Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Book Swap Party 2.0

Kerry Hammond is here with her Crime and Beyond book club friends to tell you about their latest Mystery Book Swap Party.

Mystery Playground first alerted me to the existence of a wonderful thing called a Book Swap Party. I loved the idea so much that I held my own party, and blogged about it, of course. I love mystery related parties because it gives me a chance to break out my crime scene platter and bloody handprint plate. Don’t even get me started on my evidence envelopes and quarantine baggies.

This year, members of my book club, Crime & Beyond, decided to hold another party. I took the basic idea and made a few new tweaks for this year’s party, just to mix it up a bit. First, I’ll go through the basics.

The idea of the party is that each guest brings a book that they loved. This is tricky, because each person will be parted from their book, so you can’t love it so much that you can’t give it up – that kind of defeats the purpose. The group breaks up into smaller groups (quantity will depend on number of people at the party) and each person at the table “pitches” their book. They give a movie trailer version of the book that is meant to tempt everyone to read it. Everyone takes copious notes. 

Once the groups are re-arranged so that everyone has heard everyone else’s pitch, the choosing begins. We draw names and books are chosen, but we allow 3 steals per book before it’s retired and taken off the market. This year there was a huge amount of stealing. So many books were stolen, so many times that it’s hard to narrow it down. The top books were: The Child Garden by Catriona McPherson, The Vanishing by Wendy Webb, The Stranger by Harlan Coben, Black Eyed Susans by Julia Heaberlin, The Black Dahlia by James Ellroy, and Pretty Baby by Mary Kubica.

Last year I brought a pile of books to give away. Rather than just draw names or numbers, I decided to mix it up a bit. Prior to the party I printed tickets with the Crime and Beyond logo on them. Then, I created a list of items that would win each person a ticket. I created the list before the party so that it was random and unbiased. One of the items was: One ticket to anyone wearing an orange top. Another was: If someone brings a Michael Connelly book to pitch, everyone gets a ticket. I had one ticket for each book that I had to give away. When they were gone, each person was able to pick as many books from the table as they had tickets. Some books were wrapped and some unwrapped (there has to be some mystery). Trading was encourage afterwards.

We had each person bring a dish to pass, and I brought Mystery Playground’s Crime Scene Cupcakes. They were easy to make and super tasty. I added the severed fingers as a plate decoration. I used my handy dandy Evidence Envelopes to hold the door prize and my list of ticket criteria.

Lastly, nothing says “memorable party” like a souvenir t-shirt. The book club member who hosted the party had these t-shirt created and everyone went home with one. 

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