Do you want to know the idea?
Instead of celebrating my birthday with a traditional party, I decided to host a White Elephant Book Exchange.
You might be wondering what this is.
Have you been to a White Elephant Gift Party? Everyone brings a wrapped gift, usually under a certain limit, cost-wise. According to predetermined order, everyone selects a gift, either a book already chosen by another, or from the pile of unpicked gifts. Usually there’s always someone who puts something hilarious in the pile.
I have some great memories from such parties.
I remember years ago Pastor Dale Hewitt accidently picked the very gift that he brought to the party. Of course his wife lovingly chastised him, while the group erupted in laughter.
Another year we hosted one in our home for our young adults group. As I cleaned the living room a few hours before, I found the check book of one of our attendees who left it the previous week. Immediately the jokester in me connived a plan: Wrap the checkbook for our White Elephant Gift Party!
I don’t know which was funnier, the expression of the guy who unwrapped it—or the shocked expression of the checkbook’s owner!
Great memories are priceless!
Now it is time to create new memories with an idea I’d been waiting a long time to implement.
I took the same concept but with a slightly different spin. Instead of bringing any type of gift, each attendee had to bring a book. And not just any book. I wrote to my invited guests: I want everyone to bring a book that deeply impacted your life. It has to be a nonfiction book (sorry, no romance novels!).
Before the go around, each person selected a number from the hat. This determined the order of selection. Obviously the higher the number, the more advantage the selector had in choosing a potential intriguing book (and not having their book constantly in jeopardy of being nabbed by someone else!).
At first there wasn’t any snatching as each person simply selected a gift from the pile. I knew my wife who picked before me had her eyes on a book; but she was too kindhearted to take the book from that person.
- Psalm 91: Real life stories of God’s shield of protection by Peggy Joyce Ruth
- Walk In Generational Blessings by Joseph Mattera
- The Prodigal God by Tim Keller
- Snakes in the Temple by David Orton
- There is More by Randy Clark
- Golda Meir by Eleanor Burkett
- Into the Fire by Che Ahn
After everyone selected their book, we went around to hear from each person why they brought that particular book. This portion allowed each participant an opportunity to share how the book impacted them. These were books that the giver had a personal connection to.
In hindsight there were three things that intrigued me the most about this idea.
- The prospect of discovering a powerful book I was unfamiliar with.
- The sheer joy of hearing afterwards the story behind the book as to why they choose to bring that particular book. I love hearing personal stories of how books have impacted lives.
- Finally, the satisfaction of everyone leaving with a book; and a story attached to that book.