Monday, November 9, 2015

Harry Potter Invitations

Depending on the size of your guest list, invitations can get expensive real quick or be overly time-consuming to create yourself.  Here are some things to consider when planning invitations:
What kind of budget do you have?
It's important to have an idea of how much money you want to spend on invites before you even begin.

How large is the guest list?
Our school had a policy that you could not send invites to school for just a few kids out of the class.  You must invite all the girls, all the boys, or the entire class.  Since our kids were close to both girls and boys, we decided to invite the whole class.  That meant roughly 50 invites between the two kid's classrooms.  I wanted to keep the invitations at less than $1.00 per kid, so that really narrowed my options.  If you only have 8 kids on your list, you might be able to do something more extravagant.
Are you hand-delivering the invitations or mailing the invites?
I found an awesome idea for owl balloon invitations (see photo to the right), but they would require hand-delivery.  Since we planned to pass our invites out at school, I decided against balloons.  There are several tutorials floating around (who says I'm no good with puns?) if you want to learn how to draw and color cute little owls on white, helium filled balloons.  Then you roll your invitation letter, like a scroll, tie it on, and leave it on the doorstep. (Actually, I would tie it onto the doorknob so it doesn't blow away).  If you aren't into drawing, here's an Etsy seller who has a printable owl template for sale.
Here's another adorable handmade option I found, which is perhaps more time-consuming, but a lot easier to pass out in class or send via mail.  One creative mom made 10 of these cute felt owls to give out with her son's invites (picture at left).  I'm so impressed by her creativity!  I might have even attempted something similar, if I hadn't had 50 invites to make. 

Don't forget though, if you are mailing anything three-dimensional, it will require special packaging and additional postage.  You also can't mail letters that have a wax seal on the back.  Check with your local post office ahead of time, to see what their restrictions are or if they have any suggestions.
Do-It-Yourself vs. Purchased?
If you are looking for ideas, simply type the words "Harry Potter Invites" into Etsy, and you'll get a plethora of options from which to choose.  Since I needed at least 50, that put the majority of options out of my price range.  I have Microsoft Publisher on my computer, so I decided to make them myself.  I found a few invites I really liked, selected my favorite, and tried to recreate it.  I modeled my invite after one similar to this "Hogwarts Acceptance Letter," which I printed on parchment style paper, and I ended up skipping the owls.

Other ideas of items to include in the invite instead of an owl might be:
  • Tuck a feather into the envelope, such as a large white bird's feather
  • Add a real wax seal, or stickers that look like a wax seal, to close the back of the envelope
  • Include a code word, required to enter the party, written in lemon juice, which can be revealed by heating the paper, like with a hair dryer
  • Include a short personality quiz, for guests to fill out and bring to the party, to help sort them into the appropriate house
  • Some "gold coins" from Gringott's bank, for students to buy their school supplies when they arrive at Diagon Alley, or the key that's required for them to enter their bank vault.
  • Their ticket to board the Hogwart's Express (at Platform 9 3/4 of course).
Here are a few other invites I really like. You can click on the first two images to visit their blogs, where you'll find downloadable templates and complete instructions.  The owl post pillow box is available for purchase on Etsy.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Planning a Magical Harry Potter Party

We don't have huge birthdays every year.  Sometimes it's just been us, our own children, the birthday kid's favorite meal, a cake, and a couple of presents.  That's it.  Every once in awhile though, we have a big blowout bash of a birthday...the kind of birthday that (we hope) our kids will remember forever.  Since our oldest and our middle child have birthdays 10 days apart, we often feel like we're throwing back-to-back parties.  Hoping to eliminate some work, we decided to use the same theme for both.  That way we could decorate the house once and throw the same party twice.  All we needed was a party theme that would work equally well for both genders and for kids ages 7 to 9.  Harry Potter fit the bill.  Here's how to plan a magical Harry Potter party.

The internet is awesome.  I found so many great ideas online.  With lots of time and an unlimited budget, you could throw a party so realistic, it'd feel like they were actually attending Hogwarts.  I wanted to create that kind of magic, and I had the time, but I didn't have an unlimited budget.  Still, there are many, many things you can do yourself, to keep it affordable, and still make it look fantastic.  It takes some upfront planning.  If you want it to be truly magical, you can't just throw it together in a week, (unless you already have most of the decorations).  I found it helpful to start planning months in advance.  For example, try to take advantage of the after-Halloween sales.  Owls, rats, potion bottles, creepy cloth, etc. are harder to find, and more expensive to buy, during other times of the year, but they all go on sale after Halloween.

Since there's so much to cover, I'm breaking it down into several different posts.  For each area, I'll try to present both simple and complex ideas.  Simpler ideas for those who either don't have a lot of time, or who are perhaps not as confident about their crafting skills.  Complex ideas for those who like to go completely over-the-top.  I will include links to the following sections as I create them:
  • Invitations
  • Decorations
  • Party Food  (coming soon)
  • Costumes  (coming soon)
  • Activities  (coming soon)
  • Goodie Bags  (coming soon)