A Magical Evening – Harry Potter Party Overview

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Although there were no actual spells or enchantments cast nor flying owls soaring around at my birthday party, that is not to say there was no magic created that night.  My Harry Potter birthday party was a complete success, and despite all the hours and stress put into the project, I am incredibly pleased with how it all turned out and would do it all over again, if I had the choice.  I also cannot thank my friends and family enough for helping me out, especially after falling ill two weeks before and falling behind on decorating.

Because there was so much put into this party, I will write several more detailed posts on it within the next few weeks, including how I made the decorations and what activities were held at the party.  But for now, this post will show you an overview of what my party was like.  Enjoy!!

As written on the invitation, the party guests were to follow the spiders to the grand entrance to Hogwarts.  Here, they can also park their broomsticks as well as meet Aragog, Hagrid’s giant pet arachnid.

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Once they entered Hogwarts, they were greeted with appetizers and got to embark on a scavenger hunt looking for Voldemort’s Horcruxes.

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Hogwarts décor would not be complete without some candles and the Golden Snitch.  That Snitch was actually handmade by me! =)

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Beware of Moaning Myrtle and the thriving basilisk in the bathroom!  The Chamber of Secrets has been opened.  Enemies of the heir, beware…

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Arguably, the best feature of the party was the photo booth.  I recreated the scene where Harry Potter gets flooded with Hogwarts acceptance letters at the Dursley house and used it as the backdrop for photos.  I am still amazed that two of my friends and I were able to make this look astounding.  I also made my own photo booth props to play with and placed them on the wizard’s chess table.

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Dinner by candlelight and starlight!  We ate underneath the Bewitched Ceiling.  As you can see in the picture below, each person received a personalized scroll that designated who was which professor.

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Dinner is served!  Marinated chicken, short ribs, and lemony potatoes… a hearty meal fit for Hogwarts.

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No Hogwarts dinner is complete without dessert.  Guests caught their very own edible Snitch (Ferrero Rocher chocolates) and were served butterbeer (apple cider floats).

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Me and the other birthday girl, who collaborated with me on this birthday party, also received our very own surprise with a chocolate banana meringue birthday cake and presents.  I got the last Harry Potter book to complete my set =D

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After dinner, my friends got a chance to win the House Cup by playing a trivia game.  Admittedly, those questions I came up with were very hard!

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Although not everyone was a winner that night, every guest got to go home with a goodie bag, which included a quill pen, a chocolate dipped pretzel wand, Bertie Bott’s Every Flavored Beans (really just regular Jelly Bellys.. my sister told me how traumatized she was after someone fed her the vomit flavored one), and homemade Chocolate Frogs with a peanut butter filling inside.

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The night was indeed magical, and the best party I’ve thrown thus far.  It just goes to show that turning 28 does not mean you have to deny the kid inside.

Please check back all this month for more detailed posts on my Harry Potter party!

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Sneak Peek – Harry Potter Birthday Party

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The older I get, the more celebrating my birthday becomes less and less of a priority.  Because of that, I’m less inclined to figure out what to do for my birthday when my friends and family ask me.  Of course, my family and friends have the best intentions, but sometimes I really would rather sit at home in my fat pants after a long work week and binge watch my favorite shows on Netflix.  Isn’t it my day after all?

 Sometime last summer though, I was browsing through a friend’s Pinterest page and found all these brilliant recipes and other cool ideas based on the Harry Potter series.  I really am such a nerd for Harry Potter and was easily taken away by the magic at Hogwarts and the rise of an unsuspecting hero.  So, in turn, I was eager to recreate what I found, but was completely unsure of when it would be appropriate to serve something like butterbeer.  Soon enough, lightbulb popped up – I’m going to throw my own Harry Potter themed birthday party!!

 I know most people would think I’m weird and crazy for planning my own birthday party, but even someone as self-involved as P. Diddy throws his own birthday bash.  He just has more money and servants to make it happen.  Fortunately though, I love party planning and creative crafting, and I was relieved to finally know what to do for my birthday this year.

 Funnily enough, a good bulk of my ideas for the party came to me while getting a massage.  It’s the most interesting feeling being inspired while relaxing.  I wrote down every idea I had when the massage was over and researched further online (Pinterest is such a God send to craftsters).

 So as a sneak peek of things to come, here is a pic of my friends with their special invites.  The invitation replicates a special owl post fit for a wizard.  This idea has been recreated on many blogs, but I enjoyed the pictures from lizzy writes the most.  The balloons were only about a $1 each and the drawing was easy enough to copy on the balloon.

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To make the party more “adult,” I’m not enforcing any costumes and setting it as a “Dinner with the Professors” in order to assume the roles of the adult characters.  Each guest will be assigned a Hogwarts professor role, just for fun, and there will be several other surprises along the way.

I’m super excited for my party, which is this upcoming Saturday, and really hoping that all the hard work will pay off.  This party is many months in the making, so I’m expecting it to be an epic birthday!

Check back next week for a detailed account on my party.  Look forward to seeing several additional posts with links and tutorials of my own (including the owl post invitations) as well.

Have a magical day! =)

DIY Star Decorations and Star Stirrers

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For my last and final tutorial on the Oscars, I will show you how to make these cute 3D stars and star drink stirrers.  I originally made these stars for my Golden Globes party this year, but if you want a little more gold and laidback décor, these would be very appropriate for your party.

For the 3D star decorations, I used this tutorial from Strawberry Chic.  The tutorial provides you a downloadable template of three different star shapes (you can directly go to the template link here).  Print the template out on cardstock or a stiffer paper, and cut out stars.  The basic idea is that each star you trace and cut out should have a matching pair, and you will cut a slit where appropriate to combine together into a 3D effect.  For detailed instructions, please check out the tutorial on Strawberry Chic’s blog.

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For the golden star stirrers, I used the same template using the smallest star.  Once the stars are cut out and spray painted gold, follow this simple tutorial to make your very own drink stirrers.

1) Grab a hot glue gun and some plain wooden drink stirrers. {I used small bamboo skewers because that’s all I had on hand.}

2) Once your hot glue gun is plugged in and ready to use, squeeze about an inch long or so of hot glue from the top of the stirrer.

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3) Carefully place the bottom two-thirds of the star onto the hot glue.

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4) If you decide to personalize your drink stirrers for each guest, it’s easier to write their names before hot gluing the star onto the stirrer.  It could also be fun to write winning categories instead of names, such as “Best Actor” or  “Best Director.”  Or get creative and designate who’s “Best Drama Queen” or “Best Tearjerker.”

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That’s the end of my tutorial!  I hope you have fun making these and that they will pretty up your cocktails.  Please feel free to leave comments and your own suggestions on what you think makes a great Oscar party.  And if you haven’t already, please check out my other two posts this past week based on the Oscars (12 Foolproof Tips and Oscars Party Flashback).

Hope you guys have a great Oscar Sunday!

12 Foolproof Tips on How to Throw a Successful Oscars Party

Hello, Craftster Chic Readers ~

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Another blog post like I promised based on the Oscars.  If you are planning to host your very own Oscars bash this Sunday, here are 12 helpful tips on how to throw a successful Oscars party.  I tried to come up with tips that specifically cater to Oscar parties and not bore you with the same old party planning advice.  Let’s start the show!

1)      Oscar Menu.  The most fun but also the most stressful part is the food.  Unless you have TV dinner tables for everyone, it’s better to have smaller bites of food instead of a full-on sit down meal.  Since it’s a viewing party, think more finger food and munchies style, but still keep people full by offering a variety of options and not just appetizers.  Serving small bites also keeps the meal very posh.  If your food needs to be eaten with utensils, make sure it’s not too messy nor requires much effort to jab your fork into.

2)      Your Sanity.  If you absolutely can’t stand cooking or find cooking a whole meal stressful, consider takeout or catering and add one or two dishes of your own.  Also, consider enlisting a friend to help you out.

3)      Ambience and Décor.   Since the Oscars are so high class, I believe that less is more when it comes to décor.  The look should be clean and pristine without being too stuffy.  Instead of glitzing everything in gold, go for gold touches or outlines.  Last year, I used dinnerware that was mostly clear or white with gold rimmed edges.  Leave the all-gold items for the Golden Globes.

4)      Guestlist.  Know who to invite.  Don’t drag someone to the party who can’t stand long awards shows.  Also, keep in mind of your own expectations for the night.  If you care about who wins what and want to hear each speech, you can’t expect a chatty Cathy to sit quietly.  But, also, understand that the more people there are, the more excitement there is to see each other and have separate conversations.  Just go with the flow.  You can always tape the show.

5)      State of Dress.  Your party can be an opportunity to dress up and look glam or be a second Halloween and wear costumes based on the nominated movies.  It can be equally as fun though if everyone wears PJs, and you hand out big necklaces and rings to wear.  Big jewelry is key to notice the bling in photos.

6)      Red Carpet Moment.  Speaking of photos, pictures really are priceless.  You may have the greatest pics of your food and décor, but c’mon.  We all know that you dive right into the pics of yourself and your friends, every time you revisit them =P  So bring out the narcissism, and lay out a red carpet.  Silly photos are the best, and it’s also fun to reenact memorable red carpet moments.  Some weird but memorable red carpet moments include: Angelina Jolie making a too obvious effort to show off her slit by sticking out her bony leg; a disheveled Kristen Stewart hobbling awkwardly along on crutches and posing with some more awkwardness without them (I guess she at least tried); and Sacha Baron Cohen dressed as The Dictator and dumping Kim Jong Il’s ashes (really just pancake mix) all over Ryan Seacrest.

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7)      Arrival Time.  It’s best to start the party about an hour before the show starts to allow pre-show mingling.  It will also leave ample time for the laggers who always show up fashionably late.  If your friends like to watch the red carpet arrivals, you can start the party a little earlier.

9)      Food prep is key.  When prepping any meal for a party, be sure to get as much cooking done as possible 1 or 2 days before the big night.  Trust me that it takes away so much stress on the day of.  You already have to play hostess and may even have to drop by the store last minute.  Since this is a viewing party, you also need to make sure that all the food is done well before the show starts, so timeliness is crucial.  Most food should be reheatable.  If there is any food that has to be served right away after cooking, make sure that there is minimal cook and prep time.

10)  Hungry Guests.  Be sure that there is food to eat when the guests arrive.  Especially if you’re doing a glam dress-up party, your guests may have been more preoccupied with getting ready than eating lunch, and they’ll arrive huuuuunggrrryyy.  Just watch the Jennifer Lawrence GIF below to get the idea of what your guests will feel like.  I like to have all the food done by the time the guests arrive, but if you’re short on time, at least have appetizers set out for them.

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11) Oscar Prediction Race.  If you and your guests are game enough, compete against each other to see who can predict the most Oscar winners.  Predictions should be made BEFORE the show airs.  If most of your friends arrive late though and can’t fill out their entire ballot in time, pause the show every so often before they announce the winner.  Just watch out for cheaters and their smartphones!

11)  TIVO Reliant.  If you have a DVR, I would definitely recommend recording the show.  Many times, something comes up, or people run a little late, and it’s not much fun if you’re constantly watching the clock.  You also want to give people time to settle and take pictures.  Recording the Oscars lets you start the show on your own time.  {Keep in mind though that sometimes the awards show runs even longer than the extra half hour the DVR gives.  Last year, it cut out right during Ben Affleck’s closing statement when accepting the Best Picture award: “All that matters is…”  CUTTHE END.  FINITO.  So of course, we were left hanging and wondering if Ben Affleck had some sound advice.  Luckily though, you can find detailed Oscar coverage online.}

12)  Know your trivia.  If you’re going to host a theme party, you better know enough about it to keep it interesting.  There’s a wealth of articles dedicated to this special night, so at least skim them so you can dazzle your guests with a few cool facts.  In addition, brush up on who’s nominated and who’s the favorite.  Pick your own favorites too!  I personally like to root for the underdog or the unknown actor if they gave a meritable performance.

 

And there you have it!  Please check out my first post based on last year’s Oscars party, if you haven’t already.  If you decide to host your very own Oscars party, please share and send me links to your pictures!  I would love to see them and become even more inspired.

Still to come is how to make these star decorations and golden star stirrers.  Check back by the end of the week for the how-to!

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Oscars Party Flashback

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The glitz, the glamour, the gowns…  Only less than a week until The Oscars are here!  The Academy Awards is set to air on March 2nd at 4 pm and hosted by the always quirky Ellen DeGeneres.  And in honor of Oscars week, I will upload several posts on how to throw a successful Oscars party.  Today’s post showcases my Oscars party last year to provide you inspiration!

Many find awards shows to be too long, too boring, too pretentious, too predictable…  And yet, ever since I can remember, I was always excited for awards season and did not mind listening to the long, droning speeches.  Hey, in my opinion.. even the Best Makeup Artist should have his/her heyday as much as the year’s Best Actor or Actress.  Although, TV shows have proven to be better quality than movies lately, I still find awards season to be alluring and continue the tradition of watching them.

After finding my love for cooking in recent years, I realized that I wanted to host my very own Oscars party.  Luckily enough, I found one friend who was okay with watching awards shows, so I made it a party for two.

Below are pictures of the serving table and descriptions of each menu item:

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I knew for my Oscars menu that I wanted to have little bites of food to make the dinner look more gourmet, but to also offer a variety of dinner items so as not to go hungry.  [We aren’t starving celebrities whose every lump gets photographed after all!]  I also wanted my party to look very clean and refined, so I did not go heavy handed on the decorations or dinnerware.  A simple orchid and white and gold color scheme was all the décor I needed.

Menu included:

-Rainbow Fruit Skewers – As you can see, each fruit represents a color of the rainbow.  Originally, the recipe called for pineapples and blueberries for the yellow and blue, but I already had bananas on hand and leftover blackberries from the Black Swan drink (see below).  Yes, I know blackberries say black in the name, but the juice is somewhat purplish-blue, so I say they count =P  I’m sure the pineapple would have been a better accompaniment in flavors, but I do think the subtle sweetness of the banana balanced out the acidity of the other fruit.

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-Sweet and Sour Chicken – This is a much more simplified version than what you get at your local Chinese food place, but it’s still pretty good and close enough.  You can also get it to that crispy but meaty consistency.  Recipe link: http://madeitateitlovedit.blogspot.com/2012/03/sweet-and-sour-chicken.html

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-Roasted Broccoli – I found this gem on Pinterest, and my friend and I absolutely LOVED it!!  All you need to do is combine and shake broccoli, olive oil, salt, and pepper in a Ziploc, and then sprinkle with garlic.  Once roasted in the oven, most of them come out crispy and almost taste like chips, if not better!  Make more than you think you need because these bites go fast.  Recipe link:  http://how-do-it.com/This_is_our_favorite_way_to_eat_broccoli_or_cauliflower_of_all_time_My_husband/

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-Polenta and Chicken Tartlets – This recipe is from Food Network’s Giada De Laurentiis, whose food and home style I definitely like to embody.  Instead of the circle cutouts she used, I used star and gingerbread man cutouts to make shapes in the polenta.  Since the polenta was soft enough, I was able to squish the legs of the gingerbread man together to make an Oscar!  I could see these cutouts used for making butter cookies as well.  Recipe link:  http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/giada-de-laurentiis/polenta-and-chicken-tartlets-recipe.html

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-Brie Bites – I saw this recipe last year on an Oscar dinner party special and knew I definitely wanted to make this since I didn’t have a cheese component.  They also look like a gourmet, classy treat that you’d find at an actual Oscars after party.  Recipe link:  http://abc.go.com/shows/the-chew/news/Fun-Stuff/Oscar-Daphne-Brie-Bites

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-Black Swan Cocktail – So although this drink was a couple years behind (Black Swan came out in 2011), I believe that 2011 was the last year of really good movies, and the cocktail looked too good to pass up.  The color was utterly beautiful too, and the muddled berries were a great treat while drinking.  I used fizzy lemonade that I had leftover from another party and found that the carbonation gave the drink an extra boost of freshness.  Recipe link:  http://www.bourbonblog.com/blog/2011/01/15/golden-globe-cocktails/

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-Dessert: Mini Cheesecakes – I served dessert later on in the night to let the rest of the dinner settle.  These cheesecakes are a lighter version of this beloved dessert, and the small size saves you even more of the guilt.  Mini chocolates were also served.  I didn’t make the caramel that was called for in this dessert, but it looks heavenly.  Recipe link:  http://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/salted-caramel-cheesecakes-50400000125434/

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Onto the other fun stuff:

-Oscar Prediction Competition:  My friend and I decided to wager on who would make the most correct Oscar predictions.  Prize was treating the winner to a movie.  Since this is a very popular game on Oscars night, I easily found the Oscar ballots online and printed them out.

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-Red Carpet:  What’s an Oscars party without a red carpet?  I looked up fabric prices, but they were way more than what I wanted to pay for, so I decided to use red posterboard instead.  I stapled 3 or 4 of them together and trailed it from the kitchen to the viewing area.  Of course, it was very awkward at first to pose for the camera, but silliness took over and brought out some really great photos.

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-Dress Code:  We decided to dress up since we rarely do that anymore, and it did make for some very nice red carpet pictures.  Of course, if you are throwing your own party though, make people feel comfortable and allow them to wear slippers, like I did.  Or have a PJ party and hand out big jewelry to wear to make their outfit jazzier.

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Guess who won the Oscar prediction race?  I did!!  No long speeches though =P

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Stay tuned this week for more tips on how to host a successful Oscars party and a tutorial on how to make these easy star decorations and gold star stirrers.

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