You'll have to save the Fire Whiskey for that 21st birthday party, but butterbeer and finger foods, such as pumpkin pasties and sandwich towers - plus a few boxes of Bertie Bott's Every Flavor Beans (compare prices)- are a great start for that Hogwarts buffet.
- Butterbeer: This foamy, sweet beverage figures in every Harry Potter book - and it has enough oomph to get a house elf mildly buzzed. So the recipes floating around the web run the gamut, ranging from a straightforward butterscotch-cream soda combination to some very elaborate mixtures made with sweetened condensed milk or butterscotch schnapps (best not to serve that to house elves and or the under-21 crowd). My favorite, teen-appropriate recipe mixes a very good quality vanilla cream soda, such as Henry Weinhard's, with a dollop of butterscotch syrup. (Mix it to taste, or use the proportions from HarryPotterRecipes.com.) Whichever way you go, be sure to wrap your bottles with butterbeer labels, such as these free, downloadable labels from DesignDazzle.
- Pumpkin Pasties: Making these half-moon shaped turnovers is as easy as pie. Literally. Roll out a batch of your favorite pastry dough or pate brisee recipe. Cut out 4- or 5-inch circles - the soon-to-be empty, large pumpkin can makes a great tart cutter. Top with a tablespoon of pumpkin filling - canned pumpkin mixed with a little pumpkin pie spice. Moisten the edges with water, fold in half and crimp the edges with a fork. Brush with beaten egg, sprinkle with white sanding sugar, and cut a small vent for steam. Bake at 375 degrees until golden brown, about 25-30 minutes.
- Sandwich Towers: These towers of stacked finger sandwiches provide a little wow factor when they're piled high and held in place with a Gryffindor pennant-topped skewer (there's a photo on the previous page). And the fillings offer all sorts of creative options. Among the teen-pleasing possibilities: pumpernickel or dark rye, cut with a scalloped biscuit cutter, and filled with dill-flecked cream cheese and smoked salmon; sourdough bread with pesto, cream cheese and Genoa salami; Jewish rye with butter, chives, mortadella and cheddar; and whole wheat bread with sweet mustard, sliced turkey and Fontina.