When you think about Harry Potter, what pops into your head? For me, it's candlesticks aglow above a long table laden with more food than my fellow Hogwarts students and I could possibly eat. It's Butterbeer and Polyjuice Potion, broomsticks and cauldron cakes, and spells aplenty. And when I think about throwing a party in Harry's honor, you can bet it will be magic.

The Decor

Setting the scene and showing your house allegiances start when guests arrive. Perhaps you want to go full Hogwarts Express and turn your front door into Platform 9 ¾, complete with a "brick" wall to walk through. You can pile trunks, cages, and cauldrons out front to really set the scene. Here are some magical ideas from Book Bub:

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A friend who recently threw a Potter Party created those magical hanging candles like this: Roll up a piece of standard printer paper to make a tall "candle," tape an LED tea light to the top, and hang from the ceiling with fishing line. Once you dim the lights, you won't see the hanging mechanisms and the magic will begin. Here's a more elaborate step-by-step for DIY Floating Candles, using paper-towel rolls and hot glue:

DIY Hogwarts floating candles by Warner Brothers

Roll menus like scrolls, pass out Marauders' Maps with locations of the evening's activities, and otherwise give nods to your favorite locations in the books. You can find lots of free printables online to help you decorate.

Harry Potter Crafts and Games

Try these games to get everyone in the magical mood.

Wand-Making: A popular Potter Party activity is wand making. Use sticks (from actual trees), dowels, or even pretzels as a base. Provide feathers, paint, and glitter to decorate. Or try making edible wands.

Magic Wands

Photo by ALFANN02

Quidditch Cup: Just because you can't fly doesn't mean you can't play Quidditch. Farm to Fete blogger Katie created an easy DIY to make your Beer Pong (or Butterbeer Pong) into a game of Quidditch. Sewing hoops, dowels, and ping pong balls spray painted to look like the Golden Snitch are all you need to make your dreams a fun (and potentially boozy) reality.

Photo by Farm to Fete

Sorting it Out: What would a Harry Potter party be without a sorting hat? An easy way to make one is to find an old witch's hat at the thrift store or a new one at a Halloween store, and cover it with burlap (ask your favorite coffee roaster for an old coffee bean bag or just go to the fabric store). Pin it and tuck it to look slouchy and wise, and even add a face if you can.

To sort guests into their houses, you could write a Hogwarts House quiz. Your friends might not be able to face the truth of the house that's in their heart, but that's just one of the many things a witch and wizard must learn about themselves.

Put A Spell On You: Mad Libs have long been a fun source of amusement for car rides, game nights, and beyond. Make your own version specifically for spells, writing out movie scenes that require creative additions of adjectives and adverbs to create new enchantments or draw from Harry Potter's spellbook with Alohomora, Accio, etc.

Magical Food

Sweets are central to the wizarding world, and should not be overlooked. Cauldron Cakes, Pumpkin Pasties, Chocolate Frogs… there are so many sweets and so many possibilities.

Cauldron Cakes from Pastry Affair

To make Cauldron Cakes, you could go as simple as using store-bought marshmallow-filled cupcakes, decorating them with chocolates or shaping fondant into a handle. Or, try Pastry Affair's Cauldron Cakes, which call for Devil's Food cupcakes simply turned on end and filled with marshmallowy goodness.

Golden Snitch Cake Pops by Tonya Staab

Blogger Tonya Staab's Golden Snitch Cake Pops start as ready-made cake pops, and uses white chocolate in a leaf-shaped candy mold to make the wings. A spray of food-grade gold mist tops off the effect. Other bloggers suggest cutting wings out of white fondant, or making paper wings and sticking them on with frosting.

To make Chocolate Frogs, check online for frog-shaped candy molds, and pour in melted chocolate. Decorate with a light mist of gold for an extra magical glow.

Treacle tarts are another favorite, with the molasses flavor a hard one to get without going super sugary. You could try making this treacle tart, which highlights Lyle's Golden Syrup.

For a savory option, try making these delicious Sorting Hat pitas or try your hand at adorable and v.v. British Cornish pasties.

Adorable hand pies | Photo by pelicangal

Seattle event planner Megan Murray hosted a sit-down dinner at her Harry Potter party, complete with "Mrs. Weasley's Famous Pot Roast and a fondant-built Sorting Hat cake (try these step-by-step instructions for a

from Rosie's Dessert Spot).

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Find more Harry Potter-themed recipes here.

Spirited Drinks

Butter Beer is a must, and there are hundreds of recipes online, though most skew sickly sweet. This Butter Beer recipe uses butterscotch topping, soda water, and vanilla ice cream for a super simple, pleasingly frothy creation. I like to combine cream soda, rum, a bit of butterscotch schnapps, and ice cream for a more adult version.

Polyjuice Potion. Photo by This Grandma Is Fun

Polyjuice Potion is most delicious when it doesn't include cat hair plucked from Millicent Bulstrode's robes. And considering how foul it must've tasted in the books, a more palatable version is preferred for your party. This Grandma Is Fun's Polyjuice Potion only has three ingredients: lime Sprite, lime sherbet, and neon green food coloring.

If you want to make a grown-up version, try making a Midori Glow.

Pumpkin Juice gets rave reviews in Harry's world, and is especially befitting of a brunch Potter Party. You could also invent a house drink for Gryffindor, Slytherin, Ravenclaw, and Hufflepuff, like these from More-I-Arty. And of course, you can't go wrong with non-alcoholic Firewhiskey.

However you choose to party, I'm sure it'll be "prefect!"

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