Thursday, July 26, 2007

Dumbledore's Army

About a month ago, ten people received plain, brown padded envelopes in their mailboxes. They each contained a galleon: These were the invitations to our fifth Harry Potter movie release party. Like the galleons carried by members of Dumbledore's Army in "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix", this galleon had a goblin's serial number stamped on it that actually gave the time and date of the next (well, only...) meeting in the Room of Requirement. Originally, the galleon was going to be the only thing in the envelope. But I decided that in case one of the invitees did not remember these crucial pieces of information, there should be a hint inside. So the envelopes also contained slips of paper:
Thank you for attending our 5th annual Bring & Fly Sale. Enclosed is the rebate you requested. If you require any assistance, we will set an army of staff on your case immediately. Contact us at extension 62442.

Ref. number: DA(3121)-71726381322162-2342217261: 733272432153-4373-61323281436241-81436132. 72738371-404-###-####.

This message had to be able, of course, to pass through any Ministry of Magic screenings without revealing its secret, so it was encoded and only contained "vague" hints (LOL) to its real purpose (note italicized words). The reason those last digits in the reference number are "pounded" is because that is our phone number. Can you figure out the code?*

Guests arrived to see this sign on the door:

Thus began a "scavenger hunt" of sorts. Usually, to start the party, we'd have a "mixer" game. One year, it was guessing what everyone's Patronus was by asking no more than three yes/no questions to each person. Another year it was trading Chocolate Frog cards with other guests to find your own (yes, DH made Chocolate Frog cards for everyone by digitally altering pictures of each guest to look "magical"...then I wrote copy for them and constructed the boxes and made the frogs). By this time, though, everyone pretty much knew everyone else. The real news was that the party was in the new place. So I figured everyone would really want a tour when they showed up. So a tour they got!When they entered, guests got encoded clues (same code as the invitation slip) that told them to look for "Harry's old room". Once they opened the "cupboard under the stairs" in our downstairs room, they found a new clue (in iambic pentameter) that took them to their next location. Most clues were multiple choice...they asked you to remember something from the book, and told you to go to a different location in the loft depending on which answer you chose. For instance, the clue in the cupboard under the stairs was
The letter from Hogwarts ended some of his cares,
addressed to "Mr. H. Potter, Cupboard-under-the-stairs."
Now at 12 Grimmauld Place is where he'd most like to rest,
But first they must exterminate each kind of pest.
Without Mad-Eye's help, they tossed the drawing room junk,
Save the boggart in the desk...or was it a trunk?

If the boggart was found in a desk, go upstairs and look in the pantry on the second floor.
If the boggart was found in a trunk, find the breaker panel in the garage right beside the door.

But you were trying to prove you belonged in the DA, so if you went to the wrong location, you got insulted. =)

Once you made it to the second level, you could have your choice of Butterbeer, pumpkin juice, or elderflower juice and h'ors d'oeuvres by the lovely and talented Andy. Here we have Crumpets with Stilton and Walnuts and Devils on Thestral-back (originally "Devils on Horseback"), which were prunes (stay with me!) stuffed with chutney and wrapped in bacon. I know, I know, prunes...but anything "stuffed with chutney and wrapped in bacon" has to be good. And they were. The blue bowl contains "Jelly Rats", bought at IKEA, of all places! They were the consistency of gumdrops rather than gummy bears, though not as sweet, and were quite good.

The final clue was found in the "Pensieve" in our bathroom. You may be able to see that some of the words in the clue are missing. When you held the clue up next to your face and looked in the mirror, the missing words would "magically" appear (they were taped to the wall of the shower in mirror-writing).
Sadly, I had forgotten everything I learned in Optics in college and had to look up facts on the Internet to determine what the relative point sizes of the fonts on the clue and on the wall should be so they would match up!!
Once you got the final clue, you headed upstairs to the deck, picking up your "DA" button on the way. We enjoyed a delicious dinner al fresco... chicken and ham pasties and a fabulous mixed green salad with apples, walnuts, Wensleydale cheese with cranberries and a phenomenal fig balsamic vinaigrette (all cooked to perfection by Andy). I gotta say that having food catered is a splendiferous thing. I actually got to talk to guests!! It was so great being up on the deck, and the temperature was great. The only downside was when the occasional train reduced our conversations to "What?" "WHAT???"

After dinner, guests voted on who had written the best limerick denouncing Umbridge. The winner (who got a bookmark to use last weekend!) was
Fudge has a new teacher for us
The toad-like harpy Dolores
I'd like to throw Umbridge
Off the trestle of some bridge
Or to centaurs - they're half-man, half-horres.

and the runner-up:

Here's to an old gal named Dolores,
Who could do naught but deplore us,
In sweaters of pink
Like a great froggy fink
O, go take a dunk in Lavoris! (<-- a mouthwash from the 70's)

Then we moved down to the living room (second floor) for a team competition for FANTASTIC PRIZES!! Well, pretty cool prizes, anyway. DH designed a logo for Weasley's Wizard Wheezes, and we got some swag made up with the logo: T-shirts, coffee mugs and buttons.

Our poor guests were subjected to untested new Wheezes, in sweet form. Each Wheeze "unfortunately" would render the subject mute for 30 seconds, during which time his or her teammates would have to guess the mysterious symptoms the subject was acting out. (In other words, charades, with snacks.) But we weren't talking simple Puking Pastilles or Fever Fudge here. DH made up the symptoms, which ranged in difficulty from "you're now a canary" to "you can't stop chucking gnomes" to "you're in love with one of your shoes" or "your nose is now a flashlight". Much hilarity (and frustration) ensued. After the swag was distributed (we did another couple quick rounds for an extra T-shirt), everyone bolted for the movie, which was great, and which I want to see again, soon!

*Hint one: See the extension mentioned in the text? 62442? Ring a bell?
Hint two: Remember, that was what Arthur Weasley dialed in the phone booth so that he and Harry could use the visitor's entrance to the Ministry of Magic.
Hint three: 62442 spells "magic" when you use the letters on a Muggle phone dial (not one of those fancy cell-phones).
Hint four: Notice the front of the Reference number..."3121" decodes to "DA".
We're done with hints...each pair of numbers represents a letter. The first number in the pair is the phone button you should look at. The second is which letter we're talking about (remember, classic phone dial, so no "Q"). So, "D" is "31"...the first letter on the #3 phone key.


Jean in Georgia said...

H -- your parties look wonderful, but dang, they look like a lot of work for the guests! :) Glad everyone had a good time.

Susan @ Real Girl Designs said...

What a cool party! Can I be invited to your next one? LOL

As for prunes - I never did like them until I started going to a local diner that serves a little side dish with a slice of orange and a prune to all customers. I've come to love them, although that's the only place where I eat them!

Anonymous said...

just catching up.

Holy Cow, remind me to wrangle you and DH in on planning Jack's 8 yr old birthday party in January.

Glad you closed. Your place looks fab.

And I bow to your over-arching craftiness. I knit a few socks over the summer, now I'm into a felted noni bag.


Emilee said...

Please oh please oh please get me the words for your scavenger hunt! This would be the perfect birthday party!

... while you're at it, do a Princess Bride one, too! ;) ...

Old Geek-outs