Harry Potter Birthday Party

For the past few years, we’ve gone “easy street” for birthday parties.  But this year, for my daughter’s thirteenth birthday party, she wanted a real party with a Harry Potter theme.

Since I have more time and less money to spend planning a party, I ended up making a lot of the decorations myself, rather than buying them.  The first thing I tackled was the sorting hat.


I cut open a paper grocery bag and rolled it into a cone.  Then, using binder clips, I made the facial features; four inside to make the eye slits and mouth, and two on the outside to create the eyebrows.  After all the clips were where I wanted them, I used a spray bottle and paper towels to spray and wipe water all over the hat.  The idea is to get the paper nice and pliable, but not so wet that it falls apart.  When I was finished, I let the hat sit and dry for a couple of days.  The brim was harder to add than I thought it would be, and if I were to make another, I would do it all at once, rather than from two separate pieces. Here’s the tutorial where I got the how-to.

The house ties and house banners I made from felt fabric.  There wasn’t anything hard about making them, and I just drew the letters from an example I saw on Pinterest.



I ended up running a stitch along each stripe on the ties to make sure they didn’t come off when the girls were running wild through the house.


One of the easiest projects was a Platform 9 3/4 entrance with a brick backdrop and some poster board.  One thing that made a big difference in how it looked was we overlapped the brick backdrop by almost a foot and a half.


For fun, the girls played “Pin the nose on Voldemort,” and it satisfying to laugh at “He Who Must Not Be Named” and his face full of noses.


When the girls first arrived, we “sorted” them into houses with cupcakes filled with different colored sprinkles.  Once they were assigned a house, they grabbed a tie and a wand. We made these from a kit with hot glue, paint and wax.


Of course I made a chocolate cake like the one Harry receives from Hagrid on his eleventh birthday, compete with misspellings in green icing.


I also served Chick-Fil-A nuggets, ham and cheese pinwheels, chips and these yummy delights:


For the table, I created “Mandrakes” out of knee-high hosiery stuffed with brown fabric scraps.  I attached leaves, and “planted” them in inexpensive clay pots.




The HARDEST project was finding a way to hang candles from the ceiling to re-create the great hall at Hogwarts.  I saw quite a few Pinterest boards, where they were attached to the ceiling with tacks and pins, but I didn’t want to ruin my ceiling.  So…


I attached a loop of string on each corner of a foam board using a big, fat plastic needle.  Then, I attached a single line of polyester thread to each LED candle, securing it with clear tape.  I poked five holes in each foam board and pulled the threads through, adding packing tape to make sure they didn’t fall out.  To hang the foam boards, we used a command hook for each corner, and attached the string loops to the hooks.


Fifteen candles gave a great effect, but if I do it again, I will try to get closer to 24 candles.


All in all the party was a success, and the girls had a fabulous time!


Sofa-Bed Solutions

The fourth bedroom in our home serves a dual purpose. Most of the time, it is set up as my office.  I love the long workspace of my desk, and I spend at least an hour here each morning, checking email, doing Bible study and journaling.  Everything is at hand, and the space is cozy and comfortable.


Several times a year, we convert my office to our guest room to accommodate friends and family who come for a visit.  When we bought the house, we considered our options:  Guest bed?  Or pull-out sofa?   Rather than have to work around a bed when we don’t have guests, we decided on a pull out sofa, and committed ourselves to finding a solution for the infamous sofa-bed mattress horror show.

The first way that we tackled this problem was by adding additional support to the sofa bed frame by way of 1×6 boards.  Mark, my clever husband, added two anchor pieces to “lock” the boards in place along the end of the frame.  Otherwise, our guests might find themselves on the giving end of a 1×6 board when they get up for a snack in the middle of the night!


Mark also numbered the boards for convenience, as they were custom fit across the entire frame.


The boards do offer added support, but there is also some movement and flexibility by using 5 of them rather than a single piece of wood.


Ahhhh…the sofa-bed mattress.  A tool of the Spanish Inquisition, no doubt, wrapped in a mattress cover, and sold to unsuspecting homeowners.  There just isn’t anything nice I can say about it, so I’ll move along.


We bought a three inch memory foam mattress topper at Costco, and straps to keep it rolled up for storage.  These things are unwieldy, and rolling it up is like wrangling a squirmy calf.  I recommend a second set of hands and a cocktail for afterward.  You’ll have earned it!


When my parents come to visit, I typically make the bed with two standard blankets, an electric blanket and a comforter.  I also stash an extra quilt and blanket under the bed in case they need some extra warmth.

This sofa-bed set-up works well, and although it can’t beat a real mattress/bed, my parents usually stay for a couple of weeks without complaint.  The extra time and effort it takes to set it up is worth it, because well-rested guests are happy guests!