DIY Harry Potter Party: the best tips for throwing a party for your kids

Welcome back, everyone! I’m excited to share my tips for throwing a DIY Harry Potter party with you! We had such a blast celebrating our little man this last weekend, and I have had a ton of fun looking back through all of the pictures! I kept in mind mine and my husband’s budget while planning this party, so I didn’t get to do everything I would have liked to. However, I think all of the little things made a big impact, and it turned out to be one of my favorite days and parties ever! I absolutely love Harry Potter, and I’m so glad I got to geek out on these decorations, food ideas, and more! Here are my tips for throwing a DIY Harry Potter party!

What a first birthday means to me…

Birthdays are a big deal to me. There…I said it. I know most people hate their birthday and call it “just any other day”, but I think there is something really special about taking a day out to celebrate a specific person. For instance, I love celebrating my husband’s birthday because its a day I get to do a few special things to remind him how much he’s loved. I think that’s a wonderful thing to do! Don’t you?

So, you can image how I feel about the first birthday. I love baby Flynn so much and I know he’s just going to grow up wonderfully geeky like his parents. So, naturally, a Harry Potter first birthday party came to mind! More importantly…a DIY Harry Potter party! We didn’t have a ton of money to spend on this party so I did a lot of the little things myself. Made a few items and stayed frugal with others. This is how we got away with the whole DIY Harry Potter party in the first place!

It meant so much to me that this party went well. Not in a stressful way though. I just wanted it to be as much fun as possible for everyone! And luckily, it turned out to be just that!

Baby Flynn is mine and my husband’s everything, so this was such a special moment for us and our little one. And although I know he won’t remember it, at least he’ll see a ton of pictures and know he had one heck of a good first birthday! Now, I just have to top it every year- yikes! 😛 No…but really…it’ll be fun! I love doing stuff like this!

It’s important to remember that the first birthday party is more for the parents than anything. Don’t get me wrong, it’s all about the baby. But it’s also about celebrating you all as a family and that you’ve made it a whole year! Now, you get to spoil your little one with some cake and presents and that feels so good!

An important takeaway…

One thing that I really want everyone to take away from this blog post is that you have to rein yourself in. I know I mentioned it before, but it’s worth mentioning a second time and in it’s own section. I know myself, if I had an unlimited budget and enough time on my hands, I would have made this party ridiculously over the top. And while there is fun in that, I much prefer the way we did things. In fact, I think the things we did (which even seemed like a lot at the time), spread out nicely through the house and made exactly the right amount of impact.

This party was also kind of our housewarming shindig so we didn’t want to cover the walls or detract much from the everyday decor. And that also saved us a lot of money in the process.

I stuck with crafts and things that were relatively inexpensive and got creative by using some of the props we had from the local Theatre program that my husband works for as a professor. My point? I did everything I could to save money, get creative, and use what I already had around the house. If I was going to by something, I had to be very selective about what it was and really had to narrow down the most important items.

In my opinion…this is the way to go!

Not only did it save me money, but it made it so nothing looked too over the top, but it still was heavily themed for the party. It was truly the perfect amount!

I thought it would be helpful to include a list of things that you commonly think about when planning a first birthday party. I know, for me, it was difficult to remember ALL of the many things you need to think about when planning this big-ish event. Notice I say big-ish here. The biggest point I want to hit home with this blog is that you need to rein yourself in. You can’t do everything…you are a human…you will go crazy. So, here’s my list for…

Things you’ll want to think about when planning a first birthday party:

  • smash cake *Consider Walmart for a free smash cake!
  • cupcakes or Sheet cake (I recommend cupcakes! Easier!)
  • high chair banner
  • food
  • any condiments for food (Just go with pizza instead and make your life easier!)
  • plastic tablecloths (Dollar tree!!!)
  • paper plates
  • plastic utensils
  • cups
  • napkins
  • table decorations
  • decorations in general
  • balloons
  • invitations (e-vites, Text messages, and Facebook all the way! Save your money!!! I’m going to write a post about this. I’ll link it here when it’s ready.)
  • porch decorations
  • seating
  • present table location
  • guest list
  • parking
  • telling neighbors about party (and all the cars)
  • themed clothes for baby (and yourself if you want to have some fun!)
  • party location (Have it at home if you can to save some money!)

Can you think of any more items I should add to the list? Let me know in the comments and I’ll give you a shoutout!

 DIY Harry Potter party DECORATIONS

First, you’ll obviously need to pass through platform 9 and 3/4. I mean, how else would you want to get to Hogwarts? Best to take a running start if you’re a bit nervous.

Platform 9 3/4 Decoration for front door for a DIY Harry Potter party

Platform 9 3/4 Decoration for Harry Potter party

Platform 9 3/4 decoration for Harry Potter party

And make sure to watch your step in the bathroom…


Chamber of Secrets message on bathroom mirror

Make sure not to miss Flynn’s Harry Potter Birthday banner! I got it on Amazon for $10! Here’s the link!

High Chair First Birthday Banner and Smash Cake

Oh! And if you’re looking for a cute owl, this is the one I used. Super cheap and adorable! Couldn’t have turned out better next to my hufflepuff scarf and the luggage.

Harry Potter party decorations

It really set the scene.

We got the Harry Potter trunk when we purchased all of the Harry Potter books. Actually, my amazing husband got them for me for Christmas! I love how they came in the trunk and how it was a perfect party decoration!

I also added little details here and there.

Harry Potter Napkins

The cute little table cutouts came from this adorable etsy shop!

Harry Potter Table Confetti

I got the flickering tea candles from Amazon too (yall, we LOVE us some Amazon in our house). Even though the party was during the day, the flickering helped to set the Harry Potter mood!



A little sign to welcome our muggle friends to Hogwarts for the party! And my personal favorite! I got this Sorting Hat Candle from an adorable etsy store call flickering fandoms. They send you a white candle and then it turns a random Harry Potter house color. Thus, you have been sorted into your house. Flynn is a Ravenclaw! Just like his daddy! We’re so proud… 😛

Sorting Hat Candle

Sorting Hat Candle32280168_10160291978295612_4445445744412852224_n

DIY Harry Potter party FOOD

We had some delicious food at Flynn’s Harry Potter Birthday! Including:

  • Pizza- Muggle Food

  • Cheese Puffs- Huffle Puffs

  • Bugles- Ravenclaws

  • Gummy Worms- Slytherin Snakes

  • Jolly Ranchers- Gryffindor Droobles

  • Veggie Tray- Herbology Garden

  • Fruit Tray- Forbidden Forest Fruit

  • Cupcakes- Cauldron Cakes

  • Pretzel and Candy Melt Drizzle- Edible Wands

Harry Potter Cauldron Cakes

Forbidden Forest Fruit

Harry Potter party food32294667_10160291978945612_9119009537062338560_n32286669_10160391909030504_499903948094701568_nHarry Potter party table food

Shoutout to my friend, Sam for helping me make the edible wands! We had a ton of fun!

All we did was drizzle some candy melts over the pretzel rods, added some fun sprinkles, and dusted it with this edible gold dust spray. They were delicious!

Edible Harry Potter Wands

my nieces loved them too!



His first ever pizza and chocolate! Don’t you just love his face. He’s like, “That’s right…I’m cute AND i’m eating Pizza!”.


We also had Flynn’s smash cake that we got at Walmart! Did you know that if you buy a certain number of cupcakes for a first birthday party that Walmart will give you a free smash cake? A total score in my book! Some people pay a TON for those!



Friends and Family

So many amazing people came out to see Flynn (and us, probably :P)! Our best friend drove 19 hours just to get here for a day! That’s true friendship! If you haven’t already, read about our tattoos here. We also got to meet his girl friend, Heather, and we very much approve! 🙂


Oh! And you can order those awesome shirts here if you want!

Some of our guests were totally awesome and really got into the theme! I just love the Crawfords!

(Chris is my husbands boss, was our college professor, and even officiated our wedding!)


My brother and baby Flynn!32312946_10160392076905504_2608229228205834240_n


We are so grateful for the family and friends who came to support Flynn on his birthday!

Do you have any more ideas about what would make a fun Harry Potter first birthday party? I think it went so well and we had such a good time, but I know I had a TON more ideas! Would you be interested in hearing them?

Have a magical day, everyone!

Ellen 🙂


Update: 10 Month Old Baby & 27 Year Old Me

WOW! I can’t believe how long it’s been since I’ve been able to sit down and write for my OWN blog. I’ve been working a lot (which i’m so happy about), but there hasn’t been much time to come here and be with all of you. I’m so grateful that I have some free time this morning (after getting a chunk of work done) to catch you all up on what’s been going on in my life!

First off, I’m sorry I haven’t been able to write these past two weeks. As you know if you’ve read my previous blogs, WE JUST BOUGHT OUR FIRST HOUSE! What what!!! We are so thrilled and grateful for everyone who has helped us reach this point in our lives. I’m sitting in my new living room right now and it already feels like home.

My husband and I were talking about how crazy it is that all the rentals we’ve ever moved into took a while to feel like home, but this place just automatically screams our names! I guess that’s the difference between renting and owning…for us anyway.

Some wonderful things happened while I’ve been MIA! My favorite you ask? Well, my sweet little boy turned 10 months old! CAN YOU BELIEVE IT?! I swear the time flys by faster when you are watching someone grow up each and every day. It’s so strange to see him changing little by little, but it’s also a lot of fun too!

Isn’t he just the sweetest thing you’ve ever seen in your life? He’s such a good baby too! And i’m not just saying that. He has the sweetest temperament. I just know he’s going to be a great man one day!

Baby Flynn loves bathtime (still), is eating what mommy and daddy eat now (and had his first bites of spaghetti), thinks our dog’s barking is hilarious, can say mamma, dada, and night night very clearly, is pulling up and trying to walk already, and just moved into his new bedroom!

YUUUM! Needless to say, he went straight into the bath after he was finished eating. He’s just like his daddy…pasta is the nectar of the Gods.

I also hit a little milestone in my life. I turned 27 on March 8th which just happened to be moving day! What a fun birthday present for me, right?

I took a shameless birthday selfie and posted it on my instagram. You can follow me @ellenvandever if you want to see more updates from me and my little family!


Do you notice all the moving crap in the background….yeah…our house is pretty much a mess right now. But it’ll get there. If you know me, you’ll know how very hard it is for me to function properly when things aren’t in their place or organized. Hopefully we can remedy all of that very soon…or I might just lose my mind.

This was my birthday lunch. It’s a little known fact but calories don’t actually count on your birthday! 😛 Not a healthy food in sight…don’t worry…I got right back on my diet once my birthday was over.


I guess diet isn’t really the word I should be using. Healthy lifestyle is better. 🙂 But honestly, who can live without a little mac and cheese and mashed potatoes every once in a while. I am a Southern girl after all.

I also got some really cute birthday presents to help decorate my home. The shelves went up and the knick knacks came out!


I just love that sign. I think i’ll do a separate post on what I got for my birthday. My amazing family and friends got me some awesome things and I can’t wait to share them all with you! Everyone seriously hit the nail on the head!

After all the moving…it was time for some self care. I opted for a Freeman avocado and oatmeal mask which is SERIOUSLY AMAZING! I loved the feeling of it and it left my face feeling so soft. I think this is my new favorite face mask. You can get it here if you want to check it out for yourself! I also found the cutest bath bomb you ever did see! Plus, the green tea smell was AMAZING!

I know some of your were curious about what colors we’re painting our walls. How about I give you a little sneak peak? This is baby bird’s play room!


I took that picture before the paint was dry so it looks a lot less blotchy now. Everyone who goes in that room says that it’s so calming and peaceful. I love light blue- it’s one of my favorite colors.

Speaking of painting…I painted some really cute Moana themed shoes for our real estate agent’s granddaughter last week! I wanted to be able to do something nice for them since they helped us out so much!

What do you think? I’m considering putting them on my Etsy shop!





I’m really happy with how they turned out! I hate to toot my own horn but…toot toot! 😛

Before I go, I’ll leave you with some more adorable pictures I took this week of sweet baby Flynn!

I just can’t get enough of that kid. He’s literally growing up right before my eyes! Being a mother is truly an amazing gift!

I hold him at night while I’m rocking him to sleep and thank my lucky stars that I’m his mama. <3

Well, that’s it from me! Now that things have calmed down a bit, i’ll be back to writing on a normal schedule again. Thank you all for sticking with me through this transition!

Questions for you:

  1. Do you like renting or owning better?

2. What paint colors did you pick for your home?

3. What’s your favorite self care item?

Talk to you all soon!

Ellen 🙂

Weekly Recap: Surprise Party, Dream Job, & Baby Turns 9 Months Old

Welcome back, everyone! Glad you have you on my little corner of the internet again. Last week, it felt like nothing interesting happened. However, this week was a WHOLE other experience! I had a lot of fun and had some wonderful things happen to me!

Where to start? How about here: I GOT MY DREAM JOB!

I am now working as a professional blogger! I get to work from home and take care of my son while working part time…WRITING FOR A LIVING! I mean, come on! That’s the dream! I am so grateful that I was given this opportunity. My boss is a very kind person and I think we’re going to work well together. It’s really one of those moments where you can’t believe that something is happening to you. I’m just so grateful- I can’t stop saying that over and over again to myself. I almost didn’t apply for this job because there were so many applicants, but something inside me said I should go for it. And I’m so glad that I did!

In other news, my baby turned 9 MONTHS OLD THIS WEEK! Can you believe it? I certainly can’t! So far, getting these monthly pictures has been a breeze. This month, well…it was a different story. These were the best one we could get (still love them!)

Isn’t he just the cutest? I could just eat that little nugget up!

Also, I love how he’s like, “Holy crap, mom! It’s a bear!”

Not only did he turn nine months old, he also got his first tooth! It’s bothering him so much but we’ve found a product that really works for him. I’ll share that with you in my nine month update post for baby Flynn!

One of my favorite things that happened this week was that my husband had his 29th birthday! He says he feels old now. 😛

My husband, Zack, is a professor at a college where we live and his students and I planned a little surprise for him AT 5:00 right outside his office. We had a secret Facebook group and everything, you guys! STEALTHY!!!

Everyone dressed just like Zack, backward baseball caps and flannel shirts. It was adorable and it meant so much to Zack! You can just see it on his face!


It was a really great moment when he realized just how many of his students were there to celebrate with him! I brought cake but I didn’t get a picture of it because I’m a bad blogger and all I could think was, “CAKE IN BELLY!!!”

The kids also made him a “Dr. Pepper Cake” since it basically runs in his veins.


I surprised him by giving him the game “Horizon Zero Dawn” that everyone’s been talking about lately. He was really excited…in fact…guess what he’s doing right now as I type this blog…

Flynn saw him playing it earlier and wanted in the action.


Is that not the sweetest thing you’ve ever seen?! I love my boys.

That night, I made garlic butter and herb spaghetti, brown sugar brussel sprouts, and roasted veggies. The pasta is his favorite and we always have it on his birthday!


YUUUUM! And, honestly, so so so so so bad for you. 😛 But it’s okay to indulge every once in a while, right?

Here are some other yummy/healthier foods we had to eat this week:

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I loved that skinny caramel macchiato. It was the perfect pick me up!

This week I also had a girl’s craft time with one of my besties, Morgan! She’s that adorable little redhead in the birthday pictures above! We’re in the progress of paining our Disney shoes! I’m doing snow white shoes and she’s making her shoes look like Belle! I’ll post the final picture when I finish them and link you to my Etsy store if you’re interested in purchasing some!

Morgan is such a sincere person and I’m so glad that we have become friends. She had a rough day yesterday and I’m glad that we could do some crafting to de-stress a little. Everyone send her some love! She’s such a sweetheart! <3

I also did a little early Valentine’s day craft for Zack to put in his office.

I had a seriously wonderful week. Everything went so well and was so lovely. Like I said, I’m just so grateful!

I even got some fresh flowers this week! They make everything better, don’t they?


Thanks for visiting my blog today! I hope you enjoyed reading this recap post as much as I enjoyed writing it! I’ll see you all on Wednesday. Oh! Make sure to follow me on social media and let me know you came from the blog! I’d love to hear from you!

Instagram & Twitter: ellenvandever

Facebook: Millennial Mama Bird

Etsy: Quirky Girl Giftshop

Ellen 🙂