The Night Circus: For the Creative Book Club

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“A dreamer is one who can only find his way by moonlight, and his punishment is that he sees the dawn before the rest of the world.”  – Oscar Wilde

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“The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Within the black-and-white striped canvas tents is an utterly unique experience full of breathtaking amazements. It is called Le Cirque des Rêves, and it is only open at night.  But behind the scenes, a fierce competition is underway—a duel between two young magicians, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood expressly for this purpose by their mercurial instructors. Unbeknownst to them, this is a game in which only one can be left standing, and the circus is but the stage for a remarkable battle of imagination and will. Despite themselves, however, Celia and Marco tumble headfirst into love—a deep, magical love that makes the lights flicker and the room grow warm whenever they so much as brush hands.  True love or not, the game must play out, and the fates of everyone involved, from the cast of extraordinary circus per­formers to the patrons, hang in the balance, suspended as precariously as the daring acrobats overhead.”  (Excerpted from:  http://erinmorgenstern.com/)

Do you need a great pick for your next book club?  Look no further…

The Night Circus is a magical book that will have your group talking into the night!  Without a doubt, it will be like no other book you’ve read before!  If you want to get creative, there are so many fun things you can do to make your guests feel as if they have entered:         Le Cirque des Rêves.

Invitations:  Most book clubs are pretty informal, but if you want to make this meeting a little more enticing, try coming up with a unique, circus themed invitation.  Check out these ones from Zazzle.  Not only are they circus-themed, but they are black, white and red – just like everything in the book!

black_white_circus_tent_with_red_ticket_birthday_invitation-rcc36fa3942de4545a2a683549b61b568_8dnm8_8byvr_512Be sure to invite your guests to wear Night Circus inspired clothing:  black, white, and of, course red!  As the Rêveurs, they should definitely wear a lovely red scarf!  This outfit is from Restyle, and it may be a little over the top.

754_3The gals in my book club would probably opt for something a little more casual, but we all love scarves!  This ruffled one from Etsy’s Maha Maha creations has a fun, circus-vibe, don’t you think?

il_570xN.430267579_8qsnDecorations:  Without a doubt, the decorations for your Night Circus party could  be out of this world.  However, if you have a real life, and can’t spend a fortune on decorations, here are a few ideas!

There were so many interesting tents at the circus, you could simply try to re-create one of them.  One of my favorite tents was “The Wishing Tree.”  Check out this tree from Kaboodle.  Wouldn’t it be fun to let your guests make a wish and light a candle, just like in the book?

large-71-metal-candle-tree-145One of the tents was papered with playing cards. It would be simple and easy to create a fun, playing-card garland to drape on the food table or across your fireplace.  This one came from Etsy’s Country Chiq.

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One of the most memorable tents was the Ice Garden.  Beautiful decorations could be made from clear vases, crystal-like accents, or perhaps these actual ice vases from HGTV.

ice_vase_2_lgOther decorating ideas that would fit with the book are:  mirrors, candles, bird cages, feathers, etc.

Food:  There are so many yummy foods that the characters enjoyed at the circus:  caramel corn, caramel apples, cinnamon twists, mulled cider and of course, the gourmet midnight dinners were feasts accompanied by decadent cakes and chocolate covered strawberries!  However, my favorite food at the carnival were the chocolate mice.  According to author, Erin Morgenstern, the mice were inspired by these ones from L.A. Burdick. Aren’t they adorable?

MiceTriangleThere are numerous chocolate mice recipes online.  Try this one from All Recipes.

133081Wouldn’t it be fun to let your guests enjoy yummy food on these amazing plates from Pottery Barn?  Perhaps you can find (or make) something similar!  The clock at the circus is an important part of the story, and time is something that affects the characters dramatically.  These would be perfect!

img15bPerhaps you want to add more circus flair by picking up some vintage popcorn bags from Etsy shop Spiral Sage.

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Activity: Many of the characters relied on the fortune telling abilities of Isobel, who discovered the secrets of others while keeping a very big secret about herself!  Set up a fun fortune teller’s table.  Get an “8-Ball” toy, buy a pack of Tarot Cards, spread out some tea-leaves. See what kind of fun you and your friends can have telling the future!  Sycamore Street Press has a lovely origami fortune teller party favor!  Remember these from when you were a kid?

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Discussion:  Well, we all hope that our book club gatherings end up with at least a little bit of discussion about the book, right?  Author, Erin Morgenstern, recommends the questions provided from the publisher at Random House.

Favors:  You probably couldn’t help going a bit overboard for this book club gathering, so why not send your guests off with a small token of your time together?  I think they would all love to settle in with a gooey caramel apple and your next book selection, don’t you? These ones are from Matisse Chocolatier, but you can try your hand at making your own!

applechocolateMissing Pieces Studio makes beautiful charms like this circus inspired beauty!

il_570xN.413758839_6ggdI hope your Night Circus book club gathering is as magical as the book. It just might last until midnight!

For the Creative Book Club: “The Thirteenth Day of Christmas”

More Books, More Crafts, More Decorating

“Reason is the natural order of truth; but imagination is the organ of meaning.”  –C.S. Lewis

(This is a quote from the book.  Marva gives Charlee’s dad his own special apron with this saying to honor his penchant for storytelling.)

“This new Christmas novel by New York Times bestselling author Jason F. Wright is filled with laughter, tenderness, and of course, hope as these delightful characters watch an old Christmas favorite turn into a  true Christmas miracle.”  Shadow Mountain Press

I recently reviewed this book for my upcoming article in Amy Powers’ Inspired Ideas.  It’s not too early to start thinking about a good book for your book club’s holiday gathering!  This book is a fast read, and would be perfect for the busy season when many of us are caught up with holiday preparations.  So, if you want to make your next book club gathering extra-special…. here are some fun ideas!

Food: 

One of Marva’s favorite aprons from her collection was embroidered with the quote, “If life gives you lemons, throw them through the candy shop window and grab some taffy.” That’s not the only reference to candy in the book! Charlee’s father describes her hair as the color of “Hershey’s Kisses.”  Miss Marva fills her advent calendar with gumdrops (except for the 26th day, of course). Oh, and Charlee receives some yummy Milk Maid caramels as one of her secret gifts. Why not fill some sweet little candy dishes with saltwater taffy, Kisses, gumdrops and caramels and place them around the room for your guests to enjoy?

If your plan is to just serve munchies, don’t forget to fill some big bowls with popcorn.  After all, Marva and Charlee spent a beautiful afternoon decorating for Christmas which included stringing, and eating, popcorn!

If you want something more substantial, and you don’t want to try to recreate Miss Marva’s entire Thanksgiving dinner with all of the trimmings, perhaps you would like to make “Anything Goes Nachos” that the Alexander’s they enjoy when Charlee comes home from the hospital.

Decor:  This one’s easy!  Since the book is a Christmas story, it’s fitting to decorate for the holidays. However, in the book, it’s important for Marva to have Christmas lights and her nativity, so you won’t want to forget these.

In decorating for this book, you absolutely MUST have an advent calendar.  Can you find one with 26 days?  If so, that would be the ultimate tribute to Marva and Charlee!  If you don’t have one, perhaps you might want to splurge and give yourself an early gift.  The one pictured here is available from WilliamMarie Designs on Etsy.  Check it out!

Any decorations that pay homage to the “Twelve Days of Christmas” would also be appropriate.  I might not be able to resist this set of drinking glasses from The Sisters Pick on Etsy.

Finally, Miss Marva is very proud, both of her apron collection, and also her habit of hanging her clothes on the line to try.  How about hanging a string or wire across an open area, and using clothespins to display a collection of vintage aprons, or perhaps some cute ones made with lovely scrapbook paper.  Better yet, have each guest come to the meeting wearing an apron of her choice – with a prize for the one that Miss Marva would have appreciated the most!  Like this one from CreativeMama213 on Etsy….

Or this one from Sweet Magnolia’s Farm

Discussion:

* Let everyone in the group share a special holiday tradition.  Each of us has such unique and special ways to honor the season.  Why not share them with others?
*Talk about the ways you can, or already do, extend the attitude of Christmas beyond December 25.
*Tell about a special adult mentor or friend who made a difference to you when you were young.

Activity: 

In Charlee’s family, it was a birthday tradition to gather after dinner, and before cake, to say something that they had learned that year from the person celebrating his or her birthday.  This would be a fun, easy activity for book club.  Have each person choose another member of the group and share something they learned from her this past year.

Ask each member of the club to bring a gift inspired by the Traveling Elves during the “Thirteen Days of Christmas.”  Gather these gifts and deliver them to a children’s Christmas charity in your community.  What could they bring?  Rubber ducks, stuffed toy dogs, kazoos, a Big Bird stuffed animal, purple gloves, or perhaps even a stuffed monkey like Charlee’s beloved Melvin.

Gifts/Favors:

I’m sure everyone in your group would be honored to receive a lovely apron with a cute or wise saying on it.  Each time they put it on, they would be reminded of Marva and her selfless acts of kindness.  Or, you could create some of these mini-aprons from the blog Hostess with the Mostess in Christmas fabric and they could be used as little favors.

Feeling Crafty?  I’ll bet you could make something simple and special with these charms from Etsy shop Jewel Be Charmed.

Final Thoughts:

I hope your book club will enjoy this heartwarming book during this holiday season.  Ideally, each person who reads it will be inspired to do something kind for someone in need, and if it leads to your own version of the “Thirteen Days of Christmas”  all the better!  Perhaps a new tradition will begin this year — as a tribute to Marva Ferguson!

I hope you and your book club will enjoy this sweet, holiday story.  I would love to hear from you about your group’s discussion, and whether or not any of these creative ideas worked for you!  Happy Reading, and Happy Holidays!

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<a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/thomashawk/375042268/”>Thomas Hawk</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/”>cc</a&gt;

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