Winter is high season for book clubs. It’s the perfect excuse to brave the snow, hang with some friends, and pick apart a (hopefully) good book.
At first glance, hosting a book club seems simple, but pulling off a great gathering takes careful planning. Keep reading for helpful tips on hosting a book club meeting you can be proud of.
Selecting the Right Book
People are taking time out of packed schedules to read the chosen book, so do your best to ensure the experience is enjoyable for everyone.
Make sure you know what people’s preferences are. If you’re extra organized, you could circulate a survey to find out other members’ reading preferences. Online survey templates can help save you time.
Better yet, have a genre theme for your book club such as romance, fantasy, Jane Austen, etc. That way everyone will know what they’re getting into.
Since winter is such a bleak time, it’s best to avoid overly depressing material.
If you are hosting a book club in the run-up to the holidays, consider choosing a holiday-themed book.
Creating a Warm Atmosphere
With snow piling up outside, creating an inviting ambiance indoors is extra important.
Seasonal decorations are also a great addition, but don’t go overboard. Everyone will need a place to put down their wine, after all!
The Value of a Good Fireplace for Winter Gatherings
Nothing says cozy like a great fireplace.
Fireplaces provide additional light and heat that are in short supply in the winter. The heat from a fireplace fills the room efficiently and will help ensure no one feels too cold.
Gathering around a fire also has a certain magic. It can induce nostalgic childhood memories or a sense of unparalleled contentment.
Preparing Snacks and Drinks
For winter book clubs, it’s ideal to offer comfort foods, homemade sweets, and warm drinks.
Don’t feel pressured to serve a full meal. Finger foods work well and allow people to mingle and chat or pick up their copy of the book to make a good point.
However, if you have time to eat before talking about the book, a cheese or chocolate fondue could be a special treat that may inspire oohs and ahs from your guests.
If you’re pressed for time, you can never go wrong with red wine or apple cider and ready-made appetizers.
Make sure food and drink are prepared in advance so you don’t have to spend the entire evening in the kitchen.
And remember to find out about dietary restrictions or preferences in advance.
Guiding the Discussion
There is an art to book club discussions. They need to follow a natural flow, but untended, they can devolve into one person’s monologue or uncomfortable silence.
Some book clubs nominate one or more people to lead the conversation. If your book club hasn’t done this, as host, you will likely play the role of facilitator.
Ensure that everyone has a chance to speak. You can formalize the process by giving members an allotted time to share their views initially or opt for a more casual approach. If you find some people aren’t talking as much as others, give them the floor once in a while by asking them questions directly. But don’t force it. Some people simply prefer listening.
If you find a heated disagreement arising, steer the conversation to a new topic or make a joke to neutralize the tension.
Keeping Everyone Engaged
Do your best to keep your guests engaged and having a good time.
Just because it’s a book club doesn’t mean you have to discuss the book the entire time. If the discussion is winding down, switch to a new topic.
It’s also a good idea to have a backup plan ready in case the conversation runs out. Party games can be a fun way to bond when no one knows what to talk about.
And don’t feel pressure to keep the party going for ages. Two hours is plenty of time for a book club get-together, especially if it’s on a weeknight.
Wrapping Up and Planning the Next Meeting
People usually look to the host for cues on winding the meeting down.
Making plans for the next meeting is a great way to signal the evening is at an end, and to ensure plans for the next event are in place.
If a time for the next meeting has already been set, remind everyone of the date and time. If not, invite the group to pull out their daytimers or phones to make a plan.
And remember to thank everyone for coming!
Although hosting a book club can take a fair amount of planning and organization, resist the temptation to get lost in the details. After all, the main point of having a book club in the first place is to connect with others and enjoy their company. Keep this in mind and remember to have fun!