Part 1: How to Plan a Banned Books Party!
This summer, we’re taking action to defend banned books. If you’re looking for a fun, non-conventional way to help out, how about throwing a Banned Books Party?!
Historically, hosting an event — whether it be a huge charity concert or a small house party — has been a popular way for someone to advocate for causes they care about, and get other people involved too! During Book Defenders, we’re encouraging people to give aid to banned books (…BANNED AID, get it?) by hosting a party, and we have some instructions to get you started!
HOW TO ORGANIZE AN EVENT
First of all, what type of event do you want to plan? The type of event is completely up to you! It is important to consider things like accessibility, budget, your own social capacity, and materials, etc. Here are some questions
to ask yourself as you start planning:
- In addition to reading/discussing banned books, what is the purpose behind planning this? This doesn’t have to be set in stone or super specific, but having a purpose in mind can help you answer a lot of the other questions. (For example, the event you host for a group of close knit friends who want to dig into the weeds of banned books is going to be different from the event you host for a larger group who are just learning about book censorship for the first time.)
- Who are you inviting? Friends, family, co-workers? Or are you looking to make new friends and bring them into the cause?
- What is your capacity? (Note: Consider capacity both in the physical limitations of space and your own social limitations.) Do you want a small or large gathering? Do you need a co-host to help with planning or executing?
- When will the event take place? Is this a one-time event? Monthly? Quarterly? Bi-annually? If you want to poll for people’s availability, some helpful apps are When2meet, zCal, or Doodle.
- How long is the event? Again, some things to consider are your own social capacity, time needed to set up and clean up (for an in-person event), and the length of the event itself (main event + activities).
- How are you going to communicate with everyone? How will you provide answers to FAQs? (When is the event again? Where can I find parking? Do you hav to pay for parking?) Some resources you can use are email, a Facebook group/event, Discord, a text group, a WhatsApp chat, and Slack, for example.
- How are you going to structure your event? Example: Give people time to arrive, socialize, and grab food/drinks. Then start an activity. Next, launch into a banned books discussion. Finally, end with another fun activity!
- Will your event be virtual or in person? Consider who you are inviting. The people you want to gather together may be in different states, regions, or even countries. Even if people live in the same city, some cities are sprawling, so make sure to consider distance and transportation access. Are people comfortable meeting in-person?
Considerations for an in-person event include:
- What kind of event do you want to have? A picnic, house party, tea party, potluck, etc.?
- What is your budget? Consider the size of the event and number of guests. For an in-person event you will probably need: Food and beverages, plates, napkins, utensils, etc., activities (materials and supplies), decorations, and invitations.
- Where do you want to host the event? How big of a space do you need? Do you need to reserve/rent the space in advance? Is there a time limit on how long you can use the space? If so, make sure to factor in set up and clean up time! A great resource is public common areas such as parks, rec centers, libraries (most have rooms/spaces you can reserve), or apartment lobby (if you know someone with access). Other options include: coffee shops, someone’s house/apartment, private restaurant rooms, or hotel conference room.
- Who will provide the food? Are you cooking or catering? If cooking or catering, make a point to keep track of allergies/intolerances/aversions. Are you going to do a potluck? If so, set up an Excel spreadsheet or Google Forms where people can sign up for dishes to bring and organize allergen/intolerance-friendly foods in their own spot and label all common allergens in dishes. See the Banned Books Recipes section and ask everyone to share which recipe they made.
- What activities do you have planned for the event? What materials and supplies do you need? See the Activities section!
- What COVID-19 safety precautions should you follow? Consider asking attendees to get a rapid test before the event and as much as possible we encourage outdoor events and social distancing.
Considerations for a virtual event include:
- Which meeting platform/network will you use? Zoom and GMeet are free and accessible but have time limitations. Do you know anyone with a paid account that can lend you access? FaceTime is another free option, but make sure everyone has access to it (new operating systems have the option to send an invitation to non-apple users to use FaceTime).
- Does everyone have access to or know how to log onto the meeting platform? Make sure to send instructions well in advance!
- Is food going to be involved? If you’re planning the event around a mealtime, ask everyone to bring a meal so you can all eat together and discuss your favorite banned books. See the Banned Books Recipes section and ask everyone to share which recipe they made.
- What activities do you want to include and how will you execute them? Make sure to let guests know ahead of time if they need to prepare any supplies. See the Activities section! What meeting tools/features can you use to make the activity more engaging? Using our cross-
word activity as an example: You might share your screen to show the crossword and have people race to hit the “hand raise” button or enter the answer into the chat. Or, if you are using Zoom, consider a variation to playing Banned Books Heads Up! Place the person who is guessing into the waiting room or use the breakout room feature. After sharing what the banned book is, you can let the person back into the main room and let the guessing begin!
- If you are inviting people from multiple regions, how can you make the event inclusive of their area as well? If people are from a different country, ask them for a list of banned books in their country and incorporate them into the event if possible.
HOW DO I INVITE PEOPLE?
Once you’ve figured out the logistics behind your event, it’s time to start inviting people and raise awareness! How you invite your guests is completely up to you, but we have a few ideas that might inspire you. You can in-
vite your guests using a handmade invitation, premade cards, or virtually by using an e-invitation, etc! If you love being artsy, why not create a handmade book-themed invitation (see instructions below)? Or, if you have a Dollar
Tree near you, you can get a pack of 8 blank greeting cards for just $1.25 to send to guests! There are also many options for e-invitations (see instructions below). If you’re inviting new people, consider utilizing your local library,
coffee/boba/tea/smoothie shops, college residential building, or park or rec center bulletin boards. If you have a bookstore or comic book shop nearby, try talking to the team there to see if they can help you spread the news about your event as well. You might be able to create a new partnership if the alignment is right.
Here are some ideas and resources:
- Create book-themed invitations using printer or construction paper, pens/markers/crayons/colored pencils, tape/glue, a ruler, scissors, envelopes, stickers, stamps, paint, etc.
- Free e-invitations resources include Evite RSVP Invitation, Punch Bowl, and Canva.
- Premium e-invitations include Paperless Post.
- Apps and social media that can be used for invitations include Facebook Event Pages and EventBrite. You can also use Instagram Stories’ link feature to send folks directly to your online event page.
- Do you know anyone who has a book-themed newsletter? Ask them if they can add your event to their next issue.
- If you’re sticking to folks you already know, you can reach out to them through a private group chat or individual messages.
While it’s great that you’re excited about the event, please don’t forget to be mindful of the amount of notifications, reminders, and follow-throughs. You don’t want someone to think of your message as spam. Have fun, but be strategic with your outreach and engagement plan!
Finally, consider having someone proofread your invitation/event page and give feedback. Incorporate any appropriate suggestions.
After making a plan and sending out invites, you’re ready to start preparing the details of the party!