I tried my very best to keep it simple. Hey, I refrained from having any live animals at the party! So here is the VERY tempered and tamed version of the party I envisioned in my head.
For Will's 10th birthday, there was no doubt but that we would party around the central character of his heart and imagination, Harry Potter. I have lost count how many times this boy has read the series. He really oughta be on a Harry Potter version of Jeopardy. He seems to know EVERYTHING about it.
I had lots of inspiration from online sources, particularly Martha Shmartha.
First off: the invitations.
They are kinda tough to read, so here is what they say:
We are pleased to inform you that you have been invited to attend Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry for a special birthday event in honor of William H. Classes will begin on Friday, September 24th from 6 until 9 PM. You are to meet at 5555 Cherry Lane in Our Town, TN. There you will find Platform 9 ¾ which will take you directly to Hogwarts. Please come dressed in your best Hogwarts style robe, if you choose. Come and enjoy a feast in the Great Hall, and try your hand at Herbology, Charms, Potions and Defense against the Dark Arts. Please verify your attendance via Owl (firstname.lastname@example.org) or by Muggle phone system (555.5555).
I put these in the big manilla envelopes and we hand delivered them. I honestly thought that 5th graders would be "too old" for all this. but they were all about it!!! Will and I had a little misunderstanding regarding how many people he could invite so we ended up with 16 kids in all! WHOA! It ended up being fine but that was truly a LOT of kids.
As the invitation indicated, the kids were supposed to go through platform 9 3/4 to enter Hogwarts, so the entrance to our party had to be done. I copied the idea on Martha Shmartha and came up with this:
The brick is just an old grey sheet with red spray paint and black sharpie. Pretty easy!
When the kids came in, they were met by Professor McGonagall (me!) and a certain Malfoy/Snape hybrid (Jared!) and they received a folder and their schedules. (Snapefoy had a very authentic sounding accent and an amazing ability to capture the boys' attention.)
Dumbledore's office/orientation area
Snapefoy and a young wizard friend
The kids were very intent on their schedules and the excitement was obvious. Here is what they looked like:
The orientation was simply a welcome and "rules" by Snapefoy. We quickly took the kids into the living room where I sent Snapefoy on an undisclosed errand and told the boys it was time to be sorted into houses. I brought out the sorting hat. I had grand plans to make a very cool version of the sorting hat but ran out of time so I simply used a witches hat stuffed with paper with our baby monitor stashed inside. Jared hid upstairs and did his best sorting hat voice. SO awesome! The boys were stunned that the hat could actually talk and that it knew their names! So fun:)
After being sorted, Snapefoy took them outside where we had set up golden Quidditch hoops (hula hoops on wooden stakes stuck into the ground.) He combined 2 houses per team and taught them our version of Quidditch rules. I had painted a golf ball gold and I hid it well outside. While they played I was able to finish preparing the feast along with a very helpful sister-in-law, Carrie. We had just enough time to do so before someone found the snitch and practice was over.
For the feast, we prepared some tables in our keeping room. I had Jared string lights over it and it really gave it a magical feel. The feast consisted of (KFC) chicken, mashed potatoes, gravy, green beans, stuffing, rolls and of course BUTTERBEER! I was surprised at how excited these boys were to have a "feast" of their own. It was easy to prepare (everything was bought or out of a can or box) yet I think it made them feel special. The butterbeer was a HUGE hit with the kids. They loved how it looked and mostly how it tasted!
For the butterbeer, I just combined cream soda, ginger ale, butterscotch and dry ice in a bowl.
At this point in the party we realized that we were running short on time, so we decided to just do two of our classes. We split the group into two and Snapefoy taught the potions class and I taught the herbology class. I told the kids the good behavior and learning in the classes would earn them "Hogwarts Bucks" (monopoly money.) For potions, we just put a bunch of ingredients into unmarked jars and bowls and basically made up weird names for them on the fly. The first potion was just water, bubble solution and dry ice, which bubbles up wildly. The second we called the Veritaserum from the books and it was just pineapple juice, ginger ale and lime sherbet. The kids tasted it and they all loved it.
For herbology class, I just picked up a variety of plants (I made sure to get ones that I will use later) and researched which of them are edible and if they are harmful if ingested or not. I had the kids try and identify the plants and then at the end, I told them they could earn extra Hogwarts bucks of they were correct. The plants were: Corn Palm, Cilantro, Rosemary, Basil, Starflower Cactus, Bear Paw, Succulent, Aloe Vera, Irish Moss, Wooly Thyme, Viola, Garden Mums, and Japanese Painted Ferns. The discussion inevitably turned into what bodily functions one would experience if they ingested the wrong plants. :)
The kids received their "money" and we came in and enjoyed some cake (which they enjoyed but did not turn out like I hoped). Before we sang Happy Birthday, I brought out a "Time Turner" that I had found at a store. We went "back in time" to Will's real birthday. The kids cracked me up with this! They pretended I went too far back and turned them into babies. :) We got back to the almost present and sang to Will. (Will LOVES this Time Turner! He has been wearing it around ever since.) Then we told them they could decorate their folders and make magic wands. We wondered if they would be into this or not and they totally were. They loved personalizing their stuff and made a huge mess! :)
Will then opened presents and was smiling his cute super-grateful smile and thanking everyone profusely. I had had Zach and Tyson set up a Zonko's Joke Shop and Honeyduke's Sweet Shop and then rather than handing out favor bags, we allowed them to "shop" for their own stuff. I had removed some of the books off of our shelves for "merchandise" and brought out a table and just filled jars and bowls with all kinds of fun things. My kids had fun helping to set this up and Zach marked all the items with Monopoly money to indicate price. He was dressed up as Dobby the House Elf and was supposed to run the shop but the excitement got a little intense and the kids just ended up filling their bags pellmell. I actually loved this part. All the kids were a little hesitant at first and politely just took a few items but when they saw I was happy to have them go nuts with it, they did just that. I couldn't stop smiling! I loved seeing all that excitement and happiness.
That's pretty much it! Now we just need to get thank you notes out... :)
*Jared totally had a blast and stole the show! The kids really enjoyed his Snapefoy antics and I loved sitting with Jared on the porch post-party and seeing him just smile.