Emma turned eight on Saturday, and we threw a Harry Potter birthday party to celebrate. It was the obvious choice of theme for my daughter, who has read the entire series three times. She had a wonderful time celebrating with her siblings and friends from school! I consider birthday parties to be a wonderful way to celebrate both my children and to express gratitude for the friends who make their school days fun and educational. Emma often learns best from her peers – from folding origami (a new favorite hobby that she has learned from friends at school) to working through difficult math concepts – so I am very grateful that she has kind and helpful friends!
I ordered this Harry Potter Castle Cake Decorating Kit, and it was well worth the money – it made for a very easy super-fancy birthday cake, and the pieces can easily be washed and used again (I have a feeling this won’t be our last Harry Potter birthday party). I wish the figurine’s eyes were painted on a bit more, but my kids didn’t care, and nor did their friends. They also failed to notice that I left the train entrances to Hogwarts off the front. There is a piece for this that you can use, but it requires to make the cake using two full size cakes, and since we didn’t have that size of cake pan I used two round cakes instead, which made the cake not quite high enough. I’ve posted the recipes and directions for the cake we made at the end of this post.
Harry Potter Birthday Party Activities
Wand-making was the main activity for the party. We gathered a bunch of sticks, added in some pipe cleaners, and we were all set! I added a package of sparkly pipe cleaners on a whim, and I’m glad I did, because they definitely added a magical spark for the kids!
I didn’t provide a model wand, and I’m glad I didn’t. My kids had made pipe cleaner and stick wands before, always with only two or three pipe cleaners. Without the model, the kids each designed their own perfect wand! They covered their wands with pipe cleaners, and assigned the different colors of pipe cleaners with different powers. Several kids came back to the table to “upgrade” (their word) their wands. I loved watching them play!
Emma’s friend M even added sparks flying out of her wand, although she later removed them, deeming them to be a little too cumbersome and fiddly. We had several colors of play dough for the kids to play with:
Some kids took play dough home in zip lock bags to play with; others used it to create stands for their wands (which they also took home). We still have some left over for the kids to play with.
Harry Potter Birthday Cake
We opted for a Hogwarts in winter look, which was very easy! We intentionally left bits of the chocolate cake showing to create the sitting up on a rock effect that you see in Hogwarts. I cut the rounded sides off of the top cake to make it a square, and then used the pieces I cut off to create the sides of the mountain. We covered the entire thing with a not-very-stiff buttercream frosting that we made using this recipe, and then sprinkled some white sparkling sugar (no food coloring!) on top:
Easy Buttercream Frosting
- 1/2 stick butter, at room temperature
- Powdered sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla
Whip butter with vanilla. Add powdered sugar, and then milk a little bit (about a 1 tsp at a time) until you get the desired amount of frosting. A lower milk-to-butter ratio yields a stiffer frosting. If you want a very thick frosting, I recommend adding a little bit of Wilton Meringue Powder.
I used an egg-free recipe for the cake, not because we needed to, but because this is a chocolate cake recipe that consistently turns out the way I expect it to. It also tastes delicious. This recipe made two round cakes:
Egg-free Chocolate Cake Recipe
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 cups sugar
- 1/2 cup baking cocoa (dutch processed always tastes better, I think)
- 2 tsp salt
- 2 tsp baking soda
- 2 cups water
- 2 Tbsp vinegar
- 2 tsp vanilla
- 2/3 cup oil
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Mix the dry ingredients together and mix well. Grease two round cake pans, and put a spoonful of the dry ingredients in each pan. Shake until the pan is thoroughly coated in the dry mix. Going back to your mixing bowl, make a well in the middle, add the wet ingredients all at once – no need to mix until they have been added in. Because of the way this cake works, you want to put the batter into the cake pans and then into the oven as soon as possible once you have added the wet ingredients. Stir the batter until thoroughly mixed, pour into your cake pans, and bake side by side in the oven for 25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. The cakes should tip out of the pans quite easily once they have had time to cool.
The cake was a big hit! Several friends offered to finish it off, but I wasn’t sure their parents would appreciate that. We balanced it out with some healthier snacks:
And then we balanced out the healthy snacks with the beginner spell books (from Oriental Trading, along with the Magic Potion cups in the photo above):
Which were full of gold galleons, or at least the closest we could find in chocolate-covered coins:
We also had LEGO DUPLO bricks out for the kids to play, and nearly every kid played with them at some point, with a few kids playing with them for most of the party! You’re never too old for DUPLOs!
While I find it a little bit hard to believe that I am the mother of an elegantly grown-up eight-year-old, I love having Emma as my daughter! She is a kind, generous, and loving child who tries to make good choices, is very clever, and thinks a lot. I can’t wait to watch her grow over this coming year!
How does your family celebrate birthdays?