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Hallowe’en party tips from Nearly Headless Nick

It’s all about creating the right atmosphere…

Guests dancing at Nearly Headless Nick's deathday party
© JKR/Pottermore Ltd. ™ Warner Bros.

Hallowe’en parties are so unoriginal these days: anyone can carve a pumpkin and organise a fancy dress competition. If you really want to throw a standout celebration you could do worse than listen to the advice of Gryffindor’s resident ghost, Sir Nicholas de Mimsy-Porpington, aka Nearly Headless Nick. Harry, Ron and Hermione might not have had much of a laugh at Nick’s Deathday Party, but he certainly threw a party that would never be forgotten.

Invitations

Nick considered his guest list carefully. Never forget that the Wailing Widow came all the way from Kent for Nick’s special day. Kent! However, Nick did get himself in a flap by inviting members of the Headless Hunt, a society he so longed to be a member of. Take Nick’s mistake as advice for your own parties. Inviting those you want to impress also means you won’t enjoy yourself so much, and who wants that? It’s your party, after all: far better to invite people you actually want to eat mouldy cheese and dance to the Weird Sisters with. Or, you know, whatever snacks and entertainment you would more likely have…

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Harry Potter's Hogwarts acceptance letter, as designed by graphic design team MinaLima.

Dress code and decorations

Nick, coming from the 1400s, was constantly in fancy dress by proxy. But for those who don’t have the luxury of being a ghost from centuries ago, a Hallowe’en outfit is always key. Something suitably spooky, obviously. You could, for instance, hold your own Deathday Party: pack the room full of ice and chill it right down, put up some mirrors for a spot of misdirection, get a tombstone cake, and invite your guests to wear long, flowing clothes that will flutter in the cold air as they wander around mournfully. You know, ghost-style. It worked for Nick, but he didn’t really have much choice in the matter when it came to picking his ensemble.

Music

The music is your opportunity to really set the party mood, so make sure it’s suitable. You could make a playlist and get your speakers out, but Nearly Headless Nick favours an orchestra of musical saws and a sound like fingernails scraping down a blackboard. It’s an acquired taste, maybe, but it would fit well with the Deathday Party theme, if you’re looking for a bit of inspiration.

Nearly Headless Nick greeting guests to his Deathday party
© JKR/Pottermore Ltd. ™ Warner Bros.

Food and drink

It’s always important to consider your guests’ dietary requirements beforehand. For Nick, the majority of his guests were dead, so anything that packed flavour (ie: containing mould) were essential party snacks. Nearly Headless Nick’s recipe for maggoty haggis, as well as his speciality, rotten fish and mouldy cheese, can be supplied for your own parties, er, if you want. But you don’t need to take Nick’s advice for everything…

The speech

If you’re planning a speech, make sure you give it nice and early… especially if you’ve invited anyone like that rabble-rousing Headless Hunt lot, because they will definitely try and disrupt it. Practice first, too: you’ll want to make sure you can be heard above the conversation and the noise of musical saws, if you’ve really followed Nick’s party tips to the letter.

Don’t lose your head

One of the most important things Nick ever taught us. Nobody likes a party host who flips out, so our main tip is to keep your cool at all times. We suggest ice. Nick had ghosts.

Animated illustration of Gryffindor house ghost, Nearly Headless Nick
© JKR/Pottermore Ltd.™ Warner Bros.

Have fun

Last of all: enjoy it! Nick sure knew how to throw a spooky shindig, and just because you’re not a ghost, doesn’t mean you can’t too. So grab a plate of furry cheese, enjoy the musical saws, and ask yourself why on earth you didn’t take party advice from someone better in the first place.