Birthday Trip to Diagon Alley

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It’s been a while since I’ve been around. Sorry! Summer was craaazy.

This week it was my daughter’s birthday. Her 11th birthday. And she is a Harry Potter fanatic.


She has been since she was about 9. So her 11th birthday is a VERY. SPECIAL. BIRTHDAY. (In case you don’t know, that’s when you get to go to Hogwarts.) I really, really wanted to take her to Harry Potter World on her birthday. But, I didn’t have that kind of money lying around. I had to come up with a way to make her birthday very special. And I did. And it was inexpensive!


I decided on a birthday trip to Diagon Alley.

birthday trip to diagon alley

She would receive her letter from Hogwarts and then be escorted to Diagon Alley by Hagrid, where she would “purchase” all her supplies.

When she returned from school on her birthday there was a balloon owl tied to her Hogwarts Acceptance Letter.

Diagon Alley Birthday

She opened the letter and read it. Then her Dad came out of the house dressed like Hagrid. He told her he’d take her to get her supplies.

diagon alley birthday

They arrived at our Diagon Alley. We have some neighbors with a couple of little play houses in their backyard. We used this as our Diagon Alley. I had arranged for a couple friends and her brother to be “shop keepers” etc. They were waiting for her in the different shops. 

birthday trip to diagon alley

indiana diagon alley-004

After she got gold from Gringotts, then purchased the supplies and books from her list and chose her wand, Hagrid presented her with a Beanie Boo owl. Just like Hagrid gave Hedwig to Harry (say that 11 times fast.)

birthday trip to diagon alley

Then we went to another neighbor’s house who has a zipline. Hagrid told her even though she wasn’t allowed a broom, he would give her a flying lesson. Which turned out to be semi-terrifying, hence no photos. The broom did not survive. 

After the flying lesson, we returned home (to the Three Broomsticks) where the rest of her friends and a neighbor dressed as Madame Rosmerta surprised her. We had Butter beer, pumpkin pasty’s, sugar quills and chocolate frogs. (I will share the recipes later. The info for the chocolate frog boxes is below.)

sugar quills-005

diagon alley birthday

It was really really fun. She loved it! And I think it will always be a memorable birthday.

(And it only cost about $30, although we did have a lot of the things we needed already.)

Here’s the resources I used to pull it off.

First, I printed her an acceptance letter from Hogwarts using the instructions from Paper Trail Design. 

hogwarts letter pre soy sauce

I didn’t bother to buy parchment looking paper. I just used cardstock that I have on hand. But I have pretty much the best secret for turning white paper into old looking paper. Soy Sauce. Yep, you heard me right.  When I was a kid we would make secret treasure maps all the time with soy sauce. 

Just put pour a little soy sauce on a paper towel and rub over the entire surface of the paper. I used an inkjet type printer (not laser jet) and it didn’t make the printing blur. You want to have some darker and lighter areas. That gives it some character.

soy sauce letter

Leave the paper flat while it fully dries. Sure, the paper smells a little like Chinese take out, but who cares?!

soy sauce letter-001

If you want even a little more character, you can hold an open flame to the paper and little it singe the paper a little. But don’t start it on fire! (And maybe don’t let your kids watch!)

I printed an envelope with the font I used for the letter. I soy sauced the envelope, taking care to avoid the glue on the flap.

Next, I made the books listed on her required course books. 

harry potter books

I started using some of the printable book covers from Paper Trail Design. Then I ended up making my own because it was pretty easy. Here are all of the ones I used.

wizard books

I soy sauced these as well, then taped them to the spines of books I found throughout the house. I tried to find big books because I wanted her book pile to be ridiculous. (And it was.)  You can buy longer paper to cover the whole book if you wish. I just covered the spines.indiana diagon alley-005

I printed out the signs to the shops. I found these cute ones on Catholic All Year. I used Gringotts, Diagon Alley, Flourish and Blotts, Madame Malkins, and Ollivanders.

I gathered the other things on her required list. Luckily she already has most of these things from Halloween and previous birthdays. A wand, robes, hat, coat, pair of leather gloves (from the garage), tiny cauldron (.97 at Walmart), and a little plastic vial (I found lying around the house, I have no idea where it came from.) I deleted the other things that I wasn’t going to be able to get or was too lazy to find from the list before I printed it (scales and telescope).

We made a balloon owl to deliver her Hogwarts letter. They are all over Pinterest. Too bad we could NOT find a black sharpie when we needed it.

For the chocolate frog boxes, I used this tutorial. They took a long time, but they were really cute. The girls were really excited to have the cards in the bottom. Make sure to click through for the collectible cards. I used melting chocolate (so I didn’t have to temper it first) in frog molds. 

chocolate frog

I will share how to make the pumpkin pasty’s and sugar quills later.

This is the only stuff I had to buy!

 Balloon for Owl mail ($1.50 at grocery store)

Cauldron (.97 at walmart)

Gold Coins ($3.00 at grocery store)

Broom ($5.99 at one of those pop up halloween stores or here is one on Amazon)

Hedwig ($8.50)

Chocolate frog molds ($3.00 I got mine at Bakers C&C because I didn’t have time to order it from Amazon)

There are so many more ideas and resources on the internet.  Apparently everybody loves Harry Potter. I kinda want to do a big Harry Potter Party for big people now. Wouldn’t that be fun! 

Hopefully you can use some of these ideas for a party of your own!



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