“You’re a wizard, Harry.”
C’mon…we can all admit to some goosebumps of excitement the first time we read that line. Certainly was true in our household, and we’ve since progressed through a few volumes of the Harry Potter series in read-aloud format to the kids. (Who knew it was so easy and enjoyable to read 500+ pages out loud?) So, not too long ago, we decided it was time for a full-blown wizarding evening. Here are a few ideas and tips for your own Harry Potter-themed night…
Seems reasonable that a night of magic and mystery would kick off earlier in the day by delivery of a mysterious note. Our note required the young wizards to be sure to bring (and create) their magic wands. (Make sure you carefully analyze the wands…eleven inches, ash, flexible, phoenix feather core) They could also find and be dressed in their best wizarding costumes for when your evening commences. A good wizard note is rolled up like a scroll, likely burnt around the edges and authored by a notable character (ie. Harry, Hagrid, Sirius Black, Fred and George Weasley, or perhaps even Dumbledore himself).
At some point in your evening (likely early in the proceedings), it’s not bad to pull out your very own Sorting Hat. (Ours had an eerie resemblance to Mr. Claus’ lid, but no matter.) So, your prep work – in addition to writing the mysterious note – is to come up with a song (or three, depending on the number of wizards you need to sort) for the Sorting Hat to sing. Thankfully, kids are gracious in this department…both in the elegance of the prose (as long as it rhymes, it works) and the melodiousness of your voice.
Depending on how much advance planning you give yourself, you can really knock it out when it comes to food. Various wizarding candies can be purchased (Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor Beans, Chocolate Frogs, and Jelly Slugs) and (from what I read) fairly decent Butterbeer flavored drink is also available.
I gave myself minimal advance planning, so we went with “wizard pizza” and butterbeer of the cream soda variety. And…it worked. I did opt to pre-pay on the pizza, so when the van Hogwarts Express stopped outside the pizza shop, I had my wizards do their finest memory modification charm (Obliviate!) on the poor Muggle working the cash register for the purpose of making him give us free pizza. When he handed over the pizzas and informed us we were all set, there wasn’t a shred of doubt as to the genuineness of the magical pizzas we now possessed.
Bonus: as you’ll likely recall, at some point during mealtime there’s often a furious arrival of owls bringing an assortment of letters, packages, and newspapers. Randomly, we had an owl costume in the house, which worked quite well for postal deliveries…but I’ll guess your wizards won’t be too critical of whatever owl costume you develop even if a howler is part of the delivery…
Your evening will need to include various wizarding activities. We enjoyed some spell practice (they shot Stupify! spells at balloons which were slyly exploded when the spell struck home), broomstick races (on bicycles), and a Care of Magical Creatures class (this involved me as a Blast-Ended Skrewt, oven mitts for each of the kids for protection, lots of chasing, and various forms of Skrewt attacks).
Bonus: As the events are winding down and you’re looking for some lower energy activities, a trivia challenge isn’t a bad idea. Good HP trivia questions can be found here and here…or you could just make up your own.
Probably doesn’t need to be said, but the best conclusion to your night will involve pajamas, getting cozy, and diving into one of Ms. Rowling’s volumes together.
In addition to Harry Potter, here are three other books we loved reading to and with our kids.
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