How to host a book swap party

13 August 2019

As an introvert, I’m a big fan of parties with a purpose, and my recent book swap party perfectly fit the bill: gather with likeminded friends, eat dessert, and head home with an armful of new reads? Sign me up!! Here’s a recap, if you’d like to plan something similar!

how to host a book swap party

The venue: My friend Katie graciously agreed to host this soiree, which couldn’t have worked out better: her husband is an author, so their home is filled with books and was therefore the perfect backdrop! Her first floor is also a more traditional layout, with several distinct rooms, which helped with the flow of the evening.

book party decor

In addition to playing hostess, most of the adorable details you see here are the work of Katie’s hand – she is incredibly crafty and a genius hand letterer!! She made the book table runner, the adorable treat bags, the “library cards,” and more. (She also makes AMAZING wedding invitations and other fun things, so please email her to talk about a project!!)

The invite: I sent out an invitation on Paperless Post (this one). We had an almost 100% RSVP rate, including a few EFM readers I had never met before! :)

party drink station

The swap mechanics: My research turned up all different ways to host a book swap – some people do a Yankee Swap, or a Yankee Swap with wrapped books for extra mystery. My goal, however, was to clear out my shelves, pass on well-loved books, and get several new books in return, so I allowed gals to bring up to 5 books to swap that they already owned. (One book was totally fine, too! I’d say most people brought about 3.)

Any kind of book was welcome – fiction, nonfiction, memoir, cookbook, coffee table book – the only requirement was that they had to be GOOD! Something you’d recommend to a friend, not something you’d put in the recycling :) At the end of the evening, you got to bring home as many books as you contributed.

book swap library cards

The food and drink: Guests arrived at 7:30, so we did light appetizers and a few sweets. We served feta dip and chips, pigs in a blanket (my favorite!), sausage tarts, fruit salad, cheesecake brownies, and warm chocolate chip cookies. For drinks, we had wine, lemonade, and sangria. I made some of the food myself and asked a few friends to bring items, which worked out great!

book swap food

Okay, I know those cookies don’t look the most beautiful, but they were DELICIOUS! You can’t beat warm chocolate chip cookies :)

The activities: When gals arrived, we asked them to fill out a “library card” for each book they brought, pitching it to a new owner, then “shelve” their selections (we had tables for fiction, non-fiction, and miscellaneous scattered throughout the first floor). This was a great way to break the ice and give people something to do right away! Download your own library cards right here!

book swap ideas

We also had a jar for each gal to drop in her all-time favorite book she thinks everyone should read (the answers are coming in my next post!!). Download your own suggestion cards here!

how to host a book swap party

After everyone had had their fill of food and browsed our makeshift book shop, each gal introduced herself (we were 17 strong!), explained one of the books she’d brought and why she loves it, and drew and answered a bookish question on a little slip of paper. Here are the questions Katie and I brainstormed – wouldn’t these all make great conversation starters?!

book-themed conversation starters

The favors: We tied up gummy worms from Target in little glassine bags – book worms for the book worms :)

book party favors

All in all, this was SUCH a fun evening and something I think might be a new annual tradition!

Since I’m all about the theme party, I’d love to hear if you’ve been to or hosted another fun “party with a purpose!” My favorites include pumpkins and soup, a favorite things party, and showers, of course!

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August 13, 2019 8:47 am

This was such a fun event! You both did a lovely job with all details. This coming Christmas I’m hoping to plan a cookie making/swap party with girlfriends and any of their littles.

August 13, 2019 12:47 pm

What a marvelous party! Those questions will make you think, I’d be sweating to think of a good answer, haha!
PS: I love how there’s an arrow pointing to a wine bottle with a simple “wine.” Enough said! :D

August 13, 2019 2:00 pm

I love this idea! I feel like it’s a great way for adult women and even working moms to make new friends and strengthen neighborhood ties. How did it work with each women picking a book? Were there any books that multiple people wanted to take home?


Victoria Bouchard
August 14, 2019 6:41 am

Love this so much! I may have to do one myself as fall sets in to get some new reads!

August 14, 2019 7:52 am

Aw I LOVE this! And I am so keen to host one of these – maybe even for our bookclub friends x

August 14, 2019 11:42 am

Your very first line made me smile – me too, 100%! What an absolute DELIGHT of a party and a post! You may have already answered this in another post, but how did you find such a great community of book-loving gals? Did you start a book club or join one locally? I assume part of the answer will simply be patience :)

August 19, 2019 4:14 pm

I love this! So much so in fact that I just sent out invites to my own book swap party! Any chance you could share the template for the library cards? Hope you don’t mind that I’m shamelessly copying your party 100%, down to the bookworms :)

February 26, 2022 11:42 am

Would you screen share your invite, it’s no longer on paperless. What a great idea, a book swap! I’m inspired.

April 19, 2022 9:59 pm

I hosted a pink poker party once it was fun! I did not even know how to play poker. But super fun!