Ever since Lindsay told me about her family’s book exchange tradition for Christmas I’ve been jonesing to participate in one. And when I have a bee in my bonnet I generally can’t wait for long… Solution? Host a book exchange myself!
Last Thursday, 18 women gathered at my house to swap books and do life together, if only for just a couple hours. In a perfect world, the event would have looked like this, but even with its Facebook invites and commercial sized hot water pot, our book exchange was a great way to connect women of different generations and share some good reads.
There are plenty of ways to throw a book exchange. Here’s what we did:
The Concept: Show up with a book you’ve already read and leave with a book you’ve (hopefully) never read but is highly recommended by another guest.
The Method: Bring a book you’ve read and liked – preferably the kind you want to tell everyone you know to drop what they’re doing and devour immediately or the kind you stayed up all night to finish. We asked that books be wrapped along with a favorite quote from the book or an explanation of why you enjoyed the book.
The Exchange: Books were exchanged white elephant style, with a twist. In order to promote getting to know one another better, each guest listed three random facts about themselves which were read out loud (by the host). The first person to guess who the three facts were describing got to pick a book. Our group was pro stealing so we abided by the third steal stays rule (after the third steal, the book is out of commission).
The Invite: The invite could have been super cute, however, I went the Facebook route to reach a larger amount of people (pulling from two people’s circle of friends). If you know most of your guests personally, sending an actual snail-mail invite is a lovely option.
The Food: A simple tea and cookies spread. I wanted to break out my tea cup collection, but after thinking about where a large amount of people would put a cup and saucer while balancing a plate of dessert and eating and chatting, I decided mugs would be a better option. I borrowed a large hot water pot to accomodate the guest list and set out a selection of decaf and caffeinated teas.
Several guests are gluten-free so I made Flourless Peanut Butter Cookies, Oat Flour Brownies (tasty, but a bit crumbly), and White Chocolate Cheesecake Stuffed Strawberries. Plus, a friend volunteered to bring a pie which was delicious and rounded out the whole spread.
I could see many food options working for a party like this: savory appetizers, seasonally themed, or just fruit, cheese, and crackers…
The Books: Used books were encouraged, though new was absolutely acceptable. Just in case you were curious, here’s a list of the books that were exchanged.
Jesus Calling by Sarah Young
The No.1 Ladies Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith
Once Blind by Kay Marshall Strom
Loving God With All Your Mind by Elizabeth George
Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller
Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers*
Forgotten God by Francis Chan*
The Grace and Truth Paradox by Randy Alcorn
Captivating by John and Staci Eldridge*
The Power of a Praying Wife by Stormie Omartian
Let Prayer Change Your Life by Becky Tirabassi
Stranger On The Road To Emmaus by John R. Cross
The Last of The Mohicans by James Fenimore Cooper
Face To Face by Steve Wilkins
Phantom of The Opera by Gaston Leroux*
The Gift of Pain by Paul Brand and Phillip Yancey
Radical by David Platt
Candle in the Darkness by Lynn Austin
Need ideas for your event? Check out this book exchange inspiration!
What book would you bring to a book exchange? Have you hosted or participated in a book exchange? I’d love to hear your ideas!
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