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We know that Harry receives a present for Christmas from the Dursleys even while he is at Hogwarts. Here are the quotes I remember:

A second, very small parcel contained a note.
We received your message and enclose your Christmas present. From Uncle Vernon and Aunt Petunia. Taped to the note was a fifty-pence piece.
Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone Chapter 12: The Mirror of Erised

She nibbled his ear in an affectionate sort of way, which was a far better present than the one that she had brought him, which turned out to be from the Dursleys. They had sent Harry a toothpick and a note telling him to find out whether he’d be able to stay at Hogwarts for the summer vacation, too.
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Chapter 12: The Polyjuice Potion

Harry’s other presents were much more satisfactory than Dobby’s odd socks — with the obvious exception of the Dursleys’, which consisted of a single tissue, an all-time low...
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire Chapter 23: The Yule Ball


We see that in Philosopher's Stone, their present is part of a reply to a message Harry sent them, presumably to tell them he'd be staying at Hogwarts for the Christmas holidays.

We also see that in Chamber of Secrets, Hedwig brought Harry their present. But how did Hedwig know the Dursleys would want to send Harry a present? The Dursleys had no means of summoning Hedwig. If she was smart enough to figure out it was Christmas and Harry should receive a present from them, she might be smart enough to figure out the Dursleys hated Harry and they wouldn't send Harry a present (I don't think toothpicks, tissues,etc. can be termed as presents).

In Goblet of Fire, there is no mention of how the Dursleys sent their present. Its obvious the Dursleys would rather eat their television than search for a wizarding post office just to owl Harry his present. Assuming it was Hedwig again, how did she know and why would she make the trip?

My question is:

How did Hedwig know the Dursleys would give Harry a present?

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    I always assumed that it was smart enough to go to the house at Xmas to collect his present. Vernon then give it something so it would go away. – Valorum Mar 7 '16 at 7:10
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    I always thought Hedwig forced them by pecking their hands or going after Dudley to make them give something for Harry. – apollo Mar 7 '16 at 7:12
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    All the owls probably get sent out en-masse to collect presents for anyone staying at Hogwarts. – Valorum Mar 7 '16 at 7:30
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    @RED_DEVIL226 True love is something you give without expecting anything in return. I just felt like Hedwig would do this (going after Dursleys) just to please Harry. And she would be proud with herself. Just a thought. – apollo Mar 7 '16 at 7:45
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    This doesn't directly answer your question, but in PoA, Hedwig shows up unprompted to Hermione - she says something along the lines of "I was wondering how I was going to get your present to you, but then Hedwig turned up! I think she wanted to make sure you got something nice for a change." Hedwig is also known to bother recipients until they reply (see OotP), so she has done things like this elsewhere as well. – Luna Mar 7 '16 at 11:26
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Don't forget that the only person we know is getting notes sent home is Harry, who for our purposes is essentially a muggle born, in that his "parents" are muggles and have no access to an owl.

How would muggle-born students receive their Christmas presents, unless Hogwarts/the student themselves sent their personal owl, or the school owl to their parents, so their parents could then use said owl to reply?

Since your quotes clearly says Hedwig was sent WITH a note,

A second, very small parcel contained a note. We received your message and enclose your Christmas present. From Uncle Vernon and Aunt Petunia. Taped to the note was a fifty-pence piece.

it seems that the school automatically sent out owls to all the muggle born students' families who would otherwise have no access to an owl for Christmas.

  • As I commented in the question, Muggle parents (who love their children, as most do), would want a means of corresponding with them without having to wait for owls to arrive from Hogwarts. So they'd locate the nearest wizarding post office. Harry's case is a special one. Having said that, your answer does seem to work. I've +1'd it. I'll accept it if I don't get any better answers in a while. – ʀᴇᴅ_ᴅᴇᴠɪʟ226 Mar 7 '16 at 7:46
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    @ʀᴇᴅ_ᴅᴇᴠɪʟ226 you dont drive 5 hours to send your kid a card, when you could just wait for them to send you an owl – Himarm Mar 7 '16 at 7:48
  • I don't have a quote handy but I think the message being referred to was the one that Harry sent to them saying he would be staying at Hogwarts over the break. – Kapler Mar 7 '16 at 21:15
  • As we know nothing about the message, and it was Harrys first year, the message may have been "I am not going to be home for Christmas, they let me stay here!" The attached note and package to only arrive with Harry for Christmas would make sense then, too: NORMAL Families would send a Christmas card in response, after all. – Layna Oct 24 '17 at 13:11
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So this could be more of a guess, but based on how well the wizarding community is hidden within the muggle one, I think it's very likely that if muggles mail something in their ordinary mail there will be a wizarding person at the post office to separate what should then be posted by owl. This ensures that nothing looks out of the ordinary to onlooking muggles.

the durleys would mail the gift through their muggle system marked for hogwarts. being intercepted at the post office. then being mailed to hogwarts by owl. then the hogwarts owls or personal owl deliver to the individual students unless its a send and receive immediately situation, as Sirius and harry often communicated.

  • Even if this is the case, it doesn't seem to explain how it was Hedwig that delivered the present on Chamber of Secrets. – Blackwood Aug 24 '17 at 0:04

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