Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Hogwart's Party Part Three - Classes

If you missed them, my last two post were of our Harry Potter themed birthday party for my daughter.  Now, I'd like to share our day of classes at Hogwart's.  They went something like this:

After a breakfast of french toast, bacon and pumpkin juice in the Great Hall, classes started bright and early at 9am with Charms where students practiced wand-waving.

Charms - We sat down in the Great Hall to learn how to levitate a feather using the Wingardium Leviosa spell practicing our "swish and flick".  The video above shows the daughter demonstrating what we learned.  This was a wonderful idea that we came up with out of the blue.  If you've ever owned a "Squirmle", or magic worm, then you'll understand the basic of how this works.  (As professor, when I got to using the words with the movements I said it a few times and gave a queue for the daughter, who was in on it, to start levitating.)

Divination - After Charms we were led to the incense laden Divination class where we had tea and foretold the future using tea leaves.  The more gruesome and depressing the better, of course! We gave extra house points for those who could name as many other forms of fortune telling as they could.  We also enjoyed some sandwiches and cookies with our tea before heading to Potions class.

Potions - In Potions (or the kitchen) we played a couple different games.  The daughter put together Snape's logic riddle from the forbidden corridor.  She put out seven different sized/colored bottles filled with different concoctions.  The group had to distinguish which bottles were poison (tap water), nettle wine (grape juice) and the potion to go forward and back (both were peppermint flavored water) based on the riddle below.  First to solve the puzzle, and those who helped, received house points accordingly.

"Danger lies before you, while safety lies behind,
Two of us will help you, whichever you would find,
One among us seven will let you move ahead,
Another will transport the drinker back instead,
Two among our number hold only nettle wine,
Three of us are killers, waiting hidden in line.
Choose, unless you wish to stay here forevermore,
To help you in your choice, we give you these clues four:
First, however slyly the poison tries to hide
You will always find some on nettle wine’s left side;
Second, different are those who stand at either end,
But if you would move onward, neither is your friend;
Third, as you see clearly, all are different size,
Neither dwarf nor giant holds death in their insides;
Fourth, the second left and the second on the right
Are twins once you taste them, though different at first sight."

Can you guess the right bottles?

We also played a guessing game Slughorn-style with mystery filled test tubes.  Each contained an ordinary edible and safe substance from the potion stores (in the pantry).  12 were liquids and 6 were powders.  Each person got to examine, smell, and taste each before passing it on.  Then, they would write there guess on a piece of paper.  Some lost house points for guessing out loud (even when wrong), and others tried to finish off a tube or two before others got to it (ie.  powdered sugar and pancake syrup).  Surprisingly, no one got a perfect score.  Though we had one who was very close only missing a couple. Bonus points were offered to those who were extra specific with their answers.  Afterward, we let the kids make their own concoctions with the leftover ingredients from the test tubes while we prepared more food.  I was even brave enough to taste a few.  Lime Kool-aid/Honey/Lemon Juice/Ovaltine?!  Eww!!  (As you can see in this pic above, we were using "Fireball Cinnamon Whiskey" for our Fire Whiskey.  We were serving the shots out of the same test tubes in the evenings. I liked the label so much, I didn't bother to cover it.)

Lastly, we sampled some Polyjuice Potion (more about this in future post) and demonstrated the magical "Repelio Charm" (not pictured, but you can find it at using milk, dish soap and food coloring on a plate) before heading to DADA.

Defense Against the Dark Arts - We held a Dueling Club Practice where Student were furnished with school wands sporting red or green crepe streamers on the business end.  (Imagine those ribbons on sticks that gymnasts use for floor routines.)  We let the students practice waving the wands so that the stream didn't tangle in knots.  This class was probably the highlight for our younger students.  They dueled to see who could disarm their opponent by deliberately tangling with each others "spell" streams and pulling the wand out of their opponent's hand.  Seems the winner was the duelist with the longest streamer left at the end.  :)  I really wish I'd gotten a video of the shenanigans..

Later, the kids put together a pop quiz over various Hogwarts related trivia as we waited for the award ceremony and feast.  They picked some tough questions!  We had planned to use quills and parchment for the DADA pop quiz, but alas, I ran out of time getting things ready.  We did have ink for our quills.  Did you know you can use inkjet printer ink?  You can buy the refill bottles.  And, why not mix the colors to get blood red or emerald green.

End of Term Feast/House Cup Award - After classes we ushered our exhausted students back into the Great Hall for the House Cup Award Ceremony and End of Term Feast of Turkey and all the fixings.  We tallied up the house points to find that Gryfinndor just barely beat Ravenclaw with Hufflepuff close behind, leaving Slytherin in last place.  (But, I was determine to award extra house points to the birthday girl until her house, Ravenclaw, won.)

There were many more things we'd planned for that didn't happen that I wish had:

Wand Making - Since our event was cut short we were a bit crunched for time, we had to eliminate Wand Making that was supposed to be held before Charms.  But, there are wonderful tutorials online for making all sorts of different wands from paper and hot glue, sticks, chopsticks, dowel rods, etc...

Broom Making/Flying Lesson/Quidditch - Weather didn't permit us having our Broom Making/Flying Lesson/Quidditch Match.  Otherwise we had limbs that were cut from our overgrown trees and and acres full of knee high potential straw.  I had some string and hose clamps for bundling options.  We'd planned to tie an invisible string to one of the brooms as a setup.  "Now hold your right hand over your broom and say, 'UP'."  Our class clown was going to hit themselves in the face as Ron had done in the movie.  Quidditch would also have been fun.  My sis had even made us this wonderful Quidditch trunk above.

Care of Magical Creatures (Nifflers) - I ran out of time on Care of Magical Creatures class.  We were going to set up our yurt as Hagrids Hut.  And, I wanted to make a few stuffed nifflers that could hold coins in a pouch.  Then, I would bring in an empty box with a hole chewed out of it and tell the students to find them in the yard.  The nifflers would each have muggle money in various amounts.  Winner would be the one who found the most talented niffler.

Death Day Party - We had also planned a "Death Day" party for our over forty birthday girl, but had a bit of a mishap with the tombstone shaped cake.  (Left it in a glass pan on the stove top when a burner was accidentally turned on.  POP!! Glass shards went flying everywhere.  Darn pesky pixies! But, she got to enjoy some fungus peanuts (caramel popcorn and peanuts with milk and while chocolate drizzled over it), jello worms and deviled eyeballs during our end of term feast....and the heart attack that almost ensued when we heard the noise of the exploding glass cake pan!

Next up I'll share a little about some of the recipes we used and what we think of them.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Hogwart's Party Part Two - Start of Term Sorting Ceremony and Feast

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 (  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!)

Everyone pretty much went to bed early due to the long drive.  But, some of us stayed up to have a little butter beer and "fire whiskey".  We also had many treat from Honeydukes including chocolate frogs, Bertie Bott's Every Flavor Beans, Pumpkin Pasties, Droobles and other assorted treats.  (I'll be sharing about the food and drink in a later post.)

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.)

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Hogwart's Party Part One - The Master Plan

"It's not everyday your young man girl turns eleven, now, is it?" - Hagrid  

Being huge fans of the Harry Potter books and movies, we had to throw our aspiring witch a themed party.  Her eleventh birthday was in November. And, since we had Thanksgiving and another November birthday to celebrate, we decided to combine all these celebrations into one big overnight weekend party with family members.  We had so many ideas that we had no trouble creating an elaborate schedule for possible three day event!  After all, we didn't want to run out of fun magical things to do.  But, unfortunately, we had a nonexistent budget and unpredictable Texas weather to contend with. 

Our plan was to have a start of term feast with sorting ceremony when all guests had arrived.  Then, first thing the next morning we would start some scheduled classes throughout the day and have a second end of term feast with house cup award ceremony and possible Yule Ball.  Since our guests were to stay possibly three nights, we also planned for an optional second day of classes.  We also planned for some classes to be outdoors, but you never know what the weather will bring.  The schedule looked something like this:

Day One:
  4:00 pm -   6:00 pm Sorting Ceremony
  6:00 pm -   8:00 pm Start of Term Feast
  8:00 pm - 10:00 pm Adjourn to Common Rooms/Dormitories
10:00 pm - 12:00 am optional "Hogmeade" for drinks

Day Two:
  9:00 am - 10:30 am  Broom Making 101 (outside)
10:30 am - 12:00 am  Flying Lesson (outside)
12:15 pm -  2:00 pm Divination - tea leaves (Lunch)
  2:15 pm -  3:15 pm Care of Magical Creatures (outside)
  3:30 pm -  5:45 pm Potions
  6:00 pm -  8:00 pm Dinner in the Great Hall
  8:30 pm - 10:00 pm Yule Ball (masquerade as character)
10:00 pm - 12:00 am Adjourn to Common Rooms/Dormitories or "Hogmeade"

Day Three:
  9:00 am - 10:30 am  Wand Making 101
10:30 am - 12:00 am DADA (Pop Quiz and Dueling Practice)
12:15 am -   2:00 am Divination - (Lunch)
  2:15 pm -   3:30 pm Quidditch (outside)
  3:45 pm -   5:45 pm Charms - Levitation
  6:00 pm -   8:30 pm House Cup Ceremony/End of Term Feast
10:00 pm - 12:00 am Adjourn to Common Rooms/Dormitories or "Hogmeade"

I know it seems like a lot to put into a weekend, but this is just a rough guide for time to keep us on track.  Due to the bad weather, some guests arrived a couple days late and still others had to postpone until Thanksgiving day.  We ended up with two separate parties, but it all worked out okay.  We had to do a bit of juggling and sacrifice to make it work, and had to cancel outdoor classes completely. (Yes, I know.  "You CAN'T cancel Quidditch!"  But, we did.) We ended up rearranging for one day of classes something like this:

Day One:
  4:00 pm -   6:00 pm Sorting Ceremony
  6:00 pm -   8:00 pm Start of Term Feast
  8:00 pm - 10:00 pm Adjourn to Common Rooms/Dormitories
10:00 pm - 12:00 am optional "Hogmeade" for drinks

Day Two:
  9:00 am - 10:30 am  Charms - Levitation
10:30 am - 12:00 am Dueling Practice
12:15 pm -  2:00 pm Divination - tea leaves (Lunch)
  2:15 pm -  3:15 pm Potions
  3:30 pm -  5:45 pm DADA (Pop Quiz)
  6:00 pm -  8:00 pm House Cup Ceremony
  8:30 pm - 10:00 pm End of Term Feast
10:00 pm - 12:00 am Adjourn to Common Rooms/Dormitories or "Hogmeade"

We don't host a great deal of parties at our place, especially this elaborate.  There would prove to be challenges in the sleeping arrangements, money and time for decorations and food and overall hosting.  I would like to stress the that the utmost importance when hosting a party like this, is to have a mix of activities including a few that require minimal supervision so you can prepare for the next "class" and keep your guest fed and happy and not wear yourself out.  Keeping folks entertained so that they don't get bored and wander off to watch football was quite a challenge.  With limited time and energy, you have to remember that you can't be three places doing twenty things at once.  Many guests and even our birthday girl all helped entertain as well as prepare each activity and the food.

All in all, it was a really fun time.  Everyone was a good sport and participated.  Daughter said they enjoyed the dueling and potions class the best.  And, it was her favorite birthday ever.  (YES!!  SUCCESS!!! )  And, she wants us to host another Hogwart's party next year.  (Oh dear.  I guess we have future plans for an outside event when it's warmer out.)   But, besides the overwhelming amount of leftover sweets from this party, I think it was pretty great.  And, the best news it that we still have a little money left for Christmas.  ;)  

In the next few days I plan to share a few more detailed posts on our decorations, food recipes and games in case you need inspiration for your own wizard/witch's party.  This will actually be the first time any significant amount of our humble abode will be pictured on my blog.  It's kinda embarrassing.  She's no castle or even a looker any means.  But, we did our best to make it Hogwart's as much as we could.   :)