They say the Devil’s in the details, and with our Hogwarts Alumni Dinner, we found that it was the magic in the details instead! A Harry Potter party turns out to be the perfect vessel to showcase lots of magical details. When planning an immersive theme party, the broad strokes set the stage. We’ve already done a post on transforming our home into Hogwarts – but it’s the little things that really deliver on making the party personal and enchanting for the guests. Party guests just love spotting easter eggs and all of the small things you do that aren’t necessarily the center of attention.
In our effort to make our home into Hogwarts for our dinner party, we included a few of our favorite Hogwartsy things: a crafty Mirror of Erised, a thrifty Dumbledore’s podium, and a print of the still-life painting of fruit at the Kitchen’s entrance (you had to tickle the pear to enter). We even gave out daily prophet themed crackers, played a game of Pensive (kind of Charades), and had sparklers to Lumos the night sky with.
Mirror of Erised
This craft was a lot of fun and one of our favorite magical details. In fact, its still up on Ellie’s mirror! It’s perfect to add to an existing mirror, but can also be made especially for your party.
The first thing you’ll want to do is measure your mirror. This will give you the overall size for your frame. The Stave mirror from ikea was already smack dab in the middle of Ellie’s living room wall. The heavy mirror was anchored rather permanently there, so we decided to use this to our advantage. We recommend a tall or floor-length mirror of a substantial size to use for your Mirror of Erised.
We found this awesome mirror frame by Nebulan on DeviantArt, and using Photoshop, sized to it to our mirror. Then we went in and wrote the famous inscription, “Erised stra ehru oyt ube cafru oyt on wohsi”. (Which, as any self-respecting Potterhead knows, is the mirror image of: “I show not your face but your hearts desire.”) Luckily we have access to a large format printer and were able to print this image to full size, but you can easily hand over a sized jpg or PDF to your local printshop to get a print of your correctly-sized mirror frame.
Once you have a physical print, carefully cut out your mirror image – you can leave the mirrored area intact for now. You are going to want to mount your cut out to black foam core. This will give the mirror some depth and black out any edges of existing mirror. Using the materials on hand, we taped 3 sheets of 20 x 30 black foam core together for our base. With a detailed eye, mount template and cut out the middle to reveal the mirror.
To age and add more detail to our mirror frame, we went over the inscription and some of the patterns with hot glue. This gave dimension to the flat image. We then went in and texture painted it with various golds. Keeping the painting to a minimum so you don’t cover up the line art beneath. This lightweight frame decoration was taped on the surface of our mirror, where it still rests today. Voila!
Since our Alumni Dinner was taking place in the great hall, we dreamed of having Dumbledore’s epic podium in the room. The podium can serve as a place where one can make speeches or announcements from and really be a lovely focal centerpiece.
Once again, we ended up scoring big time at the local thrift store. A cross-shaped candelabra, a vase that magically fit together perfectly practically jumped out at us. With the base done, now all that was left was the actual slanted podium top and the owl and snake decor.
Amazon and the Dollar Store came to the rescue for the remaining items needed. We picked up a plastic owl and snake at the Dollar Store, and Amazon provided us with small wings for the owl. For the slanted podium, a cardboard box lid magically fit perfectly on top of our cross. We glued everything together and spray painted it gold. The result was this beautiful badass podium Dumbledore would be proud of.
Kitchen Entrance Portrait
Every Hufflepuff knows that to get into the Hogwarts kitchen you have to tickle the pear. Our Hogwarts kitchen was no different. We made this painting in Photoshop, (available here) and simply printed and taped it to the kitchen entrance. Not only did it provide a nice detail for our Hogwarts hall, it also ended up being a comedic photo op for our party guests!
Daily Prophet Crackers
You guys know the British tradition of Christmas crackers? The Christmas Feast at Hogwarts was always peppered with these beauties. We decided our alumni dinner was a special occasion that was cracker-worthy. So we made our own, wrapped in the latest edition of the Daily Prophet, and filled with magical goodies.
All you need to make your own crackers are toilet paper or paper towel rolls, cracker snaps and whatever you want to fill them with. We opted for mini potion bottles, old keys, harry potter pick-up lines, starry confetti and of course, gold or silver crowns. Here’s an easy tutorial to help make your crackers a reality.
The Daily Prophet paper we used to wrap up the crackers was so much fun to make! Personalizing the paper with pictures of our friends and funny headlines really added a lot of fun detail to the crackers that our guests appreciated. Its pretty easy to make your own daily prophet! There are so many templates out there ready for use – find one and get going.
We gave the poppers out after the main course – there were quite a few loud CRACK!’s and magic exploded from them. Everyone was having a great time using the papers as photo props, and we still find confetti randomly in Ellie’s house (for better or worse? We think better).
Magical Details: Themed Activities
Unique themed activities were a must for the evening. We spent a lot of hours trying to come up with some fun Harry Potter activities that played into our homecoming theme.
Group Sing: the School Song
To start the evening off with a bang – we commenced the feast with a Welcome Speech and a group sing of the Hogwarts school song. We passed out lyrics sheets and reminded everyone that they could sing the song to the tune of their choosing.
Since our party was an alumni dinner, we thought bringing up memories from the old school days from the pensive would be great. We made cards with names of items, people, and places from the wizarding world on them. These were our “memories” that were pulled from the pensive. We organized a few rounds of guessing what these memories were, basically following the rules of charades and “Celebrity.” So much fun, even for our few muggle guests who didn’t know much of the wizarding world.
Of course you can’t have an alumni party without giving out some superlative awards to your guests. We had so much fun coming up with the categories, from Best Witch Fashion to Most Likely to Have Been Caught Snogging in the Broom Closet. Use our Hogwarts Certificate template and customize your own categories. You can either have your guests vote on the winners, or take Host privilege and dole them out yourself. We did the former, and crafted short funny stories about the recipients’ doings in the wizarding world that earned them their awards.
You guys remember sparklers from the July 4ths of your childhood, right? Well, you can resurrect them now as adults. We found a pile at our local dollar store, but online is always an option. These buggers send out magical sparkles into the night sky, and are shaped like wands. With some slow-motion filming and excellent wand work, you can make your sparklers into an excellent demonstration of a Wizards Duel. All in all, they are the perfect way to cap off the evening.