I recently celebrated my 30th Birthday, which gave me a perfect excuse to host a party! I hemmed and hawed over a theme and finally just thought, “What are my favorite things?” The first things that popped into my mind were books and chocolate, and nothing sounds more delightful to me than sitting around with good friends talking about books and eating chocolate, so a theme was born! Also, I am constantly looking for book recommendations (seriously…all the time) and I figured this would be a good way to give my friends’ Facebook newsfeeds a rest from seeing me post, “Anyone read anything good lately?” for the 4,682 time.
I used an online invitation site to e-mail invitations. They said:
Books and Chocolate Party!
It’s my 30th birthday! I’d love to celebrate with some of my favorite things: friends, books, and chocolate!
BRING: Please bring a copy of your favorite fiction book (unwrapped) to exchange, along with your favorite chocolate candy or dessert to share. Be ready to give a brief summary of the book and why you love it. No gifts, but cards welcome!
ATTIRE: Wear your favorite party dress! Cocktail, formal, sundress…whatever you feel beautiful in!
For decorations I decided to continue my “favorite things” theme and decorate with roses, lace, and book pages in a vintage pink and cream color scheme. I had to pull this party off for as close to a zero-budget as I could, so I had to get creative. First, I used this tutorial to make these darling paper roses.
I used pages from a book I purchased at a thrift store two years ago for my Christmas Pinterest party where we made Christmas ornaments. The pages had gold gilt edges, so in the right light you can see little shimmers of gold in the centers. So pretty! I considered buying pink paper for some of the roses so they could match the pink and cream theme, but with a teeny budget for the party I wanted to avoid that if possible. On a whim I pulled out some red food coloring, put a drop in about half a cup of water, and painted some on a test strip of paper. It came out the perfect color! I painted it on thicker on some roses and just a hint on others to give variation and then let them dry completely. It made the edges wave just a little, which I loved and thought made them look more like real petals. I hot glued most of them on some twine (leaving a few to scatter on the tables) and strung it on the fireplace.
Next I raided my bookshelf and my mother’s for hardcover books. My mom had some beautiful vintage books and I pulled some of mine that had gilt titles. I stacked them up, putting burgundy ones on top for the pink theme, and wrapped them in some lace. These pretty little stacks of books made me so happy every time I looked at them; they are some of my favorite stories and looked so perfect!
I wrapped more of the lace around mason jars to make candle holders and pretty vases and filled them with cream and pink roses (see above for vase).
For the table runner I found this lovely idea that perfectly combined the lace and books theme. Unfortunately these decorative paper punches can be pretty expensive, so imagine my joy when I went to the craft store and found the perfect one on clearance! At $9 it was the most expensive thing I bought for the party—not bad! All I did was tape the pages together on the back and punch the edges. The hardest part was figuring out the spacing for the punch. I used the punch again to make little party favors, which I’ll talk about later.
For my chocolate dessert I made my favorite chocolate cake and, in keeping with the rose theme, frosted it with roses. It fit perfectly with the rest of the décor and was mmmmm so decadent. I think this cake deserves a post of its own, so I won’t say more about it here (leave me a comment if you’d like me to post the recipe!)
That was it for decorations; now, on to the party!
For an ice breaker I made a list of classic book titles and we played Telestrations. Telestrations is a combination of pictionary and telephone; basically the first person draws a picture of the book title, passes the pad, and the next person guesses what the title is based on the drawing. The third person draws a picture of the title the second person guessed (without looking at the first picture), and as you keep passing, drawing, and guessing sometimes the title stays the same and sometimes it changes hilariously. Showing all the guesses and pictures at the end was so funny!
For the book exchange, first we took turns telling which book we brought, summarized the story, and told why we enjoyed it. We spent most of the party talking about our books and nibbling on the delicious chocolate treats everyone brought. It was pure bliss! And I felt like I got to know my friends even better from hearing them tell about why they loved their favorite books and how they were impacted by them. Then everyone picked the book they wanted; in theory the person who won Telestrations was supposed to pick first and they we’d go around the circle, but of course no one wanted to be rude so we spent a bunch of time saying, “Are you sure you don’t want this one? Because there are others I’d like, too!”
These are the books everyone brought:
- All Creatures Great and Small by James Harriott
- Arena by Karen Hancock
- The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh
- The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
- Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller
- Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
- The Light of Eidon by Karen Hancock
- Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
- Showdown by Ted Dekker
I had a really hard time deciding what book I wanted to bring for the exchange, so for a little party favor I decided to make a bookmark with a list of my 30 favorite books (since I’m thirty, you know? Smile). When I went through my “Books I’ve Read” list to narrow it down I came up with 110 favorites on the first try. Heh. So, I decided to do my 30 Favorite Fiction Books on one side and 30 Favorite Non-Fiction/Biography books on the other. I printed them on cardstock, punched the edges with the lace punch, and made teeny tiny roses for them (those were harder to make than the big ones!) So, at the end of the party everyone went home with a book and a bookmark.
It was so much fun to start my fourth decade off being surrounded by some of my favorite things and people! And the discussion about books was so interesting that I might have to make it a tradition to host a yearly book-themed party!
What book would you bring to a “Books and Chocolate” party? I’d love to hear; please leave me a comment! (Yes…that is a thinly-veiled plea for book recommendations. 😉 )