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The Harry Potter Birthday Party

EAT, entertain, grow, LIVE By May 29, 2014 Tags: , , , , , , , , , 3 Comments

Whish Harry Potter Table

My son is now eight. He stumbled over words while reading and as a parent it was so hard to keep him from getting discouraged – until I dusted off an old Harry Potter book. Overnight he went from not being ‘allowed’ to read chapter books at school to finishing his first novel – The Philosopher’s Stone by J.K. Rowling. That’s what interest will do for education! A celebration was in order!

Potion class? Wand instruction? Floating candles? Of course.

For his eighth birthday we invited parents, all of the kids in the class and siblings for a huge Harry Potter birthday party. 26 kids for a sit-down dinner. Gulp. I love to entertain, create and spend oodles of time on the food for parties, but the logistics are always a pain. Whish Party approached me for a colaboration and I explained my idea. Patricia, the owner got just as excited as I was and gave me tons of planning tips. She then shipped me all I would need as basics for the party so that I could focus on the bits that I enjoy the most.

The box from Whish arrived and I squealed. It contained:

Whish Harry Potter Party

– Silver plastic plates, cutlery and glasses. I learned later that all are fine in the dishwasher and will certainly be used again!
– A cake base
– Silver plastic serving utensils
– Corked jars in which to store take-home favours (potion)
– Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Beans
– Harry Potter napkins (One house on each quarter)
– A stuffed owl puppet with eyes that move
– Black plastic tablecloths

Harry Potter Birthday Party

Harry Potter Party Decor

1. The Great Hall. Four long tables (including deck furniture and card tables) were stretched across the living room and covered with the black cloths.
2. Floating Candles. We tied twine to the ‘wicks’ of flameless candles (Whish told me not to use fishing wire as the light would reflect and you would see the wire). I made a loop at the ends of the twine and cut each at a different length. I then wrapped a piece of printer paper around the tea lights, taping it at the beginning and end. Voila! A candle. We used thumbtacks to affix the twine on each each ‘candle’ to our ceiling, alternating them between long and short.
3. Harry Potter References. Pinterest is amazing. I found numerous ideas and whipped up a few signs like ‘The Stairs Change’ at the bottom of the staircase and a photo of Moaning Myrtle underneath the toilet seat.

Harry Potter Party Food

Harry Potter Party Food

1. I went easy and British! Store-bought meat pies, mashed potatoes, gravy and peas. Healthy and there wasn’t a drop left! (And we’d assumed that because it wasn’t chicken fingers, pizza or mac and cheese they would complain…)
2. We did two drinks: Pumpkin Juice (aka whatever fruit punch was on sale) and Butterbeer.
Golden Snitch Cake3. Golden Snitch Cake. With white ostrich feathers from the craft store and golden sparkles.

Harry Potter Party Activities

A Harry Potter Birthday

1. As guests arrived we presented them with a Platform 9 3/4 train ticket. I snagged the idea from The World’s Worst Moms.
2. Using various jars and bottles and Over the Big Moon’s potion labels glued on, we did a Potion Class. For one potion I did the old standby: vinegar and water in one bottle and cornstarch and water in another. I put food colouring in each and the little wizards had to figure out what would happen when we poured the solution into the cauldron.

Whish also supplied me a recipe for slime that’s perfect for a goody bag.

Salazar Slytherin’s Serpent Slime:
1 Tbsp of Elmer’s Clear Glue
2 Tbsp of warm water
Few drops of your choice of food colouring
1/4 tsp. of Borax powder

a.  Combine Borax powder with 1 tbsp. of warm water
b.  In a separate bowl, mix glue and 1 tbsp. of warm water, then add your desired colour.
c.  Slowly add the Borax and water mixture to your glue mixture; thickening the slime.
d.  Knead until smooth.
e.  Store slime in an airtight container to keep it from escaping!

3. Wand Instruction. You may have a better method, but as the ‘Professor’ I stood on my king-sized bed and made the wizards stand in a line at the foot of the bed. They each had been given a ‘wand’ which was a dark brown chopstick bought in Chinatown. They were instructed to say ‘ridiculis’ and ‘expelliamous’. (Yes, I did several years at acting school but I bet you can find a theatrical friend to run this part of the party!) Each child’s spell made me flail, fall, quack, etc. This could also be done on a trampoline, bed of pillows….
4. Photo Booth. Because we invited adults and siblings there were many older girls who have a penchant for fashion design and photography. We assembled props, including the precious owl that I ordered from Whish, and the three year old in the group was charged with escorting one wizard at a time to the photo area. We did a digital as well as a polaroid snap of each model, and the polaroid was included in the thank you notes.

Harry Potter Party Goody Bags

Whish Party Harry Potter

I don’t believe in elaborate goody bags where most is dollar-store plastic to be thrown away or candy to ruin the rest of a parent’s night after kids have eaten cake and gotten excited with their friends. My true preferences are charity and philanthropy-related, so we donated money to Right to Play on behalf of my son. I did want to send the kids home with something, though. We cut burlap squares and filled them with the Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Beans and a Soccer Ball (signifying Right to Play). They were each tied with twine and a tiny key. They also went home with their slime in each special jar.

So the parents could deal with a mess on their sofa instead of a sugar high. Ha!

A ton of work, kids that were in awe, and a total turn-key setup that allowed me to focus on what was really important: making memories and paying attention to detail.

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post from that contains lots of heart, Mom-love and effort. All opinions are my own. 

Jill Amery

Jill Amery is a mom of 2 small boys and the Publisher of UrbanMommies, a stylish digital lifestyle magazine filled with fitness, style, health, recipes and savvy mom advice to help you through pregnancy, birth, and raising your kids.

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Showing my Formal Disney Side

EAT, entertain By March 28, 2014 Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , 1 Comment

DisneySideWhen the call of Disney becons, you jump for joy and begin sprinkling the pixie dust! It’s like somebody handing over lottery winnings or granting three wishes. What is a ‘Disney Side‘? I think it is pure joy. Happiness. The innocence and wonder of youth. We all harbour these qualities within ourselves, and yet we all express them differently.  A Disney celebration does not have to include princess gowns or animation. In fact, our celebration took bits from many Disney ideals and moments and overlayed them all onto a formal dinner that celebrated kids and adults alike.


We set our celebration with eight adults and four children. The adult table was formal with crystal, linen and silver. Kids had many Disney inspired stuffies and themed napkins. I had the kids type names for place card adorned with Mickey Mouse faces and glue them to thick cards edged in black. The kids learned how to properly set a table and they were given ‘wine’ glasses for their Monsters Inc. juice.

As guests arrived, they were greeted at the door by our two sons wearing their Mickey ears.  We began our celebration with a run around our little island and the winner was awarded a copy of the new Frozen on Blu-ray. Of course, that is the soundtrack that played throughout. I may or may not have belted ‘Let it Go’ with Idina Menzel…

Next, we played Disney Bingo as we nibbled on snowflake-shaped cheeses covered in Ocean Spray Craisins.

Dinner was a huge hit, though I didn’t quite bank on the hours of cleanup necessitated by pulling out the good dishes!

Lobster Mickey Pappardelle

Our DisneySide Menu:

Snowflake-shaped hard cheeses sprinkled with Craisins
Lobster Mickey Cream Pappardelle
Homemade Mickey Cheese Sauce for the Kids
Mickey-shaped garlic bread sprinkled with kale
Mickey Trouser Cupcakes
Disney Sugar Cookies

DisneySide RunWe ended the evening by giving each guest a lithograph of Minnie and Mickey, along with a few personalized photos of the run around the island printed on HP photo cards. All of the goodies were served up in the American Tourister luggage that all of the party supplies arrived in.

And that is my Disney Side! All I can say is that I should have done a few more laps for the run to make up for the lobster cream sauce and sugar cookies!

Disclosure: This #DisneySide Home Celebration was sponsored by Disney, and UrbanMommies received products as compensation for hosting this celebration. All opinions and styling are our own.


Jill Amery

Jill Amery is a mom of 2 small boys and the Publisher of UrbanMommies, a stylish digital lifestyle magazine filled with fitness, style, health, recipes and savvy mom advice to help you through pregnancy, birth, and raising your kids.

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The All-Star Sports Birthday Party

EAT, entertain, FAM, kids By June 13, 2013 Tags: , , , , , , , , , No Comments

All-Star Birthday PartyAsked by Walmart to create a birthday party for six children with under $100, UrbanMommies hit the aisles and embarked on the Walmart Frugal Heroes Challenge.  Scouring the store and channeling our creativity, we decided upon the All-Star Sports Birthday Party.  I was shocked when we got to the cash with an entire basket-full of goods.  I will admit (sheepishly) that the total came to $101.50, but we’re still proud.


1.  Skipping Rope
2.  6 Red soccer jerseys
3.  1 set of 2 lb weights
4.  1 set of 5 lb weights
All Star Birthday Ideas5. 4 orange pylons
6. 1 soccer ball
7.  1 basket ball
8.  Box of microwave popcorn
9.  8 frozen tenderloin beef skewers for the BBQ
10.  2 boxes brownie mix
11.  1 tin chocolate icing
12.  dotted cocktail napkins
13.  striped luncheon napkins
14.  red paper plates
15.  Blue plastic tablecloth
16.  1 Case of Blue Kool-Aid Jammers

Total: $101.50

All-Star BirthdaySurely we can create a party with this!  With stations for the leaders to guide the 6 kids in sporty challenges, we jumped rope, did bicep curls, kicked the ball around pylons, did a pushup race and shot hoops.  The kids gorged on popcorn and ‘Brownie Cake’ for dessert and beef kebabs and salad (from my garden and not included in prices).  The ‘goody bag’ was the red jersey that each child got to take home (and could easily be personalized with masking tape).

Therefore, UrbanMommies, the least ‘frugal’ magazine ever, was able to create a memorable and fun party with minimal cost – oh, and it covers the one-hour of activity quotient that so few of our children are getting.

Must go.  We’ve got some drills to recreate!

Disclosure: UrbanMommies was given a $100 gift card for Walmart for the purposes of creating a birthday party.  We were not compensated for this article and all ideas and opinion are our own.

Jill Amery

Jill Amery is a mom of 2 small boys and the Publisher of UrbanMommies, a stylish digital lifestyle magazine filled with fitness, style, health, recipes and savvy mom advice to help you through pregnancy, birth, and raising your kids.

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Interesting Birthday Party Ideas on a Budget

Interesting Birthday Party Ideas on a Budget

FAM, kids By February 1, 2012 Tags: , , , , , , , 7 Comments

If you’re tired of keeping up with the Joneses, tossing all of those paper plates, and goody bags filled with sugary snacks and useless stuff, read on.  We like sustainability, budget-friendliness, unique ideas, and healthy parties – for mind, body, and the environment.  So we asked our community for some interesting birthday party ideas that have been a smash hit in their house. If you have other ideas that have been a hit, please e-mail us.  In the meantime, try these ideas on your kids and you’ll be the talk of the town…

Interesting Birthday Party Ideas on a Budget

1. The Telus World of Science offers new, exciting and unique birthday party packages for children of all ages. Pre-booked parties include a zany Science World host, exploration time in the many galleries and exhibits and a decorated private party room. Themed packages include a Preschool Package, Science Surprise Package, Insects Package and Chemistry Package. There’s limited space so be sure to book early. Visit their website for more information on the great parties Science World has to offer!

2.  Green Planet Parties supplies compostable dishes (that look stylish enough for a wedding).  Also check their cloth goody bags, reusable, sewn ‘Happy Birthday’ banners, and personalized endangered animal necklaces for the kids.  Order online, and look like a hero – both for the cool factor, and also for saving the environment.

3.  Get those kids active with a party at Jump Gymnastics.  The tots leave with balloons, get a fab lesson in tumbling, and the cake can be gobbled up while sitting on colourful stools in the party room.

4.  Dora bags are fun and all, but why not grab a reusable shopping bag (the Vancouver Aquarium has great ones) to stash the gifts?

5.  Know any interesting university students or professors?  Hire one for an hour to add spice to the party.  The marine biology major could talk about crabs at your beach bash, or the bug or dinosaur guy could do their thing.  (Think Ross on Friends – wouldn’t you like to have him at your party?)

6. Plant a garden with the kids from the party, give seeds as favours, and treat the parents to a talk from a landscape designer.

7.  Use frames as your giveaway, and do an art party.  Frame the little Picassos at the end, and other parents will be so thrilled to have a hang-able piece of art!

8.  Homeworks Etc. has great hooks that are ‘in the raw’.  You can paint them at the party, take them home, and voila – a great place for your bathrobe!

9.  Instead of gifts, hold a Giving Party.  Ask for some money and split the total between your child and a charity.  This will stimulate conversation about why little Aidan doesn’t have a wrapped present, and get them discussing the tigers.  Green Planet Parties has some great wording on their website with how to ask for the donations.

See also our Birthday Banner feature, our 1 Year Old Birthday Party Ideas and One Year Old Birthday Party articles .

Jill Amery

Jill Amery is a mom of 2 small boys and the Publisher of UrbanMommies, a stylish digital lifestyle magazine filled with fitness, style, health, recipes and savvy mom advice to help you through pregnancy, birth, and raising your kids.

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One Year Old Birthday Party

FAM, kids By October 19, 2011 Tags: , , , , , , , , 5 Comments


First Birthday Party IdeasThe One Year Old Birthday Party is a celebration not only for your child, but for your family.  The milestone of making it through he first year is huge, and a mother and father should take the time to celebrate themselves as much as their child.  Many parents skip a formal party altogether, and have a family dinner or quiet evening with their child.  Some are so overwhelmed by the last twelve months that a party seems out of the question.  Whatever you decide, we suggest that you do something to mark the occasion for yourselves.  Lighting a candle, doing a special yoga pose or a walk in the woods can be enough.  If parties are you thing… here are the UrbanMommies One Year Old Birthday Party ideas.

(* We hate to ask, but we’re trying to help kids in Africa through the Right to Play organization.  If you could just take 2 seconds to vote on Facebook for our Publisher Jill Amery we’d really be grateful!  She’s working on ‘We Promote Health’ for kids in Liberia.  Thank you thank you!)

Baby’s First Birthday Invitations

1.  Tie a single birthday candle with a ribbon and glue to a blank card.
2.  Have invites printed with a photo from the day of birth along with a current photo of your child.
3.  Using blank folded cards, grab some non-toxic paint and have a fun activity with your child making hand or foot prints on the invitations.  Do it in the bathtub for easier cleanup.
4.  Companies like TinyPrints have great themed invitations in funky and current designs.  If you’re feeling ambitious, you can take advantage of Canada Post’s custom stamps and design one with a photo of baby’s tiny feet or beaming smile.
5.  Last minute or think mail is ridiculous?  Try an evite invitation and keep it easy and organized.

Goodie Bags and Party Favours

1.  We don’t think that any one year old will notice if they leave without a loot bag, but… it can be a nice gesture.  Try to get something for the parents that can be used by the baby.
2.  Board Books are always a great idea.
3.  Travel size wipes, powder and rash cream are constantly needed.
4.  If you have the time, a personalized favour is appreciated forever.
5.  Why not photocopy your child’s favourite recipes (or just use ours) and make them into a book for the other parents.  Cooking and meal planning are always a challenge.

First Birthday Party Games

Really?  You actually want to do games with the tots?  Why not just take a photo on the sofa of all of the babies together.  You can then drink some wine, eat adult food (most parents will bring their child’s favourite snacks anyway) and enjoy the other parents.
1.  Our Birthday Party Ideas article offers some themes and activities for parties.
2.  Instead of traditional ‘games’, why not begin a new tradition.  Have each person write a special wish for baby on a card and continue this every year for the child to read always.
3.  Make a time capsule.
4.  Have each attendee sign their name on a white tablecloth every year.  Have a talented family member embroider each name in a different colour every year.  My grandmother did this for me through the school years and I now have an heirloom that is displayed at every birthday.

Unique First Birthday Gifts

1.  We always like to get something special for the Mom who has given so much of her love and time to the baby.  A necklace with baby’s name on it or a book in which to journal is such a nice thought.
2.  If you have the time, try a personalized book.  It is a great keepsake and can be read for years by parents and children.
3.  A monogrammed tote bag is always appreciated – particularly if the current diaper bag is looking the worse for wear.
4.  A homemade CD of music that calms your child, or simply the best tunes to move around to.  It might be a perfect solution for a child who gets fussy in the car.

Taking Time For You

The past year has probably been a whirlwind.  Take a moment with your partner to remember the birth, remember the high and low points of the year, to cry and laugh.  You could write favourite memories, light a candle, have a bubble bath, or sleep all night in bed with your baby – skin to skin.  This is your day as much as baby’s and you should be proud of yourself.

Need some more ideas?  Check the 1 year old party idea article by Lauren.

– Jill Amery just had a rather significant birthday herself.

Image: Plush singing cake from Multipet.

Jill Amery

Jill Amery is a mom of 2 small boys and the Publisher of UrbanMommies, a stylish digital lifestyle magazine filled with fitness, style, health, recipes and savvy mom advice to help you through pregnancy, birth, and raising your kids.

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Backyard Popsicle Soccer Party

FAM, kids By September 3, 2010 Tags: , , , No Comments

Needing birthday party inspiration?  Summer is the perfect time to come up with unique party ideas, and this one is a keeper.  The Backyard Popsicle Soccer PartyPopsicle sent us a rockin’ duffle bag filled with pylons, soccer ball, gloves for the keeper (goalie) and water bottles.  Oh… and gift certificates for popsicles.  And it gave us an excellent reason to make the husband cut the grass.  Devious. We invited kids with their parents and a couple of cute British soccer coaches doing Challenger Sports Camps in our area.  (Just for the story – really). Voila… we had a party.

Jill Amery

Jill Amery is a mom of 2 small boys and the Publisher of UrbanMommies, a stylish digital lifestyle magazine filled with fitness, style, health, recipes and savvy mom advice to help you through pregnancy, birth, and raising your kids.

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