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How to throw a magical Harry Potter marathon for your kids

July 31 is a big day for Harry Potter fans. For those muggles out there, July 31 is Harry Potter’s birthday. His birthday, of course, is essential to the plot of J.K. Rowling’s blockbuster Harry Potter book series as young Harry finds out he is a wizard on his 11th birthday. Rowling’s book series took the literary world by storm when the first novel, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, debuted in 1997. Six books would follow with a play based on the characters in 2016. The series spawned eight movies as well as the Fantastic Beasts series.

Rowling’s series certainly has longevity because it is still a huge hit with tweens more than two decades after the first Harry Potter volume hit bookstores. If your tween is a devoted Harry Potter fan, July 31 is the perfect day to throw a Harry Potter movie marathon to celebrate. Now, you don’t need to be a wizard or live in a castle to conjure up a magical birthday. You don’t even need a wand!

Difficulty

Easy

Duration

1 hour 30 minutes

What You Need

  • Invitations

  • Harry Potter movie boxed set or streaming service featuring the movies

  • Movie projector

  • Screen

  • Harry Potter tableware and decorations

  • Floating candles

  • Harry Potter books

  • Hedwig the owl

  • Chess sets

  • Harry Potter trivia game

  • Harry Potter inspired snacks

  • Fairy lights

Tween girl in a Harry Potter costume

Create a Hogwarts acceptance letter

A fun way to invite your tween’s fellow Harry Potter fans to the party is with a Hogwarts acceptance letter.

Step 1: Download a template of a Hogwarts acceptance letter to use an an invitation to your Harry Potter Movie Marathon party. You can also order a Hogwarts acceptance letter invitation package from Etsy that comes complete with a train ticket to Hogwarts.

Step 2: Invite quests to come to the Harry Potter Movie Marathon dressed as their favorite character or a new student heading to Hogwarts.

Where can you stream all eight Harry Potter movies?

If you already have the box set of eight movies, you are ready for a Harry Potter movie-marathon party. The movies have had trouble finding a regular streaming platform, but all eight movies are available for streaming on both Peacock and HBO Max.

Indoors or outdoors?

Once you’ve secured your access to the Harry Potter movies, now it’s time to decide where to watch. Summertime screams for an outdoor Harry Potter movie marathon. Setting up an outdoor movie isn’t as hard as you think. The most difficult part will be finding a projector and screen if you don’t already have one.

Step 1: Block off an area of the backyard that's large enough for a screen and seating.

Step 2: Order or borrow a movie projector and screen to show the Harry Potter movies on.

Step 3: Consider a tent or have a backup plan to move the movie marathon indoors if it rains on party day.

Step 4: Set up blankets or chairs and tables to watch the movies and enjoy snacks.

Step 5: Put out additional tables for games.

Harry Potter glasses and tie
RODNAE Productions/Shutterstock

Offer up some magical decorations

Whether you’re going to host this magical movie marathon inside or out, you will need decorations. Harry Potter themed decorations set the mood and create the ideal Hogwarts atmosphere for this mystical marathon.

Step 1: If you’re holding the movie marathon inside, turn your dining room into a great hall Hogwarts style by arranging buffet tables side by side.

Step 2: Next, drape the side-by-side tables with dark table cloths.

Step 3: Then, add candles and Harry Potter tableware.

Step 4: For an outside Harry Potter Movie Marathon, turn your backyard into a Forbidden Forest by hanging fairy lights in the trees and bushes and decking out tables and chairs in fake vines. Use green tableware to stay in the festive forest spirit. Floating candles are a nice touch along with Hedwig, Harry’s snowy owl.

Step 5: Place green plastic table cloths on the tables.

Step 6: Hang fake vines along the table edges and around chairs.

Step 7: Place green tableware on each table.

Step 8: Use floating candles as a centerpiece along with Hedwig, Harry's snowy owl.

Cook up some themed snacks

You can’t have a movie marathon for tweens without snacks. Of course, you can go traditional with pizza and popcorn, or you can get daring with some magical snacks.

Step 1: Mix up a batch of Polyjuice potion — all you need is sherbet, cream soda, whipped cream, and sprinkles.

Step 2: Whip up Wizard cookies. They're are a yummy snack for a movie marathon and are not difficult to make. Fill a sugar cone with your tween’s favorite candy; M&M’s work great. Ice the rim of the cone with chocolate or vanilla icing. Turn the cone upside down onto a cookie. You can bake your own or use store-brought chocolate chip or sugar cookies.

Consider games

Some guests will be glued to the movies, but others might not. It’s always a good idea to have other activities planned for a Harry Potter movie-marathon party just in case.

Step 1: Set up a reading area with copies of the Harry Potter book series for quests who might like to read.

Step 2: Designate one table for playing Harry Potter Trivial Pursuit. Purchase a game or make one of your own by having a Wizarding World fan make up some questions. Here are a few to get you started:

  • What are the four Hogwarts houses? Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw, and Slytherin
  • What house is Harry in? Gryffindor
  • What is a mugggle? A person without magical abilities
  • What is Harry’s position on his quidditch team? Seeker
  • What is a snitch? A ball used in quidditch, sometimes called a Golden Snitch
  • How many staircases are there in Hogwarts? 142

Step 3: Wizard chess is serious business in the Harry Potter realm, but for a Harry Potter movie-marathon party you can have a couple of chess sets on hand for guests to play while they watch the movies. Set these up on the side so kids can watch the movies and play.

Step 4: Have a “guess that quote” contest in between movies with attendees sharing quotes for others to guess who said it.

Albus Dumbledore said, “It does not do well to dwell on dreams and forget to live.” The world of Harry Potter is a wonderful place for tweens to explore through literature and movies. Marking Harry Potter’s birthday on July 31 with a movie marathon is a great way to continue to encourage a love of literature in tweens. The tween and teen years is often a time where kids move away from reading for fun and focus only on reading for school. Hosting a Harry Potter party helps to keep that joy of reading alive in tweens.

Summer is the ideal time for hosting a Harry Potter movie party, and you really don’t need a wand to conjure up a magical marathon.

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