We decided to go simple with this program's activities, but we still wanted to have magical decorations. One of the prettiest rooms in Hogwarts in the winter is without a doubt the great hall, so that's what we attempted to recreate. Let me tell you...fishing line is a muggle's best friend. We were able to suspend paper candles and the four house flags above our house tables, and in the right light, even I could believe they were floating. We also painted some blue tablecloths to look like snowy skies, then hung them on the ceiling with sticky tack. We have a variety of Harry Potter themed decorations for past events, so we scattered those around the room.
The food was all just Christmas candy we got on sale. We tried to get treats that looked whimsical or were something that would be new to the kids. Or if it was something they were used to, we tried to serve it a different way (like the cloud tower, or the circus peanuts fancy sword appetizers.)
As for the actual event, we let the kids choose their own house after explaining the virtues of each and reading the sorting cap's song from the first book. Their choice was signified by a tie that we has printed and cut out, which was attached to the neck of their shirt by a paper clip.
After the participants were sorted, we told them they could open their "crackers." All of the crackers we found online were quite expensive, so we just wrapped up a toy, a tissue paper hat (homemade), and some shiny "magic" with wrapping paper, tootsie roll style. We explained what crackers were, and told them to have a friend help them open them. It was so colorful after they all put their hats on!
We let them gorge on sweets ("Tuck in!") While we read some stories from Tales of Beetle the Bard (by J. K. Rowling). Then we played Harry Potter Scene It, which was a big hit. When they were done eating, we went on a horcrux hunt, with objects we had hid around the room.
We finished the day off with the Hogwarts school song. The staff had to sing very loudly to get the others into the spirit, but by the second time around everyone was laughing and singing along.
Final verdict? Huge success. We had quite a few families come, and some new people who really got into everything. Both kids and adults were shouting out answers to the trivia, and everyone left extremely sugared up, but smiling.