A Novel Idea: How to Host a Crowd Pleasing Book Exchange 

I am always on the hunt for a good book. Once I finish one, I am quickly opening the pages to my next book that was on my long list of suggestions. Many people, including myself, get most of their suggested reads from their friends and family. Other sources for suggestions are social media, reviews, and browsing through stores, but word of mouth still remains popular as it allows readers a more personalized summary of what the book could hold. Due to this, events, such as blind dates with a book and book exchange parties, have started popping up amongst book lovers. Book exchange or book swap parties are fun and creative ways to, well, exchange new books with your friends or loved ones in a party atmosphere. They are easy to host, don’t take much time to prepare for, and everyone goes home with a new tale to read. 

First, as with any party, decide on the necessary information (date, time, and theme) and send out the invitations. A theme for a book exchange party can put a festive spin on the occasion. Maybe you choose to center your event on only new reads, mystery books, bestsellers, young adult, nonfiction, or vacation reads. Whatever your theme is, make sure it is easily accessible for all guests to participate in, since they will be bringing the books. Also, your celebration doesn’t have to include a theme. No matter what, your guests will still have fun.

Speaking of guests bringing books, this is the foundation of a book exchange. On your invitation, ask each of your guests to bring a book, in new or good condition, to give away to another guest. In return, they will get a book to take home and enjoy. In addition, ask your guests to come with their novel wrapped and a small note attached to the outside. Wrapping paper is a fun option or you can use brown paper and decorate it with items related to the story. On the note, don’t include the title or the author, but do include details about the book’s plot, genre, why you loved it, and a few key words or phrases related to the story. This way all of the stories will be kept a surprise. 

As guests arrive, have a designated spot for them to place and display their books. Then, give your guests time to browse through the selection. Once everyone has looked through the novels, gather everyone around to officially exchange selections. Hold the official exchange as a group instead of individually. Go around in a circle and let each guest read the small note on the cover, then unwrap their choice. Put a spin on the unwrapping and have people guess the book’s title based on the descriptions in the note. Of course, don’t say the title aloud if you brought the selection. On each turn, the participant can either keep their unwrapped book or steal from someone else. The person being stolen from does have the option to say “no” to the switch. Think of a Christmas white elephant gift swap. People can go through several rounds before all landing on their final book. 

If you are invited to a book exchange and don’t know which novel to bring, think about your favorites or ones you have recently read and enjoyed. Make sure you bring a book that you have already read and loved. 

While trading is the main part of the party, you can also host literary-themed games, such as “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” where people guess what book a famous line is from, trivia-style questions, and Literary Charades with guests acting out a famous novel, character, or author. Have literary-themed prizes available for the winners. 

Don’t forget about the food and refreshments. It depends on the type of book exchange you are planning to host, but simple finger foods are always crowd pleasers. Lastly, before guests part ways, give them a little party favor. Some ideas are a bookmark, a pen and notebook to jot down their reading reflections, or a mug to enjoy something to drink while reading. Party favors aren’t required, of course, since guests are already going home with a book, but do add that extra touch. 

Book exchange parties are perfect get-togethers, not just for book lovers, but for everyone who loves a good time. What book would you bring to a book exchange? 


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