There was a ton of prep that went into this party, so that's what I'll start with. The set-up. Surprisingly, there is very little information out there about how to throw a book release party. The source of all knowledge, the all-spark, the internet, was totally useless. There is NO guidebook out there for book release party. Every author in the world, to my understanding, is just winging it.
There was no help. I was on my own. I started planning about two weeks before the party. First, I decided that I wanted to have a "Pages" theme. Everything would be made of book pages. Banners, tablecloths, decorations. I bought two crap chick-lit books that deserved to be torn up (they will remain nameless, but one of them was written by a reality tv star), and ripped out their pages, turning them into all sorts of fun things. The other theme I wanted to have was flowers, since my book is about a florist. So, there it was. We cut the pages into flower shapes, hooked them on some twine that was laying around the house, and bam. It was done. My husband cut down some branches (I looked out the window and saw with alarm that he had duct taped a broom to a saw and was on a ladder hacking down living tree branches. I just, I don't know what to do with that.) and we put those into the vases, filled them with rocks from the library landscaping (which we put back), and put it all together.
For the flowers, I chose an assortment of fun colors that matched the book cover. Peachy Coral Roses, hot pink lady roses, orange tulips, pink nerine lilies, dusty miller, white anemones and seeded eucalyptus. I wanted to reflect the design style in the book. Also, the bright pink peonies that are on the cover aren't in season and they are about 90.00 a bunch right now. So that wasn't' happening. I was okay with that. Natural looking was good. Elly is a much better designer than I am. I also had little flowers arrangements scattered around the room, here and there.
So that was the design plan for the party. Books & Flowers.
For the food, I knew what I wanted: Homemade, Southern style food, much like the food that Elly grew up with in Peachtree, Georgia. There is an assortment of food mentioned in the book: Blueberry pancakes, Italian sandwiches, gelato, lasagna - but I couldn't make all of those, so I focused in on just Southern bites. Then I called Emily, and she made all the food (aside from the Italian sandwiches, which I made with Kim. Making them was crazy. I put red wine vinegar on them people! It was on my hands.) The menu then, featured Pulled Pork Crostini, Southern Mac & Cheese, and the Italian Roasted Red Pepper Sandwiches.
Okay. Delicious food? Check. Decorations? Check. Desserts? Nom nom nom...check. For desserts, we had two types of cupcakes - Pumpkin Spice Latte, and Guinness Stout. Kim and I made the Pumpkin Latte ones, and Cindy made the Stout cupcakes, which are her signature and SO delicious.
The dessert table looked awesome. Besides the cupcakes, we had Elly's cookie stand, which had four different homemade cookies on it: The Devil's Mint, Cherry Icebox Cookies, Homemade Chocolate Chip, and Peanut Butter Drop. At the end of the party, there was not a single cookie to be found.
The showstopper on the table was these two gorgeous, two layer cakes that were made by Katie. I was amazed at how gorgeous they were, and immediately wanted to dip my face into them. She did an "Ombre" technique, which means the frosting goes from one color to another. They started dark blue on the bottom and then ended with a light blue at the top.
They were SO pretty, I almost didn't want to eat them, but it's a good thing we busted them open because they were delicious and made with homemade strawberry and raspberry filling. So delicious that we snacked on cake leftovers for a few days after the party. So good. Her buttercream is my favorite buttercream EVER. They were to die for.
The dessert table looked fabulous, thanks to several helpers.
For drinks, we decided that instead of sweet tea (there was already so many sweets going on), we would do fruit infused "Spa water", which is a fancy name for water with fruit in it. I found three recipes on Pinterest (best internet tool ever, besides maybe email and funny pictures of seals): Sunshine Water (lemon, strawberry and cucumber), Mojito Water (Ginger, Pineapple and Mint), and Mountain Water (Blackberries and mint). They were a HUGE hit, and all of them got pretty well drained. We also had boring water on the side. (No one drank that.)
My Dad was awesome and provided two huge tubs filled with ice and bottled root beer and cream soda. Those were also a big hit. (If anyone likes root beer, we have about twenty left.) After my party, we were accused by the library of having alcohol there and I was threatened with library banishment. After my momentary confusion, I realized that the library staff had mistaken the root beer bottles with beer bottles. It's understandable, but they shouldn't have assumed. A strongly worded email was my reply.
Near the entrance, we set up a huge pile of books for people to grab when they came in. Kim was assigned the very fun task of helping people get their books and then giving them a post-it to write their names on, so that when I was signing, I could spell things right. This didn't take like we thought. She also sort-of acted as a guard of the books, since there was a weird guy who kept coming in and out, lingering over the books, making small talk, taking food and then leaving again. Same with a few middle school boys, who came in, grabbed a root beer and left. Jerks.
Over in the corner, we had our giveaway table. We gave away three Elly in Bloom totes with fall scented B&B three wick candles inside (my favorites!) and Southern looking journals, one twenty five dollar gift card to Olive Garden and TWO Kindles! Jan, who was kind enough to let me use these pictures that she took, won one of the Kindles, and my friend Traci won the other. Hooray! We also gave away all the flower arrangements, because I did not want to take home flowers.
Another giveaway that we had was this super amazing cookie basket from a friend of a friend, Kellie. The colors matched so well!
Setting up was insane. We were running about 15 minutes behind schedule, and anyone who has ever worked in events knows that even 15 minutes can mean major stress. We threw up the tables and began moving them around the room. The tables were smaller than I remembered, so for most things we needed two tables instead of one.
The Ryan's were putting up the cocktail tables, and I was assembling one table to be the example of what I wanted the cocktail tables to look like so that Kim and my stepmom could replicate it. My Dad was just walking around in circles carrying ridiculously heavy things and I was yelling at him. "Dad! Put it down! Put it down! I said, put it down!" The weird guy was already coming in and out of the room saying things like "Wow. Great party!" Everyone was throwing down tablecloths and food and I was trying to put pens in the right location . A major player in this party was pens. All in all, it was chaos, basically.
Finally, at about a half hour until the party began, I allowed myself to go to the bathroom to get ready. Kim came with me and we spent the next half hour blow drying my sweaty hair, putting makeup on my face and brushing our teeth. At the library. When I finally put on my shoes and looked in the mirror, my sister and Mom popped in and said "Um, your guests are arriving." It was maybe the most stressful moment of my life. I looked in the mirror, took a deep breath and then clutched my stomach because it felt so nervous and then repeated the same steps about three times.
And then I finally left the bathroom. Delicious food? Check. Decorations? Check. Desserts? Check. Author who is having a nervous breakdown in the bathroom?
Stay turned for Part Two, i.e, the Actual Party.
PS - HATE new blogger.