As the Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part Two billboards have been saying for months, it all ends this Friday. Until the Blu-ray is released. And then the ultimate Blu-ray extended edition package. But theatrically speaking, it is truly the end of an era and simply put, end of eras require parties. So if you’re planning on getting together with friends to celebrate the series that was Harry Potter before seeing Deathly Hallows: Part Two this weekend, here is a handy guide for what to do.
What to Buy
First off, if you live in L.A. visit Whimsic Alley, an important part of any Harry Party prep. Here you can pick up activities like the Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets Spells & Potions Activity Kit or Harry-themed 20 Questions; decorations like Hogwarts cups, napkins, flags, and wall decals; party favors like tattoos (I’m partial to the Death Eater one), buttons, postcards, and stickers; and prizes like a light-up Triwizard Cup, a Dumbledore’s Army journal, a Harry Potter pop-up book, the Harry Potter Film Wizardry book on the design of the films, house-themed scarves, a wand — the possibilities are endless. If you don’t live in L.A., all of these items can be found online and many can be found in toy and book stores. And of course, get ingredients for food, drinks, and supplies for any games you plan on playing.
It’s up to you whether to invite friends who have only seen the movies and not read the books. At a party like this, avoiding spoilers shouldn’t be on your mind, but if you want to be inclusive, just alter any games that may ruin the second half of the seventh book for anyone and make sure everyone watches their mouths.
Encourage everyone to dress up. Whether it’s as a character, a generic member of a house, or even if they are just covered in Harry-related garb, parties are always more fun when costumes are involved. Fact.
If you’re going all out, fashion your living room after a set from Harry, like Hadrid’s hut, Grimmauld Place, or the Great Hall. For lower key but still festive, just pick a house and decorate with that color in mind, or divide your living room into four areas for each house and decorate accordingly.
Use the Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook to create Harry Potter-themed treats for your guests, or be truly creative and invent your own!
Create whatever you think Butterbeer would be. Pour butterscotch liquor into a wheat-based beer or, better yet, fashion your own specialty cocktail. If possible, make it punch-style so people can dip in whenever they please.
If you have a copy of the Unofficial Harry Potter Party Book, it’s all about throwing Harry-themed parties. I don’t have it. I want it. Creating any of the crafts in there will make a lovely supplement to the activities listed blow.
The Party Itself
Make your own sorting hat quiz or find one online. Print out multiple copies and have pens on hand. When everyone arrives, they must fill out the quiz and return it to you. Once everyone has completed it, use whatever scoring system you have devised (even if that means entering each set of answers online while your guests mingle) to have a Sorting Hat ceremony. Take turns bringing people up and throwing a hat on them (Sorting Hat is kind of expensive, so any hat will do), then announcing their house. Give each person a patch, sticker, or button that correlates to their house, depending on what Whimsic Alley offered for cheapest, and have them wear it for the duration of the party.
Harry Potter Celebrity
One of my favorite games to play is Celebrity and the idea of Harry Potter-themed Celebrity makes me want to cry with joy. Have each person write down three words. These words should include: characters, actors, creatures, locations, potions, and magical items. There are three rounds: first round, get your team to guess the word using rules most like Taboo. Second round: only use two words. Third round: charades. If it’s possible to divide teams by houses, I would recommend it, or at least two houses per team. Award the winning team 50 points for their house.
Harry Potter Categories
If you’re short on time, here is an alternative to Celebrity. Pair everyone off, each from a different house. Each pair gets a category — i.e., characters, actors, creatures, locations, potions, and magical items, just like Celebrity. Then you have one of two options. First, have each pair stand up and take turns naming items from that category. If one person is stumped, the other has the opportunity to name one instead, and score 25 points for their house. If the other person can’t name one instead and both are stumped, each gets 10 points for their house. The other way is to have each pair write down as many items as they can think of in their category. At the end, one person reads theirs aloud and the other crosses out any doubles. Once the doubles are crossed out, see who has the most and that house wins 25 points.
Button & Badge Making
Bust out a button-making machine or molding clay and paint if you have any and create stations for making custom buttons and badges. Have the buttons say things like S.P.E.W., Weasley Is Our King, or Potter Stinks and have the badges be things like horcruxes, house crests, and deathly hallows. Stick a toothpick in the bottom of the badge and suddenly you have cake decorations! For every one made, that person receives five points for their house.
Use henna, temporary tattoos, or even permanent marker to create tattoos like the Dark Mark, Dumbledore’s Army, “I must not tell lies,” the symbol of the Deathly Hallows, Harry’s scar, and more.
Before the party, divide spells into tiers of difficulty, beginning with the easiest ones everyone knows, and ending with a group of ones only the most diligent readers would remember. Have all of your guests stand in a line and go one by one. You read what a spell does and the person in line must say the name of the spell. Keep going until there is one winner or you run out of spells. Whoever remains receives 35 points for their house/houses. Find a list of spells here.
Have each house elect one person to participate. Give each person a plate of seaweed and say GO! The first to finish wins 20 points for their house. Harry just downed that s**t — to be a true hero, you gotta be able to down it, too.
Pin Avada Kedavra on the Death Eater
Or something of that ilk. If you can get your hands on a cheap poster, wall decal, or even print something out yourself, of someone like Bellatrix Lestrange, just blindfold your guests and have them try their hardest to stab her in the face. Or to be more accurate, use a wand instead of a pin, take the blindfold off once you make contact with the wall, and mark where your wand hit. Closest person wins 15 points for their house. Note: We don’t encourage killing here at Hogwarts, but some bitches just need to die. #DeathlyHallowsPartTwo #ICantWaitForThatLine
Pick up the Unofficial Harry Potter Sweet Shoppe Kit and make candy as a group! If you do this toward the beginning of the party, depending on the treat, you can eat them at the end. Nomnom.
If you want to get a little sentimental, sit in a circle and go around talking about your favorite Harry Potter-related memories (like opening the seventh book for the first time and seeing the name of the first chapter, “The Dark Lord Ascending,” and promptly freaking out) and favorite scenes from the books and movies.
Play a Harry Potter Board Game
Once the party starts winding down, but you’re not ready to say goodbye to Harry just yet, throw on your favorite Harry movie, put it on mute (but take a break to watch your favorite scenes), and bust out the Harry Potter Clue to play with the few remaining folks.
Hope these tips have been helpful and that you have a wonderful celebration of all that is Harry before saying goodbye. Although remember what Dumbledore once said:
“To the well-organized mind, death is but the next great adventure.”