Wands Out: Harry Potter Trivia at the Library, round 3

Daily Prophet photo frame
Daily Prophet photo frame

We hosted our third Harry Potter trivia event almost a year to the day from our first one. Registration didn’t quite fill up this time (we cap at 52 due to the room capacity), but we still had about 50 people: a lot of kids/tweens around 10 years old, plus some families, teens, adults, and even younger kiddos. We’re planning to do it again this summer, around Harry’s birthday, and then make it an annual thing instead of a biannual one.

Program time: 2-4pm. We started checking people in as soon as they showed up, about 10-15 minutes before 2pm. We were going to finish on time, but ended up needing about seven tie-breaker questions, so we went a few minutes past 4pm.

Staff: Four staff members are present at this program. I check people in and MC the event; another one makes the refreshments and manages that table; and two more do the scoring (one collects answers on post-its and the other enters them into a google spreadsheet. If that seems like something that one person could do alone…I invite you to try it!).

Cost: We usually spend about $100 on food and drink and $100 on prizes. I like to do House-themed coffee mugs or travel mugs for door prizes, so we can pick one winner from each House, as well as prizes for the first- and second-place teams. It’s a little bit of a challenge finding cool items in the right price range, because they ought to be equally suitable for adults, teens, and kids, and teams can be up to 4 people, so there must be 4 of each prize for the winning team(s).

Setup:

  • Large table for food and drink: This time around, our magical chef whipped up lightning bolt cookies, pretzel wands (not chocolate-dipped this time), jelly beans, and gillywater (seltzer, mint, and cucumber water. Less popular than the butterbeer – cream soda and whipped cream – but also way less sugar and not so sticky).
  • Small table for registration and door prizes. If people registered ahead of time, have that list of attendees so you can check them off as they come in. Also, the door prizes, raffle tickets, pens (our teen librarian decorated some bic pens with feathers to make quills), and pads of post-its.
  • Small table for scoring
  • Chairs for the participants, organized in clusters of 2-4 throughout the room
  • A working mic
  • Music: We used a laptop streaming from hoopla, but with so many devices in the room it was lagging.
  • Decorations: We are minimalist where decorations are concerned. I hung five handmade Golden Snitches from the doorframe, and scattered a few stuffed owl puppets around.
  • Photo op: Our teen librarian made a mock-up of the Daily Prophet on posterboard that people can hold up to frame their faces.
punch bowl with mint leaves
Gillywater

Cleanup: There are usually several spills and some dropped food. Chairs need to go back to their places around the edges of the room or get stacked up and returned to storage.

Review: Thanks to my “what to do differently next time” section after last July’s trivia event, and the fact that we’d run this twice before, it went pretty smoothly. When making up the questions, I designed them so that they could be answered in one or two words, and most were single-part questions worth just one point each (there were a handful of two-point questions). However, this made the scores very close, and I had only prepared three tie-breaker questions. With a lot of Potterheads in the room, it can be hard to design questions that are very hard but not impossible! (And, one team caught a mistake in one of the answers about who was the Minister of Magic at the start of the sixth book. After verifying that she was correct, we threw out that question.)

All our attendees seemed happy, and it’s a pretty fun program for staff, too (in my opinion). We’ll be doing it again in July. For now…nox.

Happy birthday, Harry Potter! More HP trivia at the library

Last January’s Harry Potter trivia was so successful that we decided to do it again on the last Saturday of July, as close to Harry’s birthday (7/31) as possible. Once again, registration filled up and we had a few on the waitlist (not as many as last time, but I suspect that has to do with it being summer and lots of people being away on vacation).

The program still required plenty of (team)work to run, but it was easier and smoother the second time around.

Ahead of time

  • Make up new questions and print two copies (one for MC and one for scorer)
  • Set up a new spreadsheet for scoring
  • Create calendar event (registration opened three weeks before the program)
  • Promote on social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram)
  • Order prizes
  • Plan music (we used a library laptop streaming Harry Potter music from the London Studio Orchestra via hoopla)
  • Make refreshments
  • Gather decorations (re-used from last time: stuffed owls, Golden Snitches)
  • Gather supplies (“quills” from last time, pads of post-its, raffle tickets)

LEGO Hogwarts

Another added element to the program this time around was the display of LEGO Hogwarts, which had been build in the preceding weeks by kids (10+), teens, and adults in eight separate weekend and evening sessions. They did an incredible job and finished just in time! (Now, we’ll have to see if anyone wants to take it apart in such a way that it can be built again.)

Registration table with door prize raffle, quills, and post-its; owls; Golden Snitches

Day of trivia

Despite opening the doors and starting registration before our 2pm start time, the program did run past 4pm. I’m not entirely sure why, but I think it was in part due to some younger teams taking longer to turn in answers, and partly me adding short breaks between most question rounds. Next time, just one break about halfway through, and full steam ahead (from Platform 9 3/4, naturally) the rest of the time.

Like last time, we had seven rounds of five questions each, one round per book in the series. We started with a practice question (for no points) and had some between-rounds questions for no points too – teams would just raise their hands, and I tried to let everyone who wanted a turn get to answer.

Snack table with pretzel wands, lightning bolt sugar cookies, jelly beans, and butterbeerThere were some really clever team names (Granger Danger was my favorite), and I was so happy to hear that at least one team at the event had been waitlisted for trivia in January, and were able to come to this one. There was also a team that left after round four because the kid on the team hadn’t read books five through seven yet, but said they’d had a wonderful time.

The questions were just about right, with most teams being very successful but not perfect (we didn’t want a fourteen-way tie for first!). Most of the snacks got eaten; we had pretzel wands, lightning bolt sugar cookies, jelly beans, and butterbeer. Some people used the Daily Prophet photo frame to take pictures.

Our door prizes were House-themed socks (Gryffindor socks for the Gryffindor winner, etc.), first prizes were Harry Potter postcard coloring books, and two teams tied for second place. One of the “teams” was a girl playing on her own, so I let her have first choice between Harry Potter themed socks (“Mischief managed,” etc.) and a vial of Felix Felicis (not edible! but good for putting on a necklace). The other second place team also chose between socks and Liquid Luck and everyone seemed pretty happy.

What to do differently next time

Other than running slightly over time, which no one seemed to mind, everything went smoothly, but there are always small improvements to be made – mostly to do with making the scorekeeper’s job easier.

  • Our participants got very sugared up on the snacks, so next time we might replace “Every Flavour Beans” (jelly beans) with popcorn. And maybe have pumpkin juice instead of Butterbeer.
  • Have teams bring their team names to the scorekeeper as soon as they decide on them – before the practice question.
  • Add a question for no points between each round, to give the scorekeeper time to catch up.
  • Multi-part questions are fine, but space them out – don’t do two in a row.
  • Design questions so the answers can be as short as possible (a few words, not a sentence or a paragraph!).
  • Calculate the total possible score in the spreadsheet (i.e. a perfect score), in case teams want to know how many they missed.

LEGO Hogwarts on display; a happy team on the front page of the Daily Prophet; a pile of answers on post-it notes