9 Literary Themes For Your Holiday Party That Aren't 'The Great Gatsby'
If there’s one thing that book-lovers are especially not-so-great at (everybody’s got something) it’s throwing parties — seconded only by, if you must know, attending parties. After all, I’d guess that most of us spent a chunk of our prime partying years (aka: college) hidden behind stacks of books instead — or only wishing that we were. But even the most hermetic of book-lovers will be able to get behind these book-inspired party themes, just in time for the holiday social season to kick into high gear. Nothing says “party all night long” to a book lover like a party inspired by books and the people who wrote them. Especially if that party is inspired by Christmas in Hogwarts’ Great Hall.
Now, if a story-themed shindig is sounding just a little too “third grade at PS14”, think again. Sure, if you’re imagining character tablecloths and matching paper plates route, the whole thing seems juvenile. But to throw a truly spectacular book-themed holiday party, you have to commit. I’m talking Kris Jenner's Great Gatsby-themed 60th birthday party committed — on a humbler budget, of course. (Speaking of which, throw your own Gatsby party with some of the suggestions below.)
So break out the books and bring on the bubbly, as you check out these 10 bookish themes to inspire your next holiday party.
Truman Capote’s Black and White Ball
It’s the party that people are STILL talking about 50-plus years later: Truman Capote’s epic black and white masked ball, which the novelist and true crime writer hosted in November of 1966. The party of a lifetime — which, reportedly, EVERYBODY who was anybody attended — included an evening of black-and-white formal attire, glamorous masks, plenty of dancing, a midnight dinner of spaghetti and chicken hash, and plenty of Taittinger champagne.
‘The Night Circus’ Midnight Dinner Party
If Capote’s black and white bash seems a little too formal for your holiday festivities, why not try some black, white, and red instead? Let Erin Morgenstern’s 2011 fantasy novel, The Night Circus — about a circus that magically appears in different locations for a night of wild revelry — inspire your own dinner party, via the midnight meals that take place in the book. Whimsical circus fare and tarot card readings a must.
‘The Little Prince’ Charity Fundraiser
Nothing says “holiday season” like getting into the spirit of giving — and hosting a holiday charity fundraising party is the perfect way to give and receive this year. Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s The Little Prince — a novella about life, human nature, compassion, and heart — makes a great theme for ANY party, but is especially appropriate if you’re asking your guests for donations to a cause close to your own heart. Blue, white, and yellow make up your color palette, while stars, crowns, and roses are go-to décor. Plus, since The Little Prince is a French text, might I suggest serving some French fare? Nothing says party like pastel macaroons.
Christmas at Hogwarts
If your holiday tradition includes holly jolly Christmas, you definitely can’t go wrong with some Hogwarts-inspired cheer. I don’t know ANY reader — Potterhead or otherwise — who wouldn't agree that Christmas in the Great Hall is definitely the most magical time to be had in the Wizarding World. Believe it or not, you can make butterbeer (a Hogwarts holiday must-have) in your very own kitchen. Invite your guests to show their Hogwarts House support, decorate a Hagrid-sized tree, and definitely don’t skimp on the candlelight.
Christmas at The Weasley Burrow
Because there is no such thing as too much wizardly holiday cheer, Christmas at the Weasley Burrow might be just the cozy gathering you need to celebrate the season, book-style. Hand make decorations (popcorn garlands, cute construction cutouts); feature mini monogrammed stockings for each of your guests (or if you’re super ambitious, Weasley-style sweaters); serve Mrs. Weasley’s Christmas cookies, fudge, and rock cakes; and order some fun fireplace packets that’ll transform those orange flames into every magical color of the wizarding rainbow.
Charlie and The Chocolate Factory Fondue Fest
The holidays are all about eating, drinking, and making merry — with a definite emphasis on the eating, at least in my house. And if you thought candy-centered holidays end at Halloween, think again. With plenty of Wonka-purple décor and a variety of sweet and savory chocolate dippers, this is the perfect party for anyone whose love of books is rivaled only by their love of candy.
Anna Karenina’s Russian Winter
Although there wasn’t a whole lot to be holiday-cheery about in Leo Tolstoy’s novel, Anna Karenina, few things say winter wonderland like a Russian winter-themed party. Adorn your abode — and yourself! — in velvet, brocade, and faux fur; give yourself and your guests formal titles (Countess, Duchess, Lady); have a playlist of classical music on in the background (or, just go with the Anna Karenina movie soundtrack); and be sure to serve up some super elaborate cuisine: several courses paired with different, complimentary beverages. Your guests will be saying "благодарю вас" before the night is up, guaranteed.
Dystopian Fiction Festivus
After the year most of us have had — one that often felt like it came directly from the pages of dystopian fiction — I think an airing of grievances is definitely in order. Transform your home into Party Headquarters, to which all incomers must pledge loyalty. Invite your guests to bring their favorite dystopian novel (wrapped in a plain paper bag, decorated with fun hints about the book inside) and then gather ‘round your Festivus pole for a surprise book exchange, followed by a rollicking game of banned book trivia. And don’t forget the food! Nothing says dystopian, apocalyptic fiction like canned and dehydrated everything… so sure, probably not a 5-star menu, but definitely one your already disgruntled Festivus guests will never forget.
A Game of Thrones Murder Mystery Dinner
Dinner is coming, courtesy of your Game of Thrones Murder Mystery party — because a feast fit for kings might be exactly what you need to cap off your holiday season: without any beheadings or poisonings, of course. At least, without any real ones. (However your mystery murderer decides to off your fictional victim is up to you.) Give the classic murder mystery dinner party at Game of Thrones twist with the local fare of Westeros. According to fans of A Song of Ice and Fire, there are more than 160 vivid food and beverage descriptions George R.R. Martin’s famous series — so you’re set there. The only thing left to decide is whether your murder mystery plot will remain true to the books or unfold the way you'd write them. (I don’t know about you, but Jon Snow always lives in mine.)