Monday, 24 June 2013

Cupcakes and Cocktails: A Harry Potter Hen Party

One of my best friends is getting married later this summer and as one of her three bridesmaids it fell to the girls and I to organise her hen do.  We spoke to her about what she did and didn't want from her day, what kind of 'vibe' she wanted and what her priorities were.  Ellie was very clear that she wanted an event that was relaxed and where people could get to know each other as there were quite a few different groups of friends coming.

We nodded, took notes and then got our heads together and banned her from all knowledge of our plans.  It drove her mad with frustration but she wanted surprises!
The proposal was seriously romantic in the Great Hall of Hogwarts so when it came to finding a theme to tie all our activities together, it had to be Harry Potter.  It is amazing how far you can run with this once you get going although we were careful not to let it get too 'Halloweeny'.
The theme started a week before when we delivered a poem to Ellie over dinner in one of the best kept little Italian secrets in Canterbury.  The poem was filled to the brim with clues about the activities that she would expect the following weekend.  The poem was delivered via Owl Post and contained as many HP references as I could squeeze in.  It was cryptic but helped to build her excitement (and nerves!)

We had booked a beautiful little village hall for our daytime activities, told the girls to dress up in HP clothing and get there before midday and then we got decorating.

We created a 'Potions' corner and filled it with old jars and bottles that I raided from our Canterbury Players prop warehouse.  I filled the jars with various liquids dyed with food colouring and made mystic labels to try and replicate the potions cupboard.  Some of the contents were edible, but not all!  We had balloons around the room in spring time colours and even an 'owlery' in the foyer.  There were large gothic candlesticks on the window sills, antique clocks and brightly coloured strips of cloth (also raided from our warehouse - it is really rather convenient...) to make tablecloths.  The hall looked like Harry Potter had collided with Easter and we were rather pleased with the effect.
The chocolate ducks, bunnies, hedgehogs and owls were all bought from Badgers Hill.
Ellie loves baking and decorating so a cupcake workshop was the perfect first activity.  The lady who ran it had been briefed about the HP theme beforehand and came fully prepared with a whole host of templates and ideas for decorations.
Each chick got to make a sugar rose with a leaf tag with their name on it for a bouquet for the bride-to-be and then decorate 6 cupcakes to take home.  There was a lot of discussion and friendly competition as the girls tried to make the best witches hat or owl.  I went for a toad contemplating a spell book on a lily pad as my masterpiece!
After the workshop it was time for some lunch and drinks out in the sunshine.  I had made a vast batch of Basil Lemonade which went down rather well with the ladies.
Once everyone had sated their hunger I broke out the next surprise.  We divided the girls into teams and sent them on a HP themed treasure hunt in the hall and the gardens.  Girls who didn't know too much about HP got paired up with girls who were experts.  Giggling the girls sprinted around the hall following a series of carefully devised rhyming riddle clues.  Some of the teams were particularly competitive.

I wonder if you would be faster than the teams were?  Here are two of the clues that the teams had to solve; have a go and write where you think the teams would have found the sticker in the comments section!

This work commute is an unusual sort
All use it the same whether tall or short
Get the wrong one, it could be quite tragic,
It's this way to the Ministry of Magic!

I sat on her shoulder through ages long past
Graceful and deadly and wise
Now I flit through the air so silent and fast
Reflecting the ancients in my goddess' eyes
Once they had returned all the stickers they found to me they each got a little red box with a chocolate frog inside.  Sadly the frog didn't jump and there were no wizarding cards to collect but they were still very tasty and somehow everyone made room to munch on theirs.  It was probably a good thing for all the chicks to have a fully lined stomach as we were nearly ready to move onto the next stage of the hen do.
Treasure hunt complete everyone got dolled up into their glad rags, we quickly tidied the hall, tied the balloons to the hen and told her she had to look after them all evening and we piled into cars to head into town for the next activity.

We parked up and walked Ellie into town.  She had no idea where we were headed but thought it may have been Bramley's, one of our favourite haunts, as we turned down a side street.  We didn't stop there though.  At a rather closed looking venue we opened the door and Ellie found herself in Margaritas, a cocktail specialist.  Here Ellie (and the rest of us) were to receive a master class in mixing cocktails.  We were given tables of shots, mixers and glasses and given a lesson about each cocktail we made, including how to recognise the tell-tell signs of a pre-mix being used; very handy information.
This was fantastic fun as not only did you get to learn about different cocktails and spirits but you also got to drink each and every tasty (and strong) creation.
9 cocktails later we were all feeling decidedly merry and a little woozy!  We sent the below picture to Ellie's fiance.  Annoyingly it didn't go through (although in retrospect it would have made him worried so it's probably a good thing).  I was definitely starting to feel the effects of so many shots in a pretty short amount of time and was finding a lot of things rather amusing.
 Including this toilet sign which I thought was absolutely hilarious!  I still really like it sober as well.
It was definitely time for some food to soak up the lingering effects of those cocktails so we headed our way back out onto the high street, a bit less steady on our heels than we were when we first came in (Canterbury = cobbled streets.  Cobbled streets + heels + alcohol = dangerous) and made our way to the next stop for some pizza.  Our route took us past various well wishers, including one fellow who wished the Bride-To-Be 'Congratulations!  Good luck, men are b*****ds!" 
Over pizza and wine we gossiped, laughed and drank and wolfed down the food as it arrived.

So far we thought we had been pretty nice to our hen! We had let her decorate cupcakes, play in a treasure hunt, fed her numerous cocktails and given her pizza.   It was about time we upped the stakes a bit!  One of the other bridesmaids is incredibly crafty and had made The Monster Book Of Monsters and filled it with a parchment Mr and Mrs Quiz and Russian Roulette chocolates.
The rules were simple, each chick picked a parchment scroll out of the box and asked the hen the question on the scroll that Mr Bride-to-Be had already answered.  If she got the answer right (and the answer was not necessarily the truth but what her fiance would have said) she didn't have to eat a chocolate.  If she got it wrong then she played chocolate roulette.  Some chocolates were nice with peanuts or solid chocolate centres, others less so.  The anchovies in the middle were particularly nasty!
She got her revenge though.  There were three chocolates left at the end of the game...and the three bridesmaids had to eat them!  I got lucky - I had a peanut one but the crafty bridesmaid who had made the game got the last anchovy!

Finally we made our way to The Picture House where we had reserved the gallery for dancing and drinks until the small hours of the morning.  It's an interesting venue, as it's name suggests its also a cinema and while we were there they happened to be showing one of the Bond films (muted) on the giant screen as the DJ did his stuff on the dance floor.
After a lot of dancing, more drinks and a lot more gossiping we realised that the place was closing for the night.  We tumbled out into the street in high spirits, gave out hugs all round and made our way back to our respective homes.  The balloons that Ellie had to carry around for the day were looking a bit bedraggled by this stage, but like the bride-to-be, had survived the hen do!


  1. I want a party like this when I get married! Or maybe next year for my birthday hahahaha

    Maria x

    1. Hi Maria, good to hear from you (I still need to send you that reference!) It was a lot of fun to organise and the girls all seemed to enjoy it!

  2. Oh my, this looks super fun! I love Harry Potter, hahah!

  3. Such a great party. Your cupcakes and cocktails look awesome. Need to try them for my party that will be held at one of LA event venues. Surely these lovely and tasty cupcakes will be loved by all. Going to take help from a planner.