Welcome back to the blog today! Is anyone else really getting in the mood for fall? With cooler temperatures finally here this week, I have enjoyed pulling out a few of my fall decorations and drinking a hot cup of apple cider! I’m a total geek when it comes to autumn and sometimes I wish this season lasted longer than it does.
As I mentioned in my last post, our oldest daughter turned 9 last week! Yikes! She is really growing into such a wonderful young lady and we couldn’t be more proud of her. She has such a fun, spunky personality and loves to read!
She started reading the Harry Potter series this summer and was determined to get through as many of the books as she could in 3 months. Well, she got through the first two. And considering they are roughly 300-400 pages each, that’s not too bad for a third grader!
I myself have read through the entire Harry Potter series – despite the fact that they came out when I was in college, these are still some of my favorite books. J.K. Rowling is an incredibly gifted author and her stories practically come to life on the page, and have inspired quite the following with major motion pictures, a theme park and millions of fans.
Although the books present a clear picture of the epic battle between good and evil, they also appear to support the use of magic and could be viewed as controversial to some. However, many other well-known Christian authors such as C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, and Charles Dickens have also written stories that deal with mythical and magical characters.
About half way through the series, the books do tend to get quite dark, as Harry and his friends are much older and facing much more adult circumstances. So I may have our daughter stop reading them at that point, until we feel she is mature enough to handle the content in the last few books.
If you are looking for an excellent resource regarding the Harry Potter series, I would highly recommend What’s a Christian to Do with Harry Potter? by Connie Neal. It explores the valid concerns some Christians have about the series, sorts out the fact and fiction at the center of the debate, discovers biblical answers that may surprise you, and teaches how you can tap into this powerful cultural phenomenon to help advance the kingdom of God. Neal is a very well-known, accredited Christian author who has worked for Focus on the Family.
But anyhow — all this aside — I was SUPER excited when my daughter requested a Harry Potter themed birthday party this year! Not only was it a fun theme to plan around, this was also her “golden” birthday. Turning 9 years old on Sept. 9th! Pretty neat, eh?
She wanted to have a “Golden Snitch” theme to her Harry Potter party – so naturally, we went with lots of gold stuff! Side note: if you haven’t read any of the books, a golden snitch is a small golden ball with wings that flies around the field in the game of Quidditch. This is a sport the students play in the book. If you like, you can read more about it here.
I am just going to hit on a few of the highlights from the party that made it extra special. This year was a family only party – we switch off every other year with a kid party – and so I tried to make it as magical for the grown ups as I could!
If you remember from the books and the movies, the Great Hall’s ceiling at Hogwarts is enchanted with floating candles. I wanted to recreate this look when guests arrived, so we did just that using some toilet paper tubes, string, battery tea lights and hot glue.
Signs & Banner
I found a cheap online printable through Etsy that included all the arrow signs from the village in the books, along with a Harry Potter theme birthday banner template. After a quick run through my laminator, they were much sturdier and I could work with them a bit easier. I used two empty cardboard wrapping paper tubes as the posts for the directional signs on top of the fireplace. And hole punched the sides of each letter to string the banner together.
I used the top of our fireplace mantle to recreate a scene that proved Harry Potter was in the house! Remember the part of the first book/movie when Harry gets his official letter(s) inviting him to attend Hogwarts? This was my attempt to recreate it! Including the snowy white owl & cage that looks just like Hedwig’s.
I hung plain white envelopes marked, “Mr. Harry Potter C/O Cupboard Under the Stairs” from strings attached to the ceiling.
Olivia was pretty excited to help decorate in any crafty way she could as well…the apple does not fall far from the tree. She made this very clever Nimbus 2000 broomstick as a decoration, as well as loaning me her favorite Harry Potter doll as a table prop.
We even found a cardboard Sorting Hat – sitting behind Harry – at our local craft store that we were pretty excited about.
Dinner was in the “Great Hall” and Olivia requested all of her favorites. We served up Meatloaf Cauldron Cakes, Professor Sprout’s Veggies & Dip, Forbidden Forest Fruit Salad and Dragon Deviled Eggs. We even cut cheese in the shapes of a sorting hat!
Olivia’s favorite drink is orange soda, so I tried to concoct a “goldish” looking punch using Sprite, Orange Soda, Lemonade and Orange Sherbet. Plus we had water and apple cider served with gold-striped cups and gold straws.
Another fun treat we served up with dessert was a Butterbeer station! I have always wanted to try it and now that I have I can say, it’s definitely an acquired taste! It’s extremely sweet and not too many people wanted a 2nd helping!
What birthday party would be complete without the sweets? I played up the snack table with a mini Honeydukes candy station including all the Hogwarts’ students favorite treats – every flavor jelly beans, jelly slugs, lemon drops and more!
We even had magic wands made out of pretzel rods, melted chocolate and golden candy stars!
And of course, the cake! Olivia really wanted her cake to be a recreation of Harry’s birthday cake from the first book & movie when Hagrid comes to visit him and take him to Hogwarts. I gotta hand this one to my mom – who totally nailed it – she loves making cakes for my kids’ birthdays and this was both delicious and spot on!
Then of course, there was the birthday school treat. I made golden snitch cupcakes using spice cake with caramel frosting and golden sprinkles. Then I cut gold wings for the sides to look just like the golden snitch. These were a big hit!
We wrapped up nine presents in gold wrapping paper – significant for her 9th golden birthday – and she got many other really nice, thoughtful gifts from our family as well. I love her reaction when she opened the gift from my parents! They know how much she loves horses and they had purchased tickets to a Dancing Horse show for her to attend with them. Priceless!
And of course, she also got some official Harry Potter memorabilia, including a wand that really lights up when you swish it!
We had purchased her a birthday gift/Halloween costume that she of course wanted to wear at the party. Lightning bolt scar and all!
Ultimately, it was a party that even a muggle – that’s code for non-magical folk – would be proud to attend. This golden snitch Harry Potter birthday came and went as fast as you can say, “Wingardium Leviosa!” And while it may have flew by, I am happy we were able to savor the moments celebrating our little golden girl!