One of the most empowering (literally) things in the world of Harry Potter must surely be all the magic swirling around the ether, just waiting to be harnessed. Which child doesn't want to feel, just for a single escapist moment, that they are in control, that they can protect themselves and those important to them? This is the trend now: young, ostensibly-wallflower nobodies discovering they actually have a SpecialSnowflakeDestiny, that they must save the cosmos, that they are the only ones in all creation who can, but - drat it all - they must also apparently spend x number of weeks/months/years learning 12 kinds of martial arts, toughening their bodies with one-handed pushups in refugee camps, doing yoga to center their inner voices, increasing their pain thresholds to unprecedented levels by bathing in gigantic urns of boiling oil, etc. etc.
And mastering spells.
Hundreds and hundreds of spells, with just the right inflection in the tone and just the right flick of the wrist so as to levitate a teapot rather than accidentally turn oneself into a salamander.
Ah, the world of fantasy.
Some of my favorite children's (and teen) fantasy stories are about regular children. Who may or may not have magical destinies but who have to work really, really hard to grow up. Period. I don't need them to save the world or find their soulmate or whatever; growing up is a bells-and-whistles adventure in and of itself without the weight of predestination to churn the mix. Some books do this really well. Some books . . . don't. And some books just hop on the tropes bandwagon and we come away aghast because we'd expected a portrait and got a Sharpie stick-figure instead.
Did I just digress?
I did, didn't I?
So, anyway, spells.
The spells of the Harry Potter wizarding world, I suspect, are a cunning way for children to learn Latin without realizing it. Which is cool in its own way, although the children themselves might be upset to discover they were tricked into something educational rather than true magic. Ha ha - sorry, kids, everything's educational these days, even making slime. Parents and other adults are heinous that way.
For her Harry Potter party, Emily compiled as many of the spells and charms from the books as she could find, using sites like this, this and this. She laboriously typed them all out, changing a few words whenever she thought the online definitions contradicted the books',
and wrote her own disclaimer/dire warning at the end, to caution against the use of Particularly Bad Spells.
The spells couldn't all fit into one volume, so she made two,
formatted everything to print out as an 8-page book,
including the front and back covers,
and made enough for every guest.
The spell books themselves were a neat take-home resource for any Harry Potter fan who might want all their favorite incantations in one (er. . . actually two) place(s). However, we also created a game to play on the party day itself, that utilized those spell books.
We explained the game in more detail here, but essentially, it's a game-show-style quiz, in which prompts are hidden under numbered flaps, and contestants take turns to call out numbers and respond to the prompts underneath.
Everyone was allowed (and encouraged) to use their spell books, because some of those prompts were tricky!