The holidays can be rough for your wallet.  Not only are you buying gifts for a bunch of people at once, but there’s countless other parties, dinners, and events in which you don’t really want to be empty-handed upon arrival.  A bottle of wine here, a plate of food there – it can add up.

Which is why I try to DIY some presents during the gift-giving season.  It’s not being cheap – after all, it does take your precious time to create something one-of-a-kind and meaningful for those you love.

For the ladies of my book club, I decided to create a unique gift that doubled as a fun game: a mystery book gifting party!

Materials Needed

  • Assorted paper
  • Pens/Markers
  • Washi tape
  • Used books
  • An internet connection
  • Several bookwormy friends
Cup of coffee not required, but highly encouraged.


This idea had somewhat selfish motivations, although you couldn’t tell from my friends’ excitement.  I have accumulated quite a few knick-knacks and odds and ends, and am trying to minimize my stuff.  I love having books on my shelves, both to inspire me to dust them off and read (rather than watch the unending reality TV that is on my Hulu watch list) and to serve as badges of accomplishment for having completed them.

I’ve always preferred physical books to digital e-books for this reason: they look so great on my wall!

But, ’tis the season for giving, and what better offering than the gift of a really good book?

I plucked a few from my bookshelf that I thought my friends may enjoy.  Originally, my idea was to wrap them in plain brown paper bags to have an easy canvas to write on, but I didn’t have any.  I grabbed some magazines and colored cardstock from my craft pile, along with some Washi tape (since I ran out of scotch tape!) for wrapping.

It turns out, running out of the supplies I intended to use was a “happy accident.”

The wrapped books turned out beautiful, like the little works of art that the stories themselves were.

On the cover of each wrapped book, I wrote the following:

  • Year of first publication
  • Genres
  • “For those who like:” followed by a few other descriptors of the book

I used what I remembered about each book combined with information from for the Genre and other descriptors to jog my memory.

When it was time to play, I wrote the numbers 1 – 6 on little pieces of paper and put them in a Christmas stocking (the closest thing I could find that resembled a small bag – fitting though, isn’t it?).  Each person took a number that indicated which turn they would have to select a book based on the vague description.

Stack of finished book gifts.
Stack of finished book gifts.

Originally, we intended to make this a “White Elephant” style game, where books could be stolen from others.  But to my surprise, each person picked the PERFECT book for them, one I would have pegged them to choose had they been able to see the cover.  My style maven friend Krystal chose Gentlemen Prefer Blondes for its old-Hollywood theme, while Alex the bookworm chose the classic Rosemary’s Baby.  No one ended up stealing any books, because each person was pleased with their choice!

Decisions, decisions.
Decisions, decisions.

All in all, everyone was super excited with the game and the mystery involved in picking a book.  A total crowd-pleaser when giving gifts to a group.  We even decided we would take turns gifting our old books at each club for future meetings!