How We Threw an Epic Harry Potter Party

This past Labor Day weekend we held our very first Schmollivander’s Septwizard Tournament! As the name is probably not self-explanatory, our Harry Potter themed event consisted of guests being sorted into the four Hogwarts houses and competing in seven different tasks relating to the books to win the coveted House Cup. We even got lucky and party fell on September 1st, the first day of the Hogwarts school year! Overall we had 16 competitors for our all day event, starting with a welcome feast and sorting ceremony, competing in challenges throughout day, ending with finding and destroying all of Voldemort’s horcruxes!

Before I dive into the details of the party, I want to explain how we named our event…. Schmollivanders plays off our last names, Schmahl and Oliver, combined with Ollivander’s wand shop, then Septwizard for the seven events of the competition! And now onto how we threw our awesome Harry Potter party…

The Sorting Ceremony:

To kick off the day we had a delicious, Potter-themed brunch then went straight into the sorting ceremony. We had many different groups of friends who had never met each other before so we decided to make the teams completely random. Each person grabbed one of our premade “sorting hats” and stood in a circle outside waiting for our master of ceremonies, Dumbledore, to read this year’s sorting song. We wrote our own sorting song referencing all the days events plus a mix of the words “right” and “left” scattered throughout. Each time “right” or “left” came up in the song, each person would pass their tiny black pyramid in that direction around the circle. At the end of the song, each person opened the sorting hat they ended up with to find a felt tie matching their new house!

Welcome one and all, come right in and take a seat.

Let an old hat say his greetings before I leave you to your feast.

Our story begins with young Harry left sleeping under the stairs.

Right before Harry’s 11th birthday, Mr. Dursley received his worst nightmare.

-Part of our sorting song

Book 1: The Sorcerer’s Stone

To start off the competition we had two separate tasks for the first book. Two teams headed into their house dormitories to start a logic puzzle similar to the one Hermione and Harry have to solve to reach the sorcerer’s stone. The puzzle was timed with teams earning house points based on how fast they completed the puzzle.

While two teams worked on their logic puzzle, the remaining two houses competed in a game of Kubbitch, which was the yard game called Kubb but renamed to sound like quidditch. Essentially each team has to throw wooden rods across the yard to knock rectangular wooden blocks onto the ground. Overall Kubbitch was one of the favorite activities of the day. It was a great chance for everyone to meet their new teammates in a relaxed manor.

Book 2: The Chamber of Secrets

Up next we held Potions class: a competition to create the best mixed drink–with a twist! In the order of current house cup points after book 1, each team chose a food either from our Honeydukes candy or leftover from brunch to be the theme of their mixed drink. Each group broke off to create their drinks using an assortment of alcohols and mixers provided and a blender if needed. After about 20 minutes of mixing, teams poured their potions into individual shot glasses allowing everyone to taste each house’s mixed drink. After the tasting, each participant had tickets worth 3, 2, and 1 points to pass out to the other teams based on which drink they liked best. Potion making resulted in a wide range of different types of drinking since the chosen ingredients ranged from the tropical pineapple, tart sour patch kids, sweet airheads and even sweeter oreo cake balls (which we called dung bombs in true Harry Potter fashion).

Book 3: The Prisoner of Askaban

Book three lead us to our favorite event to plan, Boggart Pictionary! Like in regular Pictionary, one team member would draw a given prompt at a time while the rest of their team guessed what it was. The catch was that each drawing was a potential fear someone might have in the wizarding world. When we were brainstorming we came up with a range of extravagant to simple fears but in the end we decide to use the easier clues like “Troll in the Dungeon” or “Getting Splinched” to make it easier to draw and to accommodate participants who didn’t know the books as well as others.

Book 4: The Goblet of Fire

For the Goblet of Fire we hosted our very own Triwizard Tournament! Houses chose their champions to compete in three different yard game challenges. Through rounds of beersbie, cornhole and Can Jam, the winning houses earned house points in each match up. We rotated through having teams play different houses and playing each game once.

Book 5: The Order of the Phoenix

We knew we absolutely had to do some form of Harry Potter trivia during the day and decided this would be the perfect time to take our Ordinary Wizarding Levels. We spread out into our houses doing pub style trivia, with teams writing down their answers to Dumbledore’s exam questions. After all the questions we traded papers to grade another team’s answers. The trivia questions could be from any of the seven books or be general knowledge from the Harry Potter world. Some examples are how many knuts to sickle, what are the full names of Harry’s children and how many ears are there in the Weasley family at the end of the series.

Book 6: The Half Blood Prince

For the Half Blood Prince everyone competed as individuals to find who was worthy to join the prestigious Slug Club. We had two separate challenges to narrow down contenders. The first round each person received a piece of paper with the letters a to z written on it. The task was to write down as many names from the Harry Potter universe beginning with each letter in a three minute time period. First or last names were fine – you just couldn’t use the same name twice.

Once we narrowed it down, the final challenge to get into Slug Club was musical chairs. We eliminated one person at a time until we were down to our final six slug club members! Each member received a special button signifying they were in the elite slug club plus some points for their team as a reward.

Book 7: The Deathly Hallows

In the final event we, naturally, needed to find and destroy all of Voldmort’s horcruxes! We placed four of each horcrux and the Sword of Gryffindor in a baby pool along with a bunch of miscellaneous items we found around the house to make things more confusing. Each house started in a different corner of the yard, while the pool was in the middle. Once we started, it was a relay race to collect the horcruxes, with only one team member running to the pool at a time and bringing back horcruxes one by one. True to the books we made sure the pool was filled with ice cold water so everyone could experience the freezing waters from which Ron and Harry get the Sword of Gryffindor! The team to collect all seven items first won the final challenge.

Photo Challenge

In addition to the challenges for each book, we included an ongoing photo challenge that lasted the whole day. Each team was given the list of 75 photos to snap throughout the day that they could work on in between the other events. Many of the photos were pretty straight forward, like pictures with a snake, a ring or a in front of platform 9 3/4, but for others, the teams had to get creative. Some our favorite photos came from the prompts a photo catching the snitch, a photo with the Mirror of Erised and photos with artifacts from each house.

We used an app called “The Guest” where participants can upload and share their photos from the event automatically. We created separate events for each house, so that different teams wouldn’t know how many photos the other teams had taken. At the very end the points from the photo challenge were added to the houses’ scores, so that even after the last book’s challenge, you didn’t know which teams might jump ahead in the standings!

Plus this had the added bonus of making sure we had a lot of great pictures from the day!

While everyone else relaxed, we tallied up the final points. We had tracked the points from the 7 book challenges and had them posted throughout the day, but we had to count up the points from the photo challenge as well. And then while the teams were enjoying the end-of-term feast (pizza), we announced the final point standings…

Well done Slytherin, well done Slytherin

In the end Slytherin triumphed! They had the most points from the main events plus the most points from photo challenges!

Overall the event was a success! Everyone who participated had a blast and told us they couldn’t wait until next year’s party.

As hosts ourselves, we had a great time too! We spent the entire next day (when we probably should have been cleaning…) making plans to make next year’s party even better! Do you have ideas for future parties? Is there anything you want to know more in depth about in future posts? Let us know in the comments!

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