Wednesday, December 14, 2011

A Book Club Christmas

"Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers." ~Charles W. Eliot

Sunday afternoon I hosted our congregation's ladies book club for a Christmas tea. Our usual practice is to meet quarterly to discuss a book, but since our winter meeting time fell in December this year, we decided to do things a little differently. The holidays are such a busy time, we knew it would be impossible to find a meeting time to accommodate most of our group, so instead we planned a Sunday afternoon Christian fiction book swap. And we will plan our next regular meeting to discuss the book Courting Morrow Little by Laura Frantz in late winter. (You still have time to order your copy!)

Bright colors and vivid patterns dominate my holiday decorating with the children, so I was so happy for an opportunity to plan a rosy pink celebration for my women friends. In truth, I am a pink girl all year long, so I felt right at home in my soft pink wonderland. The Word graphic above was perfect for incorporating into my invitation. The favor idea that inspired the party theme lent itself to a vintage feel, so I looked for elements that would bring a romantic, Old World feel to our celebration. 

This was our sign-up sheet inviting ladies of the congregation to join us for A Book Club Christmas. Styled like a book, complete with ribbon bookmark with little beads at the end, this design is a classic.

In our large congregation, it is customary for hostesses to print directions to their homes, so I printed party details, directions and my phone number on bookmarks finished with pink ribbon. Tucked into a favorite novel after the party, a bookmark invitation can remind guests of our time together. Here is a peek into our dining room before guests arrived Sunday ... .

It's beginning to look a lot like pink Christmas!

For some reason, pink roses can be a bit difficult to find during the holidays, but after stops at several shops, I found these lovely pale pink roses and soft green hydrangeas at Winn-Dixie in Montgomery. This beautiful bouquet was the perfect complement to my Christmas gift from Joe ... .

Isn't this china breathtaking? I simply adore it. I discovered this pattern, Norwich by Royal Embassy, at a local antique mall and could not get it out of my mind. The 48-piece service for six was reasonably priced, but I was hesitant to ask Joe if I could purchase it because I know that I do not really need it -- except in the way that I always need new china. (It is a sickness that runs in my family, affecting three generations of us ladies starting with my grandmother.) But anyway, when I did work up the courage to bring up the china and said it could be my whole Christmas, Joe said yes! Several of Sunday's party guests also enjoy collecting china patterns, so I was able to pass along their compliments on his fine gift giving.

"Books are not made for furniture, but there is nothing else that so beautifully furnishes a house." ~ Henry Ward Beecher

Wrapped in dust jackets of scrapbook paper and wrapping paper and adorned with soft pink ribbons and a glittery ornament, books added volumes of interest to the tablescape.

And glittered ornament picks from Michaels added sparkle to the table and garland that draped the mirror.


A soft vignette on the table.

This trio of trees added height to the narrow table that sits behind the dining room table. I found the white footed pots, topiary forms and moss at Caffco Floral Outlet in Montgomery. I hot glued the moss to the plastic foam, then added ribbon and bead embellishments with floral pins. The white paper flowers came from Michaels; I also used those to accent nearby pillar candles. I plan to keep  these topiaries and change out decorations to fit future party themes.

Since we met mid-afternoon Sunday, I kept the menu simple with a couple of choices and a show-stopping cake decorated to look like a present. I will share more details about this cake and the rest of the menu in my next post.

Roses and ornaments added festive touches to the serving dishes we used for our tea party.

We slipped into the sitting room to share refreshments and swap books. Then I invited each guest to choose a custom bookmark. Yesterday's post tells a little more about how to make this fun craft.

Each bookmark was a little work of art, and it was interesting to see which one each lady chose. Here are a few of the remaining styles. Many of the bookmarks featured Swarovski crystal beads, and many were finished with a little silver charm, like the pink and lavender bookmarks on the end. Several of the bookmarks were finished with one large charm, like the cherub bookmark on cream ribbon. I searched Word for vintage graphics, sized them to fit the charms, printed them on photo paper, placed them in the frame and covered them with a jewelry solution that gives the charms a clear sheen. The lavender bookmark with tiny oval frame is one of my favorites. It is actually a still from Bright Star, a movie about the poet John Keats and the love of his life, Fanny Brawne. I hope each bookmark chosen Sunday finds its place among treasured books.

We had a small group Sunday, but the intimate setting was enjoyable for visiting with dear friends. Left to right, Nia, Tina, Nancy, Missy, Margie, Haley, Sharon and Lynn. I enjoyed slowing down to share a cup of tea with these sweet ladies and hope they were blessed by our afternoon together.

Still to come, details of our Book Club Christmas menu and a little gift for you.

(Find more details of our menu here and our velvet bookmark favors here.)

"Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers." ~ Charles W. Eliot


tootles said...

Merry Christmas Melissa !
How absolutely darling ! I am just swooning over those book marks ( and the cake and trees...I guess I'm swooning over the whole deal)
Much JOY and Blessing to you !

Anonymous said...

Everything looks beautiful and I'm sure the ladies had a wonderful time. I really like your new china but I think it is sad that a grown woman has to ask her husband if she can buy something that she wants so badly. That sounds so weak. Surely all the things you do to make a lovely home and extra money for speaking etc. should give you some rights. It's your business how you choose to live but that is not a very good example for your children. I think you deserve better treatment and respect.

Deborah said...

What a lovely celebration. Especially the beautiful china and bookmarks. Thanks for sharing. Merry Christmas

Kristen said...

So fun!! I love your pink Christmas! You and one of my aunts would get along famously. =) She's a pink lady all year long, too!

I also want to comment on one of the above comments that bothered me. I think you are a wonderful example to your children and I wouldn't ever imagine that your husband treats you with anything but respect. I would have done the same thing about asking for the china to be a Christmas present. It's not about "not being able" to buy what I want - and it has nothing to do with "rights." It's discussing a "want" with your partner and looking at finances (especially during Christmas!) before making a larger purchase. That's not weak - that's smart! =)

Sally@threeblondeboyz said...

What a wonderful time your guests must have had! You are so very talented and I really don't know where you find the time to pack so much into your life. Thank you for sharing, Sally xx

Anonymous said...

I would definately ask my husband if I could have the dishes as a present. There is nothing weak about that, only thoughfulness on a wife's part! If that person knew you like I do, they would know your sweet spirit behind the china purchase. The party is beautiful and there is nothing better than a Pink Christmas!

mgster said...

those bookmarks are just beautiful! Looks like a wonderful afternoon. You are amazingly creative!

Laura Frantz said...

Oh, Melissa, you always bless me from afar! I just wish I lived close enough to have peeked in a window at least on your lovely bookish day;) The new china is exquisite. I had to chuckle at all the times I've asked my husband for an early Christmas or birthday gift involving dishes or some pretty thing I've wanted. Somehow it makes it all the sweeter when he agrees!

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