Monday, December 5, 2016

Harry Potter Christmas Party Photo Blitz! Come See ALL THE THINGS!

Helloooo! So our big Potter Christmas party happened Saturday night, and I have pictures.

This is by no means complete, and the pictures are just cellphone snaps, but I'll show you the main attractions, a little of the food, a little of the decorations, and a lot of our awesome friends' costumes. Just know that I'd have you all here if our house was a TARDIS, and I desperately hope this doesn't come across in a "look how cool we are" kind of way, but more of a "wish you were here, 'til then come be happy nerds with us" kind of way.

Right, 'nuff talk. PEEKTURE TIME!

You've seen our Potter tree before, I know, but gotta start at the beginning. 

Nearby decorations:

I'll have a whole House Tour later this month, taken with my DSLR; there are just too many little things to photograph for this post!

Right, turn around, and here we go: the Big Attraction.
Diagon Alley brick archway!

...and walk through it for...
The Big Reveal:
An entire room of floating candles!
There are "only" 80 candles. Next year I'll go for an even hundred.

A pretty panorama:
The flickering candles make the ceiling look like stormy clouds, which I looove.

Here, you really have to watch them in action:

(Sorry it's a bit wobbly at first; I took this just after the party ended, around 3 in the morning. o.0)

We arranged some of the candles so they'd look like they were gently floating down to light the tree:
If you look closely, you can see several candles actually ON the tree. I'd like to add more later.

In the back corner is my HoneyDukes table:

John found the table at a thrift store for $8. I like the fun little display cubbies around the bottom!

I'm too cheap to buy all the fancy unwrapped candies, so we made do with Wal-Mart candy canes, butterscotch, peppermints, and gummy bears:

We used Jelly Belly beans for the Bertie Bott's boxes, and those Chocolate Frogs you see are getting their OWN post, coming soon. Stay tuned for a fun surprise & tutorial.

The stained glass doors just beside this open out onto our deck, which was almost as magical as the floating candles, but much harder to photograph:

John threw 300 feet of LED lights into the yard, set to a slow twinkle. Then we placed torches around the deck edge, and set up speakers playing this "epic fantasy" music for ambiance. (I also recommend the Dark Winter mix. Very pretty.) There were some literal "ooh"s and "ahhh"s when people stepped out here!

John built all new wooden benches for seating, and we had a table set up for Smores assembly. Our final little group of revelers ended up out here 'til 2 in the morning, chatting and watching the embers die, when a cute armadillo shuffled over to say hi. MAGIC, I tell you!

The food disappeared faster than I could photograph, so I don't have a pretty table shot with platters overflowing, but here's one my friend Christie took before all the food was out:

 And a kitchen photo of a few Treacle Tarts:

 And Cauldron Cakes:

We've been working on recipes for a while now. The Treacle Tarts went through 5 revisions before we nailed it, and we put a few delicious twists on the classic recipe. John has declared them - when combined with clotted cream - "the best thing I've ever put in my mouth." Ha. 

John also made amazing sausage pasties & savory pumpkin pasties. Don't worry, I'll be posting allll the recipes later, since you're going to want to try these.
Our Pensieve Punch got it's own special spot in our apothecary alcove:

We also had Fizzy Pumpkin Juice Cider, hot Butterbeer, and shots of Felix Felicis and Fire Whiskey:

The Felix Felicis tasted different to everyone, which, talk about perfect! It was a combination of flavored vodkas, and had notes of chocolate, orange, whipped cream, and butterscotch.

For entertainment I made a Scavenger Hunt, because I love - LOVE - making riddles:

It was fantastic watching everyone hunt through the house, and since it was spread all over (and even on to the deck) folks were able to avoid spoilers pretty easily. I really wish you could all do this hunt; not gonna lie, I'm quite proud of it. It's hard enough that it took folks a while to do, but in the end - with a few generous hints - everyone got them all!

Now, can we talk about how awesome our friends are? Because, I mean:


(Merlin and Mad Madam Mim! Bahaha! ... I'll allow it.)

... they're pretty awesome.

Some brought fun props:

Professor Sprout (aka Steph) had magical seed packets stuffed in her pockets, while Ravenclaws Jen & Jeff brought mini copies of the Quibbler to hand out!

Melissa here made me the sweetest little Floo Powder pin, explaining it was perfect for folks like us with anxiety:

She's wearing two of them clipped to her sweater.
The perfect emergency get-away. Maybe if I believe it enough, it will work? :)

Tim here helped John assemble nearly 100 pasties the day before the party - so he's earned that plate.

I actually forgot to start taking pictures until several hours into the party (o.0) so here's the only shot I have of Traci wearing her Ginny Weasely Yule Ball gown:
(Traci is on the left.) 
This is also my only shot where you can see John's ridiculous elf socks. Ha!

Speaking of which, look how cute John is:
He's an Honorary House Elf! He made his own hat, no pattern, and I painted his apron. That's a S.P.E.W. badge on the pocket, and there's also a silhouette of Dobby on the other side. Since John spent the night running out more food from the kitchen, the apron was perfect for his costume.

I kind of forgot to plan my own outfit 'til the last minute, so I'm wearing things from my closet with this $12 hat from Amazon, which I Christmas'd up with the biggest poinsettia flower I could find at Michael's and a little sparkly ribbon.
(I'm also wearing this metal Felix Felicis necklace I bought at a convention.) The hat is surprisingly comfy - though hugs were tricky - and it has a wire so you can bend the tip any way you want.

After about half the party-goers had left, we attempted some group shots:

Some shady characters:

Though I do like Danny's Newt-inspired ensemble:

(Taken from Danny's Instagram account.)

These two showed up at the front door like this:
 I thought it was a sparkly Dementor - turns out it's an invisibility cloak. Ha! 
But now I want to see a sparkly Christmas Dementor.

"Pardon me, could you direct me to Knockturn Alley?"
Look at his creepy wand!

It has a hand sculpted on the handle! And I love his lil' Dobby in the pocket.

Merlin up there (aka Charlie Thurston) made us our very own sleepy delivery owl:

And Facebots, check it out: Traci made us a custom R2-Squee2!


And finally, here's a crazy little video Tim (the one with the creepy hand wand) put together of the party. I think you guys will get a kick out of it:

The rainbow cloud part made me LOL.

Oh, forgot to mention the music! What I wanted was all Celestina Warbeck songs, of course, but since only one of hers has been released online (the rest you can only hear live at the park show), I did my best to match that vintage feel with a mix of Big Band numbers, old jazzy Christmas songs, and things like Frank Sinatra's "Witchcraft." I made a Youtube playlist so you can check it out. Then I tacked on the entire album of Craig Duncan's Irish Christmas, just because.

Here's the vintage playlist:

I realized after the fact that we know almost every single person who came to the party because of this blog. They're a combination of readers we met on meetups, cosplayers I've photographed, artists I've featured, or friends/spouses of one of those groups. Talk about amazing, this blog has given John and me almost all of our closest friends today! It's really quite humbling. That's why we do so many meetups, and why we hope to never ever take you guys for granted.

So, thank you, for making this party possible. Whether you know it or not, you were here in spirit, and John and I were able to do and make all this crazy geekery because of your support.

Oh, who am I kidding, we'd have done it all anyway. But it's nice to know OTHER people like to see our geekery, too.

Right. Now John and I have to go hand assemble 900 Epbot pins to mail out this week. o.0 Hope you guys enjoyed the photo blitz, and look for more later!


  1. The smile on your face, Jen, tells me everything. It may have been a whole lot of work, but boy were you having fun. So happy it went so well!

    The one question I would like answered...what did the guests think of the bathroom? ;)

    1. Ha, I'm told we "got" a few of them with Moaning Myrtle, and I had at least one person going NUTS for her tree. The scavenger hunt made sure they all went in there, so they all got the full Myrtle experience. (And for the curious types who tried to pull the shower curtain aside, John taped up two large printouts of Myrtle's face peeking out. :D)

  2. Love it all!! A very immersive experience that I feel like I experienced in person, thanks to your photos. A tremendous amount of work went into all of it, and you both should be incredibly proud, because it's amazing!

  3. Oh my gosh Jen, please adopt me. I'm a good cook and a really good baker. And I like to vacuum. Gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous!!

  4. A-MA-ZING! Thanks for letting us be a part of it! (and no, I don't take the post as "look how cool we are" but rather as an inspiration for future parties ;))

  5. That party looks so awesome! Jealous I can't be there! (Mostly kidding :) I've had Harry Potter parties before, but usually they only extended to a few desserts, nothing to that level! You guys are so talented!

  6. You guys are the very best! I'd totally be your real life friend and parks goer if I lived in Florida!

  7. Squee! Introvert throwing a big party with innumerable, meticulous decorations and photographing it all for the online ooh-ing and aah-ing pleasure of thousands, followed up by churning out hundreds of pins to appease the ravening hordes... no pressure there. But the force of nature that is Jen Yates makes it all look fabulous with the help of the mighty thoJ! Seriously, thanks for letting us into your life!

  8. OMG, Jen, you are my party idol! One of these days I want to be you. What an incredible party. The Diagon Alley archway was awe-inspiring. Next year I'll just show up in my Trelawney costume, okay? :)

  9. Amazing, I ❤️ The delivery owl and omg, just everything!

  10. That was amazing! If you ever want to throw a fundraiser like that, I think you'd raise a lot of money for your cause of choice! Thank you for sharing and I can't wait for the recipes!

  11. Yep. Totally jealous.

    Thank you for all the photos and I look forward to the recipes!

  12. Awesome party Jen and John. Even though I am in the Southern Hemisphere I felt like I was there :)

  13. Jen and John, it's BEAUTIFUL! You two have outdone yourselves!

  14. Important question: how do you keep the cats out of your lovely things? We have given up on even a Christmas tree because they knock it down, eat tinsel and generally consider decorations some kind of challenge to their authority.

    1. I never have a great answer for that, but I think it's a combination of having ground-dwelling cats (meaning they don't like heights all that much), our being home so much to re-enforce training when they were younger, and the fact that I *PACK* my decorative spaces so there's no room for them to sit/lie down on them. Plus they have their own comfy spaces (couches, dining room table, our desks, etc), so they don't go looking for new spots very much.

      I still don't tempt them with low hanging dangly things, though, and the cats are a big reason why both trees don't have tree skirts; the box and the cauldron keep them at a safer distance!

    2. (I go by calonkat, but am at work). Jess, I don't know if these will help, but here goes. In the years when we had very active, climbing cats, my mom came up with the idea of running guy wires from 2 anchor points high on the wall to the top of the tree. Kept the tree from falling over. Then she hung bells around the bottom of the tree. Meant we could HEAR when the tree was being assaulted, and the noise did discourage the cats a bit. Also gave up on some of the ornaments that the cats just adored and tinsel is banned :(

    3. I'll second the "guy wires" tip; I used fishing twine to a cup-hook in the wall, with the tree in a corner. Held up well despite several kittens regularly in the tree. Even kept the tree up when some of the adult cats climbed in -- but they they weigh enough (5-8 pounds) to pull the branches right out of the trunk (fake tree)! Bigger cats might need several guy lines....

    4. A related comment (kind of)...but a happy-sad thing to share that reading this reminded me of.

      I had a delightful cat growing up - teensy little thing, a lovely grey grey coat with tidy white shoes, blind in one eye, and who loved playing with dogs (especially our 100 lb mutt).

      Anyway - she had one Christmas tree ornament that she absolutely adored. It's only about an inch in any direction, an acorn with a painted santa face on it. No matter where we put in on the (7 ft) tree, she would find it, knock it off, and we'd find it across the house (and a few times up a flight of stairs). She didn't bother any of the other hundred-or-so ornaments, just that one. And it was year after year.

      Betsey (the cat) died very suddenly and very young when I was middle-school-aged. A few years ago, my mother gave "Betsey's" ornament for my own tree -- every year I get it out, I have a nice weep while remembering...and it isn't a thing that not-cat lovers really appreciate much.

      And, as this story proves, I have absolutely no advice for keeping cats out of Christmas. :) I do tend to give my animals festive toys to play with during the season, so at least the floor is decorated.

  15. Awwww. So perfect! Ok. Give. Something always doesnt go according to plans, so what was it? Cant help it, im so curious! LOL.

    1. Aha, I love it; GO FOR THE DIRT. Lol! Well, I'm still kicking myself for not taking pictures sooner, so I missed some people, and it was so hot that the A/C kept kicking on, which is SUPER loud out on the deck and drowned out my pretty mood music, lol. Then we completely forgot to make Hot Butterbeer until there were only about 10 people left, sometime after midnight.

      Those are ridiculously minor things, though; really, I don't think *anything* went wrong. Somebody pinch me!

  16. An onion ninja just ran through the room.
    Seriously, everything looks so amazing.

  17. MAGICAL!!! This post reminds me of your very best Sunday Sweets over on CW. I'm blown away by the first picture and each subsequent one is better even though I think that can't be possible. You two have totally outdone yourselves with this party! I feel like I was there (all the way from California). :)

    I love john's apron and elf socks and Jen, you look so beautiful! Everyone's costumes were wonderful and please thank Tim for the "live" experience of Moaning Myrtle. I know that I'll be listening to your playlist (I have many of those tunes on old 45s from my parents). The scavenger hunt was a stroke of genius as well! Out of curiosity, what were the prizes?

    Contented sighs all around...

  18. Amazing! Looks like everyone had a blast!

  19. "OOOOO" "AHHHH" I feel like I was there! Everything is magical and beautiful and wow! I really want to meet you guys. Your "last minute" costume looks like you planned it to a "T", seriously beautiful. <3 Thank you for sharing your lives with us, Jen & John (yes, I LOVE your costume, too, John).

  20. literally gasped when I saw the brick wall!!!! good job!!!! x

  21. Ooooooh..... Aaaaaahhhh....

  22. AMAZING. You guys are so talented and I'm so impressed. I don't have the space or talent to throw a party half that amazing.

    If we ever move to Orlando can we be real-life friends?? *bats eyes* (We live in Chicago now so the chances of this are slim.)

  23. I have to comment that when you all first posted John's elf wreath, it hit me right in the gut, something about it was so heartwarming and kind of heartbreaking at the same time. Thinking that the elves would give up their precious socks, hoping they would get something from Santa.

  24. Love this!!!! You guys are amazing. It looked so fun!!

  25. Amazing, all of it. I would love to do something like this, but I'm afraid I don't know many people who would enjoy it as much as I would.

  26. I love every moment of this post! We have a set of friends who do parties like this (theme wise I mean) and we had a steady rotation for the kids friends with them. I'm so glad to have them as we have these little escapes from reality and we all have so much fun planning them. (Even when the majority of the detail goes unnoticed when the fandom is too far out for some of the kids friends parents. XD) It looks like you all had a wonderful time!!

  27. Stunning. How much fun you all were having!!! Thanks for sharing the magic with us!

  28. I feel like I've done nothing but gasp "THEY MADE THAT???" for the last 10 minutes. Love the house, love your friends, love ALL THE THINGS!!!

  29. Jen and John, you guys are amazing!!!! I'm sending this link to my BFFs in South Carolina who are HUGE HP geeks so they can ooh and ahh with me!!! <3

  30. I absolutely love the Sleeping Archimedes Merlin made! I will wait for the recipes, and throw a surprise party for my coworker.. =)


  31. It looks amazing! That Diagon Alley brick entrance is AWESOME! You guys are the best at this stuff and I'm forever in awe.

  32. I love everything about this party! Thanks for sharing :)

  33. So much fun!! Thanks for sharing it with us.

  34. Oh my goodness your home was amazing, your friends hysterical, food delicious, attention to detail immaculate, and hospitality truly humbling. Speaking for myself, it was the greatest and most memorable holiday party I have ever been to. Thank you both immensely for being exactly who you are!

  35. I have thoroughly enjoyed this party, vicariously through your blog. It has brought me many smiles and lots of ideas for doing something similar. . .some day. Thank you for sharing.

  36. You guys are the magicest muggles in all the land!

  37. First and most important, I'm glad that I'm not the only one who loves the older style jazz music.Even at Christmas time.i listened to your Playlist at work today and now I have a new station set up on Pandora because of it. Have you ever heard of Caravan Palace? They are more modern and electronic,but I love how they sound like how I imagine a speakeasy would sound like if you placed a synthesizer into the fray.

    Second. I'm glad I'm not the only one whom heavily associates Christmas and Harry Potter together. I'm slowly building my collection to have my own full Christmas tree one year.

  38. Is the chocolate frog tutorial coming soon? My friend may need it to fulfill a Christmas wish.

  39. This is amazing!! It doesn't hold a (floating) candle to your party, but I hosted a HP themed cocktail hour before we left for Fantastic Beasts. I made chocolate frogs and jelly beans, and made their respective boxes, and cold butter beer. It was a big hit!

    I also wanted to share that you've inspired me to start collecting ornaments for a HP tree-we will still have the family tree, but this one will be all mine-and last week I found a sparky red peacock ornament that will make a perfect Phoenix! My husband just rolled his eyes, so I wanted to tell someone who would appreciate it 😆

    Keep up the nerdy inspiration!!

  40. I live that your guests are so cool that THEY bring the favors to hand out! Everything looks amazing, and I'm so happy to see you both so happy. 😊

  41. It looks like the best party ever! Thank you for lettings us participate virtually <3 :D.

  42. This is AMAZING! I don't throw parties because nothing triggers my anxiety more! I think it's wonderful that you could do this - and do it SO WELL!! You're an inspiration.

  43. Sooooo beautiful! Every detail is perfect. I bet everyone had a great time, and I'm amazed at your bravery at having your home packed full of people. Of course, they're all awesome people, and you have an amazing house, so I'm sure that helped. I would've never made it though the night. You and John and your guests all look cute as heck. Man, oh man...I really need to read the Potter books.


    1. Totally worth it! I'm thinking about re-reading the series again during winter break.

  44. this is not party related but I thought you'd get a laugh out of this unintentionally hilarious typo somebody put on our city's Facebook page.

    "Does anyone know if the trash men will haul away mistress? If not does anyone know who I could call to have them picked up and disposed of. Thank you in advance"

  45. How amazing! I'm looking forward to recipes, for sure!😃😃😃

  46. Whoa, wait! At first glance I thought your backyard was just on a steep hill overlooking a city. But then I remembered you lived in Florida and there ARE no steep hills! That is magical! I'm so jealous-I need to get a bunch of nerdy friends and have a themed party now.

  47. It turned out amazing!! Your (and John's) attention to detail is always so awesome to see. And Floo Powder totally works, you just throw it in someone's face and dash away. ;)

  48. I can't say enough just how much I love all of this!! You guys must be wiped out from that! I cannot imagine all the work you put in, but the results were so worth it!! Great job Jen and John!

  49. This is the coolest thing I've ever seen! You put so much work in it and it's truly amazing. Words cannot even express how amazing *trying to lift my jaw off the floor*.

  50. You are my superhero! I can't wait to make my own floating candles. And I really, really, really hope you decide to sell John's apron on Etsy because I would buy it in a heartbeat!

  51. I'm in awe! This has to be the most amazing party ever. And the fact that it was hosted by an introvert with angsieties gives me hope. I've been putting of something so simple as a birthday party for years!

  52. Your party is goals. Everything looks amazing and I can't wait for those recipes. This is a party I wish I could have attended. So amazing!

  53. WOW!
    thank you for sharing this amazing party!
    And the youtube playlist is muchly appreciated - I've been playing it while working these past few days!
    Merry Christmas!

  54. Absolutely phenomenonal! My husband and I are huge HP fans and throw a Back to Hogwarts dinner party for our kids every September 1st. We're in the process of turning their playroom into a Harry Potter inspired room, and I'll be looking at your follow up posts for inspiration.

    There's no better place to live as an HP fan than Central Florida, we are annual pass holders at Universal and love taking the kids their as often as possible. We even transformed our two year olds wheelchair into the Hogwarts Express and use it at the park and various conventions as much as possible!

    Thanks for sharing all of your brilliant ideas.

  55. Amazing! and inspirational. I would love to know what the answers to your riddles were!


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