Our first evening at Hogwart's went a little like this:
First thing after all the guest arrived and we got their luggage situated in the entrance hall to be taken to their sleeping quarters after the feast. (The House Elves were really slipping this year. Many of the students had to carry their own bags.)
When all guests had arrived we ushered them into the "Great Hall" (aka. the Family/Game Room). We lined all the students up to be sorted into their houses by the Sorting Hat. (You can see the sorting hat is sitting on the four legged stool to the right of the "staff table". In this pic you can also barely see our house point jars (test tubes) on the staff table in front of Hagrid's tankard.) House points would be awarded to their house for achievements throughout their stay, and a House Cup ceremony was planned for our final dinner together. Each jewel was worth 10 points. We also had smaller half jewels for 5 points.
Of course we had the obligatory floating candles (thanks to tutorials by mizerella (http://mizerella.blogspot.com/2010/08/4-hogwarts-inspired-lighting.html). I cut my paper towel tubes in half to make them a little shorter and have more of them. I also went a step farther by painting the tubes with UV reactive white paint and a coat of glow-in-the-dark over that. We had a fluorescent blacklight mounted behind the staff table that gave them a more convincing candle glow.)
The Sorting Hat spoke just loud enough for the room of students to hear it as it sang the first year hat song and announced each student's house. (To do this we inserted a speaker into the top of my witch hat that was plugged into a hidden computer behind the staff table. One person would hold the hat over the students head while another either chose to play a prerecorded sound or talk into a mic from another room. We had presorted the students secretly so that it would be even for teams throughout the assorted games and things planned, as well as keep people in the same house for sleeping arrangements as much as possible.)(BTW, I made this hat many years ago during a time when I didn't have access to a sewing machine...or needle and thread for that matter. It is all constructed using liquid stitch or something similar, basically glue!)
Once sorted we passed out badges and had our start of term feast of glazed ham and all the works. After dinner, we explained the sleeping arrangement which was by house. Each house's common room/dorm had a colored banner on the door and students were given direction on how to enter. If they failed to do so correctly (and were caught), they would lose 5 house points. I should also mention that the "Forbidden Corridor" (aka. the craft room), or what jokingly became the Room of Requirement because of all the stuff I had to hide in there, was off limits "to those who do not wish to die a most painful death". (They also lose 50 house points!)
Mr. Sam and I were staying in Gryffindor where our password was "birthday bash". Hufflepuffs were in the bedroom by the kitchen where they had to knock on a knot in a barrel in the rhythm of "Helga Hufflepuff" on the still life mounted to their dorm door. And, Ravenclaws had to use an eagle door knocker and were supposed to answer a riddle.
Since we had no dungeon (or basement even), it was decided that the Slytherin's common room should be in the bathroom (the closest thing we had to a dungeon). But, for some reason the students opted to sleep in the divination classroom (aka the living room). Can't understand why. ;) Maybe their hesitation was because of Moaning Myrtle in the toilet (thanks to the daughter's drawing.) Who knows.
Unfortunately, seems another heir opened the Chamber of Secrets during our stay. Snakes managed to infest the entire bathroom while spiders were fleeing for their lives. (We gave it that eerie green glow from the lake with a couple light bulb replacements. Oh, and that's red lipstick on the mirror. It took more than I had imagined, so had to shorten it a bit.)
Well, at least they also had convenient transport to the Ministry if they needed it. Someone has to keep those sneaky Slytherins in line!
I'll be posting about our full day of Hogwart's classes next up. So, stayed tuned! (If you want to.)