Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Harry Potter Party: Potions and Common Room Details

I'm finally getting around to finishing up the Harry Potter Party posts!

When I decided to do the party, I knew there would have to be a potions display.  There are so many fun things that can be done to decorate with potions very inexpensively!  I spent months putting this together a little at a time.  I really enjoyed wandering through thrift stores looking for just the right items for the common room and potions display.  When I think 'Hogwarts' I think old and well-used. What better place than a thrift store to find these kinds of items?

I also spent some time collecting various bottles as we emptied them and maybe even doing a little roadside cleanup here and there.  I did buy a some of the bottles that were just perfect for potions, and I picked up some corks to seal some of them up.  Once I had collected enough bottles, I printed a few labels that I found online, but I designed most of these specifically for our display.  You can find the ones I created in my shop.  I simply printed them onto sticker paper and cut them out to adhere them to the bottles.  Before the party, I let the boys help me decide what color each of the potions should be or what we might put in the bottles to serve as our ingredients.  

You can find the POTIONS banner for free here along with the pages I printed to turn an old library copy of The Help into a spellbook for the display.  The hourglass is from Hobby Lobby as is the chalkboard.  The items I thrifted were the brass lantern, the silver(ish) tray, and the smallest bottles. We used tons of classic and older looking books to decorate this display and the common room because I have to think Hermoine would have kept it that way.

To make the rest of our living room feel more like the Gryffindor common room, I just decorated the surfaces with old-looking things: books, candles, and other itmes you'd find in the Wizarding World. You can find a printable version of the Hogwarts House Bunting in my shop.  I also printed this Marauder's Map, and I'm sharing a download of the "No Unforgivable Charms Please" sign with you all.

I thrifted the candlesticks and a couple of brass containers to hold some of the wizarding school supplies.  I tucked feathers in the containers, and we made quills out of a couple using ball point pens. Oversized (11 x 17) parchment paper was rolled up and tied with plain string to make scrolls.  I printed the Quibbler covers and covered a regular magazine with them for a prop, and I also made the Daily Prophet.  I printed the header sideways onto some large newsprint-type drawing paper.  Then I rolled up a stack of the paper with the printed part on the outside to make it look like a whole newspaper.

Pulling all of the decorations for this party together was so much fun.  I enjoyed thinking about what items and decorations could help to bring the books to life as we were reading together.  In the end, I was very pleased with the results.  I was still instinctively looking for interesting items when I was in the thrift store the other day, and I had to remind myself that I'm not collecting anymore.  Unless we decide to have another Potter party again someday.

Don't forget to check out all of the posts about the details of our party!

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Saturday, September 13, 2014

Harry Potter Party: Florean Fortescue's Ice Cream Parlor, Honeydukes, Herbology, and the Drinks

Today I'm sharing more details about our boys' Harry Potter birthday party, and I have to admit that the food was probably my favorite part.  I looked at photos of Honeydukes in the Wizarding World for ages just hoping I could replicate a little bit of that atmosphere.  My party planning began with a list of treats from the books and brainstorming what muggle-world candies might make good representation of each one.  In the end, I did compromise a bit for the sake of budget knowing that most of the kids coming to the party would be clueless anyway.

The main centerpiece of the whole party was the Honeydukes Sweet Shoppe table.  I had so much fun obsessing collecting ideas for the display.  This whole thing was kind of a once-in-a-lifetime thing for us, so this was my chance to create a remotely pin-worthy display.  I experimented with a lot of different ideas, and I really found Amy Atlas' displays and all of the similar ones out there now to be very inspiring.  There are tons of ideas for candy buffets on Pinterest, too.  So I had endless ideas to work with.

I loved that Honeydukes allowed me to pull in some fun decorations that I never get to use having only boys around here.  The pink polka dot napkins were my favorite.  We found those at Wal-Mart, of all places.  Most of the candy was readily available at Target or the Dollar Tree, but I did have to hunt down a few items.  Here's what I ended up with.

Jelly Slugs - Trolli night crawlers
Lemon Sherberts - Lemonheads
Tooth-flossing Stringmints - edible easter grass (This ended up being mostly for looks because it tasted nasty.)
Chocolate Frogs - made from Hershey's chocolate bunnies with this mold
Caramel Creams - muggle candy just because we like them and needed something else to fill the table
Licorice Wands - Twizzlers
Bertie Bott's Every Flavor Beans - a mixture of a giant bag of Jelly Bellies from Target and some actual Bertie Bott's ordered from Amazon (to save on expense and so they wouldn't all be kind of nasty tasting)
Cry Babies - muggle candy just because we like them and needed something else to fill up the table
Drooble's Best Blowing Gum - I used regular gumballs we already had and resisted buying the blue gumballs available in the party aisle at Target
Fizzing Whizbees - Warhead gummy cubes
Lollipops - because I can only assume that even Wizards love a good lollipop 

I really wanted some cute lollipops to decorate the table, but it was hard to find what I wanted in the town where we live.  I did find the two biggest ones at Michael's, but I stopped into Party City when we were in Durham for a doctor's appointment, and they had tons of pretty candy.  All of the smaller lollipops came from there.  The blue ones were "It's a Boy!" ones, but I was able to easily remove the sticker.

The awesome cake was made by my mom!

Most of the dishes were found by rummaging through my cabinets.  A few items were found at thrift stores, and the two on the outside in the back were purchased at the last minute at the Dollar Tree just to fill things in a bit.  I looked forever for items to make a lollipop stand for the smaller ones.  I had the hardest time finding what I wanted.  In the end, I found the exact thing I needed at Hobby Lobby--only it was the display for a bunch of little pinwheels.  So, I became the crazy lady and asked if I could have the display if I bought the last few pinwheels, and it totally worked.  That saved me a couple of hours of work and several bucks!  

The plates were from Target.  The tablecloth is from Hobby Lobby.  The little clear scoops were super cheap from The Container Store, and the small clear tongs were from the Dollar Tree.  I made the candy labels and cut them from card stock, and I found a Honeydukes logo here.  I printed it for the sign and smaller stickers for the tiny paper bags and to hold up the pennant.  The pennant was sooo easy--made from felt triangles and a bit of string.

You can find the printable candy labels in my etsy shop here!

For the drinks, we had Gillywater (Sierra Mist) and Butterbeer made to order.  I found tons of different recipes for Butterbeer, and I went with a mash-up of a couple of different ones.  I wanted something that could be mixed up quickly.  I had an idea that the kids might not loooove the Butterbeer, and I didn't want to waste a lot of stuff by mixing it up ahead of time.  Here's the recipe.

1T butterscotch syrup
cover the bottom of the cup with Reddi Whip
fill to the top with cream soda

I found the Butterbeer sign here, and the plastic frame came from Michael's.

If I had more time and funds I could have gone all out for the ice cream display, but I committed to focus my efforts on the Honeydukes table.  We had a couple of flavors of ice cream, cones or bowls, a few toppings, and some chocolate syrup.  I'm sharing the Florean Fortescue's Ice Cream sign with you!

The Herbology table served to add a couple of nutrients to the food spread.  Plus, I like a little fruit with my ice cream, anyway.  This was the last thing I pulled together, so it was fairly simple.  I may have just been looking for a good excuse to plant some succulents.

You can catch up with all of my previous Harry Potter party posts, and there will be more to come!

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Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Counting Down the Days

I wanted to share this printable Disney countdown page with you all.  You really have to start planning a trip to Disney World so far in advance, that it can seem like it's taking forever for the big trip to come.  This page is adapted from the one our family is using to keep track of the passing of time before we leave for our trip to Orlando.

We've been crazy busy over here getting the new school year underway.  I had a few extra responsibilities dropped in my lap unexpectedly at the last minute, so my free time has been lacking for the last several weeks.  Staying busy does tend to make the time pass a little more quickly, and it's nice for the kids (and me!) to see that it's getting closer every day.  We've been watching lots of Disney movies (along with continuing to read through the Harry Potter books out loud) and I Have some activities planned to make the most of the fun before we even leave on our trip.  I had  a hard time finding activity ideas for my boys, so I hope to find time to share some of my ideas here as we move along.

This 100 day Disney countdown is in PDF format.

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Monday, July 21, 2014

The Homeschool Build Your Bundle Sale is live!

Today's the day when you get to see all of the amazing bundles that have been put together for this sale. Even if there isn't one that's perfect for you, you can build your own bundle!

(The links below are affiliate links.)

The first ever "Build Your Bundle" - Homeschool Edition sale is here!

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The bundles are AMAZING, including products such as Learning Language Arts Through Literature, A Child's Geography, Character ConceptsPicture Smart Bible, Math Mammoth, and more! There are SO many incredible products to choose from, all bundled up in grades/themes OR you can "Build Your Own!"

Build Your Bundle - Homeschool Edition Sale: July 21-28 Save up to 92% on Popular Homeschooling Curriculum, Many from Cathy Duffy's Top 100 Picks!
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Harry Potter Party: Platform 9 3/4 - the Entryway

We had some pretty strong feelings about some aspects of the entry to our Wizarding World.  I collected tons of ideas for creating a Platform 9 3/4 entryway in hopes that I would find a shortcut for creating the effect I wanted.  In the end, I stuck with the painted brick curtain that served as the entry to the Hogwarts Express Platform. 

Most of the examples we found online had the Platform Sign posted above the curtain, but in my mind this is a huge "no no!"  Platform 9 3/4 isn't ever visible to muggles, so we didn't want to post the sign outside.  Instead, I printed simple signs for Platform 9 and Platform 10 similar to the ones visible in the movies.  We posted those on each side of the door with the curtain.  

I'm just keeping it real here because when I looked at this photo, I realized just how badly our house needs to be power washed.  So, here I am sharing photos of the green-covered bricks by our back door with everyone on the internet.  Life's too short to worry about what you might think about my moldy bricks.  There's a reason I'm not a home blogger!  The curtain would have been more impressive at our front door, but nobody ever comes to our front door.

In the end, I am so glad I took the time to paint the bricks on the curtain.  It blended in with the real brick so much better than anything else ever would have.  Because I put it off to the last minute and my goal was to keep from spending an insane amount of money on the party, I used items from around the house.  I even got lucky because our neighbors put a tension rod out by the street for the garbage the same day I was painting the curtain!

I used a beige twin sheet that I already had.  Some tutorials I came across used sponge-stamped bricks and a couple used taped lines and spray paint.  I didn't have a rectangular sponge, and I decided it would be less stressful for me to try to keep tape straight and properly spaced than to risk messing up with a sponge stamp.  I used some frog tape from our painting box, and I actually used a tape measure to try to get the tape lines pretty even and straight.  It would have been faster to use spray paint, but I mixed together acrylic paints that I already had to get a good brick color.  This ended up working well because I could tweak it a tad to get some varied color in the bricks.  I used a kitchen sponge to daub the paint on over the taped lines.  

I put down a drop cloth inside, and laid the sheet on top of that to paint it right in my living room.  It took me four (yes, four) hours to finish taping and painting the curtain.  Thankfully, we were able to listen to part of the Goblet of Fire on audio while I worked.  That helped to keep the crazy almost-six-year-old occupied.  It took FOR-EV-ER, but I loved how it turned out.  The colors were perfect.  I learned that red, a LITTLE bit of green and some yellow mixed together will get you a pretty good brick color.

I made some general measurements before I started taping to know how much of the sheet needed to be covered, and I cut the sheet after the paint had dried.  The tension rod fit neatly into the seam at the top edge of the sheet once I trimmed the sheet and cut it down the middle, and I just left the edges raw.  

It was difficult to get a good photo of the entryway because it's so small.  I designed a Hogwarts Express Platform sign that I printed onto card stock, pieced together, and posted on the wall opposite the back door.  I also used my favorite kraft builder's paper and string from the Dollar Tree to wrap some boxes to decorate the platform.  A borrowed lantern, Hedwig, and Trevor welcomed everyone to the Wizarding World!

There are lost of Hogwarts banners for sale online, but I really didn't want to spend that much money on just one decoration for the party.  I knew I would need a lot of little items to help create an atmosphere with decorations, so I came up with a plan to save some pennies for other things.  I bought a 1/2 inch dowel, round ends that fit the dowel, a sheet of stiff, black felt, and some gold acrylic paint.  All of these supplies were maybe $7 - $8 with a coupon.  

To make the banner, I printed the Hogwarts crest onto white card stock, and cut closely around the edges.  I measured and cut the dowel to a good width.  The cut didn't have to be perfect because the ball ends covered that up.  I hot glued the round ends to the dowel and painted it all gold.  I measured and cut a triangle out of the short edge of the felt to make the pennant shape, and I hot glued the crest onto the center.  I hot glued the top of the banner to the middle of the dowel, and I used plain old string to hang it over the doorway.  It served its purpose, and now it's hanging in my kids' room--all for a couple of bucks and some time well-spent.

Be sure you check out  the Overview Post for links to other Harry Potter party ideas!
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