Planning a party is difficult at the best of times. Planning a themed party for kids is even more difficult. How do you keep the children busy? How do you make scrumptious food that links to the theme? What about invitations? Games? Snacks? Prizes?
These are some of the questions that you must answer in order to plan a successful themed party. The methods and ideas I show below can be applied to any themed party (aside from the recipes perhaps), but I decided to focus on Harry Potter.
Choosing a Theme for a Party
When choosing a theme for a children's party it's always important to find a theme that most children will know about. Picking a theme about Star Trek is probably going to fail, as many children will not have seen Star Trek, or perhaps don't like it.
The best thing to do is to take a look at recent movies or children's books and try to find a successful theme that is very popular. There are many great themes: Twilight (for teenagers), Ice Age (for all), Shrek, and my personal favorite, Harry Potter.
Each of these themes is known by most children, and there is enough scope within each to provide games, food, and awards. For this article, I've decided to concentrate on Harry Potter—I'm a huge fan!
Sure, you could call each parent and invite their children to the party, but wouldn't it be more fun to send out themed invitations? You have several options.
1. Use Microsoft Word to create your invitations.
I'm using Word 2007 to create the Invitation, and I assume that you have a working knowledge of how to use MS Word.
- Find a suitable picture and insert it into the Word Document.
- Resize the picture so it is the size that you require for the invitation.
- Insert a text box on top of the picture and add text as required.
Format the text box so that it blends in well with the picture. (I suggest making the transparency about 95%)
You really can have fun with this and produce some pretty cool invitations - the one featured above is how I suggest you DON'T design the invitation!
2. Buy pre-made invitations.
While this isn't as fun as making your own, there are plenty of places where you can buy pre-made invitations. Some of the possible resources you can use:
- The internet - there are dozens of sites that offer premade invitations.
- Your local card store - depending on the season you'll often find all sorts of premade invitations.
- Your local book store - this is a good place to find book related invitations and stationary.
- Printers - while probably a little more expensive, you can get a local printer to make your invitations.
Food & Drink
Aside from the magical items such as every flavored beans, chocolate frogs, etc., the food and drink can be fairly standard fare—most of the food eaten in Harry Potter is based on traditional British foods, and despite the reputation, is actually very tasty.
Choosing the food will depend on the age of the ‘party goers’ and also the season—you wouldn’t want a hearty stew on a hot summer’s day:
- Pumpkin juice
- Orange soda (use this if you can’t find pumpkin juice and pretend!)
- Root beer (instead of butter-beer)
- Hot chocolate
- Roast beef or beefburgers
- Roast chicken or chicken nuggets
- Fried sausage or hot dogs
- Shepherd’s pie
- Mashed potatoes
- Apple pie
- Treacle tart
- Spotted dick
- Chocolate eclairs
- Chocolate gateau
- Jam doughnuts
- Rice pudding
Harry Potter Candy
Games & Prizes
I suggest you use the specialty candy (such as every flavor beans and chocolate frogs) as prizes for your games. There are many games that you can play that are inspired by Harry Potter.
I list a few ideas below, but generally, you can take any game you'd normally play at a party and adapt it to the Harry Potter theme.
The Sorting Game: Get an old wizards hat—place it in a position where an adult can hide behind it, or for the more technical, find a microphone and hook it up to a speaker hidden below the hat. As each child enters, have some fun, but make sure the numbers in each team are equal if possible.
Teams: Buy some cheap colored cloth to match the Hogwarts colors and create simple cloaks—award a cloak, a wand and a cauldron to each child based on their new team. As you play each game, award points as you see fit—if you can, fix the game so the scores are fairly even otherwise you'll lose interest.
Chocolate Frog Hunt: This is exactly the same as an Easter egg hunt, but instead of eggs, use Chocolate frogs—the child will use the cauldron to collect the frogs.
Quidditch: OK, so the kids can’t fly, but you can try and emulate the game.
Equipment: six hoops, water balloons, badminton equipment (or tennis equipment). This is ideal for a hot day, and while the game itself may not be that great, the kids will have great fun getting soaked.
- The idea is simple – assign a ‘goalie’ to protect three hoops, two beaters who will have a badminton racket each and will try and knock a ‘shuttle cock’ through the hoops.
- Have two players designated as ‘seekers’—paint one shuttle-cock gold and occasionally throw it into the air—if one of the seekers catches the gold shuttle cock then the game is over.
- The rest of the team will simply throw water balloons at the team members each other etc.
Scoring: shuttle cock through the hoop 10 pts, catching the golden snitch 100 pts.
Quidditch (Alternative): Simply have a game of tag—the person who is ‘it’ is the snitch!
Jelly Bean Sort: Get several bags of different colored ‘every flavor’ beans—mix them together in a large cauldron for each team – the first team to sort them into the separate colors wins.
Pin the Beard on Hagrid: Yep—same as pin the tail on the donkey, but use a large picture of Hagrid and a beard.
Trivia Quiz: A simple team-based quiz, the first to put their wand in the air and shout ‘Expecto Patronum' answers the questions.
Part of the fun of a themed party is dressing up. There are various ways that you can get your guests to look the part.
- Buy cloaks, wands, and hats—this becomes very expensive but gives the best look of all.
- Ask them to dress prior to coming—this is cheaper but you do lose some of the fun.
- Make your own.
How to Make Your Own Harry Potter Costumes
- Buy some black (or colored materiel) and cut into appropriate ‘square’ sizes. Cut out a semi-circle for the collar.
- Buy some white material and line the collar area previously cut out.
- Sew some ribbon at the end of the collar to allow the wearer to tie.
- Find some old baseball caps and cut off the flap.
- Use some stiff cardboard, gluing it around the baseball cap to form a point. Try and leave a half-inch ‘flap’ at the bottom.
- Use some stiff cardboard and cut a circle—glue to the flap from above—cut out a head-sized hole.
- Paint and decorate (add starts sprinkles etc.).
- Buy some doweling from the local hardware store and cut into 1-foot strips.
- Use some old ping pong balls or some large beads and glue them to the end of the doweling (you can cut a small hole in the balls or beads and push the doweling in to make it stronger).
- Paint and decorate.
Simon Cook (author) from NJ, USA on October 12, 2014:
@e - thanks for spotting! Not sure if I just had a bad day or if auto-correct did something strange!!!
E on October 12, 2014:
Specto patronus? Not judging, I actually quite like what you've done, but just pointing out that in Australia, at least, the spell is Expecto Patronum (patronus is the guardian). Sorry if this comes across mean, I'm not intending it to— I am just a major Harry Potter fan. :)
Bud Gallant from Hamilton, Ontario, Canada on July 16, 2011:
This is so creative and clever.
Excellent work! This seems like a really fun idea!
Simon Cook (author) from NJ, USA on October 08, 2009:
Kas10900: absolutely right - I can't wait for the theme park to open - I have a great excuse too - I'll have a brand new grand child next may - many years of Harry Potter fun to come!
Simon Cook (author) from NJ, USA on September 21, 2009:
judydianne - yes I have - can't wait for it to open - we're going there with our 18 year old girls next year!!!!
judydianne from Palm Harbor, FL on September 21, 2009:
Great game ideas! I'm a Harry Potter fan also. Kids would have a blast with these games. Good job!
Have you heard of the new Harry Potter theme park at Universal in Orlando? Go to travel.yahoo.com and search for Harry Potter.
Janet21 from New York on September 21, 2009:
Great job on this party hub! Your Harry Potter game ideas sound like lots of fun. :)