We all need a bit of escapism in our lives, right now more than ever. For some it’s their art or their writing. For others it’s a great book or sitting in front of Netflix.
For my children it’s been anything and everything related to Harry Potter. My elder two (6 and 8) can’t get enough of the books and we are now three quarters of the way through reading the fourth book together. When we’re not reading we’re talking about the books – fantasising about making up spells, debating which character is the most interesting, predicting plot lines. Obviously they’re not the first children to become obsessed with these brilliant stories, or any books, but it’s the first time that my children have become this absorbed in a book series and it’s a wonder to see.
The #amazingMrR and I also need some escapism. Which is hard to do when the children somehow often aren’t asleep these days until 9.30pm. By then I am at the point of collapse, totally exhausted. I can’t remember another period of my life which has been so relentlessly draining, with no respite. Even with each of my newborns there were moments “off”, e.g. grandparents to hold them and cook for us. Going to work was oddly always a “break” too. When I started a new job after my second maternity leave, people were surprised when I said that it was easier working as a lawyer four days a week than the juggling involved when I got home. That’s not to say that I don’t love aspects of this special time with the children. But being honest it’s also incredibly challenging at times and non-stop.
So I decided the children needed a party – but perhaps we needed it more than them. Something new to think about and a change to our usual home-schooling and working routine. If we can’t escape our lives then even shaking it all up for one morning and doing something entirely different for a bit would help.
We talked excitedly about party games. The children were also adamant that there should be party bags. That night I managed to rustle some up. I found some old unused party bags and added some sweet delights, stickers, an unused scratch art, and a pretty, unused rubber – which I raided from their pencil drawer!
I also suddenly decided that a “Harry Potter” party would be so much more fun than something more traditional. Yet if I kept it simple it would be easy enough to do. Unlike real parties I’d done for the children previously, this one was extremely last minute and reliant only on whatever supplies we already had at home.
I found these invitations online and printed them:
I figured that if we played some sort of Quidditch, made some potions and visited Honeyduke’s that would be plenty and might make their day.
The next morning the children received their invitations and were literally on countdown until the 11am party.
The #amazingMrR and I transformed into Mad-Eyed Moody and Professor McGonagall. Our personal escapism had begun. We then enjoyed calling the children “muggles” who got to “visit” Hogwarts. We sorted the children into “houses” and had fun face painting those that wanted it – one with the Griffindor house emblem and one transformed into a butterfly.
We played Quidditch and found 10 snitches (albeit silver – ping pong balls covered with foil!) in the garden. Our version of Quidditch involved one child trying to get a ball into a hoop and the others throwing (soft!) balls in his/her direction to distract them. The competitive hunt for the snitches, which had to be added to each of their Halloween pots, proved to be a real highlight which we ended up repeating that afternoon too.
After that it was straight into “Potions class”. First I told the children that Neville Longbottom had messed up and made some stinky spells which they had to guess. For this we used the stinkiest kitchen ingredients I could find: sourdough starter, grated garlic and chopped onion. Great fun!
Then we made some potions using some “blood” (water with food dye), “dragon’s dandruff” (bicarbonate of soda), washing up liquid and vinegar. They each had a try and loved it. We’d made volcanoes before now but theming the experiment made it so much more fun!
Then for the grand finale, a visit to Honeyduke’s. Only we told the children some “dark arts” had been at work and messed everything up so they’d have to hunt for their sweet treats. To do this we did some apple bobbing followed by hunting in a bowl of flour for some chocballs and jumping snakes (leftover normal sweets from Halloween and past cake decorating but renamed!). I went first so they would all be willing participants, which they thought hysterical and brilliant. My youngest (4) wasn’t willing to get herself mucky, perhaps sensibly given that my hair had globs of flour in it for the rest of the day. But everyone else joined in and couldn’t stop laughing. I remember doing these activities at Brownies over 30 years ago but hadn’t recalled how mucky and tricky yet good fun they were! Will definitely repeat this game in the future.￼
We ended the party as all the best parties should finish. With great food (presented with some leftover fish and chips containers I had from a previous party!) and party bags. We all felt so happy and refreshed and we’ve promised the children another party very soon. But how we beat this one I don’t know!
It also reminded me that simple parties can be the best. This party cost me nothing (except for using up some vinegar and much cherished flour!). It was amazing to see how quickly we could put together a brilliant party using only what we had available in the house.
When the party ended we were five laughing, happy people, sufficiently distracted from our everyday, lockdowned lives. We had remembered all the things we love about life and each other and felt both delighted and refreshed. I was euphorically happy at how well it had gone and how thrilled the children had been. The clear-up mission wasn’t so bad either!