I always say that “Halloween is the friendliest holiday.” (You may quote me.)
It’s the one time of the year when everyone opens their doors and greets their neighbors. I think it’s a beautiful thing to see the parade of tiny princesses and superheroes coming up the sidewalk. Makes me totally happy.
Since we became grandparents, and the boys have gotten to the ages where they’re more aware, we started taking Halloween up a notch. Please read about our over-the-top (or so we thought) Wizard of Oz Halloween here – “There’s No Place Like Home.”
Last year my son, Adam and his fam came back to California after spending a few years in Alexandria, Virginia (Yay!). It was Asher’s first time going out to trick-or-treat. And hooray for having more characters to add to our group!
I should warn you right now that this post has dozens of photos of everything we did to create this magical Hogwarts Halloween. This is proof of my level of delight in the entire process. Please appreciate.
You know how when you go to Disneyland with a large group and you can’t decide where to eat or which ride to go on, and you end up trying to please everyone and it isn’t as fun as it sounded when you were planning? (<– please appreciate how masterful that run-on sentence is. Thankyouverymuch.)
After quickly going through a list of group costumes, we landed (hard!) on Harry Potter. Because of the variety of characters and the costumes would pretty much be easy to put together.
And so we started collecting capes and wigs and sweaters and hats and wands sometime in September as we assigned each person a character from the Harry Potter series.
(Prepare yourself for an onslaught of photos because I can’t fully describe everything that was so magical. So please appreciate the awesome.)
Now we had our theme, but of course, there are layers to pulling this kind of thing off. It really does take a village. Or a small army of enthusiastic volunteers. I happen to call them my family, but that’s not important right now.
Amy and I explained to Eric that we wanted to hang candles above the entire front yard, but they had to look like they were magically suspended, so the wire couldn’t be seen. God bless my intrepid and creative husband. He totally made it happen.
THE DECORATIVE DETAILS
We (when I say “we,” I mean Amy. She was key to finding a lot of these decorating details) found a Talking Sorting Hat in the toy aisle of Target. Win!
Check out these very cool “house” banners which I found on Amazon because I was spending way too much time on Amazon searching for all things Harry Potter, but that’s not important right now either.
We set up two long tables and under each house we had a platter of different kinds of candy. The large size, of course, which we separated by house colors as best we could. (Yes. We are now those people.)
Reese’s for Hufflepuff. KitKats for Gryffindor. Junior Mints for Slytherin. York Peppermint Patties for Ravenclaw. We also offered fresh fruit to assuage our guilt for giving out the giant size bars of candy. Although, no one (including the parents) seemed to be complaining.
We carved all the pumpkins the day before – a family pre-Halloween party party – with Harry Potter logos for the pumpkins. Too much? At this point there was no “too much.”
I already had Hedwig and we found a cage at Hobby Lobby and because my son-in-law works in the theater department for our local college, we were able to borrow a cool old trunk. The 9 3/4 Platform thing was another happy online find.
THE CAST OF CHARACTERS
Sebastian was Harry. Lightning scar and all. Amy, who was most committed to making everything perfect, sprayed his beautiful blond hair a dark brown.
Lucy and her husband, Marc were Hermione Granger and Ron Weasley. How cute are they?
Asher was Draco Malfoy. My genius daughter-in-law, Alysha designed a gorgeous and perfect Slytherin Quiditch outfit. Complete with a broom that she constructed from paint rollers and who knows what else.
It was perfection. Please notice the Golden Snitch he’s grabbing for. That was a key chain we had hung along with the candles. That’s probably where we hit the Too Much level. (I know. Shut up.)
Amy was all about Professor McGonagall. I think because she found a gorgeous green velvet dress and cape. Seriously brilliant.
Jonathan went as Lucius Malfoy (father of Draco) and was quite the popular character that night.
My daughter-in-law, Alysha took it to the next level with her Sybill Trelawney costume. (She’s the outstanding talent in this whole affair.)
Are you following all this? Because there are a lot of us.
Eric and I were Molly Weasley and Severus Snape.
Molly happens to be my favorite character in the books. I particularly love the line she delivers to Bellatrix Lestrange right before she kills her in one of the best cinematic moments of justice and shouts: “NOT MY DAUGHTER, YOU B*TCH!” (Sorry if that is a spoiler for you, but the last book was published in 2007, so I feel like you’ve had enough time to get caught up on the story.)
Jon’s best friend, Nathan was more than willing to join the party as Mad Eye Moody. I was particularly pleased with myself when I created the eye-patch.
Our dear friend and family photographer (who happens to be responsible for all the good photos here), Dan, agreed to let us dress him as Albus Dumbledore. Seriously, how great does he look?
And finally, my son, Adam was Rubeus Hagrid, the Hogwarts groundskeeper. Alysha dressed and coifed him brilliantly.
I still get a kick of seeing my kids get so into Halloween, let alone that they have so much enthusiasm for one of “Mom’s productions.”
And that our friends were also so willing to get dresssed up for Hogwarts was just icing on the magical cake.
A personal note: my close friend, Haylee (Dan’s wife) passed away earlier this year. Having her here in this photo as part of our extended family brings me such bittersweet joy. She was deeply into her fandom element here and it makes me happy to see her here sporting her Gryffindor scarf. I miss you so much, dearest friend.
I couldn’t take enough pictures the whole night. It was such a thrill having our vision come to life so beautifully.
Also, my daughter-in-law, Alysha sprayed my hair a reddish brown – it’s completely gray now. She is amazing with details and was key to pulling this thing off like we did.
We ordered a big family-size box of Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers and made some ham, turkey, and roast beef sandwiches. We put out a big basket of chips to go with it. For dessert (on the assumption that the adults didn’t want to eat candy, we made a big pot of hot chocolate and served a platter of homemade cookies. (Win!)
We set out tables and chairs on the driveway and set up some chairs on the lawn in case any of the kids wanted to hang out and watch the movie while we chatted up their parents. All of us ate and basically enjoyed the parade of trick-or-treaters and took turns manning the candy table.
The kids were asked to choose their favorite candy and when they made their choice we would all loudly yell the name of the house that corresponded to that candy. We spent the entire night yelling out: “Gryffindor!” “Hufflepuff!” “Slytherin!” “Ravenclaw!” Delighting the kids (and ourselves!) in the process.
The entire night was super magical for all of us. But especially for Asher, who, as I mentioned earlier had never been trick-or-treating before. He caught on super quickly. “We get to do WHAT??”
Our little home has developed quite the reputation as being that house in our neighborhood. And I’m super grateful We feed the neighbors and let the kids hang and watch the movie outside. We give away the large size candy bars. There’s a Smart & Final just down the street which has everything you need for entertaining large groups and where we usually go to get our movie candy and provisions.
But honestly, it personally brings us so much joy to make this the Happiest Halloween House On The Block. If you’re ever in our neighborhood on Halloween, please come by.
Or we will just come out and look for all of you “first-years.”
There’s really only one thing left to say and that’s “Mischief Managed.”
Thanks for coming to my Hogwarts Halloween TED Talk. xo