I really wanted to do a Harry Potter themed 1st Birthday Party because well, my son’s name is Harry and I love Harry Potter. Also, by the time he is 10 or 11 and would appreciate the effort, he probably won’t even like Harry Potter (please don’t let this be true).
Hence why I decided to do this now, even though it took a lot of time to plan and I was stressed about going back to work and him starting daycare at the same time. I really wish I had planned the birthday party date to be before I went back to work because there were so many last minute details that literally kept me up all night and I needed the extra time. This brings me to my first point if you want to plan a Harry Potter Birthday Party or any birthday party of your own…
PLAN, PLAN, PLAN!
Make a list of everything you need. First thing is first, a list of your invitees and a list of possible venues. I chose a community centre with a rustic feel, but I could probably have done it at home and saved the $. The reason I chose not to go with our home was because it is a bit small and I did not want to deal with the mess, cleaning up to make it look pretty, and then another mess after the party. If planning for someone older, a pub would be another great choice.
Contact the venues to get prices and availability at least 2 months before the party to make sure you get the spot you want. With community centres, there was paperwork, a deposit, and a liquor license that I had to fill out. All of this takes time so give yourself as much wiggle room as possible.
I got the perfect invite from Etsy. I paid $20 for the file and created a Facebook event, then sent out the invitations. If I didn’t have someone on my list of friends, I asked my hubby or MIL to add them, or just sent them a friend request. For people not on Facebook, I got their e-mail and sent them the Etsy invitation. If there were someone who didn’t have Facebook or e-mail, I would’ve printed the invite and mailed it to them, but luckily only my parents fit in that category so they didn’t get an official invite.
I had to literally scour the internet for decorations because Party City does not carry the Harry Potter theme in Canada which is super disappointing. I found some stuff on Amazon and eBay but the bulk of my Harry Potter decorations were purchased from Open A Party, the other stuff was from good ol’Dollarama.
Think about how many people you are inviting and if you need tables, what layout you would like that would match your space. I decided on a dessert head table with long tables in front in 4 rows to look like the Hogwarts great hall. 1 row had food and drinks, 2 were for guests and the last one was a kids colouring/games table and a table for presents. I also had a table at the entrance to welcome guests and to place the loot bags.
Items I bought
- 1 Harry Potter themed plastic tablecloth
- Happy Potter napkins
- 9 plastic tablecloths in blue/red
- Harry Potter themed dinner/dessert plates/paper cups
- plastic cutlery and serving utensils
- 6 themed centrepieces
- 4 themed hanging decorations
- 1 themed Happy Birthday banner
- 2 themed balloons from eBay and Open A Party
- more balloons from Party City
- pin the golden snitch game
- HP themed loot bags
- various themed loot bag items
- wooden broom
- Birthday outfit
There was SO MUCH food. So much, that most of the food I spent all of Saturday making, didn’t even make it out to the guests. We had leftovers for days. Part of the reason was that my mother kept telling me that there wasn’t enough food. The other reason was that my MIL had made so much food that people were too full to eat mine. I know this doesn’t sound like a big problem but it is if you only have 1 fridge and nowhere to put all of it!
I made shepherd’s pie, sausage rolls, sweet potato casserole (not technically a Harry Potter recipe but it was magical), jello, cheese broomsticks, and most important of all, the Harry Potter birthday cake that Hagrid gave to Harry in the first movie. The only things that people actually saw or ate were the sausage rolls, the broomsticks and the cake. The cake and the shepherd’s pie were the most time-consuming, so keep that in mind, but I did save some cash doing the cake myself.
I also created a food menu and drinks menu, you can print it for yourself here -> Food & Drinks Menu
Unfortunately, in all the commotion, some drinks didn’t get made as they were supposed to. This was partly because of lack of planning, that there were too many chefs in the kitchen at the time, and that I was just too tired to remember.
We had spent a lot of time perfecting our butterbeer recipe so this was one of the most disappointing things for me post-party. I will share the Butterbeer and food recipes in the next post.
The kids enjoyed the colouring table but the games did not work out as well as I had hoped. I think the reason was that I did not go and tell the kids to play the pin the golden snitch game and that whoever won would get a prize. Another planning issue! What they seemed to like the most was beating the pinata with the wooden broom.
I’m telling you right now that I spent DAYS on this pinata. Would I do it again? Nope. Was I glad that I did it once just to see the amazement on everyone’s face and on my little guy’s? Yes, that made it almost worth it…LOL.
The problem with making the pinata is that it kills your back, takes days to make, all for a few minutes of kids whacking it and breaking your masterpiece. The biggest problem for me was that the balloon kept inflating and deflating so the paper mache kept cracking and I had to keep repairing it. I couldn’t wait until it was over.
Actually, I was so afraid of it breaking right before the party that I waited until the last minute to attach the wings. Yes, I left in the middle of the party, went home, attached the wings, waited till the glue dried, rushed back to the party, and guess what? A wing broke in the car! So if transporting, make sure someone has a hand on it, or that it cannot move at all.
The reason I had to make one instead of buying the premade ones from Party City or Bulk Barn was because of its shape. I could not find any premade pinatas that were spherical. They were all flat. However, next time I will just buy one of those, print my desired image and glue it on top of whatever they have there. That would have saved me so much time and stress.
We also had the theme music playing during the party and then the first movie played through a projector on the wall. The kids dug it.
Ask for help, you are going to need it. Plan everything well in advance- lists are your friend, especially if the party is not at home AND you are making food and a pinata!
Designate roles for the friends/family that are assisting you. You don’t want to miss out on important moments because you forgot to ask someone to take pictures like your baby’s first piece of cake!
Next post will have details on the recipes so that you could make your very own delicious chocolate cake with no food colouring.
I’d love to hear what you think, please leave comments below!