The countdown begins to my daughter's 9.5 birthday party on Saturday. We are having a total blast preparing for it. I thought I'd share a little about what I've been up to.
We sent the invitations a month ahead: a customized "Hogwarts acceptance letter," inviting the children to attend an orientation session (and half-birthday party), signed by headmistress Minerva McGonagall. I used fonts downloaded from MuggleNet, a line drawing of the Hogwarts crest, and printed the letters on parchment paper from AC Moore (also available at office supply stores in their stationery department).
I visited dozens of websites looking for age-appropriate games before I hit the motherlode: Potter Parties. I was blown away at how many great ideas are on this site--including games that 8- to 10-year-olds won't consider babyish. Here are the four we plan to use:
Hogwarts Word Search
Using an online puzzle creator, HERE, I whipped up a 26-clue word-search puzzle in about ten minutes. You can set the puzzle size (mine is 20 characters square) and enter all the words to be hidden within it. You can also set the difficulty level (in other words, for younger kids than mine, you might not want any of the hidden words backwards on a diagonal). The puzzle creator algorithm will also filter to prevent any bad language from accidentally being created. So no worries of secret F-bombs in your puzzle. It generated a plain text puzzle I copied and pasted into Word, adjusted the font size and printed onto parchment. It also generated a solution page I could print and have on hand to determine a winner.
Players must come up with a word from the Harry Potter world for each letter of the alphabet. I created a puzzle sheet for this game, and filled in one example, "Xenophilius Lovegood" for X.
In Word, I set up a two-column page, then typed up each letter of the alphabet in Hogwarts Wizard font (downloaded from MuggleNet) with a blank line behind it. You get the most uniform results using a right-aligned tab and a "leader." To do this, put a tab after each letter and select all. Go to the paragraph menu in Word, click the "tabs" button on the bottom. In the Tabs menu, I chose 3" for my tab location (because of the two columns), chose right alignment and option 4 (underlining) for my leader character. Click "OK" and voila, perfect blanks to fill in.
Pass the Quaffle
This is a Hogwarts spin on "hot potato." The children sit in a circle and pass around a rubber ball (we found a perfect small, red kickball at Dollar Tree) while music plays. I expect we'll put together a playlist of Wizard Rock songs for this purpose. Whoever is holding the quaffle when the music stops is eliminated, until all but one child is out.
This is Hogwarts riff on Pictionary. You'll need a game board of some kind, a die, a one-minute timer, playdough and game cards with wizarding-world words on them. Split into two teams--Gryffindor vs. Ravenclaw, for example. Roll to see which team goes first. One player will draw a card and "transfigure" the dough into the shape on the card, while her teammates try to guess what the object is. If the team guesses correctly within the time, they roll again and the next player from the team sculpts. If not, the opposing team resumes play. Whichever team gets to the end of the gameboard first wins.
I'll be back tomorrow with details about our two "classes" and a little about the menu.
Have you ever thrown a theme party? Which of these games sound fun to you?