Sunday, August 3, 2014

my...err...umm...annie's harry potter party

So in 2001, I was working in San Francisco and had a 45 minute BART (subway) ride into work.  I was always looking for things that were easy to read since I had a difficult time concentrating on a jostling subway ride...I blew through some James Patterson paperbacks, and every week I scanned the very intellectual "People" magazine, but I still needed some new things to read.  Finally, I gave in to the hype, and read the first Harry Potter book, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone.  I was HOOKED!  I finished that book the very day of the movie premiere, on November 16, 2001, and insisted that the hubs take me to see the movie on opening night.  It was so awesome!  That was the day that I decided that our then-nonexistent children would have Harry Potter birthday parties.

Annie was born on December 31, 2003.  It became clear pretty quickly that the kid was bright; she was reading by age two, without really having to be taught.  In short order, she became a voracious reader.  However, when she was 8 years old, and was blowing through books left and right, she absolutely, positively refused to even entertain the thought of reading Harry Potter.  I tried for months.  Suffice it to say that I. Was. CRUSHED!  How could I possibly have my...err...umm, her Harry Potter birthday party if she wouldn't even read the books?  I was desperate!  Finally I tricked her into watching the first movie, and then she was hooked!  She read all seven books in eight days.  Yes, that's right.  Eight days.  All 4,224 pages of the series.  Just incredible.  And with that, a fan was born, and the thoughts of a Harry Potter party were dancing in both of our heads!

So we decided to hold her party a couple of months past her 10th birthday.  I needed the sugar coma that is Christmas to wear off, and then we had to get past the school musical.  It also gave me a little extra time to prepare since the party ended up being a costume party and sleepover.  Then the fun began...

First I came up with an invitation, incorporating a lot of internet research and a little bit of imagination:

I devised a Hogwarts "school schedule" for the party, providing structure and smooth transitions.  While this doesn't allow for much "free time" for the kids, a structured party flows much more smoothly and predictably.  Situations where elementary school children are left to their own devices rapidly tend towards chaos.  That's not always a bad thing, but it makes this control freak mama crazy. So schedules are good for my psyche...or something like that.  The kids, (who crave structure, as we're always told by "the experts"), enjoyed the schedule, and would frequently ask, "What class is next?"  I call that a score for me!

I didn't give Annie a whole lot of details because I wanted her to be (at least a little) surprised.  First there was a Sorting Hat ceremony (complete with House neckties):

House Ties

Sorting Hat, courtesy of my Dad!
Then the magic wands chose their wizards (Annie and I made all of the magic two were alike).  
Sorting Hat & Wand Ceremonies

In order to pull this off, I enlisted the help of family and good friends to play the professors and other characters. We had Professor McGonagall (Transfiguration Professor - class included time in the "Transfiguration Booth" transforming pill shaped objects into animals through the use of a magical liquid), Professor Trelawney (Prophecy Professor - she told the future of each student based on tea leaves), Professor Snape (Potions Professor, who used a wide range of "magical" ingredients) and the voice of the Sorting Hat.

Professor Snape, Potions Professor

Potions Classroom

Professor McGonagall, Transfiguration Professor
Getting into character for the Transfiguration Booth...the Harry Potter lightning bolt.

Transfiguration Booth success!

Professor Trelawney, Divination Professor

Laurie & her Rachel

Another good friend (Rachel) came to care for Laurie during the party.  And my mom was absolutely invaluable. I think that the adults (and one teenager) had just as much fun as the kids. It would not have been nearly as great without everyone helping out!!

We had a Grand Feast that included the ever-famous Butterbeer and a chocolate sheet cake (like the kind that Mrs. Figg made for Harry Potter when the Dursleys would leave him with her).  Laurie even sang "Happy Birthday" to Annie :)

I think that the biggest hit of the party, by far, was being able to visit the legendary Honeydukes, the famous sweet shop in the all-wizarding village of Hogsmeade.  There were all sorts of yummy treats just perfect for wizards:

Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Beans (Jelly Belly jelly beans)
Chocolate Cockroach Clusters (chocolate covered peanuts)
Ton-Tongue Toffee (salt-water taffy)
Drooble’s Best Blowing Gum (gumballs)
Fizzing Whizzbees (super-sized Sweet-Tarts)
Snitch Truffles (Ferro-Rocher with construction paper wings attached)
Licorice Wands (Twizzlers)
Chocolate Frogs (made with a chocolate mold in the shape of a frog)
Unicorn Pops (the long swirly lollipops)
Peppermint Toads (made with the same chocolate frog mold, but with the addition of crushed candy canes)
Sugar Quills (rock candy on a stick)
Werewolf Fangs (candy corn)
Dragon Eggs (larger "Robin Eggs" that you get at Easter)
Jelly Slugs (both sweet and sour gummy worms)
Dumbledore’s Lemon Drops (self explanatory)
Magic Wands (chocolate covered pretzel rods)

The kids had tiny cauldrons in which to put the Bertie Botts Every Flavour Beans.  They were also given bags to load up with the rest of the treats, which included non-edible items, such as Harry Potter glasses and Potions "books."


Even better with candlelight

We ended the evening with a showing of "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone," while the girls all hunkered down in their sleeping bags in the family room (imagine eight very chatty, very sugar-highed 9 & 10 year old girls all in the same room...all with Type A personalities...lots of deep breaths were taken).  In the morning, there were "magic" pancakes and bacon (basically pancakes cooked with the bacon inside), and then karaoke.

After years of imagining and planning, the party went smoothly.  It was SO. MUCH. FUN!  I felt like a little kid.  And even though I was exhausted, I was so incredibly sad to see it end.  Annie has proclaimed that she would like to have another Harry Potter party next year, so perhaps we'll do it all over again.

It makes me wistful that I will not be able to give the same party to Laurie, more than likely.  I'm ever-hopeful, but completely realistic about this.  But I did throw a rockin' Abby Cadabby swim party for her...that's definitely more her speed at the moment.

When I do something for my girls, I give it my all, and then some.  I have a tendency to go a bit overboard...all of their birthday parties reflect this.  But this party was my pride and joy.  I was told that I set the bar for all other birthday parties, which made me laugh.  We'll see what I can dream up next time...

1 comment:

  1. Your girls are so lucky to have you for their mom!! What an amazing party - one that Annie will never ever forget!! (If you see a comment from the name Cleveland it was me .....must be my son's google account name?! But really it was me.) I love reading your blog!!!