All-out Hogwarts Party

In case you haven’t picked up on it, we’re huge Harry Potter fans in this house. This year Molly turned 11, which is a major milestone in the wizarding world as it is the age at which a witch or wizard goes off to school (Hogwarts). So, Molly was very excited to have a Hogwarts birthday party. Jen always puts on fantastic parties, but this year I joined in the creation to make the biggest party we’ve ever done.

In future posts I’ll go into some of the creation of this party, but this post will take you through all the fun from start to finish. It may be more than you have time to read/watch, but it was so awesome I can’t leave any of it out. I highly recommend watching the videos, as you’ll miss out on a lot if you don’t.

The guests arrived and were ushered into our dining room by the front door. Each of them had their mug shot taken. (All other mug shots available on Flickr.)

Azkaban wanted poster

Jen created a Harry Potter themed Would You Rather? Jenga for the girls to play until everyone was there. We kept them there, shielded from the back of the house, so they wouldn't see anything until the proper time.

Would you rather? Jenga

Once everyone arrived, they were ushered through a brick wall (more on that later) into Diagon Alley of Maryland (set up in our den). There they found my wand shop for the party. Jen made boxes from poster board with her Silhouette Cameo. I wrote the labels to make sure the girls knew what they were getting. The extra wand to the right was given to Aunt Caroline for her to use throughout the party (and keep).

Wand shop

Within those boxes were wands that I created (some on a makeshift lathe, some on a real lathe I got part way through the process). Each wand was unique, stained and sealed, with a magical core (inserted through a small hole in the bottom). I’ll have more on the process of creating the wands in a future post.


Then it was time for the wand choosing. I played Gerald Ollivander, nephew and former apprentice of Garrick Ollivander, who had moved to America to open his own wand shop. Each of the girls took turns coming up to be chosen by a wand. I created lots of special effects for when a wrong or right wand was tried using QLab to control audio, video, lights, and a piano via MIDI, as you can see in this full video. If you go to the video on YouTube, there are links within the description to specific girls and specific effects within the video.

Additional pictures of wand choosing can be found on Flickr.

Wand choosing

After everyone had received their wands, Mr. Ollivander left. I then returned as Professor Chitsom of Hogwarts to bring the girls to Hogwarts. They were specially chosen to attend Hogwarts despite being from America. Since we had so far to go, we needed a special way to get there. So, we took a Portkey to King’s Cross Station in London.

Port key

After arriving in King’s Cross Station, we went through the barrier to get to Platform Nine and Three Quarters. Jen created the barrier by painting a sheet to look like a brick wall with a slit in it so the girls could get through. At this point, it was the barrier to Platform 9 3/4, but it served double duty. When the girls first arrived, it had a Diagon Alley sign on it and served as the entrance to that as well.

Platform 9 3/4

The girls then boarded the Hogwarts Express and rode to Hogwarts. Upon arrival, I introduced them to another teacher - Professor Cordelias (played by Aunt Caroline). She then helped guide them through the process of getting sorted into their houses.

Sorting hat

After sorting, we had some primer lessons in charms and defensive spells. The girls got a handout with incantations and their wand movements (created by Jen).

Learning spells

The first spell we worked on was Locomotor piano, a form of the Locomotion Charm which can animate an inanimate object. In this form, it will animate the piano to play music.

Locomotor piano

The next spell we taught them was The Summoning Charm. The girls used Accio (its incantation) to summon a pencil, a mug, and some chickens. (I added the chickens specifically because I knew Molly would flip for them)

Accio chickens

We then left the den to take a field trip to the front door so the girls could practice the Unlocking Charm (Alohomora) and the Locking Spell (Colloportus). This effect didn’t use QLab or a computer (unlike all the others). It just used our Kevo Smart Lock, which I could lock and unlock from an app on my phone while Professor Cordelias taught the lesson.


We then headed back to the den to move on to some defensive spells. First we started with the very useful Stunning Spell (Stupefy). Stunning spells are very popular with students, but a bit dangerous. So, we decided to have them practice on moving portraits instead of living beings.


Our second defensive spell was the Severing Charm (Diffindo), a very handy spell for cutting or breaking things. The girls practiced this on an empty picture frame.

Our final spell to teach was Meteolojinx Recanto, a useful counter-jinx if someone casts a weather jinx on you (rain in your room perhaps, or just a cloud following you around). I think this effect was the most realistic of all, as it had one of the girls hiding under her chair.

With that, we completed the core of our special effects portion of the party (though the moving portraits kept going and occasionally did things to entertain the students).

We then transitioned into our House Cup. Jen made a great banner with the crest of each of the houses.

House banner

Each house competed in several events as part of the competition. First, was a trivia competition with some seriously difficult questions. Jen made a Jeopardy-style game board (complete with hidden bonus questions).

Harry Potter Trivia Gryffindor conferring

Ravenclaw conferring

Hufflepuff and Slytherin

Dominant Slytherin

Slytherin totally dominated the scoreboard, and managed to luckily get all the bonus questions as well. So, they finished the first event with the lead.

After trivia, we paused the competition to eat dinner. So we all headed to the Great Hall. Jen made floating lights out of paper towel rolls with white paper around them, wax melted on the sides, and tea lights in the top.

Floating lights

Dinner included (clockwise) Gryffindogs, mini broomsticks, dragon deviled eggs, Hufflepuffs, and Forbidden Forest fruit (not pictured).


In addition to the food, Jen made homemade Butterbeer to drink, which was very tasty.

Eating dinner

After dinner we returned to the House Cup for our second competition - Harry Potter Pictionary. Gryffindor and Slytherin teamed up to play against Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff. It was a competitive game, but Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff came out on top.

Harry Potter Pictionary

Harry Potter Pictionary

Harry Potter Pictionary

For the third game, the teams competed in Tabletop Quidditch. Teams alternated throwing ping-pong balls into cups on the other side. You got 1 point for getting a ball in a cup, and 2 points if you got it in after going through a hoop. And the final ball, the golden snitch, was worth 5 points and had to be thrown through a hoop.

Tabletop Quidditch

Tabletop Quidditch

While two teams competed in Quidditch, the other two teams made paper fortune-tellers. Then we swapped activities. Then the losers played against one another for third place and the winners played for first/second. This game was completely dominated by Ravenclaw, who blew out Slytherin in their opening round and then destroyed Gryffindor for the championship.

The next game in the House Cup was Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Bean Tasting. The girls each had to guess the flavor of their bean (examples included watermelon, cherry, grass, vomit, black pepper, and earthworm). They guessed what flavor they might have, then got a point if they ate (and swallowed) the bean. Some got lucky with a good flavor, others were too chicken to try. Molly here got Soap.

Bean tasting

What will it be?

Tasty (or not)

Bean fear

Haley tried but failed to eat this Vomit flavored bean.

Bean fear

Bean tasting

When you get a gross bean, holding your nose can help you get it down (and get a point for your team). Sarah managed to eventually swallow this one.


The final game in the competition was a very difficult Harry Potter word search. Slytherin won that game as well, propelling their house to win the House Cup.

And what birthday party would be complete without a celebratory treat. Jen made a Quidditch cake with goals and a golden snitch. The cake is butter cake with very chocolate icing. Sorry that the picture is from the wrong side - that was my fault.

Quidditch cake

When it came time to light the candles, the girls insisted that they be lighted by spell. So, they all gave Incendio a try.

Of course, eating cake can be messy. Afterward, some of the girls went to the bathroom to wash their hands, where they found a spooky surprise. Moaning Myrtle was waiting for them at the toilet.

Bathroom fun

The Heir of Slytherin left a creepy message on the bathroom mirror as well.

Evil message

And finally, after 4 hours, the party had to come to an end. The girls went home with lots of fun stuff. In addition to their wands, they received homemade Butterbeer fudge (which tasted just like the stuff you can get at Honeydukes in Universal Studios) and homemade chocolate frogs.

It was such a fun party, and I’m guessing we’ll be putting one on like it for Leah in a couple years.

If you’re curious how I did all those effects, or made the wands, stay tuned as I’ll be posting some of that in the following days.

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