Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Graham's Harry Potter Junior Wizarding Birthday

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Graham turned 6 last month, and he has been begging for a Harry Potter birthday party for a long time. Since most of his friends haven't ventured into Harry Potter territory yet, we decided upon a day of "junior wizard training," and we turned our backyard into a mini-Hogwarts for the occasion. Unfortunately, the day of his party, we were all violently ill with a stomach virus, so we sent some early morning texts to reschedule for the next weekend. Luckily, almost everyone was able to come to the make-up party!

When guests arrived, they passed through Platform 9 3/4 and got right to work on making wands.

At our wandmaking station, I put out chopsticks and beads. When the kids figured out how they wanted their wand, they took their materials over to my mom, who graciously hot-glued everything together. When the wands dried, the kids painted them.

While the paint dried on the wands, we moved on to our Potions lessons.

I found some great ideas for Potions experiments here, adapting good ol' Mr. Wizard-style science with magical names and ingredients. We experimented with "fleeing spiders" (pepper acromantula eggs sprinkled in water and "driven away" by basilisk venom, or dish soap if you're a muggle):

We had fun with "dancing milk" (YouTube it), or in this case, Unicorn Milk and Phoenix Tears.

You just can't beat a good ol' baking soda and vinegar (er, Erumpet Horn and Wolfsbane Draught) explosion. It excites the kids Every.Time.

Kids were waiting on cake just to do the "explosion" over and over again. This is a good, cheap rainy day activity you can do at home, party or not. Vinegar and baking soda; what could be simpler?

We had a cauldron of dry ice in the middle of the potions table, and then we enjoyed dumping soap and any remaining liquids into that for a little "bubble, bubble, toil and trouble" sudsing action.

Finally, it was time for some singing of "Happy Birthday" and eating of cake! Look at this amazing owl cake my mom made for Graham! She also made "cauldron cakes"--chocolate cupcakes with chocolate-peanut butter ganache spilling over the sides, and a chocolate licorice handle, and some owl cupcakes with mini Oreo eyes.

Graham is so lucky to have such great grandparents, and I was so grateful not to have to  make any cakes!

At the food table, we also had broomstick bags of popcorn and some veggie snacks.

Drinks were over on the Three Broomsticks table. We served Butterbeer (cream soda, butter and rum extracts, and whipped cream), Pumpkin Juice (orange-carrot V8 Splash), and Gillywater (uh, water).

We had some grown-up beverages, as well. As always, I like to stick to the theme, so we chose beers from Magic Hat and Hap & Harry's for the parents.

After fueling up on cake and sugary beverages, the kids were ready to play some Quidditch. Mom and I made these hoops from PVC pipe, QuikKrete, and hula hoops. The broom below is made from a tiki torch and some twigs (inspiration found here). Unfortunately, after I made one, I realized I was not so excited about making nine more, so our Quidditch game was of the loosely-structured, balloon-swatting variety. Oh, and check out these amazing Hogwarts house banners my neighbor hand-stenciled. I was so excited to borrow them.

(Confession: it's been over two weeks and those Quidditch hoops are still in the back yard.)

We also had a little fun with our Transfiguration Booth, trying on robes and ties and props.

Dean was okay with trying on the sorting hat, but only if he could hang onto his cauldron cake. Seriously, he was not letting that thing go.

Upon leaving, all the junior wizards were instructed to grab a cauldron from the Owlery and fill it with their wand and sweets from the Honeydukes sweets table.

We had Drooble's Best Blowing Gum, Chocolate Frogs, Pumpkin Pasties (Little Debbie pumpkin cakes), Cockroach Clusters (Goo Goo Clusters), Bertie Botts Every Flavour Beans (printable box templates here), Acid Pops (rock candy), and Dementor Repellant (chocolate sixlets).

Go home and eat more sugar, kids! (Sorry, parents!)

Happy Birthday to my sweet six-year-old. I hope it was as magical as you are!

Party planning, styling, props, and signage: Smarty Parties
Photography: Stella Dolce Photography
Quidditch Banners: Nashville Dave
Owl cake, owl cupcakes, and chocolate cauldrons: My awesome mom.

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Thursday, October 10, 2013

Here Comes Halloween

Pin It I hesitate to say this because that will make it automatically untrue, but I don't have any parties scheduled for the month of October*. This is fine with me because it allows me to focus on one of my faaaaaavorite holidays, HALLOWEEN, and keep the focus entirely on my own (already kind of conveniently scary, though just because of the crazy mess) house.

We don't have solid plans yet for costumes and decorations, though I'm pretty sure all of the random stuff still sitting around from Graham's Harry Potter birthday (photos to come very soon!) will be put to good use. Unfortunately, Graham doesn't want to be Harry Potter for Halloween because he was Ron Weasley last year for Book Character Day at school:

The red wig! The reeeeeeddddd wiggggg. I love it.

For the actual day of Halloween, Graham was Luigi and Dean was . . . Mario? Of course not! He was Dumbo.

"Seriously, you guys. What is this all about?"

Graham with his buddy Aiden, in an awesome Sonic the Hedgehog costume that his mom made, because she is better at that than I am. Poor Dumbo Dean is slumped over in the stroller, fed up with all of us.

This year, Graham sort of wants to be a detective, which he envisions as just holding a notebook and asking people questions with one raised eyebrow. I told him that might not be quite visual enough? He loves detectives and mysteries, and one of his favorite book series is Nate the Great. Nate is a blonde kid who wears a Sherlock Holmes-style deerstalker hat and a trench coat, so I think that may be the direction we go.

Nate the Great image courtesy of Random House.
Graham was also very interested in all of the science items and the lab coat from September's party , so he may want to be a Mad Scientist. We conveniently have a lab coat, crazy glasses, and test tubes at the ready, so that costume is another winner in my book.

One of my favorite Halloweens was Dean's first, because of Graham's obsession with the solar system, and Dean's last-minute coordinating Rocket Baby costume. I literally whipped that rocket together for about one dollar's worth of felt, a dashboard sun visor thing I found in my basement, and some safety pins to attach it to the Baby Bjorn. Graham's solar system bike helmet was a bit more . . . involved.

Marianne over at HGTV's Weekday Crafternoon has a great video tutorial on how to make your very own rocket baby costume, if you are so inclined.

Happy Hallooween-ing! I'd love suggestions on a costume for Dean to coordinate with either of Graham's ideas!

*Of course, after I wrote that, the whole family caught a nasty stomach bug, forcing us to move Graham's September 29th birthday party to October 5th. Photos coming soon!

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