Harry Potter Owl -17yr- Owlery Room
Sarah in Wooster, OH USA
November 2012 Winner
My daughter's seventeenth birthday happened to fall on Thanksgiving this year. I wanted to do something really special for her because next year she will be a legal adult. This year she came of age in the Wizarding World" where they reach adulthood at seventeen.
INVITATIONS: Since my daughter loves owls and owls were the center feature of the birthday I made owl invitations. The owls hold a scroll and announce that the guests are invited to a Harry Potter party. I used a dark blue scroll and wrote in silver glittery metalic pen: The honor of your presence is requested at our Harry Potter party. Leave your Muggle Self behind and come enter the enchantment of the Wizarding World. Non-Muggle attire is recommended. The outside of the envelope stated that it was OWL POST and was decorated with red wax Hogwarts seal and a picture of an owl.
DECORATIONS: Since we would be having a Thanksgiving feast I wanted to make our dining area as much like the Hogwarts Great Hall as possible. I fretted over how to make floating candles. I found instructions on how to make paper ones but that didn't seem realistic enough. I made my own floating candles using light glittery tapers and pipe cleaners that were shaped like flames when cut. They looked amazing and added lots of sparkle. I hung them up with clear thread and used the battery operated candles elsewhere because candles add a little extra magic everywhere. I also made clouds out of construction paper and cotton and looked up what phase the moon would be in on the birthday.
The Great Hall at Hogwarts is enchanted to look like the sky above so I had to get it all just right. We have a bookshelf built into our wall in between the two tables I set up for the Great Feast so I made it a centerpiece by clearing out all the books and things we usually keep in there and turning it into a Potions Closet. I had so much fun doing this. I found potion bottles at various places craft stores thrift stores etc. I downloaded and printed out potion labels. I had many colorful bottles and for the clear bottles I tried to make my potions as authentic as possible. Of course I really used things like dish soaps and colorful bath gels but I had gold Felix Felicis brown Essence of Dittany black Draught of Living Death clear Veritaserum yellow-green Bubotober Puss white Wartcap Powder white Skelegrow (in a bottle with a Skeleton on it) and many other pretend potions in colorful bottles. I made a jar of Bezoars by using figs and prunes and rolling them in grass shredded leaves and dirt to make them look like a stone from a goat's stomach. I made a jar of Gillyweed by plucking weeds and grass (or you can use lichen) and putting them in a lime-green colored body wash. Once these things were labeled they looked authentic.
I added cauldrons wands and a skull with glowing eyes to the potions closet as well as several battery operated candles. My son generously lent me his collection of dragons and other mythical creatures to make a Magical Creatures display. To go with the clouds on the ceiling I made a cloud poster featuring Dumbledore's most famous wise quotes. He had all these wise sayings so I added "Nitwit Oddment Blubber and Tweak" amongst all the serious quotes because Dumbledore could say some pretty amusing things too. I made a Hogwarts Banner to go next to this poster and put various other things on the walls like the Sorting Hat my daughter brought back from the Wizarding World of Harry Potter and a scroll that quotes "I Solemnly Swear I am Up to No Good" which activates the Maurauder's Map. I hung a decorative broom and wand up next to the Sorting Hat. Also, I hung a Potions Closet sign above the Potions Closet and in the same fashion hung a "Room of Requirement" sign above the bathroom door which got a few chuckles. Downstairs my fireplace is a central piece of my family room. It's on a raised brick area that my kids like to pretend is a stage. There are lots of shelves in there for holding decorations.
I cleared out all the things we normally keep in there and then had the perfect area for the Owlery. My daughter already had a Hedwig and another owl. I asked to borrow these but didn't tell her what for. I bought plush owls from Kohl's for all the children. The owls looked adorable. I found a sculpted owl at a thrift store a couple other owls at craft stores and some on clearance from Halloween. I made a sign which was a humongous scroll that said "The Owlery Under the Stairs"a tribute to Harry Potter's "Cupboard Under the Stairs" to which Harry's owl post was addressed. I used big gold letters and made the O look like an Owl's eye. I added pictures of owls carrying mail and plush fuzzy felt owls to my sign. I also was lucky to find a battery operated large owl canvas featuring a beautiful owl surrounded by lots of lighted owl eyes that flash around when turned on. It was a Halloween clearance item and I was thrilled! I also added some of my battery operated candles to the Owlery of course. The candles along with the flashing canvas lights added lots of sparkle and glow to the Owlery. I explained to everyone (who didn't already know) that in Harry Potter the Owls bring all the mail and packages.
When the guests brought gifts (most of them wrapped like owl post packages per my request) the children would use the plush owls to "fly" the gifts down to the owlery. I decorated all my daughters presents to look like brown paper packages tied up in string except for one package that I made to look like a snitch because it had handmade snitch earrings in it. I tied that one to her Hedwig's leg. The cards and lightweight presents were tied to the owls legs because that's what the wizards do of course! I found lots of owl post printables even owl post wrapping paper on line. There were lots of little owl post pictures owl post stamps etc. I also wrapped up some of the party favors in Owl post wrapping paper so that all the children would get an owl delivering them a Hogwarts package not just the birthday girl. I used more of the red wax Hogwarts seals and owl post printables to make them look authentic.
ACTIVITIES: As the guests arrived my daughter gave them sorting hat personality quizzes. Even the family members who didn't know too much about Harry Potter could take this quiz. They got to wear the Sorting Hat if they wished and she graded each quizz and placed each person into which house actually fit their personality best. Being Thanksgiving the first order of business was the Great Feast. We only have two tables not four so we all just ate together no matter which house we were in. We ate all the traditional Thanksgiving fare underneath the floating candles and enchanted ceiling. I have a Gnome Statue and I made him a hat that says "Clean up After Yourselves House Elves don't Work Here!". But of course it was a joke.
Right after our Feast we had birthday cake and I made three different kinds but I will get to that in the "Cake" category. One of the best parts of dessert was the ice cream which ended up being like a potions experiment or potions class. I'd gone to a local food-craft store that sells individual packages of sprinkles and baking sugar of all different kinds. My goal was to find as many magical ingredients as I could to be ice cream toppings. We used silver sprinkles (floo powder) black baking sugar (Peruvian Instant darkness powder) red sugar crystals (crystallized love potion) green sugar crystals (Mandrake essence) Pink Pig sprinkles (Dudley sprinkles) brown sprinkles (pixie droppings) Multi- colored crystals (Wizard Dust) flat round disks (Dragon Scales) red hots (Boom Berries) etc. I used the Harry Potter font to make signs for everything. To my surprise the kids chose just about every single topping and had almost more toppings than ice cream. They mixed it all together and made sludgy "Potions" delighting in the ways the different sugars turned their ice cream colors.
GAMES: The first game we played was "Guess the Bertie Botts Every Flavor Bean". I identified and labeled the beans with numbers beforehand. This game was a real hoot for me because I got to watch everyone taste these beans and a lot of them were nasty flavors like vomit booger earthworm dirt soap grass earwax etc. The guest who guessed the most beans right won Dementor-Recovery chocolate (chocolate bars with fancy labels I made). Her friends couldn't come over Thanksgiving day so we had a separate party for them over the week-end in which we did the same things plus had a few extra treats I couldn't manage in time for Thanksgiving like cockroach clusters and acid pops. I searched for a tricky Harry Potter trivia game that would challenge even the birthday girl.) The next Activity or Game also falls under the Costume Category.
COSTUMES: My nephews love Harry Potter and dressed up as wizards. My oldest nephew wore his quiddich robes and brought his Firebolt. And we had a Surprise Guest Appearance of Professor Trelawny and Headmaster Dumbledore (my mother and her boyfriend). Their costumes were amazing. All I did was ask them to do this and I did buy the Professor Trelawny glasses but they did the rest themselves.
My mother wore a big curly wig with a scarf tied around it a black dress robe big coke bottle glasses and carried a colorful scarf cradling a real crystal ball that she owns. Dumbledore already had long silver hair and added a silver beard dress robes a wizard hat and an ornate wand with crystals on both ends. We had Dumbledore present my daughter with a framed Hogwarts Certificate of Merit which I made using the Hogwarts Crest and a downloadable certificate. The award congratulated her on her outstanding knowledge of the Wizarding World and also congratulated her on Coming of Age in the Wizarding World. Then Professor Trelawny held Divinations Class which was hilarious. She had several slips of paper crumpled up into a hat and would ask varying guests to draw one at a time. She would stick the slip of paper to her forehead and make a prediction. She would have us all call out a number. The predictions were all either lucky or unlucky but they were all funny things like how many flat tires you would get by the end of next year how many millions of dollars you would make in your lifetime. Of course we quickly caught on that guessing high could be lucky or unlucky depending on what the prediction would turn out to be. Then she did Crystal Ball readings and made individualized predictions which were specific to each guest. She wasn't all Doom and Gloom like Professor Trelawny usually is because we had children of all ages the youngest being four. The predictions had to be age appropriate and not terrifying but she mimicked Professor Trelawny's voice very well.
After Divinations class we had a photo session in front of the Owlery and got pictures of everyone muggles and wizards alike. We also played Pin the Wing on the Snitch and I was hoping to get in a game of Harry Potter Clue which I gave the birthday girl for her birthday but alas there are only so many hours in a day.
PARTY SNACKS: I set up a Honeydukes Table inside of the Owlery and filled it with baskets of Harry Potter themed treats. The idea was that the Owls had flown these baskets in from Hogsmeade and I managed to make and hide away all these treats and baskets until after midnight the day before the party because I wanted the Owlery and everything in it to be a surprise. We had Bertie Botts in shiny gold and purple drawstring bags (and I found printable labels for them) edible Ollivander wands (chocolate hazelnut pirouettes and licorice wands with various colored candy coating and sprinkles). I also found printable Ollivanders labels for them. Of course we had chocolate frogs and peppermint toads and also No-Melt ice-cream (Marshmallow ice cream) Mad-Eye-Moody Pops (which were cookie eyeball pops) eyeball candy eyeball gum Dumbledore's lemon drops Death Eater Pops Sugar Quills Owl Post Owl Pops and Dragon Egg Blowing Gum in Horcrux Trophies. I made Honeydukes Labels for everything and used the Harry Potter font to label what everything was. I used ribbons and sparkly stars to make the baskets and treats look pretty.
I made famous Witch and Wizard cards to go with the chocolate frogs and included a chocolate frog box in the display. I also included the Bertie Botts beans baggies that we've saved from long ago. I used fake cockroaches to decorate the platter of cockroach clusters and skeleton pops for the acid pops. It's easy to find lots of Harry Potter treat recipes online. Everybody thought the cockroach clusters would be gross and were happy when they turned out to be tasty. In addition to the sweets I labeled ordinary foods with funny names again using the Harry Potter font of course to make the signs. The veggies were Professor Sprouts Magical Roots and the garlicy spinach and artichoke dip was Vampire-Be-Gone dip. And of course to drink I made Pumpkin Juice and Butterbeer. I found glass mugs from the dollar store and a thrift store and printed out butterbeer labels. I tied on mini broomsticks to the handles of the butterbeer mugs. I used dark blue water goblets for the pumpkin juice and printed out labels for those as well. I found a mug shaped like a pumpkin at a thrift store and would have loved a whole set of those--but it ended up being a special mug for the birthday girl. The pumpkin juice was my best batch ever and tasted like pumpkin pie in a cup. The butterbeer however was very sweet too sweet for my taste but other people drank it. Next time I'll reduce the amount of butterscotch in the recipe though.
CAKE: I went back and forth with many cake ideas. I thought of making a Snitch cake and almost went that route. But I wanted a cake representing Owls since they were the main theme of the party. In Harry Potter the most popular cakes seem to be cauldron cakes. What I ended up making were Snitch Cake Pops Owl Cupcakes and Cauldron Cakes. The Snitch Cake Pops are little cake balls on a stick covered in yellow candy coating and golden sugar crystals and of course kids love to eat things off of sticks so they all went for these right away. You can make candy wings from fondant or candy coating but I made wings out of cardstock and silver glitter designs and had the children save the wings for our game of "Pin the Wing on the Snitch" for which I made a Snitch Poster with the saying "Tell me if you Must but don't be a (and then a picture of a Snitch). The Owl Cupcakes were adorable and super easy. We baked cupcakes and frosted them. The Owl's eyes are an opened oreo with the crème side facing up and a junior mint on top. The beak is candy corn (we used various colors). We used cut pieces of licorice to make little tufts on the Owl's foreheads but that step is optional. The cauldron cakes were easy too. We baked devil's food cupcakes and spooned out the insides to make cauldron shapes then frosted the cauldrons in devil's food frosting. We squirted green frosting into the center of the cauldron to be a potion and poked strings of black decorating licorice on both sides for the handles.
FAVORS: The Kohl's Cares for Kids plush owls which carried each child a package from Hogwarts inside which was a potions book a Happy Thanksgiving From Hogwarts card and an Owl activity page. I also made bags with Honeyduke labels and put their names on them so they could gather all the treats for later. It was Thanksgiving after all and there were so many treats. There were even stretchy mice and rats to be Owl Treats. The other bag they all recieved was a party bag from Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes the joke shop that Fred and George opened up. I had all these bags together in one gift bag and told the children the owls brought it from the joke shop. Each bag said it was especially prepared for(the child's name) and listed what was inside...there were spellbound trick wands infused with the spells Densuagio and Anticula and I explained what the spells would do...Densuagio would enlarge teeth grotesquely so I included those fake costume teeth from the dollar store. Anticula would create a flock of ducks and I gave out whistles shaped like duck bills that made duck quacking sounds. Reducio was the counter spell. Also in the joke bag were Extendable Hands (sticky hands that could be used to catch items) Devil's Snare (chinese handcuffs) Transfiguring Pygmy Puffs (toys that were part animal part puff ball) Mystical Ppinning Tops and Patented Daydream Charms (bags of Graffitti Taffy with colorful swirls labeled to say they produced highly realistic daydreams with the side effects of drooling and a dazed expression). I tried to stick to the categories in order for this report but I overlapped because a lot of my ideas overlapped into one or more category. The parties were a huge success and will be remembered for years.