Lit Life

5 Ways to Transform Your Book Club from Boring to Brilliant

Yesterday we discussed the 5 Essentials of a Perfect Book Club, and today we are ready to share 5 ways to really take your book club up a notch and make it legendary. We hope that these creative suggestions will either amp up your existing book club, or make your first book club meeting something they’ll be talking about for months to come.

As with the previous post, these are all suggestions from our fabulous book club, Booze & Books. As my friend Jamie K. said, “It is the books that bind us.” These are the best tips to really make your events special, and to truly celebrate the book you’ve just completed.

Theme Your Food

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For us, this is a must. We love to read, and we love to eat!  All of our book clubs are potluck, and it gives us all an opportunity to be creative and contribute to the theme of our bookish gathering. For each book we read, we attempt to bring a dish inspired by that book. For some books it is easier than others, but sometimes just adding a fun, quippy name to a dish can make the theme that much more fun.  

  • Sometimes it will be a dish that was actually found within the book itself. For example, for Night Circus I ended up making chocolate mice out of maraschino cherries and chocolate to replicate one of the circus foods from the novel.
  • Sometimes we try to simply make a food that goes along with a theme or portion of the novel. Our friend Jamie P. made some fancy lady fingers for our How to Be a Woman book club (We think we’re hilarious).
  • Sometimes we simply theme our entire menu. For our Yes, Please book club, we all brought brunch dishes to honor Amy Poehler’s character, Leslie Knope, from Parks and Rec. Leslie’s favorite food is waffles, so it worked for our Poehler-palooza.
  • Sometimes when there’s very little food mentioned we will just pick a theme, and go with it. For example, we read Tom Rachman’s The Imperfectionists and ended up just have a pie themed book club because…pie.

Theme Your Drinks

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Well, we are called Booze & Books, so of course we also theme our cocktails. Just like with the food, we ask each of the members to bring a themed drink. Now, if you’re not a drinker, you could easily make some themed mocktails or a nice punch to coordinate with any book you read.

  • Sometimes this is simply a clever beer or wine that has to do with a part of the book. When we read Girl Trouble, it was easy to bring a bottle of Troublemaker Red Blend. Taking a couple minutes to search through the wine racks at a beverage store can make all the difference.
  • Sometimes it is just a play off of an aspect of the book. For R. J. Palacio’s Wonder, I made a “Wonderful” blue punch to match the book cover.
  • However, some books definitely call for a specific type of drink.  There’s an amazing passage from John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars when Augustus and Hazel are having a lavish dinner in Amsterdam: “What did Dom Perignon say to fellow monks after he invented champagne? … Come quickly, I am tasting the stars.” With a line like that, we had to partake in tasting the stars as well with plenty of bottles of champagne to go around.

Create Unique Decorations

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As a frequent entertainer, I operate on the principle that the key to theme planning is that good parties are 90% paper. Taking the small amount of extra time to create a small paper banner, print out food labels, create cute book marks, or print out a themed welcome sign can really add to the overall bookish atmosphere. Even taking a half-hour to create a small itinerary or tape together book pages to create a book page runner (it serious takes almost no time) can add to your hosting display.

I’m also a fan of a solid tablescape. Any of the my book club ladies can tell you that I can go a little overboard on creating a table display whenever I have a party. It usually gets dismantled so we have a place to eat and discuss the book, but I stand by having a nice presentation when people first walk into your book club gathering. I always include some sort of bookish centerpiece whether that is simply the book we are reading on top of similarly colored books or using objects related to the book in a unique way. I also lay out all the favors, coasters, and themed food in an appealing way to really emphasize that it’s book club time!

Plan or Give a Little Something Extra

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Most of the time we attempt to have a little activity in addition to our normally scheduled discussion. Being an English teacher, I know how to make a solid handout or quiz, so I tend to utilize those skills whenever I host. For our first book club, I made a full-on trivia quiz for The Fault in Our Stars and ended up giving away a cute reading journal as a prize. For The Interestings, Jamie K. made an awesome game where we had to choose a celebrity and a person in our real life that reminded us of each character in the novel.  For our annual Christmas celebration & gift exchange, Sami lead us in a candy cane crafting session. Whatever activity you choose, it’s always a good idea

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If you’re not creative in the activity department or you are scared your book club wouldn’t want to do an additional activity, try attempting to give a little something extra. For our first book club, I made personalized book marks and made small journals for each of the girls to record their reading notes. Sarah’s made some really fun extra gifts for us as well. I especially loved when she made us necklaces for her Night Circus  book club. Having a little extra surprise–whether it be an activity or favor–will make your book club that much cooler than everyone else’s!

Craft a Unifying Favor

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Deciding on a unifying favor is easily one of the most important and significant ways you can create cohesion and unity within your book club. Because our club is Booze & Books themed, we decided to make coasters for each of the book clubs we host. The host makes the coaster and themes it for the book that we are reading that month. We highly suggest that you have a consistent item for this. If you choose to have different types of favors for different books, I think it takes away from the continuity of the club and puts unneeded stress on the host to come up with something new every month.

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By choosing one item, you are able to start a collection and it allows the host to be as creative as he or she wants. I can’t express how much I love being able to look at my coaster collection and remember all the amazing books and moments we’ve shared. Take some time with your club to figure out what you want your favor to be (bookmarks, photos, glassware, punch-cards, etc). 

Well, those are our best tips and tricks for creating an unforgettable community of readers and friends. We’d love to hear from you as well on how you and your book club attempt to make your gatherings special.

Lit & Love,

Amy Signature

Related Articles:

5 Essentials of a Perfect Book Club

11 Tips on Spring Cleaning Your Bookshelves

Not Just for Kids: Star Stickers and Writing Well

Spring Cleaning- Meta-Journal Those Thoughts!

Defining a Literary Lifestyle

 

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