When I first started running a book group at work a couple years ago, we weren't originally going to meet during the month of December. Normally there isn't that much programming that month because attendance is down due to the holidays. My book group, rebels that they are, decided that they wanted to meet anyway, and so that first year we chose Holidays on Ice by David Sedaris to discuss.
Last year, knowing we would be meeting in December, I chose the book The Stupidest Angel: A Heartwarming Tale of Christmas Terror by Christopher Moore. I also decorated appropriately.
Nothing says Christmas like zombies and candy canes
For those of you just joining us (or those with better things to remember than my ramblings), I always try to tie together the book with the decorations and refreshments that I'll be serving. It's easy enough when the book mentions food, but sometimes it gets a bit tricky. You can find an example here from when I made little sinking Titanics on cupcakes for our discussion of A Night to Remember by Walter Lord.
You see, Friends, I don't really care if people have actually bothered to read the book for book group. That is probably some horrible sin the world of book groups, but I don't care. We tend to get sidetracked off on tangents at times, so anyone can join in. I don't care if people only show up to eat whatever wacky food I decided worked with the book. More people = more fun, and I want butts in the chairs. I don't want attendance to be so low that the Powers That Be decide to cancel our monthly soirees.
This year, we decided to read Skipping Christmas by John Grisham. You may be familiar with the movie Christmas With the Kranks that was made from the book.
At first I was thinking some sort of Christmas/tropical hybrid scheme -- somehow involving pineapple. I don't know why, but I was convinced pineapple needed to be in the mix somehow. That plan went by the wayside when I made a discovery in my kitchen.
Have you ever tucked something away in a "safe place" and then had that place turn out to be so safe that you forgot you even owned the thing you tucked away? I was going through my kitchen cupboards when I found a gift a couple of friends had given me over a year ago: Gingerdead Men.
How could I have forgotten I owned something so epic?
Forget the pineapple! I didn't know what else I was going to do, but these were totally happening.
I ended up with kind of an odd Christmas-Tropical-Cocktail Party vibe, but because my book group is awesome they went right along with it and enjoyed it.
I know you are just dying to see what I came up with, Friends, so let me put you out of your misery.
Gingerdead Men and gingerbread cookies
Cheese and crackers for that cocktail party vibe. That's honey smoked ham, which they mentioned several times in the book the Kranks were unable to find at the last minute, so it ties in. Also, there was no way I was messing with smoked trout.
Tropical-ish (maybe?) themed centerpiece, on a poinsettia tablecloth
And here is our majestic table!
Most importantly, I think everyone who came had a good time. I want people to enjoy themselves and come back.
Added bonus: my coworkers tomorrow get all of the leftovers, so maybe that will make their Friday a little better.