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If you have been following along then you know that I want to work with charities, and that I know a few people involved in local charities. My girlfriend’s family founded a great charity based just outside of Harrisburg called Project A.S.K. (Assisting Students and Kids). They mainly provide necessities such as clothing, lunch money, or basic school supplies to underprivileged kids in the local school district. It’s through working with them that I met, stay with me here, my girlfriend’s mother’s best friend, who we will call MJ. Did you follow that? MJ sits on the board of Project ASK. I know this is a little round about and confusing, just try to bear with me for a few minutes.
MJ asked us to help her throw a surprise birthday party for her husband. As a group we have decorated, catered, and hosted many parties and special occasions in our church, or for fundraisers for Project ASK, so this wasn’t at all an odd request. MJ does a lot for other people, she is generous with her time, and genuinely cares, so of course we offered to help her.
She wanted to make it special, even bordering on over-the-top and that’s what she got. After a few questions about her husband’s likes, dislikes and hobbies it was narrowed down to either a “Lord of the Rings” theme or a “Harry Potter” theme. We quickly dismissed “LoT”, I mean really, how would that look? How would you decorate for that? Random rock formations around the room covered in goblin blood? A stray battle axe or arrow here and there? That sounds awesomely boring and not even a little safe. You can’t have random axes AND an open bar, someone will get very hurt, and that someone often ends up being me. Besides we thought going with Harry Potter opened up many more options for decorating.
Getting the decorations together took about a month of sporadic planning here and there. Then about 3 weeks of build time with the first week being mostly purchasing supplies and doing a lot of printing. After that we were kind of sequestered in our own groups with our own projects. My main job was recreating the pictures that hung in the great hall. My girlfriend’s mother who we will call M, and another one of her friends that we will call J, are both retired and worked on this project like it was a full time job. They actually did most of the DIY projects from M’s craft room, putting in about 8 hours a day, for at least two weeks. My GF did all of the planning and most of the designing and generally helped in all of the projects. She helped me make the pictures and she came up with the fantastic creations below.
I know all of the initials can get irritating, but as I am writing this I realized I haven’t asked anyone if they care if I use their names. I may be going overboard but I’m just trying to be respectful of them and their privacy.
There were a few things that we purchased from amazon, such as one of Harry’s brooms, and of course the Talking Sorting Hat, and a Golden Snitch that we hung from the ceiling in front of a broom like it was being chased, and of course Hedwig, but most of the decorations were hand made. M and J were particularly proud of the way the wands turned out. They should be because they were amazing.
The venue was divided into two areas. One was the dining area, and the other had the bar, bands, and dance floor. The dining area was decorated as The Great Hall. We hung plastic sheeting on the walls that gave in that block wall look, and over 100 L.E.D. Candles from the ceiling with a thin wire. The second area had representations of a few shops from the movie, the sign in table and luggage cart, and elements of Quidditch hanging from the ceiling.
The party was a huge success. The guest of honor was thoroughly surprised, and MJ was ecstatic about the level of detail that went into recreating elements of the movies. Their grandchildren got to keep a few of the wands, and everyone got to take a golden snitch home with them.
Aside from all of the hard work the volunteers that helped us put in, the things that really helped make this possible were Etsy sellers, and M’s Cricut Printer. Most of the designs for the labels on the HoneyDukes candy or on the Slugs and Jiggers jars and containers were created by someone from Etsy, then printed and cut out by M’s Cricut printer. The wings that you see glued to Ferrero Rocher candy for 80 guests, would have been impossible without the Cricut.
If you have any questions about exactly how we made anything feel free to leave a question in the comments. There are far too many pictures to post them all here. It would take almost a week to write out all of the projects step by step here, and since there were so many people and places involved I didn’t get pictures of individual steps on any of the projects except the picture wall.