A Birthday Party by the Book

This post is brought to you by Nestle Toll House Birthday Sugar Cookies. Bake some birthday love.

Brandon and I met in a bookstore. We both worked at Barbara’s Bookstore in Oak Park, an independent book shop that is now gone but was once amazing, and so clearly we have a shared love of books. We read to the kids like crazy, and Eleanor and August seem to share our enthusiasm too. There has been a whole lot of reading in the Balch house lately (we know how to party, whoooo!), so I thought it would be fun to come up with a bookish birthday party theme.

Birthday Book Party

I chose a plant instead of flowers to keep it from feeling too fussy. I thought it fit the book/library feeling well, and it’s such a sweet little plant. I added a few dried billy balls in front, and a few more on the other side of the table with some crazy mushrooms on sticks. (Say what? I don’t know — I liked ’em.)

I had a couple of cute ideas for the book theme. Idea one: bake sugar cookies in the shape of books! (That would be rectangles, yes.) I sandwiched them together with white frosting for the pages, then added fruit leather binding. Bookies, if you will. Super cute idea! Note the lack of closeups on that one! (The kids were still very into eating them.)

Birthday Book Party

Cute idea number two: Book garland. (This one was more successful.)

Birthday Book Party Garland

Cute idea number three: book risers. I took the dust jackets off of several hardcover books, and stacked them on the dessert table. I thought about recovering them with kraft paper or plain white, but I liked the look of the books as they were with their spines turned toward the back. I added in a couple of different-sized apothecary jars and a glass pedestal with a dome to vary the heights even further.

Birthday Book Party

And of course, a birthday party needs a cake. This one was ready-made red velvet from the grocery store. I’d never tried it before (I’m not much of a cake fan), but we brought it over to my sister-in-law’s house to share with the family and it was delicious.

Wouldn’t this be a sweet kid’s birthday party? I think it works for all ages, really. I’m turning 32 this month, and I’d be pretty happy with a bookish birthday too.

Birthday Book Party

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  • Celia
    September 4, 2012 at 11:56 am

    Really? Another sponsored post?

    • Mary
      September 4, 2012 at 1:16 pm

      Ha! You took the words right out of my mouth Celia.

    • Making it Lovely
      September 4, 2012 at 1:18 pm

      Yes, I have had several lately. Is the frequency too much?

      • RebeccaNYC
        September 4, 2012 at 3:47 pm

        I don’t really see the difference between a sponsored post and ads running down the side of the page. Either way, I ignore them and get to the good stuff….

      • Laurendy
        September 4, 2012 at 3:56 pm

        as long as the sponsors aren’t dictating your content I couldn’t give a flying fig on if a post is sponsored or not. Just keep up the good work, thats all the matters :)

      • Making it Lovely
        September 4, 2012 at 3:58 pm

        Thanks. I appreciate the feedback, good and bad.

      • Amy Kelly
        September 5, 2012 at 8:24 am

        Unfortunately, yes, the frequency of sponsored posts has been too much lately. I certainly understand the necessity of sponsorship, but I feel that a lot of your more recent posts have lacked the same quality as your past posts. (They feel a little forced compared to your older posts.) I continue to check your blog daily (and often multiple times a day), but the content doesn’t inspire as much as it used to.

      • Stefanie
        September 5, 2012 at 12:06 pm

        I’m a big fan so I didn’t want to complain, but I agree, the frequency feels *way* too often lately. With the exception of Honor Roll posts, I recall maybe one non-sponsored post over the past few weeks.

      • Danielle
        September 5, 2012 at 12:09 pm

        I think what Amy Kelly said is perfect! I miss your before and afters with decorting and your fun take on things. The sponsored posts are fine, but I do feel there are too many at once and not enough of what you used to do.

  • Erica { }
    September 4, 2012 at 12:00 pm

    This is to adorable for words! I loved books growing up and would have begged my mom for a party like this in middle school!

  • Juliana
    September 4, 2012 at 1:02 pm

    Barbara’s Bookstore is closed????? Maybe that’s old news…I haven’t lived in Oak Park in a long time…but I also worked there and met my boyfriend/fellow employee there as well. It was a great store. Sad.

    • Making it Lovely
      September 4, 2012 at 1:20 pm

      The bookstore was awesome (and the one on Well St. that closed years ago was too). The owner was less so though, and not the best business man. We always figured it would be a matter of time before the store was gone, unfortunately. There are other Barbara’s locations, but they’re not the same!

  • Donaville
    September 4, 2012 at 1:05 pm

    Fun idea! I like the book garlands, they’d make cute decorations for a weekly/monthly book club meeting.

    • Making it Lovely
      September 4, 2012 at 1:20 pm

      Eleanor wanted me to hang them in her room when I was done!

  • Alison Burtt
    September 4, 2012 at 1:21 pm

    I love your tablescapes. I think I need to beef up my collection of clear containers and cake stands. You use them almost every time and they just seem super versatile.

    Also, those book garlands are super cute. Maybe I’ll throw a full-blown birthday party for my husband this year. Thanks for the great ideas!

  • Susan
    September 4, 2012 at 1:48 pm

    I adore the book garland! What a darling idea! And those colors… Love.

  • Leigh
    September 4, 2012 at 2:19 pm

    Adorable. I kept having to stop reading and pin.
    You are doing lots of sponsored posts, but unlike most others, you really do your own thing. I don’t see how this would have been different without the sponsored tag line (except perhaps it got you to bake)

    • erin
      September 4, 2012 at 3:20 pm

      Agreed. Still full of design and style take-aways.

    • Making it Lovely
      September 7, 2012 at 10:37 pm

      Ha, yes it did get me to bake! Actually, the difference with this one being sponsored versus not is that I went ahead and put together an actual spread and photographed it, instead of just making a virtual mood/design board. So the sponsorship helped me create a more detailed (and better) post than I would have had otherwise.

  • Laura
    September 4, 2012 at 2:25 pm

    This is my favorite post – book lover that I am. How creative, and charming.

  • cassandra beverly
    September 4, 2012 at 3:27 pm

    I love book themed parties…in fact my wedding three weeks ago was book themed! Book mark save the dates – book invites – library card rsvp’s – a library book return box as the card box & books on the table.

  • Ashley
    September 4, 2012 at 3:33 pm

    My sister-in-law is also from Oak Park and makes amazing cookies that would be perfect for your next event!

  • RebeccaNYC
    September 4, 2012 at 3:42 pm

    Love love love! We are also a very bookish family. When my niece was expecting her first child, her shower was a book theme, with the cake an exact replica of her favorite childhood book, opened to one of the pages (“never tease a weasel, don’t make me say it twice. For weasels do not like it, and teasing is not nice”…I think that’s how it goes) It was incredibly beautiful, and very touching. Each guest brought one of their favorite kids books to the party.

  • Jessica - Sweet Green Tangerine
    September 4, 2012 at 4:32 pm

    I want this for MY birthday!! Love the book garland idea. Not only are books good for reading (duh) but I love to decorate with them and collect them. :)
    Sponsored or not, this is a great post.

  • akm
    September 4, 2012 at 4:51 pm

    Hi Nicole,

    That is a great table! Do you mind sharing what kind of plant that is? It really is very sweet — I have a spot on my bookcase and an empty white vase that could really use this plant:)


  • kate
    September 4, 2012 at 5:07 pm

    Nothing wrong with sponsored posts ( click through them and there are good offers and coupons!) More power to you Nicole! And love your little book cookies:).

  • Jill
    September 4, 2012 at 5:07 pm

    I believe your posts have changed since you started using so many sponsors. Some reflect the sponsors direction more than others. I guess you have to do whatever is necessary.

    Still … the cake looks yummy.


  • Kristen
    September 4, 2012 at 6:16 pm

    I absolutely adore this theme. My daughter turns 6 in a month and this year’s theme centers around children’s books. Martha Stewart did an adorable book-themed baby shower, which you should check out.

  • Brittany Lauren
    September 4, 2012 at 8:00 pm

    What an adorable way to host a book party! I’ve also seen the Martha Stewart baby book shower too and I loved the concept. Glad to see different ideas. Keep up the creative energy and look forward to more party ideas!

  • Sara K {SaigeWisdom}
    September 4, 2012 at 11:33 pm

    I LOVE this… we’re throwing a ‘nerd party’ for my son’s 1st birthday and I’m thinking of borrowing {okay stealing} your book garland idea. The possibilities of this theme are endless. I’ve opted for library card invites with a book plate insert – see here:

    Sponsored posts are not, makes no difference to me… glad to see someone deserving getting a little something for their creativity and time. xoxo

  • pve
    September 5, 2012 at 5:48 am

    I love it. I love nestle’s tollhouse too. I have been baking them since 3rd grade.

  • chris
    September 5, 2012 at 11:09 am

    I was thinking that if someone had a book birthday party, the guests could bring a book along (instead of a present) to donate to a book drive.
    Your decorations would work great for a book club evening, too. I love thee garland! Oh, and now I am thinking of birthday games to play, too – the kids could use the books from the garland and each child writes a sentence into each book, creating a silly story that the kids could take home. Maybe? I never have these ideas on my own!

    • Jessica
      September 6, 2012 at 9:31 am

      The book drive is a GREAT idea!

    • Making it Lovely
      September 7, 2012 at 10:40 pm

      I love the book drive idea.

  • Andi
    September 5, 2012 at 3:38 pm

    I agree that the direction of the blog has changed a lot since the sponsored posts got heavy. I miss the decor posts and don’t come here to read about fashion, kids, hand soaps, cakes etc.

    If the content was the same with the sponsored posts, it wouldn’t bother me. But, I feel like I’m reading a housewife’s blog more than anything.

  • Tena
    September 6, 2012 at 6:34 am

    I host a Summer Reading Contest for my family every year. This year we read a total of 50 books over the children’s summer break from school. We have a banquet with prizes and everything the night before school starts back. Some of these ideas would work perfectly for our banquet. I especially love the book garland.

    I enjoy and appreciate your blog so much. Thanks for all of your effort.

  • Kristyn @ Organic Grey
    September 6, 2012 at 8:12 am

    this is adorable! i’m a bookworm myself and would love if someone threw me this party :) must start making hints…. ;)


  • Debbie
    September 6, 2012 at 9:12 am

    Genius! My daughter’s birthday is in December, and I was trying to come up with a theme that would be fairly simple to execute because of the holiday rush (and not the dreaded princess). She loves, loves, loves books, so this is perfect. Oh, and for what it’s worth, I don’t care if it’s a sponsored post or not. The content is good.

  • Kim @ Yellow Brick Home
    September 6, 2012 at 11:06 am

    That book garland is awesome!

    Not to be weird or creepy, but I saw you at Joy’s book signing last night right before the Q&A (and wanted to say hello but didn’t because it was about to start – and then we had to leave early for other obligations, yadda yadda), but did you notice the gorgeous book garland at West Elm? How fun!

    And your pink skirt was beautiful.

    • Making it Lovely
      September 7, 2012 at 10:41 pm

      Oh, I wish you would have had time to come over and say hello! I would have loved to chat with you. And yes, wasn’t the book installation amazing? I was impressed.

  • Lizy b
    September 7, 2012 at 11:19 pm

    Love, love, love the book garland brilliant!! Bookstores have always been my happy place, this party would be so perfect for me!!

  • Amanda
    September 12, 2012 at 12:10 pm

    This is insanely adorable. Plus, I just love your library period. This really makes me want to work on my office/library. It looks so dreary right now.

    And this is probably a stupid question, but what is the name of the plant that you used in the decor? I’m looking to add some greenery to my house, and I love how that one looks.

    • Amanda
      September 12, 2012 at 12:15 pm

      Nvm – just saw you mentioned the plant name in a response to someone else!

  • how2home
    September 12, 2012 at 5:58 pm

    I think it is fabulous wither its a sponsored post or not! Great table set up :)

  • Liz
    September 17, 2012 at 9:28 am

    I love your table – where did you get your cake stands and jars?

  • Tiff
    December 3, 2012 at 2:51 pm

    My sons school has a read your heart out day where the kids bring a blanket and pillow and read all day long. Your idea inspires me to turn that into a party for my kiddos. Maybe it will give us something to do in the winter months here in Indiana.

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