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Conjuring Harry Potter


By JILL WENDHOLT SILVA - The Kansas City Star
Date: 10/23/01 22:15

What's worse than fighting off a boogery 12-foot mountain troll on Halloween?

For some Muggle mom and dads (folks without an ounce of wizarding wit), it's the thought of staging a truly magical Harry Potter party in their own home.

"I think there are so many parents who are scared to death to have 10 kids standing in their living room waiting to be entertained," says Mary Ann Ross, co-owner of www.thepartyworks.com, an online theme-party planning service that sells licensed party ware.

But planning a Harry Potter-themed birthday party, Halloween party or a party to celebrate the much-anticipated release of Warner Bros.' "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" movie, due out Nov. 16, doesn't necessarily require a cauldron of special effects.

"You can take all the traditional games. Just change the words around and the kids are delighted," Ross says.

Read on. We've pulled ideas for food, decor and party games straight out of the magician's cap.

Re-create a wizard sweetshop (even if you're a Muggle)

Last year, before there was a glut of Harry Potter merchandise on the market, Chris Martin put her imagination and graphic designing skills to work to create a basket of candy from that wizard-famous sweet shop, Honeydukes of Hogsmeade.

Now for all you Muggles, Honeydukes is the Purveyor of Fyne Sweetes detailed in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, the third in British author J.K. Rowling's ongoing series of children's literature.

"There were shelves upon shelves of the most succulent-looking sweets imaginable. Creamy chunks of nougat, shimmering pink squares of coconut ice, fat, honey-colored toffees; hundreds of different kinds of chocolate in neat rows; there was a large barrel of Every Flavor Beans, and another of Fizzing Whizbees, the levitating sherbet balls that Ron had mentioned; along yet another wall were `Special Effects' sweets:

"Droobles Best Blowing Gum (which filled a room with bluebell-colored bubbles that refused to pop for days), the strange, splintery Toothflossing Stringmints, tiny black Pepper Imps (`breathe fire for your friends!'), Ice Mice (`hear your teeth chatter and squeak!'), peppermint creams shaped like toads (`hop realistically in the stomach!'), fragile sugar-spun quills, and exploding bonbons."

"When we read the book, I just loved the candy shop scene and I thought, you know, I could go and get the candy and rewrap it," Martin says.

The Lenexa mom and her children, Claire, 8, and Owen, 11, count themselves among the legion of Harry Potter fans who are eagerly awaiting the movie version, which arrives in theaters Nov. 16.

A trip to Mr. Bulky's and a Hy-Vee's grocery store revealed Brogdon's Mint Double Dip Dessert Sticks could double as Toothflossing Stringments, Bizzerks Candy that fizzes mimics the action of Exploding Bonbons and an Adams & Brooks Psychopop makes for a tongue-tingling Acid Pop.

Martin then took it upon herself to repackage and relabel the candies with a Honeydukes name using a Hallmark greeting card computer program with an assortment of clip art and typefaces.

One basket was so popular at a silent auction fund-raiser that the high bidder paid more than $40 for it. "I was thrilled at the response," Martin says. "A year ago Harry Potter was popular, but it's only been within the last year that all the commercial products have come onto the market, so I thought I was sticking my neck out. I thought people might say, `What is that?' "

Potter party potions

Sure, you can buy Harry Potter eyeglasses at Target and pouches of Bertie Botts Every Flavor Beans at Linens 'n' Things for $4.99 a pop or order licensed Potter party ware off any number of Internet sites, including www.thepartyworks.com.

But with just a dash of creativity and some magic of your own, a Harry Potter theme party can begin where the beloved books left off.

Instead of the traditional yawner Pin the Tail on the Donkey, yuk it up with Pin the Pig's Tail on Dudley Dursley, Harry's evil Muggle cousin.

Conjure up Chocolate Frogs, a candy available at Honeydukes sweet shop in Hogsmeade, by using molds available at craft and specialty baking stores. Or simply create a clever pun: bake chocolate cupcakes, ice them with fudge frosting and decorate with Gummie Frogs.

Opt for a licensed cake topper or simply tint some frosting gold, add cardboard wings festooned with feathers from a craft store and it's a Golden Snitch cake.

Serve Kool-Aid in science lab beakers. And in the spirit of the jokester twins Fred and George Weasley, sprinkle the brew with some Pop Rocks just to get a rise out of the recipient.

On the Internet, where Potter fans are known to congregate, we found recipes for the highly edible Cockroach Clusters, as well as an inedible recipe for Gooey Gunk, a fascinating cornstarch and water mixture, or as one mom described it, "a metastable non-Newtonian fluid." If that sounds like so much hocus-pocus and mumbo-jumbo, suffice it to say the gunk oozes so coolly between your fingers because it is neither liquid nor solid.

Larry Wheeler, in-house florist at the Fairmont Hotel, has some clever suggestions to help create a magical ambiance on any budget:

Daily Prophet invitations -- Use a computer program, typewriter or handwritten script to re-create a page from nosy reporter Rita Skeeter's column in the Daily Prophet.

The Hogwarts Express -- Decorate your front door to read Platform 93/4.

The Sorting Hat -- Rig a walkie-talkie in a witch's hat. Have an adult who is out of sight intone the house of each child who wears the hat assigning them to the houses Gryffindor, Slytherin, Hufflepuff or Ravenclaw.

Magic classes -- Divide the party-goers by houses. Then ask several adults to come dressed as the various professors, such as McGonagall or Snape, to teach "classes" in herbology (plant seeds in a paper cup), transfiguration (tie-dye a scarf) or potions class (make Gooey Gunk, see related recipe).

Hedwig in the owlery -- Cover the good china with a piece of fabric. Then place children's stuffed toy owls in the cabinet.

The Golden Snitch -- Use gold lame balls or spray Styrofoam balls with gold spray paint. Add wings and hang throughout the house.

Moaning Myrtle -- Use a spooky sounds tape or record some of Moaning Myrtle's lines and play them in the bathroom for a little bathroom humor. Post a sign on the door that reads "Beware of Moaning Myrtle." ("It would only take one kid to get it before everyone was turned onto it.")

Fairy lights -- Cover miniature holiday lights with nylon netting to create a mood.

Shopping in Diagon Alley -- Outfit your young party-goers with inexpensive robes. This can be as simple as a pillowcase with armholes. For a take-home craft project, help them make paper wizard hats and wands.

Quidditch -- There are any number of ways to play this game without leaving the ground. You can play the equivalent of soccer while riding a broomstick. (Look for inexpensive brooms at a dollar store.) Or set up a croquet obstacle course. Or create a relay race using a broom and a hat. Or hunt for a Golden Snitch that has been hidden in the house or back yard.

For more spells, potions, games, activities, magic tricks and licensed Harry Potter party & cake decorating supplies go to...



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