Home for the Holidays with Morgan from Gone with the Words

One of my favorite things about the holiday season is all the parties I get to go to. It’s always such a blast seeing friends and family that I may not have seen in a while and have an opportunity to celebrate the season with them. Today on Home for the Holidays, we have Morgan from Gone with the Words giving us a crash course in party planning for a Holiday Book Exchange! I can’t think of a better way to get into the spirit than to share my love of books with everyone I know.

Holidays header

As soon as Sarah invited me to take part in this amazing feature, I knew what I wanted to share with all of you! Three of my favorite things are books, planning parties, and the holidays so a Holiday Book Exchange seemed like the perfect idea.  Here is the Pinterest board I created if you’d like to visit the original posts for instructions and more pictures. There are lots of things on the board that I didn’t include in this post so think of them as bonus ideas!

What Type Of Party Should You Host?


In my mind, there are a few ways you could choose to throw the book exchange part of the party and they would all be fun. There’s no right answer!

  • Secret Santa: each guest buys a specific book for their match.
  • White Elephant: everyone brings one wrapped book for an exchange and each person takes turns picking a gift, according to the White Elephant rules.
  • Blind Date: each wrapped book has three clues written on the paper and guests get to choose one book each.  I love this idea!!!
  • Lastly, the very fun and potentially expensive idea where every guest buys a book for every person!! Woohoo!

It’s up to you whether you want to set limits: new books, used books, hardcover, paperback, price limit, etc. Just be sure to include it on the invitation! And might I suggest these adorable invite templates that look like library information cards?

Book Exchange Invitation


The fun part about a holiday book exchange in particular is the opportunity for a million types of decorations! Book inspired, Christmas and/or Chanukkah inspired, or both! Or maybe you’re into theme parties- a Very Ugly Christmas Sweater Book Exchange! It’s as involved and specific as you want to make it; the important elements are the books, guests, holiday spirit, and oh yeah- food! This sign I found on Etsy sets the mood perfectly:

eat drink be merry

My favorite idea is the bookish Christmas tree. It’s easy to construct, oh-so-festive, and the perfect centerpiece for your party! I also love the DIY Santa Bucket for putting the gift books in. The book page garland would make a great backdrop on the wall behind the food table, or along the counter, perhaps with some twinkle lights!


And then of course there are the table decorations to think of! I’m all about holiday spirit 🙂 You could:

  • Cover books in colorful wrapping paper and create stacks along your mantle, if you have one. Maybe a seasonal candle on top of a few stacks.
  • Frame favorite or seasonal book covers to place on the table between vases of flowers or appetizers.
  • Use candy canes to decorate your vases.
  • Place a smaller vase of flowers inside a larger one and fill the empty space with chocolate gelt for a festive Chanukkah centerpiece!
  • Add a sprig of holly to a little vase, fill with water, and add a tea light! Bonus if it’s a holiday scent!



Most of the recipes and party ideas I find come from Pinterest. So much amazing inspiration to be had! Again, the food and drink you decide to serve could take so many different directions: dessert bars, desserts and appetizers, potluck meals, afternoon tea.

Personally, I think dessert bars are the most fun for holiday parties! You could even turn it into a cookie exchange and have your guests bring a wrapped book and a plate of cookies to share. Make sure everyone picks different recipes! Here are a few of my favorite recipe/dessert ideas from Pinterest.


  • Santa hat brownies!
  • A fancy container full of “book worms” (sour gummies!)
  • Cranberry gingerbread scones, especially if you throw a tea party
  • Sufganiyot (jelly donut) cupcakes for Hanukkah


  • Mini eggnog cheesecakes with gingerbread cookie crust
  • Triple chocolate chip sea salt cookies stuffed with nutella. I’ve made these  and they’re AMAZING.
  • Sparkling cider mini cupcakes
  • Peppermint brownies

You could always make sugar cookies with these Pride and Prejudice cookie cutters too!! It would make for a fun decorating activity, who can make the best Mr. Darcy out of flour and icing 🙂

PP cookie cutters

Here are a few simple yet enticing ideas for appetizers:


  • A cheese and fruit display shaped like a Christmas tree
  • Trader Joes Parmesan Pups shaped like a wreath
  • Christmas Cranberry Dip


  • Sparkling berry bites
  • Mini grilled cheese with tomato soup shots
  • Individual 7 layer dip cups


I’m partial to the idea of a hot chocolate bar with all the fixins myself! There are so many varieties now (sea salt caramel, double chocolate, peppermint), with a myriad of items to put in your mugs: marshmallows, whipped cream, candy cane stir sticks, chocolate shavings, cinnamon. Anything you want! Twinings Christmas tea and Starbucks Holiday Blend coffee would also be fun hot drink choices.

As far as cold drinks go, these all look delicious and festive!


  • Non-frozen Cranberry Margarita
  • Frozen Merry Cranberry Margaritas
  • Non-alcoholic Grinch Punch

Party Favors


Lastly, after everyone is stuffed with yummy food and drink and all excited about their new bookish presents, you’ll need a party favor! I love these vintage library card star ornaments, they’re very cute and perfect for a bookish holiday party! I also love these chocolates made to look like the middle of a book.

I hope I’ve given you some great ideas for a holiday book exchange of your own, and plenty of time to organize one! I’m sure no one would say no to a New Year’s book exchange either 🙂 If anyone hosts or attends a party, be sure to tweet us pictures! I want to see! Have a very happy holiday, bookworms.


OK Morgan, you do know that now you have to host a HUGE book exchange extravaganza and invite ME! All these ideas are so amazing and now all I want to do is eat desserts and sip on Cranberry Margaritas while talking books with all my friends. All I need to do is find the perfect outfit to wear to this party and I’ll be all set! Thankfully, we have Andi from Andi’s ABCs guest posting on Monday with some ridiculously gorgeous outfits to wear to the fanciest of holiday gathering! You definitely don’t want to miss is!


10 comments for “Home for the Holidays with Morgan from Gone with the Words

  1. Such a cute idea! I would love to throw a book exchange party one day

    1. Morgan @ Gone with the Words

      Thank you!! I’d love to thrown one too, my friends need to move closer! Hehe 🙂

  2. Haha, all us poor graduate students did was go into detail on the Secret Santa + Holiday Sweater, but not the food, decorations, or drinks. It was simply “bring food and drinks,” and we threw on some garland and strung up Christmas lights. Looked so haphazard! LOVE these ideas — an actual full-on theme!

    1. Morgan @ Gone with the Words

      Same, my friends and I decorated cookies too and dressed up but that’s it! I’ve never done a full party, would love to someday 🙂

    1. Morgan @ Gone with the Words

      Thanks so much!!

  3. How fun is this post??! Loved seeing all these holiday party ideas! I might steal that fruit & cheese tray displayed like a Christmas tree idea for my family gathering — it’s too cute!!!

    1. Morgan @ Gone with the Words

      Thank you! Pinterest is amazing 😉 Did you end up using the fruit and cheese Christmas tree display?? I really want to have a full on party next year!

  4. Ummm, Morgan needs to come plan my wedding. 🙂

    1. Morgan @ Gone with the Words

      Aww you’re sweet! Hahah happy to help anytime 😉 I used a lot of Pinterest boards to plan my wedding!

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