Gather your favorite witches and wizards and throw a Harry Potter party that Professor Binns will be talking about for centuries.
Any party with fellow Potterheads is bound to be a magical time, but when mixed with some butterbeer and firewhisky, the fun is bound to shoot straight from “Exceeds Expectations” to “Outstanding.”* So, grab your parchment and quill (preferably not of the “quick quotes” variety) and start planning your Harry Potter themed beer Olympics with the help of this guide. Accio, good times!
*While this is true, if you’re underage or just prefer to steer clear of such concoctions, you can also easily host a spectacular Harry Potter Olympics that’s free of befuddlement draft.
In the era of the Facebook event, the art of the invitation is largely a forgotten aspect of party-throwing. However, your Harry Potter party isn’t like any party your friends have ever been to before, so make sure that’s clear, right from the start!
Hogwarts would never use anything so trivial as an e-vite to notify its students of their acceptance, so take a page out of their technology-lite book and craft some good, old fashioned, paper invitations.
I chose to use a scroll design for my invitations, but some other ideas would be to replicate the Hogwarts acceptance letter envelope or a howler! No matter what your design, obviously your invites will get to their intended recipient via owl, because is there any other way? I used white balloons and drew a unique owl design for each invitation. Bonus points for using helium balloons, but make sure your invitations are heavy enough to hold them down!
If you’re going the acceptance letter route, whether by scroll or by envelope, the inside of your invitation can look something like this:
As with any invitation, it’s important to let people know the important information. Usually,that consists of a who, a what, a when, and a where, at the very least. Here are some tips for each section:
Who: Obviously the invitation recipient if the “who,” but that might not be all the information required. Since you’re essentially planning a tournament, it’s important to know exactly how many people you’ll be hosting. Let the recipient know that this party is not a “free for all” event, and that their invitation doesn’t extend to others. At the very least, ask them to let you know that they’ll be bringing someone else.
What: Include a brief description of what they can expect from the event.
When: Fairly self-explanatory, but let them know how important it is that they’re on time. You have a full evening ahead, and late-comers can really throw a wrench into plans. I referenced the fact that the Hogwarts Express has a prompt departure time to keep within the theme and to lighten the tone.
Where: Again, self-explanatory. Include any important details that they may need to know about parking or getting into your apartment building, if necessary.
Let your guests know that it’s important to RSVP and give them a deadline to do so. As an extra step, I gave my guests a ticket to the Hogwarts Express upon their RSVP.
One advantage of the paper invitation is that it can go so far beyond just delivering the required information! You can include extra tidbits in the invites for even more fun.
Every one of my invitations included a supply list, letting the guests know what they needed to bring with them to the event. It was a short list, but important nonetheless. First of all, if you don’t plan on supplying drinks for everyone (we’re partying like the Weasleys, not the Malfoys!), give your guests an idea of how much they need to bring with them. I asked my guests to bring 12 drinks each. That ended up being way too much, but better to have too many.
I also included Harry Potter themed clothing on the supply list. I marked it as optional, but most people got into the spirit. The only other item on the list was their phones, which I called a “magical portrait taking device,” because I wanted my guests to document their experience!
I also included a few “secret powers” in select invitations. These gave the recipient access to a potion or a spell which could give them an advantage in the game, if used correctly. The inclusion in the invitation simply said what they’d received. They didn’t learn of its power until arriving at the event. Some examples of potential secret powers are:
The Dark Mark: I purchased a temporary Dark Mark tattoo from Amazon and included it in an invitation. Once revealed, the Dark Mark gave the wearer the ability to switch places with another team in the rankings before the Final Challenge.
Polyjuice Potion: Recipient can switch places with an opponent during Boggart Battle (flip cup)
Felix Felicis: Recipient “never misses a flip” during Boggart Battle
Veritaserum: Recipient receives a hint during the Final Challenge
Deathly Hallows: Upon losing a game of Quidditch Pong, the recipient can reveal their mark to get three cups back
It’s important to set the mood for your magical gathering, so decorations are key. You don’t need to go overboard, but every little detail will help to give you and your guests an immersive experience.
First of all, since your guests have finally gained admittance into Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, you should make them feel like they’re really getting on the train and heading to school. This can easily be accomplished by outfitting your door to look like Platform 9 3/4.
You can easily make this yourself using a plastic tablecloth and a sponge with paint, or you can buy one from Amazon. If you cut a slit down the middle, your guests can actually walk right through the platform!
Here are a few other decoration ideas to get you started:
Everybody knows that any party’s success comes down to the refreshments. Since your guests will have plenty to drink, don’t get too carried away with mixing Harry Potter themed beverages. One or two is a great idea, but focus your efforts on more substantial snacks. Here are a few recipes that will guarantee people won’t need a Remembrall to remember your party:
Golden snitch cake pops
Weasley jumper cookies
When your guests arrive (promptly on time, as was previously discussed), there are a few things that need to be taken care of before the games begin.
First of all, they need their supplies! I gave each of my guests a wand for the evening. They’ll need them to play the games, and it also makes a great keepsake for them! Here’s a great tutorial to make wands that are both cheap and beautiful.
The above wands aren’t the most durable, so if you want something that will last a little longer, you can use official wands or check out custom wands like these ones on Etsy! I got one custom made from the design of my Pottermore wand and it’s gorgeous! You’re putting in a lot of work to plan this party, so you deserve to treat yourself.
Upon their arrival, I had my guests come, one by one, into a room that I had called “Diagon Alley.” There, they blindly reached into a bag to allow their wand to choose them. Diagon Alley is also where guests were asked to reveal their secret powers from their invitations and were given further instructions.
Next, your guests need to be sorted into their houses for the evening! There are a few fun ways to do this. I chose to make cupcakes that were filled with colored icing. I had my guests sit under the sorting hat, one by one, and take a bite of their cupcake to see which house they belonged to. If you don’t have a sorting hat, learn how to make one here!
Some alternate ways to do the sorting are to put a questionnaire in their invitations to sort by personality (fun but risky as you’ll probably get an uneven distribution), place a drop of food coloring in a shot glass and have your guests blindly pour themselves a shot with clear liquid, or place a colored candy in the bottom of a shot of dark liquid and have your guests take the shot (make sure they know there’s something in the bottom).
Once your guests have been sorted, you’ll want to give them some way to identify themselves. I made little tie pins for each house. Here’s a tutorial for how to make felt ties, although I used paper for mine. You could use a very similar design to make small scarves too!
When the teams have assembled, have each team take a few minutes to come up with a team cheer or chant. This is a good way to get all teammates acquainted and it will give them a fun way to celebrate together throughout the competition. When everyone’s done (limit this to 5 or 10 minutes), reassemble the group and have everyone present their cheers.
Events and Scoring
Now it’s time for the main event(s)! Your guests came to compete, so this is the most important part of the evening. Here’s everything you need to know about the events that will make up your Harry Potter beer Olympics!
Quidditch Pong is exactly what it sounds like, Harry Potter themed beer pong. Quidditch is a huge part of the Hogwarts house cup, every year, so it obviously needs to be a part of your competition too.
The first thing you’ll need to do is set up your Quidditch Pong pitch. One thing you’ll need to do in advance of the party is construct your Quidditch hoops. Here’s an easy video tutorial for how to make them.
Next, you’ll need to figure out where to put your Snitch cup. It will need to be very difficult to hit (it’s worth 90 points and ends the game) but still possible. I suspended mine from the switch of my ceiling fan!
Rather than the usual six cup (per each side) beer pong, you should use ten cups for Quidditch Pong. You can just use regular solo cups for these, or decorate them in the theme. For the quaffle and snitch, use normal ping pong balls, and I highly encourage you to color them accordingly. For my Beater and Keeper bats I used fly swatters, but anything that will bat the ball away without hurting someone will work.
The rules that I used for my Quidditch Pong game are below. I had five people on each team, but if you have less, simply modify the number of Chasers and/or eliminate the Keeper!
- Each house will appoint two Chasers, one Beater, one Keeper and one Seeker
- Each Chaser will throw the quaffle when it’s their team’s turn. Teams score 10 points (one cup) for every cup hit WITHOUT passing through the hoops and 20 points (two cups) for every cup hit WITH passing through the hoops
- If two Chasers hit the same cup on the same turn WITHOUT passing through the hoops, 30 points (three cups) will be awarded. If one or both quaffles pass through the hoops, 40 points (four cups) will be awarded
- If the first Chaser throws the quaffle off the pitch, the second Chaser will forfeit their turn
- The Beater and Keeper will play when the other team’s Chasers are throwing. The Beater will stand at the end of the table, behind the cups, and the Keeper will stand directly behind the Quidditch hoops. Both players will have bats, and can deflect any shot that goes THROUGH THE HOOPS. Shots can only be deflected using the bats provided. Shots deflected by the players’ bodies will be retaken. If the Beater or Keeper deflect a shot that did not travel through the hoops, there will be a 10 point (one cup) penalty
- The Beater may also utilize Wingardium Leviosa to blow the quaffle out of a cup if it is spinning around the rim
- The Seeker can take the place of both Chasers during any turn to attempt to hit the snitch cup. The snitch is worth 90 points and the game will end when it is caught, or one team removes every cup from their opponent’s side
- The winning team will receive house points according to the following formula: Their points – their opponent’s points
- Each team may use two of the following spells per game:
- Accio: Move a single cup to any spot on the table
- Confundo: Opponent’s next turn must consist entirely of trick shots
- Engorgio: Make one cup larger
- Expelliarmus: Block a spell
- Imperio: Control your opponent’s next turn by dictating which cup they must hit
Play Quidditch Pong round-robin style, with each team playing every other team.
No beer Olympics would be complete without flip cup. In your Harry Potter beer Olympics, that will come in the form of Boggart Battle. Using some simple tweaks to the original format, you’ll be playing a far more magical version of the drinking game that you love! All you need is a table and a box filled with balloons. Set up your flip cup game on the table with the box of balloons on one end.
The rules for Boggart Battle are below. If you have less than five players per team, modify accordingly.
- Each house will begin the game with five players. Houses will face off on opposite sides of the table
- Each student shall fill their cup up to half the bottom line with Liquid Courage potion before each round
- The game will begin with the first student from each house touching their cups together and shouting Revelio, to make the Boggart show itself. After touching their opponent’s cup, the first player will then drink their potion, place their cup right-side-up on the table, and flip the cup completely over with their wand. When the cup is successfully flipped, the player must shout Riddikulus! In order for the Boggart to be nullified, the spell must be repeated for all four flipped cups
- Once the first player casts Riddikulus, the second player will then drink, place, flip, and shout. Play continues like this for the first four players
- After the fourth player shouts Riddikulus, the fifth player can destroy the Boggart (pop the balloon). All teammates currently in play may help to destroy the creature
- The last team to destroy their Boggart will have one player succumb to fear who will need to be removed from the game. This will be the player who was responsible for destroying the Boggart, as they were the closest to the threat
- Players will then rotate starting positions, and play will begin again. The team with less players must still shout Riddikulus four times by drinking and flipping four cups
- The game ends when one team has no players left
- The winning team will receive 20 house points for their victory, plus an additional 10 points for every player they have left in the game
Play Boggart Battle round-robin style, with each team playing against every other team.
Horcrux Hunt is a great way to keep your guests active between their games of Quidditch Pong and Boggart Battle. To set up Horcrux Hunt you’ll just need a case of cheap beer and some paper!
The goal of Horcrux Hunt is for each team to collect all the Horcruxes (Horcri?). One Horcrux = one “dressed up” beer can. Simply put a label on the can to identify it as the weird piece of soul that it is. Make one set of Horcruxes for each team, and color code them to make them easy to identify. Then, hide them around your event space!
To help your guests find their Horcruxes, provide them with a Marauder’s Map to your event space. I just made a simple floor plan of my apartment and put numbers on them to indicate where the Horcruxes were located. If you want to go even further, you can put riddles or hints on the map to lead your guests to the exact location.
When your guests find a Horcrux, they must “kill it” (drink it) immediately! They should then bring the empty can to their house banner. Each team needs to find and kill all of their Horcruxes in order to enter the Final Challenge.
Game play and scoring
The majority of the points will be scored via Quidditch Pong and Boggart Battle, but there are a few other ways to award points in your Harry Potter beer olympics.
Put together some trivia questions to reward your most knowledgeable fandom friends. Have a couple trivia breaks throughout the evening and award 10 points per correct answer. This is also a great way to bring everyone back together.
Another great way to award house points is using an event hashtag. Since I held my Harry Potter beer Olympics for my birthday, my hashtag was #HPandtheHBD. I awarded five points per use of the hashtag on social media and it made for an awesome morning going through all the photos from the night before on Instagram. Make sure you check to make sure your hashtag hasn’t already been used before you share it!
Keep track of house points using candy and jars under each house banner. Count up (or judge visually) house points prior to the Final Challenge to see who’ll get to go first! The first place team will begin the Final Challenge first, with the second team beginning 45 seconds after them. The third and fourth place teams will follow accordingly.
In the Harry Potter beer Olympics, everything comes down to the Final Challenge. As discussed above, the teams will begin the challenge at staggered times, depending on their placement in the rest of the competition. For this reason, try to keep the teams as separate as possible. It’s best to have a different room for each, but do what you can with the space you have available.
To enter the Final Challenge, each team will need to have “killed” all of their Horcruxes. They will also need their Marauder’s Map to complete the challenge.
In each team’s work station, you will need to set up a series of envelopes which include challenges for them to work through. These will be outlined in this section. Also, place a cutout of Voldemort on their exit door, or in an appropriate location within their work station. When their time begins, provide them with a sheet that reads the following:
You’ve almost made it to the Hogwarts House Cup! Once challenge stands between you and the victory you seek.
Your entire Wizarding education will be put to the test for the Final Challenge. Make your way through the subjects by following the envelopes, in order. You must complete each challenge before moving on to the next. Prefects will be checking to ensure that this rule is not broken.
Use your Marauder’s Map and the clues from each challenge to determine the location of the House Cup. Once you have the location and all the tools you need, you must kill Voldemort and find the cup. Your entire team must retrieve the cup together. Once you retrieve it, run back to your house banner. When you return to your banner with all of your Horcruxes, Voldemort’s corpse, and the other items requested in this Final Challenge, you will be declared the winners!
The envelopes/challenges that I made my guests complete are outlined below. Feel free to tweak them in whatever way you like! I had guests of all different levels of “fan,” so I decided to not incorporate much Harry Potter knowledge into my Final Challenge. However, if your friends are more hardcore, make it as difficult as you like (just remember that they’ll be a few firewhiskys in, at this point).
My house cup was hidden on the playground outside my apartment, so “playground” is the word that I had my guests unscramble. If you don’t have access to a playground, you will need to change some of these riddles/letters to suit your purposes.
Include the following riddle and instructions in your Care of Magical Creatures envelope. This is taken from the sphinx riddle in Goblet of Fire, but they don’t need to know that to solve it. The answer is spider, so asking them to use the second, fourth, and sixth letters leaves them with p, d and r.
First think of the person who lives in disguise,
Who deals in secrets and tells naught but lies.
Next, tell me what’s always the last thing to mend, The middle of middle and end of the end?
And finally give me the sound often heard,
During the search for a hard-to-find word.
Now string them together and answer me this,
Which creature would you be unwilling to kiss?
Solve the riddle. The 2nd, 4th and 6th letters are your clue.
Include the following instructions in your Transfiguration envelope, and provide each team with a Kinder surprise toy to build. Make sure you look at the toys beforehand to ensure the difficulty is similar.
Transfigure these pieces into a functional toy using the skills that Professor McGonagall taught you. You must bring this toy with you to retrieve the House Cup!
For Potions class, you will modify the potion riddle from Philosopher’s Stone. You will need 6, shot glass sized solo cups and one normal sized solo cup for each team. This wiki page has a great explanation of the riddle.
Use the normal sized solo cup for the “giant,” and cut a mini solo cup for the “dwarf.” Use Coca Cola when nettle wine is referenced, root beer for the potions that will send you forward or back, and a dark beer (a porter works best) for the poison. You could also use vodka, water, and a clear cream soda if you prefer.
Place beads with letters on them in each cup, with the letters that they need (y, l, g) in the cup that will “let you move ahead.” This is the third cup, or the dwarf.
Victory lies before you, while nothing lies behind,
One of us will help you, if it’s the one you should find,
That one among us seven will let you move ahead,
While the rest among us, will leave you filled with dread
Two among our number hold only nettle wine,
Three of us are killers, waiting hidden in line.
Choose, unless you wish to stay here forevermore,
To help you in your choice, we give you these clues four:
First, however slyly the poison tries to hide
You will always find some on nettle wine’s left side;
Second, different are those who stand at either end,
But if you would move onwards, neither is your friend;
Third, as you see clearly, some are of different size,
Neither dwarf nor giant holds death in their insides;
Fourth, the second left and the second on the right
Are twins once you taste them, though different at first sight.
One of these cups contains a clue that you need to win the House Cup. Solve the riddle and drink that potion to help you move onward. Two cups hold “nettle wine” (Coke), three hold “poison” (beer), and two hold Root Beer. One of these Root Beer cups has the correct clue, while the other contains a decoy. Solve the riddle correctly to obtain the right clue!
Place three sticky notes in the Charms envelope. One for each unforgivable curse (Crucio, Imperio, and Avada Kedavra). Ask your guests to choose the curse which will kill Voldemort and place it on the cutout. They must bring Voldemort’s “corpse” with them to retrieve the House Cup.
Include the following instructions in your Divination envelope along with a large glass filled with a nasty concoction (I just mixed whatever I had in the fridge, alcoholic or not). Put a ball in a bag at the bottom of the cup and mark the ball with the remaining letters that the team needs to find the cup (a, o, u, n).
Professor Trelawney taught you how to read your tea leaves to see the future. There is a prophecy hidden at the bottom of this brew that contains your final clue to the whereabouts of the House Cup. Unfortunately, she’s no better at brewing tea than she is at teaching Divination. Drink the tea to see what the prophecy has in store for you.
Drink the brew to find your clue! You must bring the empty cup with you to win the House Cup. This is your final clue to the whereabouts of the House Cup. Unscramble your letters to reveal its location.
Once the team knows the location of the cup and has all of the required items, they’re free to run for it! I used a Goblet of Fire replica for my “House Cup,” but I also provided the winning team with a bottle of champagne, spray-painted gold, so you could use that for the cup as well.
After the winner is crowned, congratulate each team on a tournament well played, and keep on partying!
Here are some extra tips and tricks for hosting your Harry Potter beer Olympics.
- The ideal number of players is 16-20 (4-5) per team, so keep that in mind when inviting your friends. If you can’t get this many people, consider playing with only two or three teams
- Have something set up for your guests to do in their downtime. I set up Cards Against Muggles, but any game will do, particularly if it’s Harry Potter themed. Another idea is to have a photo booth with props.
- Enlist some sober “prefects” to referee and set up events. Give them the ability to award and deduct house points at their discretion!
- If there are areas of your home where you don’t want your guests to search for Horcruxes, mark them off as a “Forbidden Forest” and make it clear to your guests that they’re off limits.
- Put a pink umbrella in the bag of wands for a lucky Hagrid sympathizer.
*Note: Please drink responsibly. This game is not meant to lead a player to becoming ill from the over-consumption of alcohol. Hypable does not in any way promote underage drinking.