How do you surprise a lifelong fan with a trip to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter? With a stack of every Hogwarts letter they've missed since age 11.
Harry Potter was [and still is] my favorite book. When I was younger, even though I knew it was fiction there was a little voice in the back of my head that muttered "What if?"
When I was approached about creating a custom Hogwarts letter for a friend to announce her upcoming trip, I jumped at the opportunity. But one dinky little Hogwarts letter simply wouldn't do. No, we did one better and created (17) customized Hogwarts acceptance letters, one for every year since her 11th birthday.
So, how can you make this dream come true for the Harry Potter fanatic in your life?
DO YOUR HOMEWORK
How many letters do you need? Hogwarts term begins annually on September 1st meaning there should be one letter for each September 1st since the recipient turned eleven.
Where did they live? Here's where you verge on the edge of "stalker". Her husband and I reached out to family, friends, even her alma mater to determine where each letter should be addressed.
The more detail the better! Harry's "The Cupboard under the Stairs" was swapped out for things like "The First Bedroom on the Left" or "The Third Floor, Girls Dormitory" to add a personal touch.
WHAT DOES YOUR HOGWARTS LETTER LOOK LIKE?
The design process is two-fold, both the envelopes and the content (Hogwarts acceptance letter and supplies list). The books provided the text, but each item can be interpreted differently. I googled letters from the movies, other artist's creations, and re-read the parts of the books that described them to refine my design.
The movie version of the letters was very simplistic.
THE LETTER & SUPPLIES LIST:
8-1/2"x11", white cardstock is hearty enough to survive the tea staining process I use to age the letters and envelopes. The exact wording from the books is the framework to create a template for each address. I printed them, stained them, burned the edges, and finally signed Minerva McGonagall's signature using this ink.
The Supply List used the same process. Absent from my iteration of the list is the signature of Lucinda Thomsonicle-Pocus, Chief Attendant of Witchcraft Provisions.
TICKET TO THE HOGWARTS EXPRESS:
DISCLAIMER: I did not create the beautiful, gold embossed, ticket to Platform 9-3/4. That work was done by the talented Kaylee Skistimas of QuidKidDesigns on Etsy.
I wanted something large enough I only had to fold the letters once. After several trials, I landed on these A9 envelopes from Paper Source. A few cuts to the back flap gave them a more unique shape.
Color was less important than size because of the tea staining process, but be prepared: A9 envelopes are not compatible with most printers. Unless you plan to address each one by hand like I did. Choose a size that works with your printer.
The letters from the movie don't have any stamps or postmarks. The fandom, however, has come up with some great designs that add a lot of character to the final product.
This is the postmark I created in Photoshop:
Here are more examples of stamps and postmarks. Click on the photo to learn where you can find them.
The address on Hogwarts Acceptance Letters is very distinctive. When you aren't creating an exact replica, you have some license to play with the design. For the signature emerald green writing I use Winsor & Newton's Green Calligraphy Ink. 10 Digit Blogspot did the research and found two fonts I had great luck blending. DOWNLOAD 4PrivetDrive and DearMrPotter
I purchased a wax seal stamp bearing the Hogwarts Crest and scarlet sealing wax to give the envelopes their finishing touch. You can also purchase pre-made wax seals from different stores on Etsy. Here is one of my favorite stores. If sealing wax isn't available you can actually use hot glue and paint it red afterwards. Be sure to spritz your stamp with cooking spray to reduce sticking. I wasn't happy with the look of the painted hot glue so I abandoned that effort. Maybe colored glue would be more successful? Let me know your thoughts in the comments.
DELIVER YOUR LETTERS:
While traditionally delivered by owl or in the case of other Muggleborns, a Hogwarts faculty member, we're sure your witch/wizard won't mind a different method.
Here are some photos snapped by her husband of Eryn receiving her long overdue letters and learning she was on her way to Hogwarts.