Saturday, December 2, 2017

Harry Potter Birthday Party: Book Themed Cake - Part 4

It was a great party. Great because we pulled it off without too many glitches and I wasn't even that stressed out on the party day. That is largely thanks to my husband and family for helping out while I concentrated on the kid's activities. I may have planned the whole party by my myself but I had a party crew to help me execute it. I knew exactly what I wanted so I just had to demonstrate and then they took over. Volia!

We provided lots of entertainment, good food, and I absolutely loved the Harry Potter decorations. The kids even took home a cool loot bag. But I'm very impressed and pleased that my husband and other family members thought to take a lot of pictures at the party. It's not always the case but this year we had tons of photos. That made the day even better!

Oh yeah, and the cake turned out alright. Lol. The themed birthday cake is one of the main attractions of a birthday party. I actually only get to make themed cakes once or twice a year. The last themed cake I made was a year ago for my son's 8th birthday party. I know I don't make them often anymore so there was a little part of me that wasn't quite sure I could pull it off. When it came time to make a fresh batch of fondant, I hacked at it a bit and it felt a little stiff to me. It was definitely different and it was challenging to roll out. Jeez, I should just follow the recipe! Aargh.

I found a great tutorial online on how to create the Harry Potter book cake and I more or less followed that. I watched it a day or two before making the cake but I probably should have reviewed it before making the cake because I forgot about some of the features. Oops. I probably only used half the fondant they used in the tutorial. I did not have any fondant under the cake. I figured I could slide just bits of fondant on the sides and make it look like it was underneath and I was right! I hate using so much fondant because it's so sweet and everyone in my family complains about that, including me. However, when fondant is rolled super thin, it's so hard to handle. Duh.

I wished I took more pictures of my cake as I was making it but my hands were sticky with fondant and covered in cornstarch and food color. No one was around for me to ask for a photo. Believe me when I tell you that I had serious doubts this cake was going to look good. The cake itself was fine and would be delicious since it was cooked perfectly. My fondant was too thin (I never learn!) and it was so difficult to place on the cake. It cracked and ripped in so many places and I tried to lift it to move it, which was a big mistake. The better solution I found was just to slide it since the icing below is slippery. So it looked pretty messed up. At that point I thought this was going to be a disaster.

As time went by, the appearance of it improved. I was in total repair and fix mode for an hour or so. I started to patch more things up and I strategically placed design pieces to cover a lot of the flaws. It still had cracks in the end but it was alright because it was meant to look like an old book. I had to fix an entire section by removing a corner and then putting new fondant on it. It was a risky move but it really helped make things look better. Then came the dusting, painting then labeling. So after several hours, I was finally happy with it and could dismiss myself to bed. Good grief!

Left side: The goal. Right side: What I actually achieved.

I had to buy some black color powder to make my cake. But that was it! I'm so glad I was able to create my cake with everything else I had at home. The golden snitch is a cake ball wrapped in fondant. The wand is all fondant. I really wanted the cake to be 100% edible and the idea of using toothpicks for the wings sounded like a bad idea for me. My fondant would have never held. So it wasn't how I imagined it (it never is!) but I got it done! All things considered, I think it was a success. I'm done for another year! :)

Check how thin that fondant is!

We all had Harry Potter themed clothes on. Because we're a dorky family, yo :P

Friday, December 1, 2017

Harry Potter Birthday Party: The Loot Bag - Part 3

There's no better way to end a great birthday party than to go home with a cool souvenir or loot bag. Kids birthday parties are super awesome.

We invited just a small group of kids to my son's 9th birthday party. Six kids were invited and five were able to make it. That's all my husband can handle at our house. The nice thing about such a small group is that we could give each of them nicer things in their loot bag.

Here were the things I decided to put in their loot bags:
  • Homemade wand
  • Plastic cauldron container and broom pen (bought)
  • Spell sheet
  • Small chocolate bar (Dementor chocolate)
  • Jelly beans (Bertie Bott's every flavour beans)

I went to Michaels with my son and got him to pick out the jewels to attach to the wands we were going to make for him and his friends. For his own wand, he picked the marble piece and he drew me a picture of exactly what he wanted his wand to look like. Lol.

The wands were so easy to make and they looked fabulous. I finished them off with a label and some twine. If Computer Science doesn't work out for me when I get my Green Card I may just start up my own etsy shop and sell wands. Lol.

I bought a wax candle and stamp ages ago and never had the chance to use it until now. It just all came to me lately. Loved that! I wanted to include something else in the cauldron instead of just the pen and I didn't want it to be more food. The spell sheet was perfect and it would give the kids a little something to remember the party by.

The small chocolate bars are from Trader Joe's. I bought some that were all milk chocolate and some were milk chocolate with rice krispies. The cool labels I found online and I just had to resize them to fit my chocolates.

The jelly beans were also from Trader Joe's. I had to photoshop the design and package the beans and the whole treat took me the longest time to prepare. As a result, I actually have a total separate blog post on it and wanted to make the Bertie Bott's every flavour beans label available as a download on my site. For personal use please!

I drew glasses and a scar on a large kraft bag and then printed off a thank you label I found online for the other side of the bag. I placed everything into the bag except for the wands since we had to use the wands for activities during the party.

And that's my Harry Potter party loot bag. I loved it and I think the kids loved it. Hopefully, I am able to give others some cool ideas too:) And that makes all the work worth while.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Harry Potter Birthday Party: Entertainment - Part 2

Our Harry Potter party was from 1-4PM. We had plenty of games and activities lined up for the kids in between all the eating and picture taking. In my experience, if you don't give the kids an organized activity, they create their own and that usually means they watch crap on youtube or they goof off and destroy our house. Both bad.

Watch Harry Potter

Not every kid at the party knew a lot about Harry Potter. Some of them watched all the movies or read all the books like my son, or a bit of both. So I wanted them to watch a bit of Harry Potter just to remind them about the wizard world. I found a good quality super trailer online composed of all 8 movies in just 20 minutes. It was perfect. After allowing everyone to arrive in the first 15 minutes, we played the super trailer.

While that was going on, I had my husband and brother prep the pizzas and chicken wings. I wanted everything cooked and ready. We could always warm things up a bit later. I took this chance to set up the table for our magic show. Yes, we indeed did magic for the party!

Magic Show

It was a Harry Potter party so it was the perfect time for us to do magic! It's embarrassing but we bought a magic set over 10 years ago in Vegas and never got to learning a single thing from it. Until now. Our show was actually a combination of two magic sets and some stuff I learned from watching magic tutorials online. Ha!

To tie the magic show to Harry Potter, I had my son dress up in his Harry Potter costume and assist in the acts. He would point his wand at the act and call out an appropriate spell like one to disappear, reappear, repair etc. When he didn't we took his wand and made up a spell. Whatever. It was a hack job.

It was a total family effort. I performed most of the magic tricks but I got my son and husband to do a few as well. My son was happy to learn a few things but I had to force my husband. Lol. I told him it's a bit of a pain to learn all this in such a short time and under stress but it's good because it's actually forcing us to finally crack open our magic sets and do it. I would say we're somewhere between magicians and a bunch of guys who can perform a few tricks.

We practiced magic for the very first time and we did it on and off for about one week. In the end, we weren't ready for it but had to do it anyway. Lol. We messed up on a few tricks and in doing so gave away some of the secrets. Whoops! We had a few laughs and we had a few wows. Some of the kids would be like "I know how you did that!" or "you have an extendable wand!" (which was not true but I kept quiet). The kids kept wanting to stand and inch closer so I had to repeatedly tell them to step back and sit down.

I think a magic show for 5 year olds would have been met with more applause and awe than for our crowd of 8 and 9 year old nerds. Overall, I think it was entertaining for everyone and best of all, it took up about 40 minutes of the party. And that was with skipping a few of our acts in our performance schedule too. Because of the magic show, this party was definitely the most time consuming party we have ever prepared for.

I wanted to spend a bit of time teaching the kids one of the tricks too but since the show was so long, I decided we had to move along. Lunch was ready!

Wizard Battle

One of my son's friend, who was coming to the party, requested a wizard battle at our party. It was an interesting idea and it involved wands, not swords, so there wouldn't be any direct contact so I went with it. I got my son to come up with five spells we could teach everyone at the party and we had them use and act them out during the battle. We came up with funny ones that would make the other person dance, laugh, shake with electricity and just blast and block. We typed this out (in the LUMOS font) and even included the print out in their loot bag as souvenirs. Also part of their loot was a homemade wand and they each got to use their own wand for the wizard battle. The battle was a blast but the house got super loud. You could tell they had a lot of fun! This activity lasted about 15 to 20 minutes, including a review of the spells.

Wand Balloon Race

I gave each kid a balloon and asked them to blow it up. Only half of the kids were able to do this. Lol. My son actually only started blowing balloons when he was 7 years old. And then I believe my son was the only one able to tie up his blown up balloon. I helped one of the boys blow their first balloon ever so that was exciting.

Once we all had balloons, I lined them up in a straight line and we had a friendly balloon race. Using their wand and calling out the spell, "Wingardium Leviosa," each kid had to balance and juggle their balloon across the room and back a few times without it falling to the ground. It was chaotic but fun. This activity lasted around 15 minutes.

That's it! At this point I had to help clear the lunch table, although my family had done most of the work already so I had to set up the cake area. The kids just wanted to take a break from everything and sit on the couch and watch more Harry Potter trailers. There were plenty on the recommended feed from the previous one they watched so that was fine. It gave us about 5-10 minutes of quiet time to set up dessert.

All the activities were a success and time just flew by. I'm so thankful that my family pitched in to help. I basically only had to supervise and give them directions on what to do and they were able to take over while I led all the kid's activities. We had a backup activity as well in case things went south. Lol. We were somewhat prepared to throw in a game of Taboo. Harry Potter themed Taboo but it wasn't necessary at all. Phew! :)

Harry Potter Birthday Party: Food and Decorations - Part 1

I can't believe I'm now a mother of a 9 year old boy!

Now that I have had some time to recover, I'm ready to start sharing all the craziness that went into preparing for and hosting our Harry Potter themed-party. My parents were in town for the party and then stayed an extra week with us so I'm sort of recovering from that as well. Lol.

Like I mentioned in one of my earlier Harry Potter Halloween post, there are tons of ideas online for a Harry Potter party. Plus, there are tons of books and movies to draw ideas from. It's just insane so I basically picked my favorites and went with those. I've only watched a few of the movies and I never read the books but I did do a lot of research for the party. And I'm good at research. Hehe. My son is the only one that read all the books so he was my party consultant :)

I started planning this party on and off for two weeks. If my parties look like work, it's because they are! These things don't get put together like magic, although it sure does look that way. I have to plan early too because the craft store, Michaels, is sort of out of the way and I would prefer my husband to drive me there to shop and that can only happen on the weekends.


My local party store didn't have a lot of Harry Potter dinnerware and I just didn't like the wizard party stuff they had. I was told that Harry Potter discontinued their party stuff years ago. I guess around the time the last movie came out. My son was too young to have a Harry Potter party then but he's a total nerd now that he's 9 years old. I ended up buying napkins with the four house banner logos on it but the rest of the decorations were sort of home made. Well, I bought the red brick wall plastic cover too for Platform 9 3/4 but I'm hoping to reuse that for Christmas decorations. The plastic cover was HUGE so we cut it into three pieces and then only used two pieces for the party. It was plenty. I think the red brick wall was the best decoration piece we had. It was so nice, we picked that as the backdrop for our big family photo at the end of the day as well :)

Front door sign

Each guest was greeted with the "password" lady at the front door. Then they would step in, take off their coats and shoes and then go through the red brick wall to get to the party area. We had the Harry Potter soundtrack streaming all day long in the house. All the music is available via Amazon Prime Music so that was awesome!

Boo! Guest bathroom on the party floor


Small spiders from the fireplace leads to large balloon spider across the room.

Large balloon spider Aragog

I picked balloons that could be colors of owls like white, gold and gray, filled them with helium, and then got my family to draw owl faces on them with a black sharpie. They did a really good job actually. I took the string of each floating balloon and attached a wand to the end so that they would sit lower to the ground. The wands were homemade and were gifts for each of the kids. We bunched all the owl balloons in a corner to greet the kids when they arrived. I made all the wands different and had my son assign each one to his friends. They looked so cool in the corner but we have no picture of it! It was as though the owls were delivering wands to each kid. I'm bummed that no one at the party took a picture of that. It was so rush rush that I shouldn't be surprised either.

For the rest of the signs, posters, and banner, I photoshopped what I could and we just printed it off. I was able to find everything online and so I just had to make minor modifications. It's for personal use after all :) Thank you Internet! So. Much. Good. Stuff. As payment, I'm going to document all my work here so that others like me can grab ideas or copy from it. And I want to make my Bertie Bott's every flavor beans label a free downloadable for you to use for your own party! :)

Harry Potter FOOD

We had so much food. Some carried a Harry Potter theme and some were there just to feed us. My family came down from Canada too and with the kids, there were a lot of people to feed. There were a few things I missed at the party because I forgot to put them out as well. I had Gringotts Gold and Dragon Eggs too but I forgot and I think I lost their labels. Oops!

Lunch Menu


Sorting Hat puff pastries
Broom 1: Pretzel and string cheese (Nimbus 2000s!)
Huffle Puffs (aka Pirate Booty)
Homemade pizzas using bakery bought taftoon bread
Homemade baked chicken wings

Poly Juice Potion (aka lime sherbert, lemon lime soda, dry ice)
Blood orange sparkling juice (kids called this "unicorn blood")

Apple cut outs with broom stick cookie cutter
Persimmons (plain - boring but we needed more fruit!)


Troll Boogers
Broom 2: Pretzel with peanut butter cups (Firebolts!)
Golden Snitches (Ferroro Rocher with gold wings)
Harry Potter themed cake (homemade)

The pizzas and chicken wings were devoured. There was a huge demand for the Poly Juice Potion. The unicorn blood was popular too but my son tells me that unicorn blood is actually white so not totally accurate. Ah, who cares! I loved that the kids got into the naming of the food too :)

My two brothers and one of their girlfriend came over with my parents from Canada so I had a large party crew to help with decorations the morning of the party. Knowing that, I actually wasn't too stressed out. Thank you family! But I did have to cook a complete new meal for everyone the night before the party, on top of making cake and doing some of the food prep for the party the next day so that was a bit stressful. But after dinner, I got to relax a bit and just focus on completing my cake.

All the kids ate well so I'll call the food a success. But heck, there's no going wrong with lots of fat and carbohydrates! There were only two things that I remembered that weren't flying off the shelf though. Only a few people wanted to try the Troll Boogers because they sounded gross. My husband raved about how good they were and couldn't get enough of them. I agreed! I used extra marshmallows to make them gooey like booger too. I wanted them stringy and slimy! The apple cut outs weren't that popular too because by the time we got to eating them, they were a bit discolored. But the kids weren't into anything healthy for the party anyway. That was fine because I just wanted them to eat something. When it was cake time, everyone had some except for the one kid that I knew did not like chocolate cake. I tried to offer him just a bite but he just woudn't budge. But everyone else loved it :)

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

FREE downloadable label for Bertie Bott's Jelly Beans using Trader Joe's Gourmet Jelly Beans

I loved my Bertie Bott's jelly beans and packaging! The one thing that involved the most work for my Harry Potter themed party was the label for my Bertie Bott's jelly beans. I really liked the design I spotted on etsy and so I re-created one with extra features to fit the bags and packaging I had in mind.

The labels turned out great and I just love them! They would have been better if I had printed them on color cardstock but I went with the free printing instead. Lol. I really liked this other Bertie Bott's box I found online but it looked like too much cutting and folding and again, I didn't have cardstock for printing.

I buy a lot of my food at Trader Joe's because they are awesome, even though they food poisoned me a few times. Lol. Their treats have few preservatives, if any at all, and any color you see is often from vegetables and fruit. I have never tried their gourmet jelly beans until now and they did not disappoint. Their taffy, gummy candies, jelly beans and all the candies that I typically think are yucky actually taste good at Trader Joe's. You just can't go wrong with Trader Joe's. Well, most of the time. Ahem. I knew if I was going to do Bertie Bott's every flavour beans as a treat for the party, they would have to come from Trader Joe's.

I wanted a label that would fold over the top of the jelly bean bag. Obviously the Bertie Bott's name would be featured on the front of the label but I wanted a jelly bean flavor guide at the back. I took the flavors off of the Trader Joe's gourmet jelly bean box and moved things around to fit it on my design and then changed most of the flavors that could look disgusting into dirt, vomit, rotten egg etc. I also changed the established date to 1952 from 1902 because Bertie Bott's beans didn't exist until around that time. Thank you research! Honestly, I'm not even sure if the kids noticed all of this. Lol. They probably just tore the thing open and ate the jelly beans. I don't care. My son knew and I thought it was awesome.

With every box of jelly beans, I filled two cellophane bags. There weren't a lot of blue beans so I made sure every bag had at least one. Then I used my food saver vacuum to just seal the top of the bag. Because of the size of my bags, I had to trim the labels a bit more. I initially used double sided tape to apply the labels on but then I decided to staple them on for added security. I think the staples gave them a bit more character too so it was a good call. Yay!

In the end, they looked so cute! My cellophane bags from Daiso were cheap and weak though because every time I dropped the bag (I was super clumsy that day!), the entire bag would rip and explode with jelly beans. Ugh. Be very careful handling these bad boys! Boom!

Harry Potter Party: Bertie Bott's jelly beans were only 1 of several things in the loot bag.

Since it was quite a bit of work to create and I couldn't find anything like it online, I wanted to make it available as a download from my site. Hopefully this will save some of you time when you plan your next Harry Potter party! For personal use only. Here is the label in JPEG:

Bertie Bott's Every Flavour Beans Label - in JPEG

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