As a fan of theme parties, cosplaying, and all-round geekery, I have in my adult years thrown more than one Harry Potter party. There is no shame in this. After all, I am a huge fangirl, so are my friends, and with recent headlines dominated by racist mob violence, corruption, and impending nuclear war (and that was just this week) sometimes a night of light-hearted fun is needed to lift the spirits.
Throwing the most wizard Harry Potter party is pretty easy.
The food is the best part.
The books are crammed with delicious food ideas that can be made without much trouble, and for the rest, well some creative license and imagination is all you need. Anything from Nearly Headless Nick’s Deathday Party is out obviously.
One of my besties gave me The Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook for Christmas last year, and has been asking me to host a dinner party for ages. For the evening in question, my snacks and starters were all based on what you would find on the Hogwarts Express Trolley.
My menu consisted of:
- Pumpkin pasties (I cheated and made traditional South African pampoenkoekies)
- Liquorice wands
- Jelly slugs (a bowl of jelly snakes is close enough)
- Mini treacle tarts
Of course, no trolley-themed dinner would be complete without Cauldron Cakes, which are super-simple to make.
- Make a batch of chocolate or vanilla cupcakes.
- Buy a block or two of black fondant icing from Woolworths (most of the bigger stores will have it. Check the baking section.) Cut into chunks and use a rolling pin to roll out thin sheets.
- When the cupcakes are done, turn them upside down (this is the trick) and wrap them in the black fondant sheets, leaving the smaller end of the cupcake open.
- Use your fingers to press and roll the edges of the cauldrons as you like.
- Finish them off with violently green or purple icing, popping candy, edible glitter and anything else you like.
For the main course, I decided to make Mrs Weasley’s chicken and ham pie.
By seven o’clock, the two tables were groaning under dishes and dishes of Mrs Weasley’s excellent cooking, and the nine Weasleys, Harry and Hermione were settling themselves down to eat beneath a clear, deep-blue sky. To somebody who had been living on meals of increasingly stale cake all summer, this was paradise, and at first, Harry listened rather than talked, as he helped himself to chicken-and-ham pie, boiled potatoes and salad.
I had a little help from Jamie Oliver for this one and added my own witchy flourish by cutting out pastry stars with a cookie cutter.
My absolute favourite treat to make for these sort of parties is Golden Snitches. All you have to do is remove the stickers from gold Ferrero Rocher balls, cut out little wings from yellow paper and attach to the gold foil with spellotape or Pritt.
As for décor, no budget is required.
Simply hang a bunch of keys from string and you’ve recreated the room of charmed flying keys from Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. You can also re-purpose Halloween decorations like plastic spiders, and even fill an empty birdcage with some ash from the braai – any fan will get it immediately.
Now haul out all your books, figurines and witchy paraphernalia (I know you’ve got some hiding in the cupboard somewhere) and the stage is set.
Board games are always fun, especially if there are a few people coming.
Between my bestie and myself, we have the lot – Harry Potter Trivial Pursuit, Harry Potter Cluedo, and an absolutely beautiful Harry Potter Monopoly she handmade for my birthday.
Just before your guests arrive, pop on the Halloween witch’s hat or the novelty t-shirt and wait at the door to ask for the password*.
Okay, that might be overkill, but if you’re going to immerse yourself in a make-believe wizarding world based on a children’s book you might as well do it properly.
*It’s Fortuna Major.