Decorating for a party doesn't have to be expensive. It does take some planning ahead and a little elbow grease, but this Harry Potter party for my 3rd kiddo turned out pretty fun and hardly cost a thing.
I know it might seem like I'm a bit obsessed with the Dollar Tree (see here, here, here, and here) and that they must sponsor my life (I wish), but it's just that they have so many great things for so dang cheap. And for the record I actually purchased some of this party stuff at Walmart.
So here are some of the things we did for Mr. 6 Yr Old's Harry Potter party, in order of fast and easy to more time consuming.
Free Invisibility Cloaks
This one made me laugh. And it took like 2 minutes and was totally free, so I'm pretty sure it was my favorite. No basket? Just point the arrow to the empty table.
I just gathered stuff from the rest of my house for the entry table. I did find that owl at the Dollar Tree in the Christmas ornaments.
Ministry of Magic Sign
Well, this took 2 minutes too, so it's my other favorite.
Platform 9 3/4s Brick Wall
This was an entire roll of Dollar Tree red wrapping paper and a white chalkboard marker I already had. The whole thing took like 10 minutes from roll to door, even with a sweet, destructive 1 Yr Old "helper." Masking tape would work here too if you don't have a chalkboard marker.
Not counted in that time was the hand written sign I had to draw because my dang printer is the worst. So annoying! That took a little longer, but googling and printing one off would be pretty darn fast.
Free Dobby Sign
Again I hand wrote the sign. Thank you printer. But then I just used an old glass-less frame and some clothespins (which they carry at the Dollar Tree!)
No frame? Then just attach some string/twine/yarn to the corners of the Free Dobby sign and pin the socks onto that.
Chamber of Secrets Warning
This was probably like a 10 minute project too. I just wrote it with red lipstick then smudged each letter and added a few extra drippy smudges.
The Dollar Tree's red lipstick to the rescue.
Dursley Family Photos and Hogwarts Letters
I just googled "Dursley family photos" and printed them. The act of getting my printer to print them took 5x longer to do than the actual finding, cutting, and putting in frames. Dang printer.
No frames to reuse? The Dollar Tree sells them.
I hand printed 5 addressed letters. It did take a bit of time to do it all fancy-like but by the 5th one I was a pro, except for the part where I wrote the address wrong. But then I whipped out the red marker on the back of 7 more envelopes so it looks like I did way more. These are just envelopes we had kicking around and are a bit taller than regular ones but you could totally just use regular ones. And guess what- Dollar Tree sells those.
Hogwarts Great Hall
So, funny story, I opened the tablecloths I had bought from Walmart to hang here when I discovered I had bought rounds. Oops. Fortunately I had time to run to the Dollar Tree to grab replacements...and a whole lot of other stuff. I seriously have a problem there. Oh, and the tablecloths are folded in half the long way here.
I had my hubby print the House shields above at work because I actually wanted them to print (dang. printer.) The black flags are 1/2 sheets of tag board that I got at...Walmart. But the Dollar Tree sells them too.
The Dollar Tree does NOT sell gold party stuff so I grabbed this tablecloth at Walmart, along with gold disposable plates for $1/20 plates. Also, I have gotten so much use out of that set of battery candles we got from Costco years ago.
These turned out awesome but they were kind of ridiculously time consuming. But if I did it again, it would totally go faster. I found all of the stuff for this at Walmart. These started out as a 10 pack of chopsticks, meaning for a buck they'd make 20 wands. I sanded them down, rounding the ends. Then I glue gunned the heck out of them, making the handles and decorative whatnots on them. I painted them with a $1 brown acrylic paint and then topped them with an acrylic magnetic gold. Then I sprayed them with a $3 clear top coat that I found in the spray paint.
No joke I spend 2 hours on 8 of them.
But they were worth it. I guess. The kids loved them.
And every Harry Potter party needs wands, right?
The thing that saved me was that I made these earlier in the week and just put them up until the party.
Harry Potter Birthday Cake
I'm not exactly sure WHAT this is, but it is definitely a Harry Potter cake. There's Hogwarts colors and brooms and a golden snitch and the 6 Yr Old loved it, and I'm sure that had nothing to do with the fact it was covered in candy.
2 things: 1) This was a super easy cake to decorate and 2) I'm not sure how I messed it up but the cake mix tasted so gross. It was dry and flavorless and I'm glad you can only see it and not taste it.
Party Reality 101
Now just to be real here, throwing a party is a lot of work, no matter how you slice it. Party prep happens to be something that floats my boat, but it doesn't mean it doesn't come at a cost.
Bring. It. On.
It takes work and brain power for days leading up to the party and the day after is always pretty much a wash here for me. I'm totally fine with it, but thought I'd throw this out as fair warning. Choosing to throw a party means lots of extra work all week (pinteresting it up, shopping, creating, decorating, cooking, cleaning, cleaning, and did I mention cleaning?)
I do it because I find it a totally fun way to show my kiddos my love but I have an amazing hubby who picks up pieces and herds children and washes dishes and other assorted duties. That makes all the difference. This SuperHubby has wisely put his foot down and precanceled some parties I've contemplated doing because the cost would have been too high on our family at the time.
So if you're reading this, way to get to the end! and also, seriously consider if you've got enough emotional fuel in your tank to take on one more thing.
If you do, then have fun! Because for sure the Harry Potter theme was a blast to do!