First we checked out Pinterest. There are some great ideas out there. But I was trying to keep this party cheap, fun, and not too time-consuming.
To decorate, we gathered up stuff we already had... books, a bird cage, stuffed owl, round plastic glasses, a witch broom, a wand (stick), a witch hat. Alli sewed a golden snitch out of felt. (I spent $0 on this.)
Alli made a sign for the front porch that said, "Platform 9-3/4." She just used a chalkboard and chalk. It was cute. I failed to take a picture of that.
We also hung a bunch of streamers. I like to pick up packs of streamers at the local thrift shop. They are super cheap that way. I have a box in a closet with all colors of streamers. It is a great way to make a big visual impact with minimal impact on the wallet.
The big project was in the dining room. The floating candles idea was from Pinterest. I purchased 24 LED tea lights from Amazon (about $12). We covered toilet paper and wrapping paper rolls with cream-colored paper, glued a paper bottom on, and made a little sling across the top so the candle wouldn't fall in too far. Some of the candles had wax drippings down the side made from the hot glue gun.
We hung them up with clear nylon thread and white masking tape on the ceiling. They were awesome, but took some time to put together, hang, turn on, and turn off... overall it was worth it. They were pretty magical.
We decorated the mantle a little... candles, books, bust statues, old paintings. Okay, the paintings were already there.
We dipped pretzel rods in chocolate and decorated them to make wands. Each kids made one. We wrote named on the parchment so we knew who they belonged to.
Alli wanted a cake like the one Hagrid made for Harry. She said pink frosting with green letters saying, "Happy Birthday Alli!"
Alli wanted a lemon cake. I had a yellow cake mix, so I added a few drops of food grade lemon essential oil. Between the layers I put raspberry-peach preserves. It was delicious.
It was hard to wait for the wands to harden.
They ate lunch with the lights out... candles only. I made butter beer... it was melted butterscotch candies (about a dozen in a cup of water or so), a 2-liter of cream soda, and a 1-liter of seltzer water... topped with vanilla ice cream.
Then they played a tasting game. I bought a small pack of Bertie Bott's Every Flavor Beans and a bigger pack of Target brand Jelly Belly beans. The Bertie Bott's Beans are expensive and they include gross flavors. I put the good jelly beans in a bigger bowl and the Bertie Bott's Beans in a smaller one, so the kids who were braver could try nasty flavors and the kids who were sensible could try pleasant flavors.
Alli had ten tall, skinny candles on her cake.
The gifts were opened...
I made chocolate frogs... after Christmas is a great time to buy melting chocolates. These frogs were stuffed with marshmallows. The candy mold cost about $5. They were a hit.
We made golden snitches as a craft activity. I purchased a bunch of golden Christmas ornaments (after Christmas 90% off!) and a bag of white feathers. For $5, each girl got to make at least one... most made two.
Here is Alli's snitch... we hung it on clear nylon string.
So that was the party. You can read more about it here.