Tag Archives: Christmas books

Queries and Conundrums: The Advent Book Calendar

wrapped-books

Sorry about the static lately but ‘tis the season!  And in honor of this frantic, wonderful holiday season, I want to share with you a very creative idea.  I was on Facebook; ah, that great time waster, and I saw a post from a former student of mine.  She wrapped up 24 holiday children’s books and each evening in December, she and her son will open one and read it together.  What an absolutely fantastic idea!  I love children’s books, especially Christmas children’s books. I research a bit and went on Pinterest, another fantastic time-waster, and discovered that one can get REALLY creative with the Advent Book Calendar idea!!

To me, the holiday season should be viewed through the innocent and excited eyes of children.  Every year, my husband seeks out a unique and unknown Christmas book for me, while I find treasured classics for my children.  When I was little, my mom always had a basket of Christmas children’s books under the tree.  I remember sitting on the floor in the glow of the fire, twinkling Christmas lights, and flashy tinsel, enjoying holiday favorites year after year.

I continued this tradition with my own family. When the kids were younger, we would read a book a night before bed.  As they got older and became proficient readers, everyone would pick a favorite and we would all take turns reading.  Five books a night, every night until Christmas . . . yes, I have that many Christmas children’s books.  Even now, I get so tickled . . . don’t tell them, they would be embarrassed . . . when my teenagers, much past the age of picture books, lie on the floor under the tree re-reading their favorites.  After the holiday is over, the books are packed up in a bin and stored away until next Christmas.  I think I get more excited unpacking the holiday books each year than I do unpacking ornaments!

The Advent Book Calendar takes that thought one step further.  Added to the excitement and anticipation of reading a holiday book is unwrapping one and not knowing which one will be found!  What a lovely tradition!!

As I thought about this, I pondered how I might use this with myself and my teenagers.  Giggling a bit manically, I thought about wrapping up books on my to-be-read pile.  I would have to read one a day to keep up with the calendar.  Nothing else would get done in my house but my to-be-read pile might shrink a bit!  Sigh . . . I guess I will stick with the children’s books.

Four ALTERNATIVES TO A TRADITIONAL BOOK CLUB on Friday

keep-calm-and-join-book-club

Book Clubs are denizens of our current society.  They are places for wine-drinking, socializing, and sometimes even talking about books.  I have been fortunate to be part of a number of book clubs, but I have found that participation can be very tricky.  The key to a successful book club is that all members need to have the same purpose in mind; clubs can be very disjointed when some people want to use the time for socializing and others want an in-depth dissection of a book.  Don’t get me wrong; both are fine purposes but conflict and dissatisfaction can arise when everyone is not . . . so to speak . . . on the same page.

As an alternative to the traditional book club, I have put together four different perspectives on what a gathering of book readers, book lovers, and people who just need to get their nose out of a book and socialize more . . . eh, me . . . might look like.

Four ALTERNATIVES TO A TRADITIONAL BOOK CLUB on Friday

Bring two, get two
The premise of this is very simple.  Each guest brings two copies of a book that they enjoyed, made them think, or touched their heart.  One by one, each guest shares a little about herself: the kind of books she likes to read, her favorite authors, her reading inspirations.  Then, she describes the book she has brought to share.  After everyone has shared, each guest picks two different books and now has two brand new stories to read.

I had a party like this a few years ago and it was a great success.  With a group of guests who had varied reading styles and interests, the variety of books that were presented was diverse.  I liked having two books to choose.  The first book I chose was one that I thought I would like; it was a genre that I enjoy and something similar to my normal reading routine.  The second book was a reach for me; I picked something I wouldn’t normally have even looked at.  I chose it as a challenge and based on my friend’s description of her own reading interests, I took a chance and enjoyed it.  This presented an opportunity to read something new without the pressure of having to analyze it in a group setting.  We had a great evening.

“Mystery” book
I must admit that I stole this basic idea from Pinterest . . . that evil, time-sucking website.  It is described as a “blind date with a book.”  I adapted the idea for a Halloween “mystery” theme.  Each guest brought a book wrapped in craft paper.  On the outside, the guests wrote clues about the book plot, characters, genre, and/or themes.  Once again we all shared our reading interests and then read our clues.  After everyone made a grab for a new book, we re-read the clues and then opened the paper and read the back-cover summary.

Once again I was astounded at how creative people were.  Some clues were lists, some were riddles, one had a symbolic bookmark attached, and one creative friend made a three-dimensional piece of artwork on the cover as her clue.  We had such a variety of genres!  Everyone was taking notes about books that sounded interesting to them so we really went away with even more future reading ideas.

Holiday two for one
I haven’t had this book party yet . . . but invitations will be going out soon!  Friends!  Put on your thinking caps!  I think that books and food go together well . . . okay, just about everything and food goes well together.  For this gathering, guests will bring a favorite holiday book – a novel, a cookbook, a children’s book; just something special that represents the season.   AND, they will bring a food item that represents that book.  I had originally thought that a cookie exchange – book party combination would be a great idea, but really it could be anything.  Mulled wine, homemade fudge, fruitcake!  Anything that might either represent or compliment the book.

We will celebrate the season, I will clean my house and have the motivation to get it decorated, and everyone will go home with a new book and a treat to share!  It’s a win-win situation!

Spring Cleaning purge
I think I might need to start another blog.  I absolutely love spring cleaning . . . yes, I am weird.  I love the purge of getting rid of things that clutter my space and my life.  I love the fresh, clean, simplicity of spring cleaning.  My family always gets a little nervous this time of year; they aren’t sure what . . . or who . . . might get put out on the curb!!

For this book party, my thought is that everyone brings a few books that they have on the shelf that they enjoyed but don’t need to keep.  We will swap out our old books and recycle them by having others enjoy them.  And, we won’t spend any money purchasing new books!  Granted, the book collection at home won’t be any smaller, but at least the books there will provide fresh, new reading options when the spring cleaning is done!

Anyone out there have any other alternative book party suggestions?