Sunday, December 16, 2018

Potter Party House Tour: Final Reveal & ALL THE PHOTOS

Whether you're here for Hufflepuff Christmas Slumber Party photos, or you just want to see what the inside of my house looks like, I am HERE. FOR. YOU.

And look, I know it's been a whole week, but it's taken me this long to photograph, edit, re-photograph, bang my head against walls, re-edit, literally drive John from the house with my grousing about blurry photos, re-RE-photograph, re-RE-edit, and finally, compile this post for you guys.

What I'm saying is, I never want to see another photo of my house ever again.

Starting in our front room, just inside the front door:

You've already seen glimpses of our mascot tree in my first party post, but let's go in for a closer look:

Now a less closer look:

This tree theme was a last minute solution to two problems: where to put my awesome House plushies, and how to decorate the tree without using any glass baubles the cats could destroy.

We found the badger, lion, and snake at a thrift store for a few dollars each (although the snake was originally a dragon), then I bought this eagle on Amazon. (I wanted book-accurate Ravenclaws where possible.)  Our friend Sharyn made the House scarves, John made the badger wings & halo, and then everything else I already had, so this was the fastest and cheapest tree I've ever put together.  (Even the tree itself is a $30 pre-lit from Walmart that we already had, no extra lights or nuthin'. I mean, WHO AM I.)

The other decorations include the Hogwarts Express we made from a cheap train set, my DIY broomstick ornaments, some pretty aluminum icicles made by a fan, and then those gorgeous pennants are from this garland from Universal; I just pulled them off the long silk cord and made individual hangers.

We had some hilarious adventures getting the lion in place, since I originally smashed him into the branches, ha. Eventually we put him down in the cauldron base, and I tied his head up to the trunk so he wouldn't flop over.

As easy and inexpensive as this tree was, wouldn't you know it? It's John's favorite tree we've ever done.  

::thinks back to the 3 solid weeks of painstaking work on last year's Phoenix tree::

::deadpan stares into camera::

Moooooving on...

Suki is helping.

The curtain in our dinging room is really 4 separate banners hung side-by-side. The whole pack was only $15 from Target online, and they're gorgeous - highly recommend.

The best thing in the dining room is this suit of armor, which was drunkenly singing, snoring, and commentating all night long. I can't even explain how hysterical this was, so I'm making John upload the recordings for you to enjoy.



(Watch your volume, and for your own safety, do NOT try to eat or drink while listening.)

(My favorites are at 2:13 & 3:29. TEARS.)

(Also, shhhh, that's all John. He just pitched the voice up slightly so it doesn't sound like him.)

A simple new wreath for our Hogwarts plaque:

And this is where the Pensieve Punch sat during the party:

I spy an Eva!

Of course there's still a Cornish Pixie hanging frozen in our chandelier:

Pesky things.

Another long shot:

That buffet on the left hasn't changed much/any since last year:

Both the Howler and the Hogwarts: A History are crafty gifts from readers.

You've already seen our gingerbread house entry, so I won't rehash all those details. Let's just walk through to the good stuff: our Hufflepuff Common Room.


How about that reveal, eh? I can't get enough of it.

Let's head straight to our second tree, which you haven't seen yet:

This tree was another spur-of-the-moment decision, brought on by late night silliness: I plopped my DIY Sorting Hat on top and tied a scarf around the tree's "neck." John laughed, then went out to the garage and returned with yellow & black work gloves. YES. So of course I decided it needed to hold a Mandrake in a pot that was screeching out Christmas carols... and thusly, our tree theme was born.

I waited until 2 nights out to make the Mandrake, so it isn't NEARLY as nice as I'd like, but it gets the idea across. I also ran out of time before adding a song book for it to hold. Since the Mandrake is so dark I added a tealight in the pot and a white scarf around its neck - otherwise I don't think anyone would've noticed it at all!

The metal pot is held in place with a PVC pipe that John clamped to the tree trunk with zip ties.

John also made the crate the tree is sitting in.

The rest of the tree decorations are white silk poinsettias, big silk leaves I harvested from thrift-store bushes, and cute crocheted garland made by our friend Sharyn. Again, cheap, easy, and nothing that cats can shatter. (Fortunately our girls have shown very little interest in the trees, but I didn't want to take any chances.)

Here's the best view of the Common Room:

This shot has all my favorite things: the tree, the fireplace, the Quidditch tower, and the plaque display. Mmmmmm.

This is also my favorite display in the house.

Can you tell? :D

Of course Hufflepuffs love bees! 

(It was while framing & displaying this bee that I came up with the tongue-twister "Huffle Bumble Pygmy Puffs" - so it holds a place of honor. It's by Sydney Hanson, you can buy it here.)

I made these slipcovers completely from scratch - no pattern! AW YEAH - to cover our teal chairs. I like this little seating nook for the symmetry.

Here's that blasted Mimbulus Mimbletonia again:

It's so cracked I think the light strand may actually be holding it together.

And the view from those chairs:

My favorite pillow:

And that's my favorite lamp behind it! See the pipe holding it to the wall? John just made that to prevent the cats from tipping it over, since it's a little top heavy. (The globe is from 1920 and is irreplaceable.)

Here you can see those fluffy floor pillows I made by the fireplace:

Thanks to all our additional chairs and cushions, we could comfortably seat 15 people in this room!

We also had the two cafe tables John built for last year's party:

And see that banner? Isn't it beautiful? That was another last minute gift from Sharyn, and came from Loot Crate's exclusive Wizarding World box.

(Sharyn basically sponsored our whole party, you guys; she gave us SO MUCH STUFF. Also in case you read Cake Wrecks, yes, she's that Sharyn. We love her lots.)
 Those doors lead out to our deck, where we had the same set-up as last year with our life-sized thestral, firepit, torches, and accent lights:

This year we added a little deer patronus way in the back of the yard, plus green canopy lights overhead to light up our massive tree. (Those aren't turned on here, sorry.)

I wish I had more outside photos for you, but we had to break down everything as soon as the party ended due to rain, and I forgot. Oops. It was so hot that night that it was barely cooler outside than it was inside - another bummer - so none of us spent too much time out here during the party. ::sad face:: ::shaking fist at Florida weather::

 Back inside, looking across the Common Room from the fireplace:
See my pillows? Those are the thrift store Pear Tree shams I found a while back, and I made the gold tapestry ones from the same thrift-store duvet I cut up to make the chair slipcovers.

Now let's talk about the fireplace!

Here it is finally completed, with the top grate, false wood stack bottom (that wood pile is only a few inches thick, and hiding our receiver), and fire video.

Since John and I were sick for so long last month, a few party extras had to get cut. This included our magical Floo Powder visitors, sadly. John still gave us random green fire and Floo sound effects, though:

It's so randomized that I was caught off guard every time, ha. It's hard to catch!

John and I haven't decided on a theme yet for next year, but if it can fit a fireplace, I'm thinking we'll do this again with ALL the special effects.

I also have a few more ideas I'd like to try out to make the fire more convincing. It's always a work in progress!

Our cats' favorite game: knocking off the frog hats every. single. day.

Speaking of the cats:

I added a little wreath to their Quidditch Tower.

It's so cute with the giant Snitch garland over top:

Eva was very helpful in posing.


Our third tree is the mini Owl one, no change from last year:

More random pretties from around the room:

And finally, here's the candy window in the kitchen that took me WAY too long to decorate:

I think it turned out pretty sweet in the end, though.

I know I've missed a lot of little stuff - it's so hard to fit everything in one post! Arg! - so let me plunk in a few videos as a catch-all.

First, here's my taken-the-night-of-the-party video, where it's 4AM and I'm deliriously tired and just rambling on about any and everything for 10 solid minutes. I recommend this one for you die-hards who can't get enough of the sound of my voice:

Second, here's John's more polished and professional 3 minute video of just the Common Room, since we all know that's the most magical part anyway:

I hope all of that gives you a good idea of what John and I've been up to the last three months. 

 I'll leave you with one more last-minute Party addition (which is in the super long video, but no one's watching that, right?), because I think you guys will like it: I added an "Art Spot" back in my office. 

The idea was to add a quiet place away from the crowd where folks could do something creative/distracting. As someone with anxiety, I'm very keen on the idea of adding safe spaces. 

When I mentioned this idea to a friend, she said, "So what you're saying is, you've invited people to a party who don't want to be at a party?"

"Well, yeah," I said. "I mean, that's pretty much me at every party we go to."


 Anyway, this idea couldn't be simpler: I just piled up some random art supplies with a framed note inviting people to draw an owl.

 All of this stuff I already had, so it cost me nothing.

Then I strung a ribbon across the window and told folks to clip their art to it when they were done.

Now, I honestly only expected a handful of folks to do this, if that.


This made me so darn happy, you guys.

(Please note the "awl" drawing. PUNSTERS EVERYWHERE.)

To be fair, half my guest list was professional artists, but still. I think it also helped that people were camping out in my office waiting to pounce on the Escape Room once it opened up across the hall, ha. At least I gave them something to do while they waited!


(My ulterior motives come out, mwuahahaa.)

I hope that was worth the wait, peeps! And while that's the last of the party photos, I still have a few more related projects - like the pygmy puffs and how I made the chair slipcovers - that I'll be sharing later. Plus I have a whole album of Disney Christmas Trees here just WAITING to be posted. (Eh?) So stay tuned for more magic.

P.S. This season is hectic and hard, so promise me you're taking care, taking time, taking breaks - and I promise I'll try to do the same.  ::mwah::


  1. Fabulous! Magical! Extraordinary! I don’t know how you guys managed such an array of brilliant stuff while you were *ill*....

    Love the idea of the art desk. I’d have been hanging out there at regular intervals, and not just because I love owls. I promise I am building breaks into my Christmas to-do list, but I hope you are too 😉

    Happy Christmas ❤️ xxx

  2. This is truly incredible. What a way to use all of your skills. Just curious, I love all of the garlands and greenery at your house (like the new wreath around the Hogwarts plaque). Where do you find you fake wreaths?

    1. I think ALL of our fake greenery - including that wreath - came from JoAnn's; their coupons combined with their holiday 70% off sales make it all super affordable. (That wreath was $12 on sale.)

  3. Those are now the official words to "Carol of the Bells", let it be written, etc, etc. ;)

    This is all amazing, though. I'm forever in awe of you guys and your creativity.

  4. So magical! I love your attention to detail and the art corner is a fabulous idea! As someone who lives in a cold climate, your room really captured "winter coziness".

    How did you fasten the fairy lights to the ceiling? Staple gun?

    Thank you so much for sharing your hard work and fun party photos with all of us strangers!


    1. Re: the ceiling lights, yes! I did a post on it a month or two ago showing our "technique", such as it was, if you're curious. ;)

  5. (Whispers) I'm not a Harry Potter fan, but this is so lovely, it almost lures me in. So beautiful and well thought out.

    However, I'm completely captivated by your Isabella by The Master. Years ago, one of my students was a former student of his, and she introduced me to his work.

    1. Isn't she lovely? That's one of my oldest art pieces in the house, a gift from John for one of our early anniversaries, and unlike some of my other choices back then (heh), she's completely timeless.

  6. Eeee! I love the handrawn owls. As an introvert, I think the quiet/art room is an excellent idea.

  7. - I'm not a Hufflepuff (a Ravenpuff, but still), and I want an angel badger on my tree. I love it.
    - The singing knight is AMAZING! So much laughter!!
    - The whole room glows and it's the prettiest thing ever.
    - Love the owl drawing idea! Gives them something to do and you have such a beautiful collection to remember the night by. Perhaps an owl theme next year? Definitely display some/all of them!

  8. That first shot of the lights on the ceiling and the view though to the fireplace! 😍 Some truly stunning work this year. 🙂 (And I Need an owl tree in my life)

    Have a great festive season. x

  9. So you're leaving the common room up all year, right? RIGHT???? Also, John might be embarrassed about uploading that drunken knight video, but I laughed so hard, especially at the Carol of the Bells part, so I'm very glad he acquiesced. What a wonderful job you all did and such a treat for all of the party-goers. Thank you for sharing :)

  10. I don't know if you've seen this but some YouTubers that live near me gave you a shout out for your Quidditch cat tower.

  11. It's all so lovely! I was wondering, is the wire Christmas tree with mini baubles in the candy window something you guys have made yourself, or have you bought it? Meaning that I might be able to get a hold of one - she said with hope and anticipation. :)

  12. So so awesome!!! Thanks for sharing at the lovely details!
    ...and may I make a suggestion for next year that can incorporate the fireplace?
    "Yuletide at Malfoy Manor"

  13. I SO want an angel badger for my tree! I'm thinking about getting a little tree next year to go up in my office/craft room to put all the fun geeky stuff on. An angel badger definitely needs to go on top!

  14. Amazing!! Thank you for sharing!! :-)

  15. Jen, John: Stunning as always. What great fun for your guests! As for next year fireplace: The Burrow! The first time we see floo powder!
    Have a happy and quiet rest of your holiday season. You've earned a rest!

  16. you and your guest are so talented! amazing work.

  17. she said, "So what you're saying is, you've invited people to a party who don't want to be at a party?"

    "Well, yeah," I said. "I mean, that's pretty much me at every party we go to."

    -favorite quote ever!!! I was just telling a friend that I needed to have a job to do at their wedding reception, so I didn't have an anxiety attack and she didn't understand how I could prefer doing dishes to socializing!
    Lovely post, I love the way you go all out with what you love (wow that's a lot of love in that sentence). Even though I am not a potter fan, I am inspired by your creativity! Now I wanna go throw an amazing themed party....can I hire your help?? wink wink

  18. Wow! Amazing and creative. Thank you for the walkthrough of your party. My favorite parts are the trees, the requirement room niflers, and the fairy lights on the common room ceiling. Oh, and the giant gingerbread house of course! I want to put that in my classroom!

  19. A. Ma. zing. Coolest thing ever. Thank you for inviting us along.

  20. Oh, and those house banners from Target are on sale today (12/18/18). I bought two.

  21. I put out coloring books and comfy reading chairs in nooks and crannies for people who need people breaks, but I love the drawing idea and am totally going to steal it for next time. Also Jon is a treasure. That Knight was perfect.

  22. This is fantastic!!! If only I liked yellow more than pink. Then I could redo my room in full 'Puff Pride! :3

  23. Next year: The Burrow! Everyone can be a redhead (even if just for a night).

  24. Everything looks great!! Once again im blown away by the creativity and I love your attention to details. I love when people run wild with a theme! Now try to get a little rest and enjoy the rest of the holiday season. As for next years theme, I agree with others and think a Weasley home christmas would be neat. Everyone could wear a red wig and come up with their own backstory as to what extendes Weasley family member they were haha.. OR you could do the Yule Ball! A glam wizarding event.. i can just imagine the costumes.. Merry Christmas!

  25. It was worth losing The Little Drummer Boy Challenge to hear John's drunken lyrics. I would leave the Hufflepuff Common Room up forever. So cozy and AMAZING!

  26. I love the art retreat spot. Amazing for people who have trouble handling crowds, but also for others, I think, because even super outgoing people still need a minute sometimes.


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