My friend Elizabeth came over Friday evening with a huge box full of craft supplies, and we ordered sushi delivered to the house and crafted for hours so that the house would be a sort of faux Hogwarts. Here are some of the things we did:
I decorated the door to Penny's room to make it the entrance to the Gryffindor common room. (I also put lesser decorations on the other bedrooms to make them entrances to the Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff rooms.)
We turned the playroom into a Quidditch field. The hoops are flat against the wall (well, laundry closet doors) to discourage the guests from actually throwing things -- but later, when I was blowing up balloons, I found a long skinny one that I bent into a hoop, and a tiny one that would fit through it, so they did, in fact, play a sort of semi-Quidditch with balloons, which I felt were reasonable to throw around the house. Do note that there's an actual Snitch hanging from the ceiling fan (in the upper right corner of the picture).
We made "broomstick" treat bags. These were surprisingly simple to do, though I was immensely glad there were two of us when it was time to tie the tops; that would have been near-impossible without an extra set of hands.
We put a base coat of paint on some craft dowels to make them look more "wand-y" -- the kids got to further decorate the wands with pipe cleaners and glitter glue and stickers at the party.
And my favorite decoration: a set of "potion" bottles made out of... mostly random stuff and some labels I found online and printed. If you click through to the Flickr set for the party, the individual potion pictures explain where the bottles came from and what's really in them.
The day of the party, I hung streamers and balloons (in Hogwarts house colors, of course) and a felt banner outside on the porch, and I also loaded up both my laptops with different Harry Potter movies and muted them (to mimic the moving pictures in the HP universe).
Penny was thrilled with all the decorations, and her friends also seemed suitably impressed. They made their wands, they played balloon Quidditch, they went up to the "common room" and played Harry Potter. I think I can safely say it was pretty much exactly the birthday party Penny wanted; it could only have been better if the broomstick she got had actually been able to fly.
I probably won't be posting regularly for the next couple of weeks, but at least this time there's a happy reason: I'll be on vacation in Cancun, with the kids and my parents!
I'll admit to a little nervousness to start -- the flight schedule down is a smidge on the tight side, so I expect to be a mild wreck until we're actually on the plane that's meant to land in Cancun. And then I'll be in a two-bedroom apartment for eight days with four other people, two of whom are possessed of nearly limitless energy and a complete lack of comprehension of the enjoyment of "doing nothing", and there's a pretty firm limit on the amount of time we can spend at the pool in any given day without turning into crispy critters. But I'll have cards, balloons, a whole iPad's worth of movies, and their grandparents to help keep them entertained. Not to mention activities organized by the resort, and one or two planned activities.
The resort has free wifi, so it's possible that I'll post once or twice, but you probably shouldn't hold your breath. I'm more likely to do quicker, easier posts, like shooting anecdotes and camera pics to my Twitter account.
But just to hold you until I'm back, here's a few photos from last year's trip: