“A BOOK?! What d’you wanna flaming book for?” – Hosting a library shower

A new addition to our family is due on Star Wars Day – May 4th – and we are all very excited about it!

Don’t worry! I did resist the temptation to organise another Star Wars themed event (despite the very provocative due date), and decided to choose a theme that would be a little more neutral and baby-specific! And so I thought: what better way to prepare for the little one’s arrival than to get my sister’s friends and family gathered together to start assembling a new library for him/her!  Books have always been such an important part of my life, and I hope that I will have an active role in ensuring that the little darling is as well-read as possible!

The idea was largely influenced by an article I read in Martha Stewart’s Living publication about 18 months ago, which included some wonderful suggestions about how to set up a “build-a-libary” themed event.  A “build-a-library” baby shower is centred around the act of each guest being asked to bequeath their favourite book (old or new) to the baby, as a gift that may be cherished by the child throughout its life.

The rest of this piece provides ideas, tips and information about where you can get some wonderful clip art, accessories and other little gems to make your baby shower a perfectly delightful and relaxing event for your “mother-to-be” to savour.

The Invitations

DSC_4702As noted above, Martha Stewart’s Living had some gorgeous printables that you can use to create your invitations, and these are available online at http://www.marthastewart.com.  I supplemented this clip-art with some cards and envelopes from Paperchase, and decorated them with different types of ribbon and string.DSC_4712

The website also included printable “book plates” that could be sent to guests in advance so that they could write their personalised messages inside the book they brought.DSC_4698

Mise en scene

I was conscious from the outset that I wanted the event to have a literary theme throughout, and I was fortunate, early on, to find some fabric that incorporated a stacked book motif, taken from Quentin Blake’s illustrations of the Roald Dahl classic, Matilda.  The colour of the fabric fitted in perfectly with the Martha Stewart colour scheme, and served as a striking focal point for the party.  You can buy this fabric from http://www.kidsfabric.co.uk.  Two meters was just about perfect to fit our table top (if you had time, you could make a proper tablecloth, however, I didn’t have time, and left the fabric as cut).DSC_4918

Home-made bunting shaped like mini-books and raindrops were made using pink and purple paper and printed Alice in Wonderland text.  I used mini pegs to hang the garland from the conservatory roof.DSC_4802DSC_4906

To continue with the literary theme, my mum and dad raided their old book collections to find some pretty vintage books that we used (which, I must confess included a Patrick Moore Astronomy book, but in my defence, it had a wonderful pink and purple nebular backdrop and matching coloured text) , all stacked-up, to add some variety to the table presentation.DSC_4796

I also took advantage of mum’s parrot vase, and framed it with dad’s model ship to create a “Treasure Island” drinks counter!DSC_4779

Finally, the fully harmonise all of these wonderful colours and themes, I ordered some flowers from a local florist in Cardiff http://www.forbesfield.co.uk, who provided a perfectly colour-matched bouquet of garden flowers that I then dispersed around the room in an array of teapots, cut-glasses and jugs.DSC_4751DSC_4907DSC_4809

The scent was intoxicatingly wonderful, and added yet another dimension to the room.  Thank you Beth for choosing such a lovely bunch!DSC_4755

Afternoon Tea

To ensure we were able to invite as many people as possible, we decided to serve afternoon tea nibbles for our guests.  As those who know me are fully aware, I am a stickler for colour-co-ordinating food.  As you can see, we tried, where possible, to match the food to the pinks and purples we had used elsewhere.DSC_4814

My home-made staple, the marshmallow, made another popular appearance, this time in a violet guise (flavouring available in Lakeland), and my not-so-perfect macaroons were, despite their mis-shapeness, a big hit!DSC_4801DSC_4775

I was also fortunate enough to stumble across a delectably sweet and tangy soft drink in M&S last week, a Rhubarb & Custard pop, that soon vanished into the whimsical glassware.DSC_4795

Dr Seuss’ ABC

To ensure that my sister had a personal reminder of the afternoon, I set up a guest book station whereby guests could use my new vintage-esq FujiFilm Instax 90 camera to take pictures to adorn the pages of a vintage Dr Seuss Alphabet book.  DSC_4812I also sourced a couple of wonderful American Crafts library-style ink stamps from http://www.craftie-charlie.co.uk that guests used on tiny library cards to predict the baby’s birthday.  DSC_4883Guests were also encouraged to guess whether the little star would be a boy or a girl, and to try and second  guess what name he or she would be known by.  I, of course, suggested that Luke or Leia may well be an appropriate choice…


No party would be complete without a little something there for the guests to take home with them.  

The little boxes (purchased from catseyepress on eBay) contained a small handful of those idiosyncratic chalk alphabet sweets that I hadn’t had in years, and I was over the moon when I discovered that the tiny sweet shop in Cardiff’s indoor market had these on offer in their pick’n’mix section!DSC_4718

The second gift was a mini note book (bought at the fab treasure trove that is the Tiger store in Cardiff) that I customised to include home-made labels (using my amazing new label maker from Oh My (available on Notonthehighstreet.com)) and mini star pegs from Paperchase.  DSC_4731My dad then came up trumps, when he found a lovely little vintage suitcase in the attic for me to use to display these little treats.DSC_4762

The Library

And of course, we mustn’t forget the main attraction: the library!  DSC_4784I used my vintage Tams heart planters to display more of Forbes Field’s blooms, which then doubled up as the book-ends for baby’s new books.  DSC_4858Overall, we had a range of lovely books for my sister to add to her library at home, including vintage classics and more recent publications. DSC_4846 There were also a couple of treats for the mum-to-be, including some Hotel Chocolat treats and a Vintage Tea Party recipe book!  


DSC_4919So Matilda’s strong young mind continued to grow, nurtured by the voices of all those authors who had sent their books out into the world like ships on the sea. These books gave Matilda a hopeful and comforting message: You are not alone. –  from “Matilda”

I would certainly recommend that anyone looking to organise a baby shower should consider this amazing theme.  

With technology becoming such an integral part of our young people’s lives, we must not forget the important influence that books have on young minds, and a build-a-library shower is the perfect way to ensure that the next generation is given the opportunity to own and enjoy a varied library.  




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