Five Riddikulus-ly Fast, Easy Ways to Throw a Harry Potter Party

1. Pumpkin juice


“Pumpkin” juice. Photo by dieraecherin via morguefile.

Pour orange juice into a pretty vessel. Call it pumpkin juice if anyone asks. Done.

2. Wands made of sticks or wooden dowels2016-09-18-16-15-59
You can make fabulous wands out of chopsticks and hot glue.

Or you could just clean up the sticks in your yard and/or go to a dollar store for wooden dowels.

Unicorn hair optional. More vegan that way.

I had vague plans about the kids decorating the wands, but only my daughter did. Good news: just reuse them for your next party! Or throw sticks back in the yard. You can also use whatever wooden dowels are used for.


3. Sorting hat shortcuts

I was going to print out questions and put them in the sorting hat. Based on each person’s answers, I planned to yell, “Gryffindor!” etc.

This would involve printing out questions and cutting them up. Too much work.

Instead, we went online and did the entire quiz without killing any trees. Apparently, I’m secretly a Ravenclaw. Four kids ended up going into Hufflepuff, included two self-designated Slytherins, so I consider that my contribution to making the world a better place.

4. Force your kids to make the swag.

Are your children addicted watching YouTubers on Minecraft? Me too! So tear them2016-09-15-19-26-17off the screen and put them to work, making decorations for your party. It’s not as pretty as Pinterest, but that’s not the point. The point is to make them touch the 3D world and use their own imagination.

Don’t have kids? Borrow someone else’s.

Or, okay, just print stuff off the Internet. That’s easy too.

5. Pin the Harry and Ron in the Ford Anglia and Whomping Willow

My daughter, Anastasia, was asking about Harry and Ron missing the Hogwarts train and flying the Ford Anglia into the Whomping Willow.

willow-1516877_640And I thought, wouldn’t that make a terrific pin the tail on the donkey game?

We bought two sheets of Bristol board. I asked my husband to draw the Whomping Willow, because he’s more artistic, but he was already making two cakes and feeling quite overburdened, so I sketched it out, and Anastasia made the car. My son Max drew Harry and Ron, but he lost them, so he and another girl hastily drew another.

Spin the kids around (we didn’t bother with a blindfold. Too much work) and see if they can place Harry or Ron in the car!

If you make the car enormous, they’re guaranteed to win. Kids love this. (I’m sure adults love this too, but no one else wanted to do it except me.)

I realized that I’d forgotten to get any prizes, but then I had them pick the “wands” from #3 out of the sorting hat, and they were perfectly happy to pretend to kill each other with them. Mischief managed!




Mrs. Weasley and Hermione


Muggles can teach you all about electricity, Mr. Weasley.


A witch and Sir Cadogan


Isn’t that the cutest Harry Potter card? Tip: I didn’t make it! My friend Tammy did. You, too, can rely on your friends to provide the magic.



One of my favourite presents ever. Anastasia gave me a card I had to buy for myself from the grocery store; one of her favourite stuffed animals; a dime; and a rock from her rock collection.


Art by Jessica Sarrazin/Mrs. Weasley.


Water fight! Or, Max’s cheap, fun birthday party

“You’re brave,” said a few other parents, when I said I was hosting a water fight birthday party from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.


But that was the most fun I’d had at Max’s birthday party, maybe ever, so I thought I’d post to show that you don’t have to spend big bucks on a kid’s party if you don’t want to.

Max chose everything, which meant a water fight, even though it’s been a super long winter and an iffy spring. I said that if it was too cold, they could just shoot at a target.

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It turned out to be one of the few warmish, sunny days so far of 2014.

I love these pictures, just the energy of them running so fast their hair flops, and them firing on each other, and the joyful screaming.

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My friend Kandy and her son Jake arrived late, right in the middle of the water fight, and jumped out of their car, firing water balloons. Then Kandy got in the action with a bucket of water. Unfortunately, she caught my three-year-old, so my mom and I ended up giving Anastasia an impromptu bath (sort of. Our new dog, Roxy, ate the bathtub plug, so we just scooped warm water over A).


“Look at your husband,” someone whispered to me over our potluck lunch. One half of his body was drenched. A few kids had attacked him with a hose. He, Becky, Rachel, and Kandy were trying to keep up with the demand for water balloons, unsuccessfully.

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We feasted on a potluck lunch. I felt only a little bad that I’d used a frozen lasagna and chicken pot pie, but I think only Becky and my mother cooked this time. The dumplings and Sophia’s dolmas and Becky’s salad were yummy, everyone liked my mom’s mac and cheese, and the kids mostly ate fruit and chocolate sauce.


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We’d won a DQ ice cream cake from the South Glengarry DQ at the SPCA auction, so Matt picked that up, also using the coupon for a free Blizzard, which was a huge hit with the kids. I have to say, much less exhausting than constructing a homemade Thomas and Annie and Clarabel cake for Max’s fourth birthday. I’m still proud of that cake, so both options are good. IMG_5958 IMG_5960

Then they attacked pinata I whipped together at my book club, in the shape of the number 8. I didn’t know if another layer would dry in time, and Max said it was fine, so we just coloured in dark circles to make the eight. Becky told me it looked like boobs. Two other people said eyes. Anyway, not exactly museum-worthy, but not as much work as the solar system pinatas of last year. (My friend Jessica told her son, “Lucas, I don’t think Max will have nine pinatas at his party,” but yes, he did. To cut corners, I cut Pluto. Max said, “Awwwwwww! I LIKE Pluto!”) IMG_5964 IMG_5972 IMG_5973 IMG_5974

Max destroyed the bottom loop immediately, and the other one didn’t last too long, so some of the boys ended up punching and destroying the remnants, with great abandon. IMG_5975 IMG_5976 IMG_5977

I wanted them to make wishes and light candle lanterns, to float away in the sky, but Matt told me that might cause a fire, so I handed them out as party favours. Then they opened presents and restarted the water fight.

Honestly, a five-hour party was a bit long, and even though I told the kids to get their clothes together, none of them did, so the end was absolute chaos, and we ended up with lots of abandoned clothes yet unable to find at least two hats. But the good news is, Max and his friends had a blast without renting a venue or hiring entertainers. And then I worked at the Glengarry the next day, so Matt did most of the clean up!

Happy birthday, my love!

It's not a party unless it ends in tears. Waah.

It’s not a party unless it ends in tears. Waah.


Max took a pretty good picture of my mom.