If your child is a fan of the books like my daughter is and would love to throw a Harry Potter theme party for her birthday, this post will tell you ideas on how to make it happen. A bonus is that the only monetary costs involved are the cake/cupcakes, craft supplies, Harry Potter accessories, a piñata, and candy (and optional party favors, which can be the piñata candy). First, there are a few things you need to consider with regards to the scavenger hunt itself:
1) You have to have a small group. Also, it’s a huge help to have another parent/grown up present to back up the group of kids during your walk. A party is not successful if you return home with fewer kids than you started with. We had 8 and that was plenty.
2) If you live near a commercial strip and want to hold the hunt there (as we did), ask your local establishments in advance if you can use their store/shop/kiosk as a stop. If so, return only a few hours before the party with the written clue so that they are reminded and so they don’t lose the clue. I made the mistake of not asking one store in advance and they said no an hour before the party. So I had to plan B it last minute and read two clues at one store. Also, remind your kids to wait for you before entering a store. And then remind them again and again. Otherwise you can imagine the 7 year old tornado of excitement bursting through the door, inquiring about the next clue.
3) Prepare for rain. Nothing you can do about. Just mentally prepare for it.
4) Make sure the walk is not too far. It will take longer than you think herding the wizards from one place to the next.
5) The premise of the hunt was that each stop was a Hogwarts class. We gave each child got a report card before we left the house, and to “pass the class” they needed to answer a question at that establishment (more on that below). Once they answered the question they received a star sticker next to that class name.
Before heading out we made wands, which I was hoping we could carry on our walk, but it was raining hard and no one wanted to get hers/his wet. However, everyone had glasses and scar tattoos on their foreheads though so there was still some spirit.
To make wands, I cut 9″ wooden dowels, taped a ribbon on the end, wrapped the rod with skinny colored tape, and adhered a star on the end (double stick tape), over the ribbon. I also included a feather but any additions work well.
Here are the files to print out your own (double sided) report cards. Fold them and crop to 5X7.
I needed to make sure they were questions that had opportunities for multiple kids to answer (often questions with multiple answers) and contained conventional knowledge (meaning, not Harry Potter trivia). Here are my six age appropriate questions, if you’re looking for something to ask the kids:
First stop (Potions Class)
What do you call a witch’s potion? Hint: it rhymes with shrew. (answer: brew)
Second Stop (Divinations)
Who wrote “Horton Hears a Who?” (Dr. Seuss).
Third Stop (Herbology)
Name 3 kinds of citrus fruit (lemons, oranges, limes, grapefruits..)
Fourth Stop (Defense Against the Dark Arts)
Besides Hurricanes and Tsunamis, name three kinds of natural disasters (tornados, earthquakes, cyclones)
Fifth Stop (Transfigurations)
Name five kinds of berries (strawberry, blueberry, raspberry, blackberry, boysenberry, cranberry)
Sixth Stop (Care of Magical Creatures)
Congratulations! You’ve reached your final exam! Beat dragon to the death, and each of you will find what you need. (or integrate whatever piñata you use.)
The aforementioned Dragon was a piñata that we had intended to hang in the playground, but because of the rain we had to keep it at home and resort to a less than ideal Plan B: laying it on the ground of the garage. Yes, we literally beat it while it was down. The sad remnants:
I stuffed the piñata with boxes of Bertie’s Botts “Every Flavour Jelly Beans”. These were a huge hit, and actually proved to be an activity that lasted the next 30 minutes until parent pick up. Some priceless pictures of Mona and her friend eating vomit flavored beans (and running to spit it out, hence the blurry photo):
I also included one more party favor: coloring postcards and a handful markers. I ordered a box of mini-markers and gave each kids about 8-10 of them:
One more note: Consider cake time when planning out your scavenger hunt. We happened to have a quality bakery on our route, so we actually had Mona’s (pre-ordered) cupcakes there as part of the hunt! Thanks so much Little Bee for hosting a group of wet kids in your cozy space.