How to Celebrate the Final Harry Potter Film Release on a Budget

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The end of an era is near. And if that sounds a little melodramatic, hear me out. The Harry Potter phenomenon has been sweeping the world since 1997, when “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone” was first released in Britain. Now, 14 years later, the release of the movie, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2″ will mark the final of the Harry Potter releases. July 15th is sure to be a day full of emotions for Potter fans all over the world, myself included.

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I have been following Harry’s adventures for about 12 years now, so it certainly feels strange to see the phenomenon coming to a close. Faithfully, I’ve gone to the bookstore at midnight for each book release to gather together and celebrate with other Potter maniacs. I’ve waited in line with friends to see each movie’s midnight showing, unable to wait until daylight to get my fix. And it hasn’t just been about reading the books or seeing the movies. It’s about the community – a worldwide network, of sorts, united in their love of the story. There’s nothing quite like being a part of something like that.

It has always been amazing to witness some of the shenanigans that happen at these midnight events. After all, people who are seriously passionate about something can do some crazy things! Since it would be difficult to recall all such events, here are the ones that make my top 3 list:

  1. The lights were going dark to cue the start of “The Order of the Phoenix” in the movie theater. An expectant hush fell over the crowd of Potter fans. Then, after a few seconds of silence, one Harry Potter look-alike stood up in the center of the theater, held his fake wand aloft, and shouted, “Lumos!” (The wizard spell for light). As if on cue, the movie screen lit up to tumultuous applause. Talk about perfect timing!
  2. The costumes. Oh, the costumes. I’ve never been one to dress up at these events. However, I’ve seen it all. At the most recent midnight showing, there was an entire Slytherin Quidditch team, among many other beloved (and not-so-beloved) characters. During the previews, we realized that there was something wrong with our theater’s projector. When hassled-looking movie theater employees tried to get the angry fans to switch theaters, an elaborately dressed Albus Dumbledore look-alike marched right up to the front of the theater to start directing the traffic and keeping the peace. For just a moment, I’m pretty sure we all turned into Hogwarts students who were being filed from the Great Hall.
  3. At that same movie release, my friends and I first walked into the theater (a couple of hours early) to find an entire A Capella choir singing. Apparently, they wanted to provide free entertainment to faithful Potter fans who would be waiting anxiously for the movie to start.

Ok, enough Harry nostalgia. Thank you for humoring me. Now on to the money-saving tips!

Saving Money While Going to See Harry

If you’re planning on heading to the midnight showing of “The Deathly Hallows: Part 2″ or even if you’re waiting until daylight, there are definitely ways that you can avoid some exorbitant movie theater expenses. Here are some ideas I’ve used before:

  • Pack Your Own Snacks: after waiting in line and sitting down, you still have a pretty long movie to sit through. Chances are that hunger will attack at some point. Just bring a discreet bag or backpack, and pack your own homemade treats to snack on. Be sure to pack a water bottle or thermos of some kind as well!
  • Use Available Discounts: many theaters won’t accept things like Groupons or vouchers during the first 10 days or so of a movie’s release. However, if you’ve got a student ID, you’re a senior, or you’ve got young kids, you should be able to take advantage of cheaper tickets.
  • Go Early: for midnight showings, lines are typically very long and finding seats together with your companions can sometimes turn into an epic battle. Save a little sanity and perhaps money too by heading to the theater early. Be prepared with things to keep you busy until the theater employees let you in. Here are some things you could consider bringing:
    • A late night picnic dinner
    • A deck of cards
    • Your favorite board game
    • Things on your to-do list
    • Harry Potter trivia (printed from the computer or cards from a game)
  • Go to the Drive In: if you can wait to see the movie, try heading to your local drive-in. You’ll most likely be able to catch a double feature and you typically pay per car load. Pack up the family or 4-5 friends to take advantage of the best deal!
  • Go On Off Times: again, if you can wait, it will be cheaper to go during the week rather than on a Fiday or Saturday night.

Want to celebrate the final Harry Potter release at home before you see the movie? Here are some recipes from around the web that will help you frugally get in the spirit:

Drinks to Toast Harry With

  • Butterbeer: try this recipe that uses root beer or cream soda, butter, cream and butterscotch. It certainly can’t be considered healthy, but it’s a great wizarding treat that’s sure to warm up your insides.
  • Pumpkin Juice: use instant tea powder, orange-flavored breakfast drink, sugar and pumpkin pie spice to whip up this simple concoction.
  • Firewhiskey: this recipe is for the big kid (adult) fans out there!

Wizarding Treats

  • Acid Pops: super sour lollipops and pop rocks are the perfect combination for creating the illusion of “acid” pops.
  • Licorice Wands: choose your favorite flavor of licorice twists, candy sprinkles and vanilla flavored candy coating (almond bark).
  • Ton Tongue Toffees: these sweets are just like those from the world of Harry Potter, except they won’t enlarge your tongue!
  • Pumpkin Pasties: these tasty treats that are available on the Hogwarts Express are perfect to make with your little ones.
  • Cauldron Cakes: decorate this spice cake any way you like. This cake is also wonderful with honey.
  • Treacle Tart: this is a traditional English dessert that the wizards greatly enjoy. You can use any kind of pastry crust and substitute the “golden syrup” for honey or light molasses.

For the Hardcore Fans

If you’re a serious fan and want to dress up as your favorite character for the event (or you want to dress your kid up) take a look at this helpful resource from About.com. There you’ll find tutorials that will help you recreate the looks of Harry Potter, Ron Weasley, Hermione Granger, Voldemort (I mean, You Know Who), and many other characters.

If you don’t want to go all out, you could also just try your hand at making a great accessory like a Firebolt, a wand or a Hogwarts house badge. Head over to Here Write Now for some ideas.

Any other diehard Harry Potter fans out there in the Tip Hero community? Do you plan on heading to the movies at midnight? What other tips do you have for celebrating on a budget? We’d love to hear any and all thoughts in the comments section. Thanks for being a Tip Hero!

Photo credit: ScreenCrave, Babble

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