Planning a Theme Party for Twenty-Somethings: Harry Potter Style

This birthday party was two years in the making. Actually, it was more like two years of good intentions followed by a week of making it happen. My best friend is probably the only person who loves Harry Potter as much as I do. So, when it came time to celebrate her 28th birthday, I already knew what I was going to do because I had initially planned to do it on her 27th birthday.

Considering that the first Harry Potter novel was published way back in 1997 and the first movie was released in 2001, hosting a Harry Potter-themed birthday party for a 28-year-old is not weird at all. We GREW UP with Harry and the crew. We knew what house we wanted to be in before we knew what our first jobs would be.

When you search “Harry Potter party” on the Internet, however, most results are strictly targeted toward kids and are SOOOO over-the-top/time- and money-consuming. Oh, you got custom wands and sewed new robes for all the kids? That’s cool, but I’m not about make robes that might end up with throw-up on them at the end of the night.

Nope, planning a theme party for twenty-somethings is not the same as planning a theme party for kids.

When it comes to planning a themed-party for twenty-somethings you want it to be themed enough for guests to get into it but not so in-depth that your time or money is wasted.

On that note however, unlike kids, your friends know when something looks like shit. So how do you find the right balance? I mean, you don’t want it to feel half-assed, but you also don’t want to be weeping over construction paper or your bank account at 2am. Here’s how I generally do it:

  1. Commit to a budget. Whether it’s $20 or $100 or whatever, the budget determines just how much you can DO in general but also how much you can DIY vs. just buy outright. A budget also encourages you to get creative. With the HP party I got VERY lucky in the decor department, but my budget also forced me to not buy/do too much. Which gets me to the next point:
  2. Devote ONE night (or 3-4 hours total) to DIY shit. DIY is all fine and dandy until you find yourself knee-deep in hot glue at 11pm with not a completed thing in sight. By putting a time limit on the DIY stuff you not only stay motivated to get it done, but you also limit the amount of DIY you commit to.
  3. Buy with future parties in mind (if you want more parties.) I am ANTI buying-specific-themed-items mainly because their ability to be reused is v. low. AND due to trademark shit, officially themed stuff can be stupid-expensive. Using things like remove-able labels, kraft paper, and household items not only saves money (in the short and long run) it can also make the party more charming.

With those three things in mind, check out a few pics from Lauren’s Harry Potter Birthday:


Okay, so the above picture is from Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. But below is the cake I made for the party:


Some people change out Harry for the actual birthday boy/girl’s name, but nah, we have integrity at PTY!


Ok, so I can’t take credit for this insane Platform 9 3/4 backdrop. A coworker made it for her kids (bless her) BUT I did ask to borrow it, and there’s a lesson right there: stalk coworkers’ Instagrams to see what theme parties they’ve thrown for their kids and BOOM swoop in and seize it.


Guys, these things were a hit. I was honestly surprised but apparently my friends are secret superfans of Ferrero Rochiers and/or thought this was super clever. Either way, I’ll take it. I wish I took more pictures, because there were a lot of fun things like:

  • A fat lady on the front door
  • Moaning Myrtle in the bathroom
  • Floating candles made from battery-operated tea lights, paper, and fishing line
  • A “potions” box full of shots
  • And a cauldron for the Butterbeer
  • For the birthday girl, I created a special invitation, direct from Hogwarts:


Also, has a pretty sweet font called Lumos that is perfect for anything Harry Potter related. It’s what I used for the invites as well as labels for other party items.

And there you have it, a twenty-something theme party in the books. We had enough booze, no robes, no throw-up, but enough Harry Potter to make everyone–but especially the birthday girl–happy.

See ya later, party animals.


The Irish Goodbye is the Best Thing to Happen to Parties Since the Piñata

Imagine for a second you’re at a wonderful party. The music is bumping, the conversation is flowing, and all of a sudden a guest leans into your conversation pocket, coat already on, and says something to the effect of: “Hey guys! Sorry to interrupt, but James and I have to go. The babysitter needs to leave/we have an early morning tomorrow/we ran out of things to talk about/I have period cramps/etc.”

The conversation stops. Hugs are doled out like dancer brochures on the Vegas strip and now everyone is beginning to question if they should go home, too. It’s an all-too-soon snap back to reality.

Insert, the Irish Goodbye.

You simply leave without saying a word. No disruptions. No awkward lull. No party pooping.

For those who might think this is rude–“Excuse me! You should always thank your host!”–I disagree. The host was probably busy for the first half of the party accommodating everyone’s needs and now chances are, they’ve finally reached a point of relaxation, where they don’t feel like they have to be “on.” When goodbyes start, they have to be “on” again.

As far as gratitude goes, thank your hosts after you leave. Send a text thanking them for the wonderful party and if you had to leave early for a reason, feel free to explain. Better yet, send them a note the next day when they probably have more time to read it.

Obviously, there are a few times employing the Irish Goodbye is frowned upon:

  1. If the crowd is small enough that your lack of presence would obviously be noticed. Still, if everyone else is still in it for the long haul, try to excuse yourself as quickly and simply as possible.
  2. If you’re the host or guest of honor. Unless you’re violently ill. Then by all means, GTFO.
  3. If the hosts are of another dimension that they would be VERY OFFENDED if you did not say goodbye. This is rare.

Sometimes I’ll let a friend know I scooted out (especially if the party is at a bar or restaurant) so people don’t worry. Otherwise, Irish Goodbye your heart out. I do it all the time and have zero regrets.

Anyone else Team Irish Goodbye? Anyone opposed? Love to hear your thoughts.