Thursday, April 23, 2015

Harry Potter Party - The Decorations

Where to start was not the question I kept asking myself as I planned this Harry Potter themed birthday party. It was where to stop that I struggled with.

I had pins and lists and printouts of crafts and foods and favours that I wanted to make for the party. In the end a few of the more labour intensive (goodbye fake brick wall entrance) and expensive ideas were struck off the list but that didn't mean we weren't working until the last minute.

The party was to start at 5pm on Friday night so my day was spent doing final prep.  We were surprised to find out that many of the kids coming to the party had neither seen the movies nor read the books. That meant that a lot of the amazing little touches might go over their heads.  But they wouldn't be missed by our girls.

Some of our favourites:

Spiders Flee Before It

Apparently there is a basilisk loose in our home because all the spiders are clamoring to escape...

A bag of dollar store spiders and some double sided sticky foam was all that was needed to create this illusion. Hubby had the brilliant idea of adding some black paper in the corners of the rooms as the holes the spiders were either coming from or heading for.

Platform 9 3/4

While we dropped the idea for a brick wall - we finally found a use for this amazing silver trunk we can't seem to find a permanent home for. I just printed out some initials and the Hogwarts crest for added authenticity.

The Platform 9 3/4 sign was downloaded from here. It prints on 2 letter size pieces of paper and we glued it to a piece of foam core from the dollar store.


This was the first thing the kids saw when they set the scene. I thought "Hedwig" in her very small cage was a nice addition.

Class Signs:

The girls wanted to help us create some of the decorations and we needed to find something that didn't require precise cutting or gluing.  So we let them design and decorate the classroom signs.

These were just printed in black and white, cut out and glued onto cardboard "scrolls" that hubby freehanded.  After they were glued on the girls used pencil crayons and their Airbrush markers to decorate them.  We hung them over each entrance way.

Floating Candles:

This was one of the first Harry Potter craft ideas I saw and I was the most excited about.  You can find a very detailed technique here.  Or you can follow our very simple instructions.

1. Collect toilet paper rolls and ask others to save theirs for you.

2. Buy LED tealight candles at the dollarstore

3. Wrap toilet paper rolls with white printer paper (NOT cardstock) and tape it down. Freehand a dripping wax pattern around the top.

4. Secure LED tealight to inside of toilet paper roll with masking tape. The top of the tealight should be even with the top of the tube.

5. Wrap fishing line or white thread around the "wick" of the candle and hang from the ceiling using push pins.  Best to hang them in a darker area of the house like a hallway to get the best effect.

6. Turn LED lights on with a chopstick.

7. TA-DA!!!! Floating freakin' candles.

this is the best photo we were able to get of the floating candles in the dark. it really doesn't do them justice.

The Cakes

Usually we do cupcakes for birthdays. And I thought about doing that this year and either using cupcake toppers or turning them into little cauldrons or something.

But the in end my girls each asked to have their own cake. A 2 layer cake - one chocolate and one vanilla - with different coloured frosting for each. And the writing on the cakes were to match that of Hagrid's cake for Harry. Spelling mistakes and all.

Considering this was my first time making a two layer cake - let alone TWO of them - I think they turned out pretty great!

Little Touches:

Happy Birthday Banner
I got the banner at Target and used my handy dandy stencils to outline the letters.

Potions bottles with handwritten labels
The kids wrote on chalkboard labels from Target and stuck them on dollar store bottles. "Gillyweed" "Felix Felicis" & "Polyjuice Potion"

Owls in cages...

Drink labels - found here:

Gryffindor Colours for the food table:

It was a lot of work but when we put it all together we were quite happy with the final product. 

Other posts:

Monday, April 20, 2015

Harry Potter Birthday Party Recap

Wow...what a party. It took weeks of planning and plenty of late nights spent crafting but the looks on the kids faces - especially of my own girls - made it worth every minute of my time put into it.

To quote our youngest party go-er - it was the "best. party. ever."

As I said in a previous post I was so thrilled to find Marty Carew and his company - Young Wizards Academy. I knew it would be the perfect addition to the party.

And they did not disappoint. Marty  - aka Professor Marty McGonagal - and his assistant - Professor Trelawney - arrived right on time and were in character from the moment they arrived.

They even parked out of view of the house so that no one would spot them getting out the car.  They came up the stairs with the Harry Potter theme music playing and all of the kids were immediately intrigued.

As Professor Trelawney headed straight for the kitchen to set up all the ingredients for Potions lesson, Professor McGonagal got right into the sorting ceremony with the kids.

This was the first of many times where I saw a Harry Potter newbie really get pulled into the magical world. The hat talked. It moved. It was funny.  The kids LOVED it. They didn't even mind if they wound up in Slytherin.

After each child was sorted they were given a robe with their house crest on it and then told to pick a wand.  Once they had their wands it was time to teach them how to use them.

Wand Training 101 consisted of learning proper pronunciation of spells, the very important swish and flick motion, and most importantly that if you concentrate very hard you can actually break glass.*

* safely and in a plastic bag it should be noted...but still they broke the glass!

After wand training we took a quick break for refueling and a few trips to visit Moaning Myrtle in the girls lavatory...and then it was off to Potions Class.

The Potions element of the  party is a new offering for Young Wizards Academy and it is amazing. If you book a Harry Potter party (and you should do so right NOW) book the Potions Party.  This was - according to most of the kids - the "totally coolest" part  of the party.

And if  you had seen the looks on their faces as they added that one secret ingredient to the Invisibility Potion that turned it from dark blue to clear immediately you would know what I'm talking about. It was just darned impressive!

The kids made three different potions in total and each one had a completely different set of ingredients and instructions.

After potions we took another quick snack break.

One thing I would do differently next time is make sure the kids were fed before the Young Wizards Academy arrived and started the party. It was long - and while none of the kids got bored (not even a little bit) - they were hungry and I had to interrupt the natural flow of the party to accommodate that a few times.

The party was now nearing an end and the kids had ultimate confidence in their wizarding ability by this time which meant it was a perfect time for a treasure hunt, one last group spellcast and some photo opps.

The photo opps were great...they brought the sign with them:

And with that we all bid a fond farewell to Professors McGonagal and Trelawney.

The best testimonial I can give you for their impact on the kids:

My 9 year old told me later that she's pretty sure they "are actually real wizards and are pretending to be pretend wizards teaching kids so that no one knows they actually have magical powers."

Maybe my love...maybe...

After that we sang happy birthday twice, ate lots of cake, and sent 12 kids away from our house knowing they will forever be Harry Potter lovers.

We couldn't have made that happen without the Young WIzards Academy. If you live in the lower them. It's worth every penny. They are a new business and need are support. We need more Muggles like Marty and Cheryl bringing magic into our kids lives.

Next year: Jedi training.

Young Wizards Academy
Marty Carew - 778.846.9400

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Nine Years Ago....

Almost exactly 9 years ago I was 33 weeks pregnant with my first baby and lying in a hospital bed at BC Women's Hospital. And I was scared.

My husband had gone home earlier that night thinking we were facing a long hospital stay for me as I battled pre-eclampsia and tried to get to 36 weeks before having our baby.

But how quickly things can change...because I had just been told that I would likely need to have to have an emergency c-section the next day and that my baby would be born 7 weeks prematurely.

I decided to let him sleep at least a few hours before calling with the news that would change our lives. And so I faced the next few hours alone with my own thoughts and fears.

I felt like a failure. Like I had already failed as a mother because I couldn't even keep my baby safe in my own belly.

The only reason my baby had to come early was because it would help ME get better.  Delivering the baby was the only way to halt the effects of the pre-eclampsia that were damaging MY body.

And it made me feel selfish. Like I was somehow putting myself before my baby and wasn't one of the most important parts of being a mother that you put your children first no matter what?

I worried the baby would be too small to survive. That there would be long term affects from the early delivery.

I worried my husband would resent me for my failure to keep our baby secure and maybe never forgive me.

I worried I would never forgive myself.

I worried about everything.  Until finally around 4am my mind finally allowed me to sleep for a few worry-less hours.

The morning was a whirlwind...of doctors and nurses and surgery preparation and scary thoughts...and then it was time.

And at 12:04pm my beautiful firstborn daughter arrived.

Tiny but strong. Weak but strong-willed. She amazed me with her strength from the very beginning and she is still amazing me every day.

Nine years....and I still remember those few hours like it was yesterday.

And it reminds me that I never want to feel like I failed my children like that again.

Happy birthday to the girl that made me a mama for the first time. And changed my life forever.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Harry Potter Party - Goody Bags

After deciding to forgo our plans of a small birthday celebration and instead throw the best Harry Potter themed birthday party EVER I needed to get started on the planning.

And where does one get the help it needs to throw the best party EVER? To Pinterest of course...and I was not disappointed. I found so many great party ideas I was overwhelmed with choices.

To help clear things up I decided to focus on one party element - the goody bags - and head out shopping to see what supplies I could actually find and use.

First stop was Michael's and I was in luck...I found these awesome little bottles on sale for $0.50 each. Perfect little potion bottles.  An online search for "Harry Potter Potion Bottle Labels" helped me find this awesome free printable from Chica and Jo.  Thanks ladies!

I printed them on a full label sheet and cut them to fit on the bottles. Then I put my girls to work attaching the labels. Most of them went on straight...and I think the finished product turned out great.


After my shopping trip turned up nothing else that really tickled my fancy I turned to Amazon and found exactly what I needed.

Wizard Glasses...obviously:

And these awesome little broomstick pens:

Then there was the matter of the candy. There are so many great candy items in the books that we had to shorten the list considerably. Originally we thought about having a candy table where all the kids could fill up bags with candy but decided that could get a little crazy.

So instead I created labels for each type of candy and we bagged them up and labeled them separately. The types of candies were determined by what our local dollar store had in stock.

You can order real Bertie Bott's Every Flavour Beans online...we did that for Christmas a few years ago. But I didn't really want to incur that expense for just one element of the goody bags. They aren't cheap.

You can download the lables for free:

Bertie Bott's Every Flavour Beans
Sour Spiders
Acid Worms
Ton Tongue Toffees
Drooble's Best Blowing Gum

They are sized at 2" wide x 4" tall and I just folded them in half and stapled them to the bags of candy. Easy peasy...

Here are the finished goody bags:

I bought labels to help seal the bags shut and will have the girls write the names of their friends on them.

5 days until party day...yikes!