Every Christmas, Harry receives a mediocre gift from the Dursleys. In Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets he gets a toothpick.

At that moment, Hedwig swooped into the room, carrying a very small package in her beak. “Hello,” said Harry happily as she landed on his bed. “Are you speaking to me again?” 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.

They hate owls, but obviously use them to contact Harry at school?


1 Answer 1


Hogwarts might’ve sent them an owl asking for a gift for Harry.

The first time Hedwig comes back from the Dursleys with a “Christmas present” for Harry, she has a note from them saying they’d received a message and are sending him his present.

“A second, very small parcel contained a note.

We received your message and enclose your Christmas present. From Uncle Vernon and Aunt Petunia.

Sellotaped to the note was a fifty-pence piece.”
- Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, Chapter 12 (The Mirror of Erised)

It’s unclear exactly what the message is, but it may be a message telling them to send Hedwig back with a present for Harry. If that is indeed what it was, then they may have just given Hedwig something to make her go away and leave them alone. They wouldn’t want an owl pestering them.

Hedwig herself was also determined to try to collect gifts for him.

Hedwig also did attempt to get presents from people for Harry herself. She visited Hermione in France on Harry’s birthday, and Hermione figured she wanted to ensure Harry would get a present.

“I’m on holiday in France at the moment and I didn’t know how I was going to send this to you – what if they’d opened it at Customs? – but then Hedwig turned up! I think she wanted to make sure you got something for your birthday for a change.”
- Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Chapter 1 (Owl Post)

Presumably from the way Hermione phrases it, Hedwig hadn’t brought a letter, she just showed up in France without a letter from Harry to see if Hermione would send a present back with her.

  • 21
    Precisely so. Their presents are clearly whatever's on the table in front of them when the owl arrives; 50p, a toothpick, a tissue, etc.
    – Valorum
    May 26, 2018 at 17:08
  • 10
    I believe the message was to tell the dursleys that Harry was going to stay at Hogwarts for Christmas vacation.
    – Flitoangel
    May 26, 2018 at 18:54
  • 3
    @Valorum Thanks! :) Yeah, I strongly suspect they’ll be like “just give that ruddy owl something and make it leave!”.
    – Obsidia
    May 26, 2018 at 19:16
  • 5
    @AnthonyGrist Yeah, but if a Hogwarts staff member says they want to send Hedwig to the Dursleys with something like a notification that Harry is staying for Christmas, they might say something like “Your nephew is spending Christmas at Hogwarts, you may send a present with this owl”, and they could be asked that way.
    – Obsidia
    May 26, 2018 at 19:52
  • 5
    Great find about Hermione receiving a visit. If I could upvote this again, I would. Instead, you shall have a bounty.
    – Valorum
    May 26, 2018 at 22:48

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