Milo’s Harry Potter Party, Part 1: Food + Decor

I was planning to do just one big party post, but somewhere around the time I was editing photo number 33, I decided breaking it into two posts was a little more reasonable. Plus it’s not like we had time to do any other big projects this weekend anyway. So first up I’ll talk about the set up–all the decorations and the food–and then tomorrow or Friday I’ll be back to recap what we did during the actual party: activities and games and whatnot.

Milo’s actual 11th birthday was back at the end of May. When I asked him if it was okay to postpone it for a few months, he agreed….but wanted it to be on September 1st, because that’s the day all the 11 year olds go to Hogwarts for the first time. September 1st just happened to be Labor Day, so wish: granted! In keeping with this, and because a Harry Potter theme can get a little overwhelming, we narrowed in a sort of “Getting to Hogwarts” theme.

We set up the sunroom to be Great Hall-esque, complete with stars on the ceiling:


That’s our normal sunroom table, a borrowed folding table, and chairs from all over the house. The Hogwarts banner was borrowed from my friend, Tracy, who threw a fabulous Harry Potter for her daughter’s 11th birthday a couple of years ago.

The stars are cut out of card stock, spray painted silver and gold, and hung up with blue ribbon and tape. I kind of want to leave them up forever, because they’re so pretty (it always kind of bugs me when bloggers say this, because, I mean, what good does it do ME….but I think the room looked better in person than I was able to capture in the photos):


My black raven and giant collection of brass candlesticks came in handy:

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The tablecloth and table runners are just ones I had around.

There are a million amazing Harry Potter recipe ideas out there; there’s even at least one whole Harry Potter cookbook. We didn’t make any of those.

We kept the food super simple: we made cupcakes, ordered pizza, and did a sundae bar as our version of a big beginning of the year feast:



(Kristi, of octopus painting fame, made that Hogwarts Express sign for Tracy’s party).

After Gus’ Doctor Who Fez cake last year turned out sorta….homely, I declared, starting with Abe’s Abe Lincoln party, that the only cake decorating I’d ever attempt again was cupcake toppers. And I’ve kept up with this pledge for two whole parties now.

I made the cupcake toppers by finding black and white images of the animal mascots from each of the four houses at Open Clip Art: lion, badger, snake, and raven. Then I shrank them down and put a bunch of them on each sheet (I used Photoscape, but I’m terrible at these things. I’m sure there’s a much better way):


….and I cut around them with my 2 inch scallop punch.

Then I used card stock in house colors, punched circles with a 2.5 inch punch, glued the two layers together, and taped them to lollypop sticks. This is easier than decorating a cake.


Then things got really frustrating because I couldn’t find all the pieces to my cupcake stand. ARGH! I’ve only used it once, and now I might never get to use it again. So I set them out on four separate gold chargers, which looked nice and all, but took up a ton of space, AND it meant that my plan to use the copper cupcake wrappers I have was foiled because they didn’t look good with the gold. I would have picked more exciting baking cups if only I’d known this was going to happen. Also the cupcake wrappers compensate for ugly frosting jobs, which are the kind I do. Oh well.

Milo requested vanilla cupcakes (I know, right? Why would you pick vanilla cupcakes when you could have chocolate?!) and I used this Amy Sedaris recipe because Amy Sedaris is funny and because it was one of the first results that came up. Also we have the same birthday, and she has a sister named Gretchen and a brother named David, and I AM Gretchen and my husband’s name is David, so it’s pretty much like we’re the same person. Except I think she’s probably way better at making cupcakes than I am. I bet she even decorates cakes instead of just making cupcake toppers every time. Anyway, though, the cupcakes were good. But I subbed in my own gluten free baking mix, so I can’t really tell you how they turn out when you follow the recipe as is. Probably also good.

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Everyone seemed to enjoy the food even though there were no cockroach clusters and no Butterbeer:

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Harry Potter Arrival at Hogwarts Party with DIY cupcake toppers and "Great Hall" decorations



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Milo’s Harry Potter Party, Part 1: Food + Decor — 23 Comments

    • Ha–thanks, Julia! I think I need every single day between now and the next round of birthdays to recover from this one, though 😉

    • Thanks, Cassie! This whole stretch of the year between September and Christmas is so exhausting. I’m not sure why I thought putting it off until September was a good plan!

  1. What an awesome awesome birthday space you created Gretchen!!! I LOVED the candlesticks!!! Where did you get all of those as I desperately need some for my mantle!!! You rocked it lady! And Milo looks so happy!!!! Well done! Nicole xoxo

    • Thanks, Nicole! I see brass candlesticks just about every time I go in the thrift store….as least the one I go to the most…usually $2-3 each. It’s hard for me not to buy every one I see, but I’m getting better 😉

  2. That’s so cool!!! Brillant idea!! Thanks for sharing!! Did you make the Hogwarts Express sign? How did you make that? Perfect for the party and love your cupcake toppers!!!

    • Thanks! My friend made the Hogwarts Express sign for her daughter’s Harry Potter party, so I don’t know the details–but I believe it’s just hand painted on thin plywood.

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