It seems like kids have been heading back to school for ages, but now that Labor Day has passed, I think we're in the clear, right? I've put together this fun book swap party for you, to give you some ideas of ways you can get together with other parents who might suddenly have a little more freedom in the mornings.
Friend swaps are one of my favorite gatherings; I've done clothes, books, frozen foods, cookies, shoes, babysitting… there is no end to what you can swap. It's budget-friendly and fun, and a great way to bring in new stuff while also clearing out some old. One of my personal favorites is a book swap; I'm always looking for things to read, and getting books that I know my friends loved, and sharing my favorites is the best!
My Books & Brunch party plan will get you set up for everything you need to host your own; I've got printables, recipes, crafts, decor ideas… it's all ready to go. Just add friends and books!
But first things first; a delicious home-baked treat to be a centerpiece of the brunch. Honesty time / blogger talk: I had planned for this recipe to be a beautiful bundt cake, and then it didn't come out of the pan prettily enough, so I had to scramble. And my Pecan Pie Spiced Chocolate Bread Pudding was born! And again, full disclosure? I think it's more delicious than the cake by itself.
So this is a two-part process; first you'll need to make the cake, then you'll let it cool and sit for a day or so, and make it into the pudding. It breaks up really well over a few days, so you don't need to commit a ton of time to make this, and the end result is INCREDIBLE.
- 1 cup M&M's® Pecan Pie
- 1 pkg. chopped pecans
- 1 box Pillsbury™ Moist Supreme® Cake Mix, Chocolate
- 3 eggs
- 1 cup hot water
- ½ cup Mott's® Apple Sauce Original 48oz
- 1½ teaspoons Apple Pie Spice (or sub ½ t. cinnamon + ½ t. ground cloves)
- 2 Tablespoons butter (melted) + more for pan
- 5 eggs
- 2 cups milk
- ½ cup sugar
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- Pillsbury™ Creamy Supreme® Cream Cheese Icing
- Snapple® Apple Single 16oz
- Preheat oven to 350.
- Grease pan with cooking spray and flour
- Follow instructions on cake box, substituting Mott's® Apple Sauce for oil.
- Add in Apple Pie Spice
- Mix in approx ¼ cup chopped pecans (vary amount to taste)
- Smash 1 cup M&M's® Pecan Pie with flat blade slicer
- Mix M&M's® into batter.
- Pour batter into prepared pan.
- Bake per insrtuctions on box.
- Preheat oven to 350
- Generously butter 8" baking dish
- Break cake up into bite-sized pieces and place into prepared pan. (I used about ¾ of a bundt cake)
- Pour 2 Tablespoons melted butter over cake pieces.
- In medium bowl, whip together eggs, milk, vanilla, cinnamon, and sugar until well blended.
- Pour carefully over cake pieces.
- Use a fork to press down on cake pieces to submerge all in custard mix.
- Bake for approx. 60 minutes at 350, until top springs back when pressed.
- A toothpick inserted in will come out wet but clean.
- Serve warm with glaze.
- Put generous tablespoon (or two) of Cream Cheese Icing into microwave safe cup
- Add splash of Snapple® Apple
- Heat in microwave in 20 second increments until melted.
- Spoon glaze over bread pudding when serving.
I know I just dropped them in there, but can I take a minute to talk about these M&M's® Pecan Pie? I'm not a Pumpkin Spice Latte girl, but I do love the flavors of the season, so Pecan Pie is basically the perfect option for me. I picked up my party supplies, including the M&M's®, at Walmart, and now you can save $1.00 on M&M's® with this coupon. They're also giving away a Kitchen Aid mixer, so you can enter to win that here:
MARS Bake In The Fun Sweepstakes
When I'm prepping for friends to come over, I like to do little things to help make it special, beyond just making a fresh pot of coffee instead of microwaving yesterday's (again)
I've got a few things to help you put together your own Books & Brunch get together:
- First things first, invitations! You can download the printable invite and print them at home, or even just fill in the PDF and then send it via email. I've got them ready to go for you!
- When you're looking to plan a party, don't limit yourself to the obvious departments for decor ideas! I often buy a couple yards of fabric to act as the perfect tablecloth. Limitless options, and if you shop smart, it can be far less expensive than a traditional tablecloth.
- Download my book review printables so that people can leave notes about why they loved the books they brought. I don't know about you, but I always love when bookstore employees leave reviews of their favorites, so why not ask the same from our friends?
- Buy something that can double as a party favor, or something your guests can take home. For Books and Brunch, I picked up a matched set of coffee mugs that match my theme, and I can send home with friends at the end of the day.
- Single-serve food can be a great way to cater to guests with allergies; I have personal-sized quiches here, along with a simple arugula salad and some fresh butter croissants. You don't need to offer tons of options, but it's nice to have something available for everyone.
- Look around the house for things that can be converted to party decor! An antique camera might not be the most obvious book-related option, but it's something I collect, so it injects a little “me” into the party, and it's an interesting piece to go on the table.
- Customize things you already own! A few inches of a printed burlap ribbon take a couple of plain ol' pillar candles from drab to fab. The burlap is simply held in place on the back by a bit of masking tape; easy peasy.
- Crafty doesn't have to mean complicated! It took me less than five minutes to put this flower wreath together. I had asked at my local thrift store if they had any damaged books, which they did, so I had several hundred pages of text to use, that would have otherwise been tossed in the dumpster. I used pages from the book in a number of places for the party.
I randomly cut circles, crumpled and then flattened them, and put a stick pin through them to make a flower for my plain wreath. (It's held on with a pipe cleaner that's twisted around the pin and the branches of the wreath)
I used cut out pages to cover up other things; for the quiche display, I put a piece of aluminum foil on top of the book, and then put the pages on top of that to cover the foil.
I ran the pages through my printer to apply letters to them, and then cut those out and attached them to a pre-made banner I picked up. (Just tape the pages to a full-size piece of paper, using low-tack masking tape, then peel it up carefullty!)
- Edible decor is always a good idea: With a fall party, a basket over flowing with apples, pumpkins and other gourds, or candy… make it look like more than just a dish of food by adding a surprising detail, like the signage heart here:
Get more fun fall ideas here, so you can #BakeInTheFun
Have you been to a swap party? Any tips to share?
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