Tuesday, March 20, 2012

A Wizarding Wish Party: Harry Potter at Parnassus

I am beyond excited to share this party with you! Last weekend, I had the honor and privilege of helping with a very special event for an even more special young lady.

Make A Wish Foundation of Middle Tennessee grants wishes to children with life-threatening illnesses. Milla, a seriously cool fifteen-year-old, is about six months into the two-year recovery process after a battle with leukemia. She has faced so much in her young life, and through it all, she has been inspired and cheered by the Harry Potter books. Her wish was to go to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios in Orlando.

When Make A Wish grants a wish, they like to have a "wish party" to give the honored child the official news. The folks at Nashville's beloved Parnassus Books hosted Milla's wish party, and the beautiful bookstore proved to be the perfect setting for all of the Potter paraphernalia.

Let's just jump right into the photos, graciously provided by the talented Niki Cardwell of Stella Dolce Photography!

We wanted to do something to fill the large vertical space--the ceilings at Parnassus are so high! My mom and I made two felt banners for each house of Hogwarts, hanging four down the center of the room and the other four along the side walls. 

Guess whose children will be having Harry Potter-themed birthday parties every year until they graduate?

Above the register, we hung "floating candles," reminiscent of Hogwarts' great hall.  I doubt that the  Hogwarts set designers used toilet paper tubes and battery-powered tealights, but I think these came together beautifully. These were easy to put together, but tricky to hang from the 20-foot (?) ceiling ductwork and plumbing. Luckily, Patrik, a very tall Parnassus employee, helped out.

These were more impressive the later (and darker) it got. I will definitely be using them again for some occasion, whether they're theme-appropriate or not. Mother's Day? How about some floating candles? Baby shower? You know what babies love? Floating candles. It's true; look it up.

You GUYS, the folks from the zoo brought AN OWL. And not a big scary one with long talons and a sharp beak and a spinning head (not that I was scared that's what was coming--that would be crazy!), but a teensy, precious guy who was even named Pigwidgeon.

It was all I could do not to take him home with me.

Oh, Pigwidgeon. We belong together.
Supercool Niki from Parnassus had rounded up some amazing gifts for Milla, donated by generous Etsy sellers. We had the fun idea of delivering them via owl post. We had seen some fun owl balloon ideas floating around (GET IT? HA HA) on Pinterest, and this seemed the best way to put those into action.

Delightful Parnassus intern Yashwina made these whimsical flying keys, a nod to one of the obstacles Harry, Ron and Hermione face in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. She also made ME feel as ancient as ol' Nicolas Flamel himself (ten points to anyone nerdy enough to catch all that), but that is neither her fault nor relevant. Ahem.

We transformed one corner of the store into a "Transfiguration Booth," the Potter-ized version of the requisite photo booth.

I took one my son's dress-up trunk and emptied it of his things, filling it with borrowed graduation robes, ties that roughly corresponded to the houses of Hogwarts, Harry Potter glasses, and a homemade pair of Luna Lovegood's spectrespecs. We threw in a gold picture frame so people could pretend to be talking portraits.

My mom MADE that sorting hat. Just MADE IT, out of felt and pure awesomeness. I'm sure if I had given her more than a week, she could have made it come to life and actually sort us all. I mean, look at that hat!

We served snacks and sweets, and of course I had to label each one with a Rowling-approved name. The Painted Cupcake donated some delicious and incredibly decorated cupcakes.

I just have to gush over the special cupcake they made for Milla--with a fondant sculpture of Harry sitting on top!

Amazing. Other cupcakes had clever designs like lightning bolts, wands, and Gryffindor scarves. I am no artist like the staff at the Painted Cupcake, but I did try my hand at some golden snitch cake pops.

I displayed them in a small antique trunk that my grandmother gave me--she thinks it's probably an old ammunition chest; I thought it would make an awesome quidditch supply trunk.

I also made the easy-but-delicious pretzel wands, as well as some less-photogenic "sorting hat" cookies out of ice cream cones and chocolate cookies.

We offered a salty counterpart to all that sweetness with my old favorite, broomstick popcorn bags:

Regal Cinemas Green Hills donated a staggering amount of popcorn to fill those little brown bags.

Quick sidenote; the tablecloths here are actually my old living room curtains. Just thought you should know. I hated them in my living room forever, but they have been great in so many other incarnations. I think they really work here and look . . . Hogwartian? Help me out.

We had some punch and water to whet everyone's whistles, and of course, those were served over in the "potions" area, which we staged over by the store's piano.

I gathered up some official potion ingredients (wormwood, dittany, bezoars, mandrake clippings, gillyweed) from my ol' raggedy yard.

Okay, they were really things like dried echinacea and hydrangea, some pinecones, a clump of daffodil leaves, but you get the point. They looked official. Plus, they totally validated my complete neglect of our landscaping.

We had a little dry ice in a cauldron behind the punch bowl, for that authentic potions class vibe. Dry ice is a lot of work to maintain over the course of a party. Or at least it was until we were cleaning up, and THEN the dry ice decided to put on a show for everyone and be all dramatic and smoky. TOO LATE, DRY ICE.

But seriously, folks. Milla, it was my absolute honor to share in this fun and special day with you. I know your trip to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter will be amazing (and well deserved). Thank you for being such an all around great kid AND for liking my favorite books--I mean, I would have gladly helped throw you a Twilight party or whatever, but thank you for being so much cooler than that. You found inspiration in Harry and his friends, and I have found it in you.

Pin It


Kim W. said...

Love it all! Emily, you and Teresa are amazing! (And Niki's photos rock!)

Jamie Lee said...

Wow, just amazing!!! And yes Make A Wish is an awesome group of people... the things you did here were just awesome!!

Laura C said...

Looks incredible! Nice job!

Rose said...

Wow!!! It looks awesome! What a great reason for it too. And how great that the zoo helped out. Shows how much of a plant weirdo I am. I looked right at your Wormwood jar and thought, "that looks nothing like wormwood", but I think the pine cones work well. :) Not everyone is a weirdo like me. REALLY great job to you and everyone involved!

Emily said...

Ha, Rose--my mom said, "I wish you could have told me--I could have gotten you real wormwood." But the bezoars were cool--just the dried thistley things from last year's purple coneflower. I thought they looked very authentic. :)

Michaela @ coveredinmodpodge.blogspot.com said...

I found this party over at Apartment Therapy. Man, oh man did you do an amazing job! I love all the details! I would have never guessed the hanging candles were tp rolls!

Emily said...

Thank you, Michaela! I felt kind of weird begging on Facebook for friends' old TP and paper towel rolls, but it was worth it!

Anonymous said...

Where can I find those owl balloons?