On Harry Potter’s 40th birthday, we celebrate with 40 gifts that range from exciting to ridiculous, from his universe!
Christmas, birthdays and even end of summers meant gifts galore for the wizarding world. While some were thoughtful, some contained Dark Arts in them; while some were filled to the brim with affection, some would make you to trash the gift and run in the opposite direction. Here is a list of 40 gifts that exchanged hands in the Harry Potter universe to celebrate our favourite wizard turning 40!
1. Letter from Hogwarts: Let us begin at the beginning, shall we? The letter that changed Harry Potter’s life under the stairs with the Dursleys forever, arrived at 4 Privet Drive and then kept arriving and arriving and arriving at all the various places Vernon Dursley believed to be safe from the clutches of the wizarding world he so detested!
2. Hand-knit jumpers: A hand-knit jumper from Mrs Weasley, one of the fiercest matriarchs created in the world of fiction, was the first Christmas gift that Harry received that made him feel like he had a family. Every Weasley child would get one and it was hilarious how Harry’s jumper would always be more elaborate than Ron’s.
3. Marauder’s Map: In a brilliant twist of fate, one of many strewn across the entire series, Fred and George Weasley gift Harry the Marauder’s Map that showed every nook and cranny of Hogwarts, while also correctly labelling each and every person on it. What was fateful was that the map, that had been stolen umpteen times over the years, eventually returned to the son of one of the four creators — James Potter.
4. Invisibility Cloak: An anonymous gift that later turned out to be from Albus Dumbledore to Harry Potter, this invisibility cloak has helped Harry, Ron and Hermione from getting into a lot more trouble while they went sniffing for trouble. Also, who can forget Barty Crouch Jr watch the Quidditch World Cup under it after having escaped Azkaban?!
5. Nimbus 2000: Envy of every Quidditch player, the Nimbus 2000 was one of the best-selling broomsticks at that point in the wizarding universe. Harry, who made it as a seeker to the Gryffindor Quidditch team, received one from professor McGonagall. However, the sad demise of the broomstick when dementors descended upon the match, resulting in it crashing into Whomping Willow, is still etched in our minds.
6. Firebolt: Speaking of broomsticks… the thrill of receiving the Firebolt, in the third year at Hogwarts, had to be a surreal experience for Harry. What are secret godfathers for if not such generous moves like Sirius Black after escaping from Azkaban? Imagine being on the same broomstick as the Bulgarian and Irish International Quidditch teams, which also happened to be the most expensive in the world at the time. Muggle equivalent of a Ferrari we would have to say!
7. The Monster Book of Monsters: Hagrid’s odd choice in gifts is reiterated on Harry’s 13th birthday when he receives this book that has to be chained at all times. However, this turned out to be a boon in disguise as it was a part of the syllabus in the coming year. All it needed was a soothing tickle!
8. Harry’s used sock: If we were to consider Dobby the elf’s freedom as a gift, it could only happen because of a sneaky move by Harry. Putting Riddle’s book in his own sock and throwing it at Lucius Malfoy, only had him throw the sock at Dobby, freeing him from the horrible Malfoy household. His fierce loyalty towards Harry Potter only multiplied, making it one of the best gifts that Harry could have ever given the elf.
9. Homework Planner: “Don’t leave it till later, you big second-rater” screamed the planner if you dilly-dallied and procrastinated with your homework and to-do list. Both Harry and Ron received this from Hermione in Harry Potter and The Order of the Phoenix on Christmas and every muggle student, honestly, feels the need to have a similar planner.
10. Snitch: The first Snitch that Harry had caught in his first year as the keeper of Gryffindor came back to him through Albus Dumbledore’s will. While the snitch goes on to play an important part of the jigsaw puzzle that Harry, Ron and Hermione set out to solve in the final book, this had to be one of the best-guarded gifts that contributed to changing the course of history.
11. Pigwidgeon: Sirius Black, who felt partly responsible for the loss of Ron’s first, mostly unresponsive pet Scabbers (as he turned out to be Peter Pettigrew), gifted Ron a small scope owl who was named Pigwidgeon by Ginny Weasley.
12. Hedwig: While we are on the topic of pets as gifts, how can we forget the first pet Harry ever owned that came from Hagrid on his 11th birthday in the form of a gorgeous snowy owl Hedwig?! Fiercely loyal, Hedwig was Harry’s friend till his last breath, giving up his life in the middle of a battle for Harry’s life.
13. Family photo album: Hagrid takes the floor yet again when it comes to most thoughtful gifts as he hands Harry a leather-bound photo album containing pictures of James and Lilly, sourced from various friends of the Potter family. This simple act, knowing Harry didn’t have any pictures of his parents, melts us as we can understand well what this gift means to Harry.
14. Broomstick Servicing Kit: On Harry’s 13th birthday, this was the gift that he received from Hermione and since he was the owner of a coveted Firebolt, it was only deserving that he had the right tools for its maintenance.
15. Sneakoscope: Another reliable and utilitarian gift from Hermione on Harry’s 17th birthday, the sneakoscope was a glass tool that would start spinning the moment there would be any deceitful incident happening in its radius. This tool later saved the trio’s life when they were on the run, trying to hunt down Horcruxes.
16. Harry Potter’s portrait: “What’s that supposed to be anyway? Looks like a gibbon with two black eyes!” Fred Weasley was found exclaiming after seeing Dobby’s gift to Harry Potter one fine Christmas Day. The back of the portrait spelt out his name and helped decipher that the ‘thing’ in the picture was indeed Harry and had perhaps been drawn by the elf himself! However bad or ugly, a gift from Dobby always made us go ‘awww’.
17. Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes: The iconic store run by the Weasley Twins was a gift from Harry, who donated his 1,000-galleon Triwizard tournament earnings as the seed money for the store in Diagon Alley. Naturally, everything Harry loved at the store came free to him — Extendable Ears, Love Potions, Pygmy Puffs, Portable Swamps and U-NO-POO!!
18. Pen Knife: Sirius Black’s gift to Harry saved his neck multiple times by unlocking doors and knots that were supposedly impossible — especially Umbridge’s office! A godfather with a mischievous side, what’s not to love about Sirius Black and his very important gifts?!
19. Two-way mirror: Another one of Sirius’s gifts to Harry, these mirrors were initially used by Sirius and James Potter when they would be in separate detentions. In the middle of a pandemic, imagine having a mirror that you can pick up and just start chatting with your bestie. Oh wait, we seem to have forgotten about mobile phones! Jokes aside, it also wrote itself into one of the most poignant moments in the book when Harry tried picking up the mirror to talk to Sirius after his death and realised that he no longer had the other pair on him. Heartbreaking!
20. Deluminator: In Dumbledore’s will, he bestowed his ‘put-outer’ or deluminator to Ron Weasley. A gadget that can suck the power out of lights in an area, it immensely helped Ron in his quest for Horcruxes with Harry. While the magical world has deluminators, we muggles have an alternate in frequent power cuts in the city. Potayto-Potahto!
21. Time-turner: With way too many classes in the third year, Hermione Granger was gifted, nay, loaned, a time-turner — on special request from McGonagall to the Ministry of Magic — for extra classes. With an impeccable study record, her time travel wasn’t a concern until she used it to help Sirius Black get away from the hands of the very same ministry. We sure can think of multiple uses of this gadget right now, especially to fast forward to a world with a vaccine for this virus ailing the world on Harry’s 40th birthday!
22. Furry wallet: A wallet with fangs? Only Hagrid would find that cute! Another Christmas present from the Gamekeeper at Hogwarts, the wallet was supposed to be pre-installed with an anti-theft device but instead prevented the user from keeping money in it! Just like the Monster Book of Monsters, we wonder if Harry tried tickling it to make it work!
23. Wooden flute: Another seemingly unimportant gift from Hagrid, a wooden, hand-carved flute, saved Harry’s life from the three-headed dog at the entrance to the Philosopher’s Stone hidden under a trapdoor at Hogwarts. This just proves that Hagrid’s gifting game may seem outlandish but was actually well-thought-out!
24. Dress robes: Ron’s iconic frilly and lacy dress robe disaster at the Yule Ball left an indelible scar in his mind and making up for it was his twin brothers Fred and George, who bought him new dress robes on Harry’s coaxing. If your brothers saving you from embarrassment doesn’t make for a perfect gift, what does?
25. Eagle-feather quill: In their second year at Hogwarts, Hermione bought Harry an eagle-feather quill that stayed with him for many years to come. He wrote letters to Ron accepting his invitation to watch the Quidditch world cup and to Sirius Black using this quill. We love a gift that stays with us forever!
26. 17th Birthday watch: It was a norm in wizarding families to gift a watch to the child on their 17th birthday. Molly Weasley, in keeping with traditions, gifted Harry her late brother Fabian Prewett’s watch that had Harry almost choking with happiness. We love any moment that captured Molly Weasley’s protective motherly spirit and this gift sure had us getting misty-eyed.
27. Quidditch Through the Ages: If it’s a book that details the history of anything under the sun, one can bet it comes from Hermione Granger. Before Harry’s first Quidditch match, it was obviously imperative that he read up about the game he was going to play and this gift must have made complete sense. To Hermione at least!
28. Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Beans: The most popular sweets in the wizarding world, Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Beans made it as gifts to the infirmary as well well as on Christmas and birthdays. For the unlucky few like Dumbledore, who’d only come across flavours like Vomit and Earwax, the boxes also boasted of normal flavours like chocolate and mint. What’s not to love about a gift of adventurous beans in every possible flavour?!
29. Tickets to the Quidditch World cup: Arthur Weasley, who used to work at the Ministry of Magic, managed to get his hands on the tickets to the finals of the Quidditch World Cup where Bulgaria played Ireland. Not only did the Weasley family decide to go, Harry and Hermione received invitations too and the finals may have ended in a disaster (with death eater appearances), but the sheer excitement of the evening was palpable everywhere!
30. Enchanted razor: This gift for Harry that came from Bill Weasley and Fleur Delacour made it to this list of gifts solely for the time that we currently live in where men would appreciate nothing more than an enchanted razor as saloons remain under lockdown in most parts of the city.
31. My Sweetheart necklace: If you spend most part of your new relationship snogging at every possible corner of the school, chances are you would end up with a gift with as little thought as a thick gold necklace spelling out “my sweetheart” on it. That’s what Lavender Brown, Ron’s girlfriend for a brief period of time, got him on Christmas! What a match, we say!
32. Broom compass: While Hermione gifted Harry a broom maintenance kit, Ron’s gift was a modest broom compass that allowed one to navigate on long journeys. The magical equivalent of Google Maps if you will…?
33. Chocolate Cauldrons (laced with drugs aka love potion): In Romila Vane’s defines, this gift was meant for her obsessive crush Harry Potter and instead Ron Weasley polished off half of these box of chocolate cauldrons that were laced with a love potion. We remember Ron’s obsessive period and we wouldn’t mind getting our hands on some!
34. 12 Fail-Safe Ways to Charm Witches: And here we thought only muggles would need self-help books to woo their womenfolk. Turns out even wizards need tips and this book, which had supposedly helped the Weasley Twins win with the womenfolk (we suspect their charm and sense of humour too had a role to play), was Ron’s gift for Harry as well. If only he knew Harry would end up with his own sister, we doubt this gift would have found its way to Harry!
35. Permission to visit Hogsmeade: The small, picturesque village of Hogsmeade was open for weekend visits for students in their third year or above. Having run away from Privet Drive that year, Harry couldn’t get official permissions to visit the village. While that didn’t deter him from visiting under his invisibility cloak, we love how Sirius Black (again!) stepped up as his godfather and gave him the required permissions!
36. Remembrall: Remember Neville’s Remembrall? A glass ball that would turn smoky red if the owner was forgetting something? Given to him by his granny, it didn’t work so well with Longbottom as he would forget what he forgot but we sure could use one right now to remember if it’s a weekday or a weekend!
And the most ridiculous gifts from the Dursleys and co. that left us at a loss for words…
37. A box of dog biscuits: Remember Aunt Marge, Vernon Dursley’s sister, who was made to float like a balloon after she enraged Harry? One Christmas, while Dudley received expensive gifts from Aunt, she thought a suitable gift for Harry would a box of dog biscuits. If it’s good enough for her beloved dog Ripper, it’s probably good enough for Harry, she must have felt!
38. A single tissue: While this probably makes sense in a Covid-infected world, many moons back, this was a strange gift to send all the way to Hogwarts on Christmas from the Dursleys to Harry.
39. A toothpick: During the second year at Hogwarts, the Dursleys sent Harry a single toothpick for Christmas. Legend has it that Dobby was last seen picking his teeth with said toothpick in their third year. We may or may not be serious.
40. A 50-pence piece: This was the only time perhaps when the cost of sending the gift surpassed the cost of the gift itself. Why bother Dursleys? Why bother?