How To Throw A Harry Potter Movie Night

My parents are top notch, but they failed me in one major way.

None of my birthday parties were ever Harry Potter themed.

I KNOW, right?! It just seems like the worlds biggest oversight on their part. Would I ever have rebelled as a teenager if I had gotten a snitch shaped birthday cake even once?! Something to think about. The world will never know. 😉

Anyway, I’m sure it surprises no one that the idea of hosting any Harry Potter themed get-together sounds like heaven to me. I’ll probably overcorrect from my failed childhood (lol, kidding) and make every one of my future kids’ birthday parties Harry Potter themed. My hypothetical wedding might have some Potter-ish aspects to it. Today, though, we’ll start with an admittedly lower stakes kind of party: a movie night.

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Throwing a Harry Potter movie night is kind of like…duh. What better way to celebrate than by watching 1 or 2 of your favorite Potter films with some friends? It doesn’t take a ton of expertise to pull off, but I thought it would be fun to share how I did it.

The Guest List

First things first? Knowing who to invite. My ideal guest list for a Harry Potter movie night is a bunch of already established fans (or at least people who know the story and appreciate the franchise). If you have a bunch of non-Potterheads on the guest list, you run the risk of a few things happening: 1) they won’t appreciate the little details and extra efforts you made as a hostess, 2) you might have to stop the movie(s) to explain things to them (annoying), 3) playing themed games might be less fun for them, and 4) they will probably hate it when you and your other Potterhead guests recite the very famous lines along with the movie (when I went to the Hollywood Bowl to watch Sorcerer’s Stone, literally every single person in the amphitheater recited the line “she NEEDS to sort out her priorities ” at the same time and I was so happy I almost passed out).

The Decorations

For any kind of organized gathering, it’s best to have some sort of decorations set up. If it were closer to Halloween, I might’ve thrown up some spider webs or brought out some skulls and potion bottles. Since it’s the middle of summer however, and I really didn’t want to go digging through my holiday decorations, I chose to go a more classy, subtle route. Flowers are always a must for me. I stopped by Trader Joe’s to pick up some dark red blooms, golden mums, calla lilies (a subtle homage to Lily Evans!) and eucalyptus for dirt cheap. The rich, moody colors and greenery went well together and were so on theme.

Candles are also a requirement for any HP themed event, preferably tall tapers with either black or gold holders. For me, candles helped set the mood with some medieval vibes and warm tones.

I like displaying quotes, especially since Harry Potter has so many good ones! So I used my letter board to showcase a silly, well known quote that guests were bound to recognize.

If there’s ever an appropriate occasion to bring out some souvenirs you might have from the Universal Studios Wizarding World, it’s this. I happened to save a few boxes from Honeydukes that I strategically placed about. They were obvious, but not over the top in your face, so they worked. You can also order these or download printables from the internet!

Finally, with a little more time I would have loved to hang some Hogwarts acceptance letters with fishing line from the ceiling in my entryway, so it resembled this scene & so guests felt like they were entering a little realm of magic right away! Next time, for sure.

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The Food

Obviously, the menu is crucial. Most of the food mentioned in Harry Potter are types of sweets. Luckily, it being a movie night, sweets are definitely appropriate. It took no effort at all to set out some jelly beans to resemble Bertie Bott’s Every Flavored Beans, & chocolate coins to look like big galleons (wizard currency). I even made Fizzing Whizbees, a popular candy from Honeydukes, which couldn’t have been easier (you just add melted chocolate and Pop Rocks to a bumblebee candy mold, freeze, and serve). 

No movie night is complete without popcorn, and no bowl of popcorn is complete without m&m’s sprinkled throughout. I chose to put out a big bowl of popcorn and surrounded it with smaller bowls of m&m’s separated in the colors of the four Hogwarts houses. Guests can prepare their own personal bowls and choose the m&m’s that represent their own house. It’s fun to see how all your friends have been sorted! 😉

Not everyone has as big of a sweet tooth as me, so I always think it’s a good idea to set out at least one savory option. An easy flatbread or a moody cheeseboard are perfect candidates.

Finally, every event needs a signature cocktail! I set up a mini martini bar so that guests could make their own Voldemortini (which is really just a dirty martini). So easy and so fun!

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The Games

Whether or not games are needed depends on your crowd and your preference. Some people just want to get right to watching the movies, and I respect that! But if you have time to kill, or you’ve all seen the movies 100x and can afford to play/chat as you watch, consider a game of Harry Potter themed Trivial Pursuit. Or Harry Potter Clue. Or make up hilarious drinking game rules! “everyone takes one drink every time Ron says “bloody hell!”

The Movies

Nobody asked my opinion, and everyone has a different answer for this, but my definitive ranking of the Harry Potter films are as follows:

  1. Sorcerer’s Stone
  2. Deathly Hallows Part 1
  3. Prisoner of Azkaban
  4. Chamber of Secrets
  5. Deathly Hallows Part 2
  6. Order of the Phoenix
  7. Half Blood Prince
  8. Goblet of Fire

So, that’s my recommendation. It’s probably best to take a vote on what movie(s) your specific group wants to watch. Recently, when my family was tasked with choosing a movie to watch together, we came up with a bracket system and everyone had to make spirited speeches for the movies they wanted considered. Choosing the movie became as fun as watching the movie itself!

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There ya have it! Honestly, the most important thing is to have fun and try not to cry an embarrassing amount when you see the golden trio together for the first time in Sorcerer’s Stone. I know, easier said than done.

Thanks for reading!

Butterbeer Affogato

I almost didn’t find the time to write this because I was taking the time to actually relax on a Sunday for a change! Like, I slept in until 9 am, had coffee on my balcony, relaxed by the pool, & read a whole book you guys.

While there’s usually no post on Sundays (you better recognize that reference), I didn’t want you guys to miss out on any of the Harry Potter fun I’ve been having. So, tonight I’m sharing a recipe for BUTTERBEER AFFOGATO. Yup, you heard that right.

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If you’re unfamiliar with the affogato, let me change your life real quick. It’s one of the most wonderful desserts, perfect for hot summer nights. It involves a scoop (or two) of ice cream that one pours a shot of espresso over. In short, it’s kind of like a grown up root beer float, minus the root beer.

Butterbeer is a warm, butterscotch-like drink often referenced in the Harry Potter novels. It’s been interpreted a ton of different ways (like here!), but it’s always fun to add to the list. An affogato interpretation made so much sense to me and hit all the right notes. You get the warmth from the espresso, but the taste from the butterbeer ice cream. It’s refreshing but rich all at once. It’s really, really good. I hope you give it a try!

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Butterbeer Affogato

ingredients:

1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar

2 tablespoons butter

1 tablespoon vanilla

1 & 1/2 cups whipping cream

2 cups half-and-half

6 large egg yolks

1 shot of espresso (per affogato)

directions:

in a sauce pan over medium heat, stir brown sugar and butter together until the butter is completely melted, the sugar is dissolved, and the mixture is bubbly. add in a 1/2 cup of whipping cream and immediately start whisking until mixture is smooth. remove the butterscotch from heat. add vanilla into the saucepan, whisk to combine, and set aside.

in another pan over medium heat, combine 1 cup of whipping cream and the half and half. bring to a simmer.

in a separate bowl, beat the egg yolks. once the cream mixture has started to simmer, add half of it into the bowl with the egg yolks. stir to combine. then, pour the egg yolk mixture back into the pan with the remaining cream. stir this constantly over low heat until mixture thickens slightly, then remove from heat.

pour the egg/cream mixture through a fine strainer and into a clean bowl. whisk in the butterscotch. chill this in the fridge until cold, for about 2 hours.

add the chilled cream to your ice cream maker and follow manufacturer instructions. once this process is finished, transfer ice cream to an airtight container and freeze for a few more hours until firm.

when you’re ready to enjoy an affogato, scoop one (or two!) scoops into a bowl. brew a shot of espresso and pour over the ice cream. enjoy immediately!

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5 Life Lessons Harry Potter Taught Me

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Having a few really good friends who stand by your side, no matter what, can carry you through even the darkest of times. Harry, Ron, and Hermione were with each other through it all, from the very beginning. They fought and they were different from one another but they also pushed each other, and at the end of the day they each needed each other. Ron and Hermione gave Harry courage and hope. When it comes to friendships, the matter of quality is infinitely more important than quantity.

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There’s a difference between being dragged into battle and walking into it with your head held high. Harry realizes this in book six when met with his prophecy, that he must be the one to either kill or be killed by Voldemort. He, like his parents, chose to fight instead of flee. And it made all the difference in how the story ends. Whenever we’re faced with obstacles or hardships, it’s best to face them head-on with dignity than be found avoiding the issue altogether. At the very least, less people get hurt.

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Fear of death or the dark is nothing more than fear of the unknown, and there are far worse things to be afraid of. Why fear something so inevitable as death, or something so natural as darkness? Furthermore, making the fatal mistake that Voldemort made, of having fears and never bothering to learn more about them, is particularly harmful. Face your fears so that you can conquer them, rather than succumb to them.

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Love is infinitely more powerful than hate. At the very core of the story, it’s a tale of good vs. evil, love vs. hate. Love, the most powerful form of magic, always wins. Acting out of love will always always always yield better results than acting out of hate.

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There are always two sides to a story, and all persons have their flaws. *spoiler alert* Severus Snape was regarded as a villain for most of the series until the very end when it was revealed that he was actually a hero. For so long we were led to believe he was a murderer, a double-agent, a bad guy. Until we heard his side of the story and realized he was nothing more than a man who had loved and lost and was trying to do the right thing. Even Draco Malfoy, another of the series’ villainous characters, had moments of redemption. Harry was sometimes so clouded by his initial idea of these two people that he failed to see the truth. There are good people who do bad things, it’s as simple as that. We shouldn’t judge too quickly. We shouldn’t sort too soon.

There ya have it! The five main life lessons I learned from reading Harry Potter. And really, these are just skimming the surface. Harry taught me so much and continues to do so with every time I re-read the series. We’re so lucky to have grown up with him!