Gluten-Free Birthday Party Ideas: making "potions" at a Harry Potter party

a happy child with his

A few weekends ago, I traveled to Northern Iowa to participate in a cob oven-building workshop. My friends were hosting the workshop at their home and I took advantage of the opportunity to stay the weekend with them and their three kids. One of the highlights of the weekend was participating in their 9-year-old son's Harry Potter-themed birthday party. 

The minute I arrived, my friend told me I was going to be the Potions Master and lead the kids in an activity to make their own smoothies (a.k.a. "potions") from fresh fruits. Awesome! We prepared the fruits before the party and displayed them in trays and bowls. To label each magic ingredient, I drew out the names of each on paper with a water insoluble pen, tore it around the edges, and lightly singed each torn edge to make it look old. We grownups came up with some fun ideas for the "magic" equivalents of common ingredients: 

After the kids finished a rousing game of quidditch, it was time for potions. Each child was given a goblet and instructed to fill it up with their choice of fruit and juice. I put the ingredients the Vitamix with a handful of ice, asking them (in a terrible British accent) to tell me what their magical "potion" will do, then flipped the switch. As it blended, I waved my wand (oh yeah, I had a wand) and made crazy sounds for dramatic effect. Then I poured their "potion" it right back in their goblet. A quick rinse of the blender container, and I was ready for the next one!

dragon hearts and eyes of giant newt
the birthday boy and an assortment of
little wizards selecting their magic potion ingredients
fun decorations for the table

Fun, right? 

The kids loved being able to create their own "magic" combinations of fresh and healthful ingredients. The "Kidney of Giant Hampster" (mango) ad "dragon blood" (Mega Green) were big favorites, and  to my surprise, most of the kids quickly came back for seconds! I had to go digging in my friend's freezer for other frozen fruit, make up some magical names, and add it to our dwindling assortment of ingredients. By the end of the party, only scraps remained!  Somehow between acting as Potions Master and cleaning up after a crowd of little wizards, I managed to snap a few photos, because I realized this would be a great blog post! :)

the aftermath
the aftermath

I thought this was such a brilliant idea. Prep time and clean up was really simple. The goblets were all reusable, and the fruit trimmings went in the compost, so  the waste was very minimal. All the fruit was cut up in advance and I was running the blender, so there was no concern about children using knives or appliances. It kept about 14 kids totally occupied and engaged for 20-30 minutes. And of course, it got the kids excited about filling themselves up with nourishing, whole foods ingredients and being creative in the kitchen. 

Brilliant! I want to help do this at birthday parties for a job, it was so much fun! And I think that we grown-ups should have parties like this too. And I suppose that now, after acting as Potions Master, I should probably read those Harry Potter books and see those movies. Ha!

"Potion" Activity: materials needed

We had about 14 children there, so the quantities below reflect what worked for that number. Adjust accordingly for your party, or substitute ingredients as seasonal availability and tolerances require.

  • one 32 oz container of fresh strawberries
  • 2 apples, cored and sliced
  • 3 bananas, sliced in chunks
  • 3 champagne mangos, 2 peeled and sliced and one left whole for dramatic effect
  • 1 10 oz bag of frozen blueberries
  • 1 10 oz bag of frozen raspberries
  • half a 10 oz bag of frozen peaches
  • a large bunch of grapes
  • about 2 cups each of juice and cider
  • ice
  • 14 goblets (we had reusable plastic ones)
  • 1 blender (we used a Vitamix)
  • 10 labels for the fruit and juice - use paper or whatever material you have on hand!