I am doing a few different posts on creating DIY costumes/areas for the Halloween season. I had a crafty mom growing up, so I thrive on doing fun little things for holidays or conventions. Holidays were always so fun for us because she put her little touches on everything. This time of year, I especially like to decorate the kitchen area where trick-or-treaters walk in to get candy. Last year, it was just general spooky, but this year I decided to make a mini-Great Hall from Harry Potter in my walk-in area. Here are just a few ideas for creating a HP atmosphere for a party or Halloween
Tip One: Go to the Dollar Store
This will always be my first or second tip. They have much of the decorations you will find other places, but for much cheaper. I picked up a toy rat, a large plastic cauldron, lunch bags, blow pop suckers and other candy, gold ornaments, pretzels, yellow sprinkles, wax paper, L.E.D. candles, plastic trays, black table cloth, two large bottles and modge podge. This was all about $18. And I only had to buy a few more things to set the scene.
Tip Two: The Great Outdoors
Go outside. You'll find sticks and pressed leaves make good decorations. I could have also used feather from outside, after cleaning them, since I feed birds and tend to get a lot of them in my yard, but I happened to have feathers, to make snitches, so I didn't. I used sticks from my continually shedding Alder trees for the top of my "witch brooms" for my HP Great Hall. I got the idea from Martha Stewart Online. The best: this is all free.
Tip Three: Scavenge Your Home
I had some things that will help set the mood in my cabinets. I have all the HP books in both English and Spanish. I have my own wand (because I'm a geek), and I have all the movies, and a few house scarfs. I will probably show one of the movies while the trick-o-treaters come in, and I'll hang my house scarves at the entrance. I'll put the books in various places to elevate the treat trays and cauldrons on the table. I will probably just put the wand on the table for decorative purposes. I also used some black wool yarn and tape, which I had lying around.
Tip Four: Go to your local cheap-o store
I go to Wal-Mart for the white chocolate, walnuts, sodas, juices and ingredients for Butter Beer. I went to this site, to choose my Butter Beer recipe: Butter Beer.
So, What did you do with these cheap finds?
I Here's what I made for my Great Hall Halloween for under $50.
Witch/Wizard Broom Favors:
Paper lunch bags and candy from Dollar Store, Sticks from Outside, tape and black wool yarn.
I followed the Martha Stewart instructions, only I used double-sided tape and yarn to tie the Brooms. They turned out great.
I used the sodas from Wal-Mart, a battered copy of HP and the Goblet of Fire (it was on sale at Goodwill, but was ruined by misuse, so I re-purpose it by using it to cover my bookshelves and to cover the soda labels on the bottles with HP words), and some labels I bought from an Etsy store a long time ago that sells a HP "back to school kit." If you don't have labels, I'd just use a sharpie and write the names of HP potions in fun lettering. I used the modge podge from the Dollar Store to put the pages of HP and labels on the sodas. Now they are drinkable potions for trick-or-treaters.
Pretzels, yellow sprinkles from Dollar Store. White and Dark chocolate baker's chocolate from Wal-Mart. I melt the dark chocolate and coat long, thick pretzels in the chocolate. I put them on wax paper to dry. Once dry, I melt the white chocolate (less than dark, since you only need enough for the tips), I dip the tip of the dark-chocolate covered pretzel in the white chocolate and I sprinkle the yellow sprinkles over the not-yet-dry white chocolate. I move them onto clean wax paper and put them in the frig until I want to serve them. I will serve them on a plastic, clear platter I bought from the dollar store.
I use the white chocolate and walnuts from Wal-Mart and food dye I have in the baking cupboard for this simple recipe. If you're worried about using nuts, you could always use coconut instead. I'll probably use both, and just put a "warning" on them, and set them away from the other foods, just in case of food allergies. I melt the white chocolate and mix in a few drops of green food dye. It should be pretty dark to get the right color. I mix in walnuts and coconut and drop large spoonfuls onto wax paper. I put them in the frig to harden and take them out just before serving. It looks like a green hunk of yuck when it's done, but it tastes good.
Flying Snitches and Candles:
I use the gold ornaments and L.E.D candles from The Dollar Store, along with some feathers and hot glue and string. I put two feathers on each side of a golden ornament, hang them on string and tape them to the ceiling. I put string on the L.E.D candles and hang them from the ceiling. TA-DA! Great Hall!
I got a large black cauldron and mini cauldrons from The Dollar Store. I put my main candy in the big cauldron. I filled the little cauldrons with candy corn and Bertie Bot's Every Flavor Bean, for the more daring. I live in a small community, so unwrapped candy isn't as big a deal as it is elsewhere. If you don't maybe keep things in packaging. You can get small packages of Bertie Bots.
Serveable Butter Beer:
I am going to use one of the butter beer recipes from the link above and fill a couple of pre-made butter beer bottles to serve it. I'm also going to make some whipped topping to put on the top (this is usually part of the Butter Beer recipe). I'll probably have cider for those less adventurous folks.
I am going to use my books, movie, scarves, black table cloth, my dollar store rat (Wormtail) and a few other HP touches to decorate my small kitchen. I bought some plastic wine glasses for the Butter Beer and potions and have an owl (Hedwig) bottle opener to use for decor and for the sodas. It should be a good time! I'll update the pictures after I get it all together.
H.M Jones is the author of B.R.A.G Medallion Honor and NIEA finalist book Monochrome, its prequel Fade to Blue, the Adela Darken Graphic Novellas, Al Ravien's Night, The Immortals series, and several short stories.