Harry Potter Party on a Budget

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ERH MA GERD, HEGWERTS! You know the meme I’m talking about.

I transformed my apartment into Hogwarts this weekend for my daughter’s birthday. When I say, “I”, I mean a very lovely group of humans helped me transform my home into Hogwarts. I try to pick themes for my daughter that are her latest obsessions. Last year was Moana and that as of late it has been Harry Potter.

Once the theme is in place, I spend hours, and I mean HOURS, on Pinterest looking up what all the other cool moms are doing. I then almost always go overboard with ideas, which is why a budget is NECESSARY for me. I mean, you’re only going to use these decorations for a couple of hours and then you are done, so why spend an exuberant amount?


9 ¾ Platform

I absolutely was committed to having a platform coming into my home. I used fadeless bulletin board paper, a sponge, and a mixture of red and brown acrylic paint since I already had these items. In efforts to save money, this can be done on craft paper, backside of wrapping paper or a tablecloth that can be purchased at Dollar Tree. Seriously, this project was my favorite and I spent nothing on it.

Hogwarts Acceptance Letters

Another SUPER EASY craft was the acceptance letters. I saw so many ideas on Pinterest where you could easily spend too much. I had some envelopes on hand and already had the red paint, so I cut the sponge I already was using into a circle to make the red wax stamp. I only had to purchase the clear nylon thread to string them up. If you need envelopes, get them at Dollar Tree.

Chamber of Secrets

I have never decorated the bathroom for a party before, so this was definitely extra, but so worth it. I bought a red bingo marker, you guessed it, at Dollar Tree. I also just printed out the Ministry of Magic Logo and Moaning Myrtle to add some minor details. NOT PICTURED, but I also strung up my daughter’s stuffed animal cat, like Mrs. Norris. TOO FAR? My guests thought it was hilarious.

Hogwarts Photo Wall

Let me just explain this, I went OVERBOARD. I honestly took down all my home décor and put up something more in relations to Hogwarts. I have a family photo wall and I just printed out my favorites. Everyone questioned my placement, but I’m sorry, Snape is a HERO. If you don’t have a photo wall, any frames will work. If you need some frame, these can easily be purchased at Dollar Tree, or just hang up the prints on an open wall. I did not print these through a photo service, just my home printer, which if you can’t tell, I was running real low on red ink.

Daily Prophet Photo Booth

I found a bunch of copies just by searching the internet and formatted them to print on a regular size of paper. I will say I had a nice shortcut and was able to print the quantity I needed over at our leasing office for free, but these can also be printed super cheap at home or at Staples. I created the prop for the photo booth with a foam board that I bought from Dollar Tree and then just printed out the wording.

General Décor

I used several of my own home décor items, but I also asked family and friends for random vintage items. I was able to collect a very random assortment of candle holders, skulls, trunks and bottles. It may not always be the case for everyone, so try your local thrift shops. I had the best luck at Good Will and walked out with some AMAZING finds.

Like this make shift cage for my little Hedwig I bought on Amazon. (Also, that is a wrapped broomstick with plastic bags on the end, again, SUPER CHEAP.)

I made potion bottles out of liquor bottles. I asked my friends to hold on to their liquor bottles and came to collect way too many. If this is not an option, DOLLAR TREE. I saw a bunch of random bottles that can be used in place of this. I do not really want to get into the science experiments we put inside these bottles, I will just say this, milk, lemon juice, and hot sauce. I also got a packet of glitter from Dollar Tree to add some extra magic.

SIDE NOTE: I didn’t have a chessboard so I got one from Dollar Tree.


Since I already purchased the clear nylon thread, I hung up some floating LED candles I had and I purchased skeleton keys to hang up. I definitely failed to get a picture of either of these so just really use that imagination, or go over to Pinterest and you will see that I just copied what a hundred other mothers already have done.

Minor Details

I also REALLY wanted some chocolate coins for an added detail. I searched high and low for them and found them to be cheapest at Party City. I also wrapped some mini chocolate bars with these prints to just make a tiny detail that everyone loved.

Happee Birthdae Sign

I just stopped over at Michael’s and got some scrapbooking paper. I literally threw this together for only $3. I printed the letters on the yellow cardstock and then just cut them to shape. SUPER EASY, SUPER CHEAP.


I don’t think you can away with this party without a few wands. I made some with a hot glue gun, but it did not go well, so then I made them with modeling clay that I purchased at Dollar Tree. NOTE: I did not realize this modeling clay would never harden, so my wands were still a little squishy, but at the end of the day, they were only used a few times and were mostly there for décor.

Hogwarts House Flags

POSTER BOARD + PRINTED SIGILS = DONE. It’s that simple. I also thought about doing these on table cloths which would still be very cheap if you shop at Dollar Tree like me.

Blue Slime Pensieve Bowl

I made some blue slime, which was by far my daughter’s favorite part. It is super easy to make and a lot of fun for kids! Also, I found the perfect bowl for it at Good Will.

Honey Dukes

Now, I have mostly been detailing the décor because that is my favorite department to budget, but here a few treat ideas that can add to the décor. I would say my favorite detail was the chocolate frogs, which I did “splurge” and get this mold on Amazon.

Sorting Hat Cheese “Ball”

I saw this idea on Pinterest and knew I had to have it. It was so much easier than it looks and honestly a favorite to all guests. It’s not super expensive to make, but just a food detail that adds to the decorations. I just used my favorite recipe for a cheese ball (you can use whatever you’d like) and added bread crumbs to the outside.

Overall, this was a BLAST for me. I may have had a minor meltdown during the process of decorating, baking and cooking, but it all came together with a few helpful hands by my side. SHOUT OUT TO MY MOM, she’s my hero in the kitchen. Seriously, do not try this alone, but if you are capable of doing it all on your own, can you please tell me your secrets?

Momma on Vacation


Connor and I finally took our honeymoon, six months later, and he thoroughly did not appreciate me calling it spring break the whole time. Sorry babe, it is just an internal clock that has been engrained in me since I started school like decades ago.

We traveled all the way down to the Southernmost Point of the United States. Key West, Florida. I spent a whole lot of time fantasizing about what our getaway would be like, warm weather, lots of food, drink in hand, and PALM TREES. I have a weird obsession with palm trees, do not ask me why, but I learned every single type and can name them on the spot. I have tried to keep one in the apartment for years, but after several trial and errors, I have been deemed a black thumb.

In all my day dreaming, I never exactly processed being away from the little one for so long. It was the longest I have ever spent away from my daughter and for some reason, *cough* PMS *cough*, I cried a whole lot about it. Again, sorry babe.


Connor and I met a lovely couple while relaxing on the rooftop patio and we sat and chatted with them for over an hour. Connor spun off talking with the husband about who knows what, and I spoke with the woman about, you guessed it, my daughter. She has a daughter my age, and was just so excited for our adventures with our daughter. I overshared for about an hour and she said this to me.

“I’m glad you’re doing this, you know, just the two of you. It’s more important than you realize right now. It’s easy to put your kids above everything, but one day they will be out of your house and all you’ll have left is each other. It’s important to make sure you continue to grow in that relationship too.”

Shortly after this heavy conversation, we witnessed two transformers blow up and the entire street went black. Apparently this happens A LOT on the island because none of the locals seemed surprised.

It was that night forward that we soaked in as much sun and experience that we could. I spent a weird amount of time clucking at chickens to the point that Connor and I became invested in a family by our favorite breakfast place. Connor even helped guide a little chick back to his mother because they were very obviously lost. That’s just one of the many reasons I love him.

I have heard this advice a thousand times, but for some reason, this one hit home. I’ll be the first to admit that I put my daughter above all else, I don’t necessarily think that is a bad thing. However, I have a better understanding of the importance of one-on-one time. Don’t just take one-on-one time away from the kids, but live in that moment and cherish every second of it.

Mom Tribes

MOM TRIBE. It has always been my dream. I have always had the perfect image of what this would be like for me, mostly because every movie about motherhood has depicted it so flawlessly. Just a group of mothers who come together to support one another whether or not they knew each other prior to having kids. Oh, and drink wine.

Well, you know what else was always depicted? A WEIRD MOM AND A WEIRD KID. I just never thought that I would be the “weird” mom with a “weird” kid. Side note, I just typed weird so much it is starting to not look like a real word.

It’s common knowledge that I’m the definition of a social butterfly, but I struggle to socialize with other mothers. I was given a lot of information on how to work car seats, how to breast feed and the essentials of how to keep another human alive, but no handbook on how to become friends with other moms. WHERE MY AWKWARD MOMMAS AT?

It is high school all over again for me, which I absolutely do not want to relive those not-so-glory days ever again.

I have been taking my daughter to an open gym for toddlers so she can socialize with others. I watch the mothers talk together as their children play, but I have an almost three year old with a significant speech delay and it strongly confuses everyone. No one has ever outwardly said anything to me about my daughter’s speech delay, it’s just a feeling, maybe mother’s guilt. Mila was finally playing with someone at the open gym when she had a strong urge to kick his tower over. In my head, I’m chuckling because my child is unpredictable, but that parent was less than pleased and moved along quickly.


I’ve reached the point that I just want my best friends to have children so we can all navigate this world of parenthood together. APPARENTLY, that is not my decision to make as I have been informed numerous times by numerous people.

I have come to realize that I don’t need this type of mom tribe necessarily. It’s not that I’m giving up, but the realization that everyone has a different experience in their role as mother and it isn’t always the status quo. I may not have a ton of mom friends, where we plan playdates and dream of our kids falling in love, but I do have a mom tribe. It’s my own kind of mom tribe. I have a group of people that support me while I navigate this thing called motherhood. They’re the type of people that never get sick of the amount of pictures I send of my little one. They’re the type of people who come enjoy her birthday party no matter how boring it can be. They’re the type of people that would drop everything to be here for my family. It’s my mom tribe.

THANK YOU TO MY MOM TRIBE, you know who you are.

Mind of Her Own


I finally had the perfect moment to sit down and get started. I have a fresh cup of coffee and the little one is down for her nap. NOT. I have a reheated cup of coffee from several hours ago and she is currently singing in her room. I definitely make valiant efforts to get her to take her much needed naps, but it is not exactly up to me, that much has been established.

I have heard it time and time again.

“She’s got a mind of her own.”

I think it is a nice way of saying stubborn, adamant, or headstrong, which in my opinion would all be correct. I’m told that we have some similarities in these departments, but I like to chalk it up to independence.

I love sharing her unique and especially stubborn moments with my family and friends. Just last week she INSISTED we listen to her sing the same few seconds of How Far I’ll Go just to avoid going to bed. It is my mother who so humbly yells, “KARMA.” So, moral of the story, I’m raising a miniature version of myself.

WAIT, she’s finally quiet, I think she is napping.


I guess there will be no nap today, which will make this afternoon very interesting.

I could ramble on forever (as many of you know) so let me get to the point. I am absolutely in love with watching my daughter’s personality grow, but with a mind of her own, things do not always go according to plan. I should say never, they never go as planned. I’m tired of comparing myself to other parents and my child to other children. I have a unique kid with a very strong head on her shoulders and I will do everything in my power to embrace this with open arms. I know, I know, easier said than done.

Anyways, we are headed to the park because I have been cooped up too long.

Mila’s Second Birthday

It has been over a week and I still cannot believe that my little one has turned TWO. In celebration of her second birthday, we chose a theme based on her favorite movie, Moana. It was an absolute blast putting it all together and seeing it unfold. Even though I went a wee bit overboard with the planning and had a few sleepless nights, it was all worth it for her and the memory.

She has always been a bit shy in a room filled with lots of people, but she did a great job coming out of her shell and dancing to her favorite music. I know that while others may be completely bored watching a toddler run around, I could not take my eyes off of her. I was completely mesmerized by how many people came together to celebrate my daughter. It was an absolutely heart warming experience.

I decided on an even bigger balloon arch this year and in total needed around 200 BALLOONS. I strongly recommend getting an air pump to tackle this project or just do what I did and have several friends blow them up. WARNING: LIPS MAY TURN BLUE AFTER BLOWING UP NEARLY 50 BLUE BALLOONS.

I have to say, while I enjoyed every aspect of this party, I absolutely loved the baking that we did. I obviously did not do it all alone, I would have failed miserably if it were not for my mother. I did however come up with several of the ideas so I like to give myself some (very minor) credit.

It was a very different experience with the “cake smash” this year. I set the cake down for Mila to go to town, but she immediately began to fuss. It was eventually discovered that she was demanding a fork. I am raising such a lady.

I mean, how adorable (and affordable) is this little costume?

It has been an absolute treat watching her personality come to life. I have heard numerous times that “the terrible twos” are a year to remember and while she has already begun the tantrums, I cannot explain how gracefully she goes through them. I mean, even I threw a minor tantrum last week when I accidentally shrunk my favorite shirt and there was NOTHING graceful about that. I am so excited to see what the next year has in store for my little one.


As many already know, last weekend was MILA’S FIRST BIRTHDAY. Can you believe it? Mila has turned ONE! It went flawlessly and she was the star of the show. I read all about how these parties should be fairly intimate, but Mila has proven time and time again to flourish in a fairly large social setting. I WONDER WHERE SHE GETS IT. Many of our family and friends gathered to celebrate the amazing baby that has been a part of our lives now for a WHOLE YEAR.

It’s always been a hobby of mine to plan events. I’m pretty sure I got it from my mom. I had big shoes to fill because my mom was a legend with my friends at throwing parties. It was such an amazing time to have everyone together.

I got most of the decorations from Amazon since everything is so cheap and with Amazon Prime, it is two-day FREE shipping. I don’t even have to leave the house and I can just put everything in a virtual shopping cart until I have made up my very indecisive mind.

We had a lovely spread of food for everyone to enjoy and then had Mila “eat” her FIRST cake. She loved being the center of attention but did get a bit overwhelmed with 20+ people cheering at her. She had her mommy and daddy by her side and SMASHED that cake.

Because I wanted to do a photoshoot of her smashing a cake, on a separate day we did another cake smash and it went amazing. She again LOVED eating cake.

I purchased Mila’s dress off of an adorable website called Lenny Lemons. It was absolutely what I envisioned for her special day. I got her crown off of Etsy from Love Crush Crowns. It too was just what I wanted for our little Mila Anne King.

It was indeed an amazing weekend and we are so blessed to have such a beautiful daughter.

11 Months

Just like that, Mila is 11 MONTHS going on 12 MONTHS. Seriously, I don’t know how repetitive I can be about how rapidly these months have passed. She’s nearly a YEAR OLD. It’s such a mixed emotion for myself because I don’t want the time to pass so quickly, but I have been loving every second of watching her grow and develop into the beautiful daughter she is.

If you’re going to commit to the monthly photos, realize that they only continue to get harder. She’s NOT a fan of laying down anymore, but who can blame her. She’s on the move and just wants to continuously be engaged with the environment around her.

Mila’s very first word was “MAMA” and shortly after she said “DADA”. It doesn’t seem to mean anything to her quite yet but was very exciting to hear her say them for us.

I did an at home photo shoot for these pictures and will be doing more moving forward. Someone’s FIRST BIRTHDAY is just around the corner so I am getting excited with lots of ideas. I looked into the seamless paper but found the fadeless bulletin board paper to be much less expensive for a huge roll of it.

Check back shortly as I will have some fairly exciting news to share!