How to Host a "Hogwarts at Night" Harry Potter Party for Grownups - Pt 2
Welcome back to the second part of our two-part series on hosting an immersive Hogwarts at Night adventure. In part one we discussed how to create a Hogwarts “set” in your home or event space, and what activities to offer your guests (click here to read the post, or click here to watch the video). Now we’ll complete the planning with a discussion of your themed food and drinks and your amazing costumes.
FOOD & BEVERAGES
As I mentioned in the last post, author JK Rowling did a fantastic job creating and describing a wide array of magical refreshments in the Harry Potter book series, which makes our job as event planners much easier. There are probably more options for themed food than guests at your party!
So that means you have choices to make. You can serve replicas of foods that were specifically mentioned in the books, like Chocolate Frogs and Butterbeer, or you can create your own dishes inspired by items in the story, like Pumpkin Pasty Shooters and Half Blood Oranges.
You will also need to decide whether you’re offering a “full service” menu at your party, meaning you’ll be serving appetizers, dinner food, desserts and drinks, or whether you’d rather pare down the food and concentrate on one particular course -- maybe your event has a cocktail party vibe and you just want to offer finger foods, or you have a sweet tooth and you love the idea of a dessert buffet. Your choice.
Today I’ll share a few foods from each potential category, and you can mix and match to suit your needs. In each category, there will be an item you can make, an item you can buy, and an item you can modify (which is where you take a food from the store and add a few things to it to make it fancier.) As you are probably aware, there are a TON of Harry Potter themed recipes available on Pinterest, but some of them are really hard to make, and the last thing you want to do is be stuck in the kitchen for a week before your event, agonizing over your Pinterest fails. The foods I’m going to share with you today are accessible to everyone, no matter what your skill in the kitchen, AND I’ve made them all myself for various events over the years, so I can vouch for their flavor!
Let’s start with appetizers and finger foods. Most recipes online are for sweets, and there really aren’t any appetizers mentioned in the books, so these are all normal recipes that we’ve given themed names to. Today we’ll talk about three options - one you make, one you buy, and one you modify - and those are Huffle Puffs, Pretzel Wands and Slytherin Snake Slivers.
You can MAKE these Slytherin Snake Slivers - really quickly. These are little mini pizzas made of zucchini slices, topped with a pepperoni slice and grated parmesan cheese. These are so simple to make - you’re really just assembling things. Just arrange your zucchini slices on a baking sheet, add the pepperoni and cheese on top, and bake at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes or until the cheese is starting to melt and brown. These are light and really flavorful, and they go fast so make a lot.
Next we have the appetizer you can BUY, for those times that you just want to have fun at the event and not worry about cooking. Huffle Puffs are simply savory puff pastry appetizer bites from the frozen aisle at your local grocery store. These can be filled with spinach and cheese, or potatoes and bacon, or roasted peppers - there are a lot of options out there. Just heat and serve, and don’t forget to make a little sign to set by the tray with the name of the food so people can enjoy the pun!
And our last appetizer, the one you can MODIFY, is Pretzel Wands. These are very simple as well - see the pattern? Start with long pretzel rods, cover half with ready-made frosting, and roll them on a dish of colored sugar or sprinkles. Super fun. Serve these with a napkin, because they drop sprinkles all over when you eat them.
Now if you’d like to offer more substantial foods, something heavier to fill your guest’s stomachs (or absorb alcoholic drinks), yet still easy to grab from a buffet and eat standing up, here are three more delicious and easy options for you to consider: Hogshead Cornish Balls, Pumpkin Pasty Shooters and Basilisks in a Blanket.
You can make the Hogshead Cornish Balls, which are actually sweet and sour meatballs, in all of 15 minutes if you start with frozen meatballs from your grocery store. Just dump two bags of Italian meatballs (still frozen) into a large pasta pot over medium heat on your stove, add a large jar of grape jelly and a large bottle of taco sauce, then stir occasionally as the jelly melts to coat all the meatballs in the sauce. I know it sounds like a weird combination, but people LOVE these meatballs. You can serve them on platters with a toothpick in each one, or set up a crock pot and keep in running on low during the party and let people help themselves.
Pumpkin Pasty Shooters are cute little cups filled with a thick orange liquid that is actually prepared carrot soup from the store mixed with a little bit of canned pumpkin and some cinnamon & nutmeg. You should heat this together on the stove to get it combined well, but you can actually serve these warm or chilled. Your proportions here are 4 cups of soup to ½ can of pumpkin, plus apple pie spices to taste. It’s perfect in tiny cups since it’s so thick and heavy -- your guests can just knock back an ounce of flavor then move on to the other foods.
And the simplest item in this category is Basilisks in a Blanket, which are just cocktail franks wrapped in pastry from the frozen section of your grocery store. Heat these up, add a cute sign made with a Harry Potter font, and you are all set!
Now the most fun category of themed food is, of course, dessert, and we have a LOT of options to choose from here. There are literally hundreds of cutesy little recipes on Pinterest to make Harry potter themed sweets, but I have to say, some of them don’t work. I tried some Nimbus 2000 "brooms" where you’re supposed to stick the weak little pretzel into the bottom of the peanut butter cup, and they break! That is not fun to be surrounded by pretzel crumbles and squished candy on the afternoon before your event! So in this category I’m going to show you TWO recipes you can make, that are easy and reliable, one you can modify and one you can buy.
Chocolate Frogs are iconic Harry Potter images, and you can buy them but they’re actually very expensive and can sometimes take forever to ship. On Amazon they’re $3 or $4 apiece, but you can make them for about 50 cents each, and that’s including shelling out $6 for a candy mold. You just melt a bag of Hershey Kisses or chocolate chips in the microwave, stirring every 30 seconds. Then spoon the chocolate into your mold, pop into the fridge for about 20 minutes, display them on a plate or in cupcake liners, and that’s it! You will have to repeat this process several times if you just have the one mold, so this is a good project for the day before the event.
The second dessert you can make is Bloody Brilliant Cheesecake Dip. This is pretty transparently a regular recipe with a themed name slapped on it, but honestly, this dessert is so delicious no one will bat an eye. You may already be familiar with this dish. To make it, you just mix together a block of cream cheese, half a jar of marshmallow fluff, and a tub of Cool Whip. You spread this in a baking dish, then top it with a can of cherry pie filling. Serve this with graham crackers that you’ve broken into small pieces, and set a pile of small plates next to this dish and a big spoon so people can scoop a big pile of dip onto their own plate instead of having to stand next to the serving dish as they eat. Don’t forget your cute sign.
The simple dessert you can modify is Half Blood Oranges. You’ll again be melting chocolate in your microwave, then line a baking sheet with waxed paper, dip blood orange slices, or even clementine slices, halfway into the chocolate, set them on the sheet and let them cool at room temperature or in the fridge. That’s it! You don’t want to leave these in the fridge for hours though, because the chocolate can oxidize and turn white. There’s nothing wrong with it, but it doesn’t look as nice.
And lastly, the dessert you can simply buy is Treacle Tart. We’re going to cheat a bit here and use a regular pecan pie and call it Treacle Tart with Nuts, because the taste is very similar. A traditional treacle tart is very very close to the filling of a pecan pie, so your guests will get to enjoy the flavor without you having to try to track down the British ingredient called golden syrup to make it.
DRINKS & BEVERAGES
And lastly, let’s talk about drinks. Who here wants some Butterbeer? I thought so. I’ll say it again - there are a ton of recipes on the Internet, but some of them are weird. I tried one that actually had butter in it, and did you know that when butter congeals it’s gross? Yeah. So test out your recipes before your event. The butterbeer recipe I DO like, because it’s easy and it tastes good, is simply cream soda topped with a mixture of cool whip and butterscotch pudding powder. You can sprinkle a few butterscotch chips on top and maybe even some gold sprinkles if you’re feeling fancy, and let the sugar high come crashing over you.
I mentioned a Potion Bar in the last video as a DIY activity for your event, but if you don’t want your guests making messes in your kitchen you can simply serve potions in pitchers. Pick your favorite punch recipes in a variety of colors, mix them in glass pitchers and set out some signs that say what potion they are. Call your green punch Polyjuice potion, your yellow punch Felix Felicis (the good luck potion), and your red punch SkeleGro, or really, whatever you want. My favorite punch recipes are sprite and green veggie juice for the green drinks, pineapple juice, orange juice and mango juice for the yellow drinks, and ginger ale, cranberry juice cocktail and orange sherbert for the red drinks.
If you’re planning to serve cocktails, you can again choose your favorite mixer recipes and give them themed names, like the Fizzing Whisbee (which the Internet told me I could put pop rocks on the rim of the glass, but I could never find them locally), or you can even set out a variety of craft beers and call them Ales of Beedle the Bard! (get it?) My favorite cocktail - and let me just qualify this by saying that there are a lot of liquors that I don’t like, so my favorites lean heavily to the “lots of sugar with a drop of alcohol” category - but my favorite harry potter themed cocktail is the Goblet of Fire, which is essentially a pomegranate martini made with pomegranate juice, orange juice, a tiny squeeze of lemon juice and vodka.
Just like with your make your own potion bar, you can print up signs that feature the name of your drinks in large letters, and the ingredients in small print, or you can make a game of asking your guests to guess what’s in their potions.
And now the final element of your epic, immersive Hogwarts at Night event -- costuming. Obviously if you’ve picked up an official robe somewhere along the way, you’re most of the way there. All you’ll need is a few accessories, like a Monster Book of Monsters, or even your trusty Bowtruckle.
If you have been lucky enough to buy or receive a Quidditch sweater or jacket then all you’ll need is a broom! But if you don’t have any Hogwarts gear hiding in the back of your closet, there are still a few fun and easy ways to deck yourself out as a character in the Harry Potter series.
It’s actually pretty simple to mimic the Hogwarts school uniform with a v-neck sweater, a white button down shirt, and a house tie. Any dark colored pants or skirt will work with this outfit, and you can accessorize with your broom, your pet, or your time turner.
If you have a simple maroon sweater, add a large R on the front and you’ve got the sweater Mrs Weasley knit for Ron at Christmas. If you’re brave enough you can wear it over blue and white striped pajamas!
Or simply wear all black and wrap a house scarf around your neck. Carry and wand and it will be completely obvious that you’ve come straight from wizarding class. Any type of witch or wizardy type hat also works in this case.
If you’re up for a challenge and you want to stand out amongst all your guests, you might like to try to dress as a well-known character from the series, like Professor McGonagall for example. Just a few nods to her standard uniform will make it clear who you are, like a high necked black shirt under your robe with a pin at the neck, or wire rimmed glasses that you can peer over. You’ll need to pick up a tall witch’s hat for sure, and start practicing your Scottish accent!
You can become Professor Trelawney with some coke bottle glasses and a head wrap, especially if your hair is already long and wavy. Just add a few layers of street-person chic with dark sweaters and a wool skirt.
And you can even channel Luna Lovegood with a Ravenclaw tshirt, a long blonde wig, a set of sparkly winged glasses that you can make from cardboard, and maybe even some awesome radish earrings!
And now you’re ready to host the most memorable event your Potterhead friends have ever experienced!
Remember, you can view both parts of this post on our YouTube channel: