With “The Wizarding World of Harry Potter” growing in popularity (thanks in part to Universal Studios, Los Angeles) we’ve seen a huge uptick in Harry Potter themed parties, both for kids’ birthdays and adults.
What I love about this theme is that it’s got built-in immersive qualities, and I think it works well at any time of year — when it’s hot in L.A., create your own “Hogwarts” classroom indoors, or when the temps are cooler, set-up a “Quidditch” field outside.
But there’s so much you could do with this theme, it could be overwhelming to the novice party planner. So let’s boil it down to the (somewhat) basics: here are what I think are the 7 most magical elements that’ll bring any Harry Potter party to life.
1. Make your Party Venue Look Like “Hogwart’s Great Hall”
Hang house banners of Gryffindor, Ravenclaw, Hufflepuff and Slytherin to set the scene. Candelabras, and of course candles floating from the ceiling, create the mysterious, enchanted look of the great hall.
How do you get the candles to “float”, you may be asking. A little fishing wire, and remote controlled battery operated candles will do the trick.
2. Sort Guests into “Hogwart’s Houses”
Of course the real sorting hat lives at Hogwart’s Castle, but you can still decipher which house your guests belong to with either a fun, quick quiz, or even more simply by having them pull slips out of a toy sorting hat.
We like this quiz from Puddle Wonderful Learning to figure out whether attendees are loyal and brave like Hufflepuffs, or sneaky and self-serving like Slytherins.
3. Hire “Hogwarts” Inspired Characters
Nothing brings a Harry Potter themed party to life like having costumed, look-alike character actors to portray “Hogwart’s students”, as long as they can commit to the role and speak in a standard British accent without breaking.
Kids (and now adults who were once kids growing up with the Harry Potter books) love to meet “real” Hogwart’s students, especially when they teach them wand movements for spells and then perform some magic right in front of their eyes.
Plus, the character photo opps can’t be beat!
4. Give Out “Magic Wands” as Party Favors
This is a great two-for-one idea, because not only do wands from “Ollivander’s” make the perfect, affordable party favor, but guests can play with them throughout the party.
Create spell stations, similar to the alleys in the Wizarding World amusement park, or just put up a poster showing various wand and charm movements. You can either make your own (hot tip: bamboo chopsticks, hot glue and paints are all you really need to create a faux wand) or buy a set — we love these detailed wands from Gracie Bell Magic.
5. Play a Game of Quidditch
Admittedly, the game of “Quidditch” is pretty complex, but with a few hoops, some red solo cups, a table and some ping pong balls, you can easily set up a game of “Quidditch pong” to play inside or out.
These Potter-pong instructions by Bustle seem like a good way to go, and for the three hoops you can use bottles, dowel rods, embroidery hoops and gold spray paint to DIY this project.
6. Put Young “Wizard Students” in a Mock Charms Class
If there’s one thing our company, Papillons Entertainment, has learned after all of the Harry Potter themed parties we’ve helped to plan, is that kids love learning all about the spells from the books and movies. In fact, they willingly sit down, at a table, and stay there for THE WHOLE CLASS! Too bad kids don’t tend to love real school this much.
And for the ambitious, you could create several different classes, such as Care of Magical Creatures, Defense Against the Dark Arts, Divination, etc. We like this simple, but charming looking bridal shower centerpiece as featured on Hostess with the Mostess.
7. Theme Your Food & Beverages to “The Three Broomsticks”
And finally, there’s no universe that has brought us so many iconic, fictional foods as the Harry Potter universe. From chocolate frogs to butter beer, themed foods are an absolute must for your party.
Go all out and set-up butter beer on-tap following one of the recipes on this list or keep foods to a basic with this helpful list from Mom Always Finds Out. And if your Harry Potter themed party is a dinner party, wedding, or anything else where you’d like your guests to enjoy a hot meal, you can’t go wrong with English staples like Shepherd’s Pie and big ol’ turkey legs to create a feast worthy of “Hogwart’s Great Hall”.
Now if reading all of this has you shouting “Accio Advil!” (because party planning, for most people, is more headache than magic), we’d love to help ease your pain.
Use our contact form below and we’ll get you a quote for our team of professional SoCal/Los Angeles based party planners to handle as much or as little of your Potter party as you’d like.
With Papillons on the job, we solemnly swear, we’ll have you shouting “mischief managed” in no time at all!