Seattle's Child

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potter party

You can put together a Potter party without resorting to financial wizardry. (All photos by JiaYing Grygiel.)

Harry Potter fan? Throw a cheap (and fabulous) nine and three-quarters party

Conjure a magical celebration at home for a special age … or anytime!

potter partyThere’s a reason J.K. Rowling is richer than the queen of England. First, there’s her best-selling Harry Potter book series. And then there’s the merchandise — more Harry Potter products to burn your money on than all the gold in Gringotts Wizarding Bank.

We recently threw a Harry Potter party, but I wanted to do it without spending a single galleon. 

As you may know, nine and three-quarters is the platform you need to find to catch the train to the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. We picked nine and three-quarters as a milestone birthday to celebrate because:

  • It’s an excuse for a party. And by “party,” I mean just the people in my household. Let’s not get too excited here. We’ve been at home a long time, and it’s something to do. (Give me a few more weeks and I’ll find an excuse to celebrate a nine and eleven-twelfths birthday at home.) 
  • We can foster a love of literature. These are really good stories.
  • It helps make fractions fun. (Anything can be fun if you add cake and balloons, right?)

The good news is that lots of other people online have done the Harry Potter party homework already. I didn’t have to make anything from scratch, because who has time for that?

potter party


Free printables online, and free printing at Seattle libraries

Seattle public libraries will now print 10 black-and-white pages per person, per day, for free. The process is a little persnickety, like every other system we’re coming up with ad hoc these days. The library will only print attached files, such as a PDF or JPG. You should name each file something very easy to recognize in a list of files. (I used my last name.) Email your files to right before you make your trip to the library. FYI, the confirmation email means nothing, so make it as easy as possible for the librarian to find your file for you and print it.

I went down the rabbit hole of free Harry Potter printables online, and found these reproduce well in black and white: Hogwarts Express tickets, a nine and three-quarters sign, a customized lettered banner, wizarding book covers, potions labels, Umbridge’s educational decrees and a Book of Spells.

Would my decor have looked better in color? Or on parchment paper? Sure, but printing at the library is free, so copy paper it was!

Ask your neighbors

Many neighborhoods have a Google email group or a Buy Nothing Facebook group. If you live in a neighborhood with lots of families, there’s a very good chance another parent invested a lot of time in making Harry Potter decorations at some point and would be happy to pass along the stuff instead of throwing it out.

We picked up some very cool Hogwarts plates made by another mom, and some mini Quidditch brooms. Then we blew up some balloons in Gryffindor colors, pulled out last year’s Halloween costumes and baked some brownies as a treat– measuring for batter means more practice with fractions!

What if you don’t have a kid turning nine and three-quarters?

We picked nine and three-quarters because it happened to be convenient for us. You could hold a party at 9:45 a.m.! 

Eleven would be great for a Harry Potter birthday party, because you could send out Hogwarts  acceptance letters as invitations. (Harry, of course, finally received his acceptance letter on his 11th birthday.) Owls optional. (I’m assuming that by then we’ll be having guests over for parties again.)

Do you have four people in your family? Throw a party where each person represents one of the four Hogwarts houses. I’d definitely go for a Dementor party, where the kids can don creepy hoodies and try to kiss you while you sit back and eat giant slabs of chocolate. (Chocolate is great for warding off scary Dementors.)

Find a way to make a big fuss over a book, and get your Potterheads even more hooked on reading. 

Mischief managed!

potter party


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Celebrations in the time of coronavirus: Families find creative ways to observe birthdays, etc.

About the Author

JiaYing Grygiel

JiaYing Grygiel is a photographer and writer in Seattle. Find her on Instagram @photoj.seattle and at