I’m not usually one to celebrate my birthday, at least not in a big way. I didn’t grow up with involved kid parties, and it makes me pretty uncomfortable being the center of attention. But this year was a little different.
Thirty-five is a big milestone for me. As my husband so kindly pointed out, I’m halfway to seventy. But also, my girls start school in a few weeks, which means it’s the end of my four-year tenure as a full-time stay-at-home parent. It’s been good, bad, and ugly. It’s been perfect. But this birthday felt like a good time to celebrate the start of a new chapter!
My husband and sister-in-law put together the best book-lover’s birthday cocktail party. Some champagne, Spaghetts, a few Trader Joe’s favorites, and Fitzy’s signature cheese board. What else could a girl need??
If you guessed books you’re in the right place. They had the idea to include a book exchange with the cocktails and appetizers, and it was perfect!
how it worked.
The rules were simple… each of the ten guests brought one of our favorite books, gift-wrapped. After a few toasts and snacks each book was labeled with a number, and slips of paper were marked one through ten. Starting with me, we went around in a circle picking a slip of paper, unveiling the number, and then opening the corresponding book. After the reveal, whoever brought the unwrapped book shared their story of why they brought it, what it’s about, and what it means to them. It worked out surprising well, and was thoroughly entertaining!
What if someone picked their own number, or a spouse’s number? They just redrew. And after everyone opened a book, we opened the floor to trades. My husband was the last to open one, Station Eleven, which he’s already read (and loved!). So he and my sister-in-law traded since she’s never read it, and she had The Story of Edgar Sawtelle, which he was intrigued by. It all worked out!
I picked up a thriller, The Good Girl, from a friend who’d been recommending it to me and The Bookly Club for months. Now I finally have a copy! And one friend ended up with a meditation book just hours after we’d be talking about how he’s trying to get more into meditation. My friend who only reads non-fiction received The Uninhabitable Earth, a high-praised study on the climate crisis. And the book I brought (my favorite so far this year) The Heart’s Invisible Furies, ended up in the hands of a good friend who’s always looking for recommendations.
The exchange was such a fun addition to an already great night. It made for a fun activity toward the end of the night, and this way everyone left with a gift!
I highly recommend putting a book exchange on your calendar, it’s so fun seeing what friends come up with. And it’s even more fun adding a new book to your collection. Not to mention one that comes highly recommended, from a trusted source. Even better! I’m lucky to be surrounded by so many great people and good books. Thirty-five is shaping up to be a very good year!
the complete stack of books exchanged.