12 September 2006

Used library books as party favors

My family and I recently attended the birthday party of a good six year-old buddy. Great end-of-summer shindig: there was swimming, a picnic in the park, and super-delicious chocolate cake. At least 30 kids and their siblings ran around having a good time while the parents chatted and drank strawberry lemonade.

As the party came to an end, each pint-sized guest (and sibling, if there was one) received a wrapped party favor with his or her name written on it. Turns out the birthday boy's mom, Mary Wells, had gone to our local library's used bookstore and hand-picked a book for each kid. It doesn't get better than that!

Here's what she has to say:

If people don't have a library resale store in their town, every town has a library book sale at least once a year, and Goodwill and other used-stuff stores usually have a good supply of books. I tried to match books to kids too, which was actually really fun, and we agreed that any birthday party that ends with half the kids engrossed in a book must be an unqualified success. Frankly, I'm totally thrilled to have purchased a party favor that cost $1.50 per kid or less, and that parents will value instead of trying to vacuum up or throw away on the sly! I can't take the credit for the actual hack, however, because it was Cassandra's idea. She knows her resale values!

Mary Wells is developing a reputation for primo party favors: she was responsible for the crepe paper party ball as well.

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That's BRILLIANT. My second son's first 'big' party is this year (we do 'big' for 5, 10, and maybe 15 years), and I've been trying to think of a way to do cheap favors without them being junk. It is a Pony Rides party, so I could do all books about horses, if I can't do all books just aimed at each child (early in the school year, so don't know all the kids real well!). With so many kids who can't eat X or Y, and so much junk they already don't need, I can definitely get behind this as a party favor! And I could wrap them in bandanas for a non-trash wrapping, too. Hmmm....

There's a giant kids resale coming up near us Friday, that's another place to find used books for cheap. :)

And don't forget www.paperbackswap.com. We joined this fantastic book swapping site after reading it here as a hack, and we LOVE it. We initially thought it would only be valuable for exchanging adult fiction, but we have actually parted with my son's outgrown board books to good homes, and been fortunate to receive some excellent new readers, etc.! Great way to get some used books for the party favors too, especially if you plan ahead.

We just attended a great party for a five-year-old. Everyone was instructed to bring a wrapped book for a book exchange. All the children (the birthday boy first) waited in line to choose a book to take home. It was fabulous and the birthday family wasn't loaded down with a bunch of toys, etc. We bought a like-new copy of Horton Hears a Who from Goodwill for 99 cents. It totally changed the mood of the party too. Suddenly kids were on laps hearing a story before going home. I will be stealing this idea for my son's birthday.

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