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Tuesday, December 15, 2020

How I Made My Son a Harry Potter Gift He Absolutely Loved

My oldest son, Lee, doesn't enjoy reading. I've tried to interest him, but no matter what books I get him, he doesn't find it enjoyable. So it was very exciting when my second son, Ike, started reading for enjoyment and became a true bookworm. He not only enjoys reading, he gets so into his books that he obsesses with them. (That's part of the fun parts of autism!) 

Imagine my delight when my son started obsessing over one of my favorite childhood books, Harry Potter! I loved being able to discuss these books with him, talking fan theories with him, and introduce him to fanfictions I enjoyed. I'm in a Facebook group where people fangirl with each other over different books, movies, and shows, and I saw that something people do for their Harry Potter loving kids is sending their kids a "Hogwarts acceptance letter" after their 11th birthday. Since Ike was turning 11 in September, I wanted to do that for his birthday this year, but I looked high and low but couldn't find a stuffed own to "deliver" the letter for him on any of the websites in my country, so I had to let that idea go. But I really still wanted to do that for him, but his 11th birthday passed and I figured it was the end of it.

But then someone in my local frugal shopping group posted that my favorite scratch and dent store was selling Bertie Bott's Every Flavor Beans, a treat from the Harry Potter universe, for very cheaply. And the next day, when I was looking for a stuffed animal to replace one my daughter slept with and lost, I saw the store that was selling her stuffed animals on sale also had an owl stuffed animal. So I knew I'd be doing something Harry Potter style for Ike, as a delayed birthday present combined with Holiday gift.

This project wasn't entirely from scratch, but I put it together and I am very proud of what I did and my ideas and how I pulled it off. I knew how much Ike loved Harry Potter and was sure he'd love this gift, and to be honest, I loved making it probably nearly as much as he enjoyed getting it. Lets just say his reaction was priceless, he got all tearful and hugged me and thanked me a million times and told me that he'd save it for his grandchildren, that's how much he loved it.

So what I did was, instead of just sending a Hogwarts acceptance letter (wrong time of the year for that), I wrote him a letter from Hogwarts explaining why he isn't currently there, specifically because of Corona, and wrote to him about what he can expect at Hogwarts when he comes back, and in it I included a lot of elements of wish fulfillment fantasy. I sneakily asked him who his favorite Harry Potter characters were and used that information to include in the letter. 

Then I made parchment style paper by soaking a few black teabags in water and then dipping the paper into the brown liquid, and then let it dry on my clothes rack.

I purchased some of the Bertie Botts every flavor beans, and a Ferrero Rocher chocolate (to be a snitch) and some chocolate coins from a local grocery store. Because I was in the area anyhow for a foraging class, I picked up a chocolate wand and a chocolate frog from a store that imports Harry Potter products.

Then I wrote the letter for Ike using a quill and ink that I borrowed from my older son, Lee. (He had it for some caligraphy stuff he'd been interested in.) 

Here is the text of the letter. I should mention that Ike hates Cho Chang and he was very frustrated that she didn't die in the series but characters he loved did. So I thought to include Cho dying in the letter, and had "tears" drip onto the letter when I reached that part. (I dropped water from a pencil I dipped in water.) Ike said that this was the best gift I could have given him. Haha. I should also mention that Ike is a Ravenclaw, like Cho Chang and Cedric. He said his favorite teacher is Lupin.

"Dear Ike,

I've missed teaching you these past few months. Hogwarts isn't a pleasant place to be now- it's too quiet since the Ministry shut us down because of the Pandemic. Fortunately the Healers over at St. Mungo's have figured out a cure for this infernal COVID 19 pandemic and we'll be back together in no time. The Ministry of Magic has been in touch with their contacts at the Muggle government, as they are during times of great crisis, and has offered to help out. Snape has decided that for the forseeable future all potions lessons will be spent brewing the potion to cure the pandemic. Students will need to bring special COVID cure brewing supplies (list is attached). The muggle Ministry of Health is planning on distributing it to all of Great Britain but telling them it is this confounded thing called a "vaksine". Those muggles are so naive- no offense to your family- how do they not realize it is magic?

Terrible news- Cho Chang unfortunately died before a cure could be found. [Illegible writing.] BLOODY CORONA! There must be dark magic behind this! 

Flitwick told me that Cedric Diggory has chosen you as a replacement seeker- an honor for a first year. Not since Harry Potter has-"

"there been as good a flier as young as you. I'm sure you'll miss Cho as we all will but I believe you will do an honor to her memory. 

This pandemic has put a dampter to our holiday celebrations so I decided to get you a gift basket from Honeydukes. Chocolate heals dementor blues, so it seems perfect to dispell the Corona blues. Chocolate frogs, galleons, a golden snitch, and a wand (to cheer you up that you can't use your want at home being underage) and of course Bertie Botts Every Flavor Beans- because who doesn't enjoy a mouthful of rotten eggs?

Can't wait to meet you at the Hogwarts Express at the start of spring term.

Love always,
Lupin
Professor Remus Lupin (Moony)
Defense Against the Dark Arts
North Tower, Staff Quarters
Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry"

"Potions Spring Term

3 bushels Bat Wings (preserved)
47 bundles Sneezewort
19 jars of Flobberworm Mucus
1 kg powdered Root of Asphodel
2 pints Horklump Juice
3.8 lengths of Deaths' Head Hawktail
22 Ghost Peppers

Potions Master
Severus SNAPE"

(Notice what I did there? I tried finding things that were related to Corona. Bats. Sneeze. Mucus. Aspodel (flowers in the meadow of the dead in the Greek underworld.) Horklump was just because it sounded funny. Death's head. Ghost? I crack myself up.)

I then took a piece of the "parchment" I made and cut it into the shape of an envelope. I folded up the letter and put it inside. I tried dripping wax on it from a melted crayon (held a lit candle under the crayon to melt it) but I didn't hold the envelope down long enough for it to dry so it ran, so then I did it again with it weighed down by some heavier items and then put more wax on it, and then it dried together.

I used a quill to address the envelope.

"Ike Price
Middle Bunk
Largest Bedroom
Mom's House"

I then packaged it all nicely and set it on the bed for his delivery to await him when he got home.



I gave it to him a bit early, since it was a combined birthday and holiday present, and because I wanted to share it with you before the holidays so you could make one for your kid if you so desired.

The present went over very well. He said it was the best present ever. There were literally tears of joy in his eyes when he opened it.

By the way, he named is owl Sirius, his other favorite character.

And he's been playing Harry Potter games with his chocolate wand, yelling out spells at everyone, playing magic duels with his siblings.

As for how much it cost total?

I bought the owl for $8.25.
The Bertie Botts cost 80 cents. 
The Ferrero Roccher and chocolate coins cost $6.30
The chocolate frog and wand cost $15.

Everything else was free.

Total cost? $30.35.
Total value? Priceless!

For comparison, people asked me why I didn't just get my son a Hogwarts acceptance letter from Etsy. Just the letter would cost approximately $20. I got the letter and all the other add ons for only $15 more.

I asked Ike which he would have preferred, a Hogwarts acceptance letter, or this. He said this, by far. It's the best present he could ever imagine.

I'm super proud of myself and so excited that I was able to do this for him and make him so thrilled.

For those of you with Harry Potter loving relatives, maybe you can do something like this for them as well.

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