Wednesday, May 25, 2022

Summer is gone, and with Sukkoth and Simchat Torah over, happy and festive as they are, so is Indian Summer. As the days shorten and leaves turn gold and red, school and work are back on track, life becomes routine. There’s a nip in the air, and people want to find lovely distractions—any excuse to have some fun and keep the coming winter doldrums away.

Whether it’s a theme for a bar bat, a birthday party or anniversary—whether you want to invite hundreds of guests or just a few good friends, the season of exuberance and joy is upon us. And there are lots of things to do. All it takes is a little imagination attached to the humdrum tasks we take for granted—from baking, cooking and getting dressed in the morning, to redoing a spare room that could be put to better use, raking leavings or clearing snow!

From theater parties to Thanksgiving, adults find that  the fall into winter is packed with things to do. And kids? Spring and summer aren’t the only times of year to amuse them (and yourselves) in the great outdoors.  All it takes is a little time, brain juice, and perseverance.

October is great for intellectual pursuits, transitions, traveling, and nesting. November challenges us with that big All-American day, Thanksgiving—especially this year, when Chanukah  combines with it to create a new breed of something called Thanksnukkah—which has so many manifestations to choose from, you can create your own traditions. And coming as it does at the end of November, the party season of December is extended, with everyone conspiring to prettify the world. The lights of the menorah, the icy sparkle of the stars on a crisp fall into winter evening on a hay ride in the mountains illuminate thank yous to Hashem for giving us back the Beit Hamikdash and our right to practice Judaism, and thanks to America for welcoming us and giving us the freedom to be who we are.  So fix yourself your favorite beverage, sit down at your desk, and plan a party that will make you and your guests feel their best.


Children’s Book Parties:

Children’s book parties can be the most fun. Invite each child to bring a favorite book—put the books on a shelf or in a big box, and choose lots. The five kids who get picked are blindfolded and get to pull a book out of the box or off the shelf, and those books will be read aloud in the course of the event. Or do a Dr. Seuss Party (or other character themed book), where the characters decorate the room, and the books get read out loud. If it’s Dr. Seuss party, read them as fast as you can, the faster the better! You can imagine the menu that goes with a Dr. Seuss party. Green eggs smeared with jam are the basis for the menu and the rest is up to your imagination. Many party goods stores have characters printed on paper plates and napkins—or go to the net and go to Google to look for party supplies and recipes to see what’s available.

For older kids,  you can throw a Lemony Snicket Memorial Party (send him off with a blast!), the bewitched Harry Potter party,  a dinosaur party, an inter-galatic party—there is so much to choose from—it is ultimately mind-boggling.

Book Swapping Parties

Another way to handle a children’s book party is to have parents swap children’s books with each other. This can also be the basis of an adult book party, too. Everyone brings books they are done with to a party, and it’s spent trading books,  talking books and enjoying good company. For such a party, it makes sense to serve light snacks and beverages.

Romance Novels

Beside piling up stacks of romance novels,  the lacey, pink and red look works, as would purple for passion. Design a breathtaking floral centerpiece or have a local florist design something for you that reflects who you are and sets the romantic mood. Make sure that there’s plenty of chocolate available for this one! You can combine romance and murder by choosing one of the Peter Decker/Rena Lazarus stories by Faye Kellerman.

Travel Books

If travel books excite you, posters and photos of exotic places downloaded from the net and laminated between sheets of clear Contact paper can make interesting placemats. Model airplanes and cruise ships surrounded by flowers make an interesting centerpiece for the buffet. An international menu is called for, with a little bit of this and a little bit of that to give people a taste of the world.  In addition to inviting a travel writer, you might also be able to see if you can get a travel video or DVD from the tourist office of the country your book is about—whether its Israel, Shanghai or Timbuktu.

By Jeanette Friedman

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