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Detours off Britta Blvd


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Year Seven at Hogwarts
It's all over! 78 total guests throughout the party! 5 less than the Year Six party, with a lot more room to move at this house, plus thankfully only in the 80s vs. 100+ degrees! Only 15 of them were kids, then plus Bud the dog again, who even got Sorted this year! ;)

(Edited 6:41pm: oops, looking at photos I realized I forgot three who came and hadn't RSVPd...revised totals: 81 total guests, 16 were kids!)

Peerless Potion = The Patterson Family was the only group really making potions except for Beginning Potions, so they got a group medal

Outstanding Owl Ogler = Kaelyn who found 26! I thought I only put out 24? heh...

Honorable Horcrux Hunter = Daniel - tie-breaker based on most enthusiasm that he found them all!

Stupendous Spell Spotter = no one did, so I "auctioned it off" so now Karin has homework! 11 inches of parchment to me by Friday showing that you've completed the entire quiz! ;)

Whirled Word Wizard = Tracy, since Dave, Wendy & crew got through 38 rushing to finish in time for the prizes! ;)

Most Creative Costume = Doug as Firenze the Centaur, with hind legs & freshly-grown beard just for the costume!

Most Authentic Costume = Ben as Draco, complete with freshly-bleached hair and full robes, tie, prefect badge & wand

Best Costume - Ruth as Nearly-Headless Nick (hostess got most votes as the dragon but is ineligible to win!)

The Dobby Award for Best Edible Creation = Tracia for her Pensieve Pinwheels, complete with runes saying "PENSIEVE PINWHEELS YUM YUM" around her Pensieve Bowl! It was hard to decide with some very clever entries, but that extra bit of enthusiastic detail edged her into the front running for the Gilded Sock trophy!

(Thanks to Keith for tallying the costume votes as I was deciding and presenting on the other awards! That worked very well!)

Year Seven at Hogwarts - Full Party Details

Even with getting some stuff ready ahead for the news interview on Friday, I was sorely behind as always. My dragon costume wasn't finished for going to the bookstore release since I had crammed in other food & decor prep that I would have usually done on Friday, so I finished that while watching the news live to catch my interview. :) It aired at 5pm & 6pm, chopped down to maybe a minute at the most with only one quote from me about my "Butterbeer Light with the calories and alcohol charmed away"...too bad I ended the quote with a weird smile that somehow gave me a double chin! Ah well...they didn't run it at 11pm since they were only live at the bookstore, and I have no idea if they aired it today since I didn't Tivo anything and had no time to check...Since Jen was in line at the bookstore by 10pm (thanks Jen!), I didn't get there until 11:45pm, then we were actually out of there with our 16 books by 12:45am! I got good photos of my ENTIRE costume on thankfully, just with flash which makes the fabric more rainbow-colored than the natural look in daylight. I was glad I was home so early since I needed the time since I was still finishing the castle, let alone I had butterbeer to bottle, pumpkin pasties & mandrake seedlings to make, etc! I am very glad I spent the time on the finishing touches like the blue candy water of the edge of the lake, and the ribbon along the exposed vertical foil edge at the bottom, since that made me feel like I had really finished it and was very proud of it! However, that took until 3am, then I copiously photographed it with my tripod, then I hit the wall that I couldn't even keep my eyes open at all! That's what the only 3hrs sleep will do! Ah well, I went to sleep at 4am, setting my alarm for 9am but waking up at 7:30, 8:30 & 9, got up, then since Sheila had offered that she could come over earlier than 11am, I called her around 9:30 after taking my daylight tripod photos of the castle, begging her to come over earlier! While Sheila was making & baking pumpkin pasties, I got email from Ruth saying she'll be over around noon to help too...thank goodness! I would not have survived this day without them! Sheely & Rubby the house-elves were greatly appreciated!!! My entire house-elf crew this year was splendid. Rubby (Ruth) has been here all week, starting with 11 hrs last weekend, then Tuesday, Wednesday & Thursday nights, then from noon on party day! Thanny & Kevvy (Nathania & Kevin) helped last Saturday night, then Kevvy helped again by taking the behind the scenes interview photos, Loory (Lori) came over Thursday night, and Sheely (Sheila) all day party day! Thanks to you all! You are all granted clothes if that's what you wish, but I would hate to offend anyone! I know Dobby is a unique house-elf in wanting independence! ;)

Ruth filled all the adult & kid potions while I cleaned, swept, hosed down & set up the kid areas, finally printed my Honeydukes candy labels, finished & printed the Horcrux Hunt, printed more Whirled Words that never got used (sigh), then at 1pm while Ruth was mixing up butterbeer to bottle, I needed to get the dry ice or I'd never be ready in time when I got back. ARGH! I got to my reliable half-hour travel time each way source and there was a sign on the door for ice & dry ice to go around the block to some market, but when I got there "no, sorry we decided not to sell dry ice anymore." When? "Monday" Are you kidding me?!?!?!? I called my mom to try googling anywhere while I was still driving, but those places were closed on weekends of course - if I'd known that I'd have been back to my 2002 plan of getting the dry ice on Friday!!! After going to the Albertsons by my house, I was sent to the Albertsons about 5 miles away, hitting every red light of course, actually getting dry ice thank goodness, but I didn't get back to my house until 2:30, with the party starting at 4pm! I only got the inside webcam back online and a couple more things together & decided I needed to get myself ready before guests arrived, so I jumped in the shower, then the first guests arrived early at 3:15, before the kids treasure hunt clues were setup or the owls set up. I never did get any makeup on since my face never cooled down enough until after sundown, and I never got the corset on either, just the wings, head & gloves, with the head & gloves only on for photos. Still many successes though! The Polyjuice Potion with dry ice got made this time and was a big hit looking so disgusting but delicious. We went through almost two dozen each of the bottled butterbeer varieties and having Butterbeer Light available got great response, since the kids could have it too! Having the butterbeer capped in bottles kept the fizz well enough vs. the butterbeer in the jar going flat so soon during the party. I got probably 20 Mandrake Seedlings done "live" after only able to prep 12 beforehand, and they were also a hit & very cute! Lots of enacting the screaming when pulling them out of the soil! ;) The kids all loved the clue to clue treasure hunt, and I let them completely raid the treasure chest since they were all HP-specific prizes, and this is my final Potter party after all. The Horcrux Hunt ended up that everyone who tried got them all, but they all thought it was fun and loved my detail work especially on the Slytherin locket, and even though I tried to count ahead of time, I still somehow missed an owl or two for Ogle the Owls, since I thought it was 24 but was told a couple people found 26!

Per request, I cued up my Tivo a couple times to show the 5pm & 6pm broadcasts of my interview, which was well-received - of course, since these people are my friends! heh... As the Barbieri crew were leaving, they asked if they could take a castle tower with them, so I walked in and announced "Who wants to demolish Hogwarts?" and got a rousing chorus of "ME!" so I re-aimed the the webcam, got out the videocamera, passed my still camera to another, then counted "1 - 2 - 3 - ATTACK!" Boy that was hilarious! It had to be done, since if it wasn't touched, I wouldn't have had the heart of dismantling it all by myself, and it's so huge there's no way it can just stay on my dining table forever! Now it's a grand mess, so it'll have to be cleaned up along with the rest of the party aftermath, and we have great photos & video of the memory! :D

A few lessons learned: Very few potion recipes were completed, so that never got re-energized after the first time in 2002, so I guess it's a "been there done that" issue vs. something fun to do multiple times. There were probably just too many quizzes vs activities but they have all been popular before. The most popular this time were the active ones looking around the party decorations for things, since Ogle the Owls and the Horcrux Hunt were the ones people did, and left the word & trivia-style quizzes alone. I insisted on Sorting people, but my photos are mostly crap because I tried to put the chair outside in the shade where there was a nice breeze, but I didn't get their heads in the shade so I have dappled faces with difficult exposure for the camera to handle. The kids ended up playing some "unregulated Quidditch" getting the Snitch stuck in the power lines, knocking the outside webcam into the tree after 8:11pm and wreaking havoc on the poor Quidditch posts that were so hard to get into the ground in the hard Santa Clara Valley clay soil, but the adults didn't seem too enthused to play an organized version. As long as everyone had a great time, which they all said they did, then that's what matters! :)

All guests were gone by 11:20pm, another early party end considering some of my parties, but it did start in the afternoon. With such little sleep lately plus so much backyard mess I can't really see, I'm just tempted to take a shower, leave the mess for the morning, then maybe start reading Deathly Hallows tonight! I'm meeting friends for breakfast at 8am, and I would like a little more sleep to recover though! I am now officially retired from throwing Potter Parties, since it's the last book, and I wanted to go out on a high note. I was not able to do every single little party brainstorm I ever had, but I did all the major ones that I had always wanted to do but been postponed for many years due to time constraints, so I think I succeeded!

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Your Hogwarts party was awesome and I had a great time. And yes, I'm posting this at 5:55 AM because I just finished reading the new book. No spoilers but all I can say is the book rocks.

-Kevin Chung

Your party was awesome. I'm only sorry I couldn't stay to the end...

Yay for costume prize! My run of prizes continues... can I keep it up after this one?

Yes, congrats! Wanna come come pick up your prize medal sometime today and grab a piece of the leftover castle? You had said you wanted to take a bite of the Slythering common room! ;)

Oh gosh, I'm sorry... I finished my lawn mowing, started my laundry, and then kinda shut out the world while I read the book all day. I didn't read this comment until laaaaaate. :(

I definitely have to stop by very soon, though. I still have your birthday present[s]...

And I didn't even finish, heh. I'm only 3/4 through myself, but at 1am last night I told myself . o O (Go to bed... the book isn't gonna change, and staying up until 4am to miss work is irresponsible... just read it later.)

I'm glad to hear it was a hit. Sorry to hear about the Quidditch Field.

I hope you were able to catch up on some rest!

I'm so glad Charles got to see how much work and detail you put into a "Britta party." :-). I can't wait to check out the Hogwarts demolition photos and clips. We had a great time and will be working diligenly on several Halloween costume ideas. Look out, Ben!

- Robin

What a cracking idea!

I got into HP late in the series but it sounds like you've had an awesome few years lol. Why give them up though because the books ended, there's still the films and HP World openings ;)
I'm currently trying to get all my non-HP friends to get dressed up for the 6th movie opening but it doesn't seem as popular in th UK (I think maybe I need to move lol.
Hope you're still throwing what seems to be your own class of party (you're the first person I've known to decorate their ceiling XD)I'm definitely wanting your butterbeer recipe.



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