. I hope your neighbor’s party is just as fun.

      Happy planning!

  18. Sam says

    My sister and I are throwing my nephew a surprise 11th Harry Potter birthday party… Your ideas are amazing! I hope our party turns out half as cute as yours did. :)

  19. Lisa '93 says

    BEST PARTY EVER!! I am making my 5 year old wait until she is 6 before we start reading the first one together (as she will still need help w/ the reading, not to mention I LOVE this series). I only hope she asks for a similar party one day.

  20. Stacey Funt says

    THANK YOU for sharing!!!! What a fabulous party you put together!! My son’s Harry Potter party for his 10th brithday is this Sunday and I can’t tell you how helpful your website has been!! the invitations were a huge hit. We dripped wax on the back of the envelopes to seal and tiede to the balloons. I am not going to the full extent that you did but I did get the iron on ties from Estsy and made the T-shirts. We only did two houses since we didn’t want to put anyone in slytherin. We made the wands from the birch at Michaels’ as well. We got a great sorting hat on amazon.com and bought rings for the boys for the houses as well. I am making my signs now. I bought a brick wall covering also on amazon.com that is like a huge plastic table cloth. I printed out a 9 3/4 sign to hang on it and it looks fabulous! We are going to show the first movie at the party. Afterward, they will go through the 9 3/4 brick wall to the basement. We will do the wand selection at Daigon Alley and then have the hat sorting ceremony. We’ll probably think up one more thing and then have food and cake before going outside for Quidditch. The whole party is four hours since the movie is so long. I bought a cake kit for the Hogwartz castle also at Amazon. I got a frog candly mold on amazon as well and will make chocolate frogs. THANK YOU AGAIN. Your ideas were fabulous.

    • says

      Stacey, that sounds like an awesome party! I’m so happy to hear the ideas were a help – I copied many of mine from some great sites. Have a blast!

  21. Patty Probert says

    Hello! I’m planning a HP party for my soon to be 8yo son..I’ve been scouring Pinterest for ideas and your party ideas are truly fabulous! Thank you for sharing. Can you tell me how you made the gift bags? I can see you hand stamped the names but is the tie a printable? I love the tie theme!

    Thank you,

    • says

      Patty, thank you! I hand stamped the names and for the ties, I used the printables from Chickadee Digital (linked at the bottom of the post). Instead of printing them on transfer paper, like I did for the shirts, I printed them on cardstock, cut them out and taped to the bags. Perfect fit! Have a blast.

  22. Moiza says

    How did you do the water bottle labels!! They are amazing…. really great ideas for my daughter’s 10th birthday party I’m planning. Hope I can do half as much as you can.

  23. erika says

    WOW WOW WOW!!!!!! This party looks amazing! Do you adopt other muggles? If so, my birthday is coming up! I’ll be 34….but I could always use another mom to throw me a party like this!

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  1. [...] Harry Potter, baby! I finally blogged about our 9-year-old’s big day. To say it was the most fun party ever may be true. Quidditch, edible glittery snitches and pop rock potions made for one fun day. The birthday boy and I had a grand time putting it together. Mischief managed. Maybe. [...]

  2. [...] Monday for 40% off from The TomKat Studio. You can pick them up at any craft store or via Amazon. They’re great when making your own food labels or thank you notes. I’ve even used mine to cut out unique shapes for colored banners, crafted from paint [...]

  3. […] that room gets a fair share of love. It’s been filled with rainbows, transformed into Hogwarts’ Great Hall, loaded down with food for various holidays and we’ve shared some serious Sacrament […]

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