By Ankita A Talwar
Kiddie birthday parties are no longer what they used to be! For the mom it has to be Pinterest-worthy and for the little bub, worthy enough to be the talk of the playground. And this can entail many months of elaborate research (in identifying trending, ingenious themes), meticulous planning of the birthday cake, return gifts, decor and the costume. You can either go the DIY route or choose to dish out the moolah to birthday party planners in town. But whatever your pick, we bring you popular themes on the birthday party circuit along with some ideas to make them truly magical.
We rounded up three party planners – Vaishali Gupta from La Pitara, Ritika Girdhar Sahni from Pom Pom Events and Sukanya Sahdev – and they told us how to put together the best Harry Potter theme party and other useful information on birthday parties.
For a Muggle-envious Harry Potter Party
A big hit theme with the 9-12 year old age group, this requires extensive, but fun planning.
First, the decor. Change the entrance of the venue to look like Platform 9¾. You can use a black bedsheet/fabric, slit it from the centre, to nearly the top, and hang it over the entrance. Take a rectangular sponge, dip it in brick coloured paint and stencil it over the sheet to resemble a brick wall. Write 9 ¾ on it to set the theme right at the entrance.
Hang battery-lit candles from the ceiling (if you love details, simulate some melted wax on the sides of the candles with glue drops, using a glue gun) using a thin thread to look like the grand hall at Hogwarts. Or, make cylinders of hard white paper, drip some glue drops on the sides of it and paint it all white. Now insert an electric tea-light at the top of the cylinder and paste it there. You can hang these from the ceiling.
“Inspired from an image online, I collected old keys from a repair guy on a pavement. I attached paper wings around the keys and taped them to the ceiling on a string to resemble flying keys from Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone,” recounts Megha Katyal, who organised a Harry Potter theme for her 11-year-old son Advay. Do not miss out on showcasing the four houses on the walls of the party venue. “Hang buntings in the house colours and banners,” suggests Katyal.
For that special touch, pile up some old-world suitcases to resemble the students’ trunks. They can double up as tables as well.
A fitting welcome
Welcome your guests with a sorting hat (made out of hard paper, paint it brown and crumple it at some places to make it look old and worn out); wands made out of chopsticks (paint chopsticks brown, drip hot glue on the edges to make them look knobbly). Don’t forget to hide mufflers or sashes inside the sorting hat to put your guests in their respective houses or make teams for activities.
Chocolate frogs (you can buy frog-shaped moulds), jelly beans (banana, pear, cherry, watermelon and more), Hagrid’s rock cakes (chocolate chip cookies with a texture that’s somewhere between a brownie and a cookie), Harry’s favourite treacle tart, butterbeer (vanilla cream soda with butterscotch flavouring) are sure to excite the little guests.
Set up a potions class with the help of a party planner who organises science experiments such as volcano eruptions, creating massive bubbles, creating froth or making slime. Get the young ones to try their hands at a table-top Quidditch. Place three hoops on one side of the table and the kids have to try and aim a small ball through these. Give ‘Pin the Tail on the Donkey’ an enchanted twist, by asking kids to place the scar on the cutout of Harry Potter’s face. Think of some tongue-twisting spells and ask the children to recite them – the one who manages to repeat the spell the maximum times becomes the winner.
Customised butter-beer mugs, a Harry Potter book, chocolate balls wrapped in golden paper with wings stuck on them as golden snitch, or treat-mix bags are some fun ideas. To round up the theme, wrap the gifts in brown paper, insert a stick (or a lightweight cylindrical tube), tie the mouth of the bag around it and shred the edges to look like a broom.
And if a Harry Potter theme is not the one you are looking at here are some other popular ones: My Little Pony, a unicorn theme, Mary Poppins (or Return of Mary Poppins), exotic vacation theme (“A Night is Paris is something we organised recently for a client,” recounts Vaishali), Shopkins, Mad Scientist or an Emoji party.
But before you get busy choosing a theme, here are some interesting insights offered by our party planners.
“Themes vary with the age; for up to three to four years, the themes are more generic, such as ‘forest’ or ‘princess’. Slightly older kids, who learn to identify with characters, want those then,” says Vaishali.
Budgets vary hugely. “The budget for a theme-based party that is planned in detail can run into a lakh easily,” explains Ritika. And if the party is in a hotel, catering costs are additional.
“With slightly older children, we sometimes talk to the kid herself/himself to know what’s on their mind,” she adds saying that kids are very aware of what they like and want.
“They are a huge deal as they are almost like a prestige issue for both children and parents. I generally ask the child what he would like to give and then work it out with the parents,” explains Sukanya. Mostly, gifts that are activity-based find favour.