A Harry Potter Birthday Party

My younger boy turned 7 over the weekend and we threw a Harry Potter birthday party for him. We had about 20 kids over and they had a blast but I suffered a headache and a hoarse voice after the party.

It took us a couple of weeks to prepare for the party but I realised that having enough energy to see through the party on that day itself is just as important. My boys rated the party a perfect 10 but I would have rated a much lower score mainly because we didn’t get to play all the games we wanted to.

We did quite a bit of craft for the party ourselves and I was happy to find reason to indulge in my crafty instinct. The birthday boy was happy to dab his hands here and there but left me to finish most of the jobs. His elder brother was however a great help. He came up with some really cool stuff for the party.

1. The Invitation

We sent out the invitation 2 weeks prior to the party. It includes a letter of invitation to Hogwarts and a train ticket for Platform 9 3/4. You can easily find a copy of the train ticket and the letter on the internet. Harry Potter birthday party ideas were all over the place!

I used Microsoft Word to type out the letter and the fonts used were Lucida Blackletter (for header), Apple Chancery (for body) and& Xingkai SC Light (for McGonagall’s signature)


The letters and envelopes were printed out on normal A4 size paper but we brushed coffee over them to get the aged look. My elder boy had wanted to make his own Hogwarts mould using hot glue and real wax but I thought it was too complicated. We ended up using some cheap clay from Popular bookstore.


We rolled small balls of clay and pressed 10 cent coins on them. After the clay has hardened and dried, we painted them with red poster paint. Overall, I think we achieved the “seal” look.


The envelope was a little tricky to make. I downloaded a jpeg copy of the envelope from here and used GIMP (I was too cheapo to pay for Photoshop) to add in the individual guest names. You will need to rotate the text and align it to the envelope. I downloaded this Harry Potter font and used it for the text.

2. The Food

The party was in the afternoon so we ordered some mini savories. We had a snack station where we dressed up some candy and bottled drinks with Harry Potty Labels. All labels were downloaded from the same website.

Drinks label
Candy labels
Potion labels

The kids were thrilled to be eating cockroach clusters and drinking FireWhisky, Elf Made Wine and ButterBeer which were essentially chocolate clusters, promegranate, green tea and oolong tea.

3. The Cake

I had wanted to bake the cake if not for a failed bake a few days prior to the party. My brain was fried, I forgot the sugar! The boys ended up eating the cake with honey and they actually finished it! I decided that it would be safer to order our favourite chocolate cake instead.


The decoration was simple. I had Quidditch hoops made from green pipe cleaners and straws. For the golden snitch, I cut out 2 wings and attached them to a Ferrero Roche.

4. The Props

The birthday boy made himself a wizards cloak from a black trash bag. He had probably spent enough time playing with trash and knew exactly where to cut holes so that his hands and head could stick out.


You can print out Harry Potter glasses from here. Halloween was round the corner and we found wizard hats at Daiso for 2 bucks! The wizard broom was kindly donated by the Bangladesh worker who worked at East Coast Park.

On the night before the party, we unwrapped this magnetic chalk board that had been sitting in the study for months. It came in a cardboard packaging that looked just like the photo frame we needed for the party!


I really wanted the owl balloons and had bought a bundle of helium balloons in the morning. My very talented sister managed to draw them in a jiffy by following pictures from here

We had everything placed at the entrance of the party site and I thought it was a welcoming sight.

5. The Games

My elder boy was assigned the game master and was responsible for planning the games. He was in charge of gathering the kids during the party but was obviously having too much fun playing and didn’t get the games started till late. Out of 3 games that he had prepared, the kids only played 1.

They played a game of dodge ball using squishy balls as Bludgers as seen in a Quidditch match. The kids were divided into 2 teams using the sorting hat. Whoever gets hit by the balls will be out of the game and whoever catches the ball will get to bring its members back into the game. The team with all its members kicked out loses the game.


He followed this table Quidditch game idea and made 3 hoops. We found these ready made hoops from the Gardening section in Daiso! All he did was hot glue the hoops to the metal stand. We collected some sand from the beach and put them into our Ginger Ale glass bottles to keep the hoops upright.

We also made these lockets for a treasure hunt game. They were supposed to be the Hocruxes! The boys came up with the design and they learned to tie sliding knots so that these would fit every kid. Whoever finds these Hocruxes during the treasure hunt game will get to keep them.

For the pinata, we had a dementor which was made of paper marche and trash bag. Unfortunately the trash bag wasn’t hardy enough and the dementor fell off the tree after the 3rd hit. Thankfully there were some quick thinking kids who managed to put the pinata back onto the tree again. This time, it lasted another 5 hits or so. The kids refused to give up and insisted that they should continue to hit the pinata. The poor dementor was mutilated and the kids finally decided that it was time to pick up all that candy on the ground!

We learned that kids don’t need games with rules to have fun and if you really need to get them to play the games you have planned, invest in a handheld loud speaker!

6. The Party Favors and Souvenirs

We pre-packed some of the candy into these Wizard’s broom party bags to be given out to the younger kids who were too slow in picking up sweets from the pinata. But they were so cute that even the bigger kids asked for them.

The idea was from Martha Stewart and I really like how they turned out.

The hottest item among the kids have to be these! My elder boy made 20 of these wands using disposable chopsticks!

He used hot glue for the design and hand painted each wand with double coat of acrylic paint. Every wand comes with a description tag and he compiled a list of spells with their respective usage and printed them into 3 books.

He called them the Standard Book of Spells (Pocket Edition) Grade 2, 3 and 4. The plan was for each kid to know a fraction of the spells leaving him and his brother the master of all spells! (the last I heard, he kept more spells to himself!) They know exactly which wand belongs to which wizard, Gawk!

The boys spent many days working on these wands and even more days pretending to be Lord Voldemort and Dumbledore casting spells at each other! We had wanted to blind fold the kids to let them choose their wands (because the wand chooses the wizard!) but they were so intrigued by these wands and the description that came with them that we decided to let them choose their favourite wand instead.

These wands were made of disposable chopsticks and were all 8 inches long. The boys used longer chopsticks for their own wands and decorated them with special gold and silver trimmings. They made the better looking wands for themselves! Ha!

You can find the wand tutorial here

As you can imagine, it was hell lots of work preparing a themed birthday party. The good thing was it was the end of school year and the boys were freed up from homework and CCAs. We spent many afternoons working on the party, talking about Harry Potter and discussing details in the book. It was a great project to work on and they are now the Harry Potter birthday party planner experts!


Like I said during the last themed birthday party I organized, this will absolutely be the last themed birthday party for us! But then I suspect like most things painful but fun, the memory is short. Oh well, till the next one comes around!



Planning A Birthday Party


My little one is turning 7 and we are planning a Harry Potter birthday party. So he has been looking forward to his birthday ever since we celebrated his brother’s earlier this year. Over the months, he had changed his mind several times on the birthday theme. For a while, it was castle and knight until one day when he dug out some old Star Wars DVD and decided that he wanted some serious light saber sparring for his birthday. Recently he started reading Harry Potter and watching the movie and became crazy over flying broomsticks, pointy hats and casting spells.

The elder brother has patiently explained to him what was shown on the screen. It was hard for my older boy to sit through the movie without commenting when he had read the books 3-4 times. In fact, we have spent so much time discussing the plot of the movie that we eventually decided to make it the theme for the birthday.

Having planned a Percy Jackson birthday party for his elder brother a couple of years back, I was sorely aware of the amount of effort required. But PSLE was over and I thought it would be good to get the boys involved in the planning and preparation of the party. The birthday boy was thrilled and everyone was excited and we spent many more hours talking about Harry Potter!


You will be surprised how much resources you can find on the internet for a Harry Potter birthday party! I got the boys involved in brainstorming for games ideas and they helped in providing information on ‘appropriate’ Harry Potter party food and filled in the gaps on the nitty gritty details on everything Harry Potter! My elder boy is now officially the Harry Potter expert in the household.

It was so much fun but like most things fun, the excitement sizzled off when they realized the amount of work involved. Thankfully, the 4 days of school break for PSLE marking gave them plenty of time to work on the tasks. There were game planning, food planning, piñata making, invitation card making. Over the last week, the boys have learned to tie a sliding knot. make their own glue that cost almost nothing, make a wax seal without wax, how to age paper, use a hot glue gun and the best way to spray paint. They were given a budget to work with for the party and it made them pause and look at the price tags whenever we went shopping for our party needs. They were forced to do some maths to make sure they were not over spending!


The party is still a couple more days away but I am happy that this whole party planning and preparation thing has kept both our brains and hands busy. I may risk having the boys grow up hating me for making them work so hard for their birthday parties but I am so loving this whole atmosphere of discussing, arguing, thinking, buzzing of ideas and getting our hands dirty … an amazing opportunity for everyone to learn something!

I will share the details of the party in my next post!



Jamie’s Roast Chicken

My boys love watching Jamie Oliver cooks on TV. That includes their Dad. I think it’s a great consolation to know that he is not the only one who makes it look like a tornado has just touched down in the kitchen every time he cooks. Even a celebrity chef shares the same traits.

I called Jamie the ‘messy’ cook and I think it makes my boys love him even more. How often do you get messy and good at the same time. I think for once, they felt like someone stood up for them, that being messy isn’t always a bad thing. Jamie Oliver, the messy cook who makes everything looks delicious.

They love how he uses his bare hands to crush up herbs, squeeze lemons, massage his meat and plate his food. Unpretentious, messy and fun. I have been watching him on and off on TV for a long time now but it was only not too long ago that I got passed his messy way of preparing food to start appreciating his culinary skills. He really makes cooking and plating looks like messy art, fun and inspirational.

I started following him after seeing him on TV, on how he raided American school canteen to bring healthier lunch to the kids. My boys were attending schools in America then and school lunch made up a big part of school. School hours were long, from 7 plus in the morning till 3 plus in the afternoon. They could pre-order lunch from school or pack their own food. My boys preferred the latter.

The school had a microwave in the canteen and the students were allowed to use it to heat up their lunch. The standard food served in school were fish fingers, chicken nuggets, cold sandwiches or some kind of biscuits, chips or crackers. My boys were known for their hot lunches. They were the Chinese dudes who made the canteen smell good (or bad). Their friends and teachers were always curious about the food they were eating (even more so if they used their chopsticks!), usually some rice with stir fried dishes we had the night before. They must thought my boys were weird to be eating such weird stuff for lunch.

My boys learned about eating REAL food. They learned that anything that comes in a box, tin, bag or bottle were usually not good for them. Food that sits on the supermarket shelves are food that has had something done to it to make it more convenient and ready to eat. Food engineers from the chemical industry are the ‘chefs’ for these food. If you take a closer look at the giant supermarts in the US, there were only a few aisles that sell fresh food or real food!

So I was excited to learned about Jamie’s attempt to reform school lunch programs, to help fight obesity and change eating habits. Such habits start from young and such knowledge needs to be taught to our children.

So the first recipe I took from Jamie’s website was how to roast a chicken!

Not a great deal huh. But it was a breakthrough for someone whose cooking didn’t go beyond your typical Asian style of braising, stewing, steaming and stir frying. I was always worried that the roasted chicken will turn out either too dry or not cooked. It is so much easier to buy a ready cooked one!

The first time I cooked this was 2 Christmas ago and I have lost count of the number of times I have used this recipes. It is one of our favourite one pot meal these days. On days when I am too lazy to cook, I would season the chicken, throw in some hardy vegetables, dump everything into the oven and set it to Auto. I could bring the kids for a swim or go for a run and dinner will still be ready on time. It’s a life saver.

Here’s the recipe adapted from Jamie’s site.

Roast Chicken
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Total Time
2 hr
Total Time
2 hr
  1. 1 whole chicken
  2. sea salt
  3. freshly ground black pepper
  4. 4 potatoes
  5. 1 large lemon
  6. 1 whole bulb garlic , broken into cloves
  7. 1 handful fresh thyme
  8. olive oil
  9. 1 handful fresh rosemary sprigs
  1. Preheat your oven to 190ºC.
  2. Rub the chicken inside and out with a generous amount of salt and freshly ground black pepper.
  3. Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil. Cut the potatoes into small chunks, put them into the water with the whole lemon and the garlic cloves, and cook for 10 minutes.
  4. Drain and allow to steam dry for 1 minute (this will give you crispier potatoes), then remove the lemon and garlic.
  5. While the lemon is still hot, carefully stab it about 10 times.
  6. Pat the chicken with kitchen paper and rub it all over with olive oil.
  7. Push the garlic cloves, the whole lemon, rosemary and the thyme into the cavity, then put the chicken into a roasting tray and cook in the preheated oven for around 45 minutes.
  8. Remove the chicken to a plate. Toss the potatoes in the tray with the juice and rosemary leaves. Shake the tray around, then make a gap in the centre of the potatoes and put the chicken back in.
  9. Cook for a further 30 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked and the potatoes are nice and golden. (You can tell the chicken is cooked when the thigh meat pulls easily away from the bone and the juices run clear.)
Adapted from Jamie Oliver
Adapted from Jamie Oliver
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