May is the first month of the year in our household where someone isn’t celebrating a birthday. The first 4 months of the year see everyone ticked off for another 365 days. Having just wrapped up all birthday parties I wanted to share our experience on throwing an amazing Harry Potter Birthday Party – on a budget!
When it comes to throwing birthday parties for kids budget certainly is the key word. Birthday parties for kids have become bigger than Ben Hur. I certainly don’t mind how other parents choose to spend their money. I know families who throw considerable money at a birthday celebration and good on them. I also know families who don’t do parties full stop. However today I want to share that having an amazing party for your child doesn’t need to be a budget blowout. You can still throw a party your children will remember for years without paying “$28 or more per head with a minimum of 15 kids” rules. This was key for us as having been without pay for almost 6 months the budget was super tight and yet her friends declared “this the best party ever!!”. In our situation we informed Raya in the budgeting process so she understood how much a party cost to throw. She really wanted a party and so this became her major present.
Choose a theme
Our daughter just turned 9 and her and her lovely bunch of friends are all crazy for the magical world of Harry Potter. Our daughter had been reading through all the books, watching the movies and putting spells on her younger brother for weeks so creating Hogwarts was the obvious choice. Choose a theme and then go wild with it. We sat down and brainstormed together what decorations, clothes, cake, food and activities we could link to the Harry Potter theme. Pinterest is your friend here and we made a Harry Potter Birthday themed board you can find here.
Once a child is 9 there are only a few more years left where they want to be absorbed into the magical and make believe. 9 year old girls need permission to not be tweens yet but to just enjoy those last few years of being girls. Girls of this age also love attention to detail so the more focus you can have on sticking to the theme the more impressed the kids will be.
Have the party at home
Look I totally understand that the idea of having a bunch of kids running or even just gathering in your house can strike fear into you but honestly having a party at home is probably the most budget friendly option. There will be a mess but you won’t have time constraints of tidying it up. Carefully organising your day may mean you can clean up as you go (this is what we did). It also means you can get started on decorating weeks before. We spent weekend days photocopying at Officeworks and then cutting, folding and painting decorations together. Not only was it fun but it built up anticipation for the event. If you absolutely can’t have the event at home perhaps you can source a cheap local hall for the event.
Send out a great invite
Creativity doesn’t have to cost a lot. I searched Pinterest for Inspiration and then printed out a Hogwarts acceptance letter on my printer at home. I also included a ticket for the train, rolled it into a scroll and tied it with red wool. The kids all kept their ticket and brought them along to ‘board the train to Hogwarts’.
A themed party is a great excuse for the whole family to get involved. The kids loved that we both dressed up. Hubby was Professor Lupin – the Werewolf. I was Professor MacGonnagall.
DIYing will take time but it will save you money. I have found paying for convenience costs. For this party I made all the decorations by purchasing the party printables from Etsy and then adding other elements. The particular ones we used were from Easy Breezy Parties.
We sectioned off the parts of our house. The front verandah became platform 9 3/4 where we gathered all the kids to farewell their parents. We handed all the kids a spell book which I had printed on A4 paper and folded. This kept them entertained while they waited.
When everyone had arrived they entered through the brick wall.
We made the brick wall by stamping our washing up sponge in brown paint and stamping it. I then attached a print out of the sign.
We clearly marked out of bounds area with signage and we didn’t have any issues.
Moaning Myrtle helped the kids find the bathroom and toilet. Raya also hung an aviary for all her friends who brought owls with them.
Once her friends were in the house we kept them all in the living room while they put the Sorting Hat on and were placed into houses. No one can argue with the Sorting Hat.
We draped a chair with black fabric and put a portable speaker underneath. In my hand I had an ipad (hidden) with a Harry Potter sorting hat app that is free from itunes. Then when the girls put the hat on the sound came out. All the girls squealed with excitement and none could work it out.
Themed Party Food
Once the girls were in their Hogwarts Houses it was time to move into the dining area for their feast.
We chose the colour of Gryffindor of course and draped cheap streamers over the window. I bought cheap yellow organza with glittery sparkles and hubby suspended it to recreate the starry ceiling effect. On the table I used a red table cloth I already had. From Kmart I purchased gold and white plates and the kids felt grown up drinking out of clear, gold sparkled champagne flutes. On top of each plate I placed a white feather which I bought in packets of 3 at the $2 shop. Finally I placed some gold candles, also $2 from a discount store.
For food we did Potter Party Pies, Snape sandwiches, Professor Sprout Vegie Platter, Weasley Watermelon, Quidditch Quiches, Luna Lovegood Lattice biscuits and Colin Cleevey cheezels. Cheap to purchase, easy to prep and nothing too fancy that the kids wouldn’t eat it.
I also found a recipe on Pinterest for Butterbeer and we simply mixed ginger ale and creaming soda together. The kids loved it and had energy to burn.
Once they finished eating the kids all posed for their Wanted Wizard photo. Again this was a DIY project just cut out from an big cardboard box.
Activities and Games
So what did we do to keep the kids occupied? We ran them to a schedule. Just like students at Hogwarts they had classes to go to. First up was Potions class. My tip is to set this up outside to minimise mess. If it was wet weather we could have done this inside. The girls were tidier than expected but there were still spills. The girls had two different potions activities – making Snape Slime and Dragons Milk.
All the potion ingredients were set up before the party started. The ingredients were labelled and kids were motivated to earn house points by working cooperatively and sharing. My teacher experience did come in handy for these activities but they could have been done one at a time.
While the Potion Class was running hubby was inside doing a quick clean up of the feast. Once the Potions class was finished and their slime was packaged in zip lock bags to take home then hubby whisked them to the nearby park for, you guessed it – Quidditch!
Quidditch and Wand Dualling
While I cleaned up the yard following the Potion Class hubby took the kids to our local park for a game of Quidditch. We had been out walking in our local park when we saw the palm trees dropping their branches. I grabbed 3 of them. A little bit of brown paint and some tape on the grips and we had ourselves some brooms for racing!
The day of the birthday party we had sweltering weather. After a fierce battle of Quidditch the girls needed some cooling down and we improvised with water wand battles.
Marauder Map Treasure Hunt
The final activity was the Marauders Map Treasure Hunt. As the girls returned to the house they were each given a Marauders Map which would guide them to treasures in the backyard. We had Diagon Alley where they hunted for Diamonds, our cubby house became the Shrieking Shack and down the side of our house transformed into the Forbidden Forest. All items were purchased from the $2 shop so super cheap fun.
Finally we had cake and the kids then watched a Harry Potter movie – the original – which kept them contained (and quiet) for their parents to collect.
I outsourced the cake because I know the things I can make amazing myself and the things I need help with!
Raya’s 9th birthday party was amazing. The kids had a ball, they are still talking about it a month later and we had a great time hosting it. Celebrating a birthday doesn’t need to blow the budget and it can still be magical – just like Harry Potter!