To celebrate USA Network playing all eight Harry Potter films, along with Fantastic Beasts, during the festive season, here are a few (hopefully) handy tips to help you orchestrate the perfect binge-watching weekend.
Dress for success
First things first. A movie marathon is all about staying comfortable. Pyjamas are a must, preferably in your house colours for those tense House Cup moments. But any cosy kind will do. Top tip though, if you have pyjamas with pockets, we’d advise digging them out. That way you’ll have a place to keep your snacks safe from the abyss down the edge of the sofa.
On your feet you might also want slippers and socks to keep your toes warm. As Dobby would tell you, there’s absolutely no need for them to match.
Create a wizarding ambience
As electricity plays havoc with magic, Hogwarts tends to go for a more candle-lit look. So, in keeping with that, close those curtains and turn down the lights. If you have any fairy lights, you might want to set them up high above your head like the bewitched ceiling of the Great Hall at night, or an outdoor Astronomy lesson. And as we say, candles will certainly help set the tone. Just make sure you extinguish them at the end of the marathon.
Clear your schedule
Before you completely immerse yourself in the wizarding world, it might be a good idea to make sure your only engagement during movie-watching time is with Harry Potter and his friends. That way, once you begin your marathon you can switch off your phone, sit back and relax. There’s nothing worse than getting a call right in the middle of watching a wizarding duel. Things are stressful enough.
Plan your snacks strategically
Once that first Warner Bros. logo pops up, you’re in it for the long haul. So make sure you are well nourished. Popcorn is always a winner. And we think chocolate should be your snack of choice during Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban given all the Dementors floating around. Unlike the witches and wizards on your screens, you’ll be able to enjoy your treats without worrying they come from Weasleys’ Wizarding Wheezes.
We’d also recommend you fix up your very own Hogwarts feasts throughout so you’re getting enough to eat throughout the day and night. And make sure you get your five a day – they'll give you more energy to stay awake!
When it comes to drinks, we’d of course recommend tea; it’ll keep you hydrated, alert and provide entertainment if you fancy some ad-hoc Divination with some tea leaves (unless you prefer to decipher soggy teabags). Also, it's quintessentially British! The perfect Potter beverage. Hot chocolate would also be one of our marathon drinks of choice, particularly as Dumbledore – the go-to wizard for wisdom – seemed to like a steaming cup or two.
If you really want to channel Hogwarts at home though, how about a pumpkin juice?
Make your sofa extra snuggly
Thick blankets, sleeping bags, cushions fluffier than a Pygmy Puff. Grab anything soft and cosy you can find and claim your place in front of the big screen. Got any pets? Get them in on the marathon too! Or even allow them on the sofa just this once. And for the more imaginative amongst you, why not pretend they’re the animal you picked out from the Magical Menagerie in Diagon Alley? Dress up your dog as an owl! Do whatever you have to do.
Make sure you have some tissues close by for moments that’ll make you cry. You know those moments will be coming, so you might as well prep early.
We know you’ll want to join in with your favourite lines but unless you know them word for word try to say them quietly to yourself. It might be someone else’s favourite line too.
Remember to be mindful of spoilers. You might have seen the films before, but your family and friends might be watching the magical moments for the first time. Those among us who got the ending of Half-Blood Prince spoiled for us back in the day are still smarting from the memories...
Unlike catching the Snitch, getting through a movie marathon shouldn’t be a race. It’s a marathon after all, not a sprint! Make sure you take regular breaks and stand up once in a while. One suggestion we have is to stand up every time Malfoy mentions his father – that should get you up off the sofa once, twice... a few times.
We’d also recommend keeping track of where the remote is at all times so there isn’t a distracting scramble whenever anyone wants to leave the room. With the lights turned low and all those comfy cushions everywhere, there’s a chance it might be harder to spot than an enchanted key with a bent wing. If only we could use Accio...
It doesn’t matter how much you love the Harry Potter films, falling asleep is a risk during any movie marathon. We’ve come up with a couple of suggestions.
There’s nothing like a jaunty singalong to wake everyone up. How about the occasional chorus of ‘Hogwarts, Hogwarts, Hoggy Warty Hogwarts’? with everyone picking their favourite tune? You could always mix it up with the occasional chorus of ‘Weasley is our King’. Or even an adlibbed version of 'A Cauldron Full of Hot Strong Love', if you’re hardcore.
If singing isn’t your thing, we’d suggest picking your favourite Quidditch match and acting it out in your front room – brooms encouraged. It’ll get your blood pumping and keep your eyes open. Another way to keep everyone on their toes is to create a password (house common room-style) as each film ends. That way if someone falls asleep and then leaves the room, they’ll end up like Neville did so many times – out on the wrong side of the portrait hole. After all: you snooze, you lose.
If someone does fall asleep there’s always Mad-Eye Moody’s example to follow. Shout ‘CONSTANT VIGILANCE’ and they’re bound to wake up.
And lastly, have a wonderful wizarding time!
On second thoughts... is there any chance we could join in? We’ll bring the sherbet lemons.
The Harry Potter films are currently playing back-to-back during the Christmas season. There’s always time for another rewatch!