You know how summers can be defined by the age of your child, a special vacation, or one big thing your family really enjoyed? For our family, 2011 was the Summer of Harry Potter.
Our oldest son read the book series during the winter. And with the anticipation of the final movie, we decided it was the perfect time to visit the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Orlando.
To continue our summer theme, our son celebrated his birthday with a Harry Potter party. You might think that meant paper invitations, plates, cups, napkins, and rolls of Deathly Hallows wrapping paper.
Not for this party.
In fact, we found that not having a bunch of disposable stuff actually adds to the theme. Look around Hogwarts in the films, they don’t even have electricity!
So what are some fun ways to have a “green” Harry Potter theme party? We’ll cover the basics here — some of what we did for this party and some suggestions if you have a cold weather party.
We debated between a Marauders Map style invitation and this one by Serendipity Creative on Etsy. We chose to email the invitation and avoid creating extra paper waste, but she does offer printing instructions if you find a recycled or eco-friendly paper.
There are countless ways to decorate for a Harry Potter party. For an indoor party, transforming your house into Hogwarts Castle would be fun. If your child already has Harry Potter toys, use them to decorate. In our case, the grandparents helped by sending our boys spending money for the Wizarding World trip.
They came home with more toys than we needed, but they added to the atmosphere of the party…
- Wands – Harry’s, Voldemort’s, and the Elder Wand
- Firebolt brooms
- Hedwig the Owl
- Fawkes the Phoenix
- Hogwarts Banner
The iconic Platform 9 3/4 sign makes for an excellent party prop. Here’s a how-to for making a realistic sign.
Game ideas for your Harry Potter party could be:
- The Forbidden Forest
- The TriWizard Tournament
- Book or movie trivia
The boys played their own version of Quidditch, and then we answered trivia questions. Be sure to vary them in difficulty if you have younger party guests or children who haven’t read the books or watched the movies. One of our questions was, “What helped Harry sprout gills and fins during the second challenge of the Tri Wizard Tournament?”
Our 4 year old cousin smiled and said, “Magic.”
These placemat maps from Green Planet Parties are nice enough to serve as the favors. And they really add to the theme of the party.
When it comes to serving food, I’ve experimented with a variety of reusable items for birthday parties. Not everyone will stick with real plates (non-breakable for kids) and real silverware like I do, but it really is the most eco-friendly option. Even having a party at our local park, bringing our own dishes hasn’t been a hassle. You just bring one extra bag to carry them home to the dishwasher.
You can find Harry Potter reusable cups online. Yes, they’re plastic… but at least they’re not totally disposable. And it’s another option for your favors. You can also find compostable cups at online green party stores or in bulk at one of the office supply stores.
Cake / Cupcakes
The main attraction of our Harry Potter party was dessert. My friend Christina found this recipe for Butterbeer Cupcakes and they were brilliant!
I recently helped a friend decorate for her son’s Potter Party. She decided to go with Hagrid’s cake to Harry. To make it a little healthier, we used all natural food coloring from Maggie’s Naturals. She said it was by far, the easiest cake she’s ever made:
While the need for a birthday party goodie bag is still in debate, if you do choose to hand out favors, please give something other than a plastic, made-in-China piece of junk. Another sustainable wizard party item from Green Planet Parties is their earthy, unique wand crafted from hardwood tree trimmings and birch wood.
Gift Ideas for the Harry Potter Fan
Legos are the only toys that matter to my son and his friends. You can find some of the more obscure Harry Potter Lego sets on eBay. It’s always exciting when kids see something you can’t buy on a shelf somewhere. And you’re not buying more plastic and packaging when you give gently used toys. We also love that they don’t have batteries, they encourage imagination, and your child can reuse and repurpose them over and over.
The Harry Potter book set makes an excellent gift. And there are tons of used copies available from Better World Books to keep it eco-friendly.
Wizard dress up costumes, wands, or any of the other fun novelties from the books are great to encourage imagination and creative play.
The best Harry Potter gift we — I mean, my son — received was this magnetic poetry set from our friend Ben and his mom Christina…
She found the magnetic words on Etsy. Sure, they work great on the fridge, but she took it a step further so you can play with it anywhere. She got a piece of sheet metal cut to the same size of an old frame she was no longer using. In the photo above, our boys are sitting in the living room with it on their laps. My oldest is helping my youngest sound out some of the big words.