20 Ways to Decorate With Book Pages {and other things about the book party}

Since the moment I knew my sister was going to write a book, I knew I was going to throw her a big party. Book pages seemed to be the obvious choice for decor.

I wanted the decorations to be fantastic.  And I remembered what Henri says..

So I purposely limited myself to books and paper.  And anything I could find around the house was fair game to join in the fun with a supporting role.

Here’s the breakdown of the money I spent on decorations–not including fresh flowers

$4 :: roll of craft paper

$6 :: bag of long glue sticks {never buy the short ones, you {I} have to keep loading them too often and it’s annoying, also, don’t buy the blueish sticks–make sure they are VERY clear or else your glue will have a blueish hue.

$3 :: extra books from the thrift store–I liked their cover color and thought I might use those for something, I didn’t

$1.29 :: extra tall hard back book from the thrift store with old fashioned typing–it looked like an old syllabus and I used it for the long pages on the book page wreath

$4 :: straw wreath from Micheal’s craft store

$3 :: hired my boys to harvest branchy, twiggy sticks from the patch of trees down the street

$2.50 :: ordered punched out birds from etsy

 Grand Total:: $23.79

My approach to decorating anything is ALWAYS the same, whether it be my bedroom or a party.

And I know we are discussing 20 ways to decorate with book pages but just to remind ourselves how to get in that creative mood…

1.Look for inspiration. 

My inspiration for Emily’s party was the displays at Anthropologie and any book page ideas I could get my virtual hands on.  So I scoured the internets for both and then I made a party board on pinterest so I could surround myself with good ideas.  I probably started in the summer, but there’s no time limit-you can start a year or a week ahead of time, it’s never too late.

2. Decide to use what you have

I like to assume I’m going to use what I have.  I don’t come up with a concept and then go buy stuff to make it happen.  NO.  NEVER.  DO NOT DO THIS.  EVER. STOP.  First, gather what you have and play with it.  For me, that meant grabbing a stack of old books I knew we’d never use and start messing with them.  I’ll explain more later in this post.  But the reality is, limiting yourself to a few things will actually result in a more creative process–just like Henri says.

3. Keep it crazy simple, Crazy.  And yes, I just called you Crazy.

I like for it to seem like it took hours/days/weeks on something but in reality most things I do are super, duper, lighting fast.  I only do what I get a lot of bang for my time.  Even my dear friend Angela who knows me all too well, proclaimed that I must not sleep.  I go to bed at 9pm and sleep like a baby.   I just know how to make it look like I slave away for things. It’s a fine art, and I admit, it’s something I strive for~having the appearance that I’ve spent hours on something when in actuality it took an iced coffee and two and a half minutes.

So, I knew was I wanted book page decor and that I wanted an Anthropologie-esque feel.  I’ve also noticed that Anthro doesn’t  depend on expensive materials for their display designs.  It’s all simple stuff.  It seems like the key to their displays are two fold: 1. Large quantities of easy to attain something {be it moss or paper plates or coffee filters or yarn or buttons or whatever–in my case, that mystery item would be book pages} and 2.  repetitive patterns of something placed together en masse.  Did I crack the Anthro code?

I had lots of books with lots of pages and I knew it was less about the exact little thing I did with each page on its own, and more about the book pages as a whole and how I placed them together.  So this meant I didn’t focus on what one page was going to look like, I focused more on the shape or feeling of the finished idea.

How does one do this?

I started by just cutting shapes.  I had no idea how I would use them.  But I knew I had to start if I was ever gonna finish.

So I cut leaves.

I had a vintage dictionary and I tore out some pages, stacked them, folded them in half and cut a leaf shape.  I didn’t make a pattern or try to get them identical {remember when we all cut paper hearts in grade school for valentine’s day?  we didn’t use a pattern we all knew how to fold paper in half and cut a heart~that’s how you cut a leaf shape} because I knew it was the overall finished design of the leaves as a whole that set the tone for the idea, not each individual leaf and how perfectly they were cut.  Cut the leaves fast and furious, this isn’t the place you want to invest your time.

I hated that they had a crease but I went ahead and punched a hole in each leaf and strung them about 6 inches apart on a string.  Then I hung that little garland on my stair rail.  I hated it. It was weak.  It was empty. It was hideous.  I wanted to cry and throw a fit spend enormous amounts of money at Anthropologie on drawer pulls and candles and skirts.   But it was a start.  And I had only used about 10 pages~I still had about a thousand to go so I had room to fail.  And hate me, but I don’t have a photo of it.

So I left it there looking ugly for a few days.  And then I made a book page wreath or two.

Hence the first real way to decorate with books::

1. Make a book page wreath or two.

And I paid attention when I made my wreaths. I noticed that book pages look better when they are manipulated–rolled, folded and smashed, they are more interesting when you do something to them and then keep doing it and make a group.  Just like Anthropologie.  Even with this wreath, some of the rolled pages are wonky and imperfect, but as a whole, the wreath looks good and has impact, it’s not about the individual page so that’s not worth spending time on.

So, after a few days of looking at my little empty leaf garland I took it off the stairs and neatly gathered it so I could move it to another room.  And then the magic happened  The tightly gathered leaves looked good together.  And that ladies and gentlemen is how the magic happens.

It begins with being ok with not knowing what exactly you are making yet committing to start anyway.  And then, when you make something and hate it, you don’t cry or throw it away or complain that someone else always has good ideas that work and you don’t.  You wait.  And you look at it.  And you grab the pieces and pay attention.

When I grabbed the ugly garland of leaves tied onto string it ended up looking like a little vine.  So I walked into the breakfast area and hung them on a nail that I always have nailed into the top of my hutch.  Everyone has nails nailed into the tops of their hutches, right? I didn’t take a photo because I thought I was just goofing off.   But as I played with the crazy knotted garland all wonky and hanging from the nail, I thought I might be onto something.

I cut about 40 more leaves and hot glued them to the mess of stringy garland I hung and it started to take shape.  Twenty minutes later I had this.

And this.

You can still see the string and the leaves hanging down are still kind of spaced apart.  And see that bouquetish thing in the corner?

Which takes us to number two on our list, this is gonna take a while, isn’t it?

2. Make a book page garland with or without a bouquet

That took negative 3 minutes to make.  I just cut more leaf shapes out of a thicker book.  Then I rolled some paper and hot glued the mess together keeping in mind that flowers usually have something coming out of the middle and the leaves or petals all around. I used the book folded inside itself to make leaves.  See how the edges of the leaves are the margin of the book?  Not required but it adds an extra dimension.  It’s not supposed to be a literal flower.  But just give the idea of a flower.  I also used my old fabric flower making skills that Tiny Twig taught me.  Not sure she ever did a tutorial but they are all over the internets.  Here’s the basic instructions, you just roll, fold, glue, repeat.  You can see a few rolled roses from book pages tucked in there.

As the garland was growing across the top of the hutch, I knew I needed to stabilize it with something other than that one nail.  So I grabbed some craft paper out of a package I had just opened from the mail.  I wanted to be able to completely remove the garland and put it someplace else so I didn’t want it attached to the hutch permanently.  I could have hot glued everything up there since glue peels off and no one will ever see the top of my hutch anyway–until I show you in photos like this, but, I had enough sense to know I might want to reuse the garland in my office or something.

I noticed how pretty the book pages looked with the craft paper so I twisted it and made a vine out of it.  Then I glued more leaves to it.

Ohh, kind of neat huh?   I loved how the craft paper looked just like branches. But, I felt like they took away from the original garland.  Why waste an entirely new idea where I already had something pretty?  So I took down the craft paper twigs and saved them in my office for a few weeks having no idea what or where or if I would use them.  And you know, until I wrote this post I forgot about all the ways I tried this hutch, it was never a tedious process but pure fun for me.

Once I took off the craft paper vines, the simplicity of the strictly pages garland was able to shine.  See how shiny?  Every few days I’d hot glue a few more leaves onto places where I thought it had gaps.

A little tip when replicating leafy branches/swags/garlands is to make sure all your leaves run or fall in the same direction.  See how they look kind of natural because the end of them all start on the branch?  Just like real leaves.  And it’s much easier to do this when working at the actual place they’ll be hanging.  So don’t sit on the floor and make your swag and then expect it to hang perfectly once you have it in place.  I hot glued each leaf on individually as the entire swag was hanging in its final resting place.  It sounds more time-consuming than it is.  It takes about 2.2 seconds to hot glue a leaf.

And I used a little method to give some of the leaves more dimension.

Here’s a bunch of leaf shapes with stems.  See the ones on the right? I hot glued them right above the stem and stuck them together, then once they dried {2.4 seconds later} I kind of popped them open so they wouldn’t just lay folded.  I didn’t unstick the glue, I just kind of flatted them open so the leaves had a curve to them.

It’s kind of hard to explain but basically what I’m saying is don’t be afraid to mess around with leaf shapes and gluing techniques to get a fun lively shape.  And if you look closely, you can see why I cut some leaves with a stem shape.

Oh and also when I’m decorating, either for a room or a party or whatever, I like to focus on focal points.  Sounds easy enough, right?  But it’s easy to get sidetracked.  If I don’t keep my focus I can squander all my time and resources on little things and have nothing of impact.  Kind of like my addiction to accessories, I’ve been dealing with.  If I invest my time and money on accessories but not the big stuff, it’s kind of a waste.

So, as I thought about what I wanted for party decor I considered statement pieces, signature pieces, and focal points.

I wanted the place where Emily would be signing books to be special so I tried to make it a focal point.  My son found a big twiggy branch and I stuffed it into a potted plant and hot glued book page leaves to the branches where real leaves had once been.

3. Tree with book page leaves

I used the same method for the tree branches next to the front door.  Just cut leaves with a stem and hot glue the stem to the place on the branch where a leaf would naturally grow….I’ll show you a close up after the next picture, this post is starting to get disorganized.

Oh look…

4. Cut out book page letters

And here are a few other things I did that don’t really need explanation, just helped with the overall feel..

5. Cut book pages into a recognizable shape {my sister’s book has a bird on the cover, perfect!}

I ordered 300 book page confetti birds from etsy. They were $2.50  Less money and work than buying my own bird punch.

A dot of hot glue on the bird stuck them mysteriously onto the inside of the lamp and it looked like there was a mini flock of birds flying around in there.

Name tags = target stickers + those birds hot glued

6. Make book page flags

Have some kabob skewers?  Then you can make these charming flags too. They take 1.8 seconds each.  So you can make half a million in about 20 minutes.

Melissa got a photo of some of the food–see how we stuck flags everywhere to add height to the cupcakes?

7. Use the paper shredder to shred book pages

8. Roll them into cones ok so I did that for the wreath too, but here they are made to look like part of a paper plant.

9. Strip a book

These stripped or nekkid books as I like to call them go from ugly, not even worth taking to the thrift store to a stack of pure texture and art.  I used them on the serving table to raise platters, set plants on them, and just scattered them about.  Just rip the covers, spines and backs off, I promise the books won’t scream at you.

10. Flared books

Rip the covers out, break the spine and stretch it out in a circle.  Sounds criminal, doesn’t it?  I think I glued the front and back pages together to hold it open.

Melissa brought a lot of flared books for the pot rack, here’s how she made them and even more bookish items.

So here you can see different bookish methods.  Shredded paper, rolled paper, flared book over there on the left , random flags.

By the way here’s how the table started.  I have 3 runners that I bought over the past few years from the Goodwill.  I use them in the fall and winter. I wanted them layered and random.  And then I grabbed some doilies and stuff.

 

I think it looks better with stuff falling off the edge of the table.

The table was neutral except for the food.  So I gathered all the glass and white and candles from around the house.

Hate me, but I hate these dishes that have the holes for ribbon.  Like we can’t get any more creative than putting a different color ribbon on our white dish?  Never mind.  So here’s a piece of shredded book woven through the holes.

Apothecary jars stuffed with scraps left over from the cut leaves.

Oh, SCRAPS, that should be number 11.

I saved every scrap and then I was amazed at how artsy the scraps looked stuffed in extra apothecary jars and cloches.

12. Cover a box with pages
Reeve covered a box with random book pages, it’s one of my favorite things.

And I grabbed that box I covered with book pages from weeks ago….

…and I hung it on the wall under another book page wreath and above a big vase full of  rolled book pages.  Nobody even asked it it was just a plain, empty, flat cardboard box.  Which it was.  And is.  And is to come.

13. Book page table-cloth

Reeve and Christiana made the book page table-cloth.  We covered the table with craft paper then they just hot glued lots of different sizes and hues of pages.  They were smart and suggested cutting then end of the craft paper at the end of the table and turning the pages up as opposed to how you see it here in the photo.

Don’t worry about ending them perfectly in a line–it’s better to have all the pages end randomly.  And see how the pages fall all ruffly?  Only glue the tops, not the entire page, that way they lay really pretty kind of like a waterfall.

14. Incorporate book pages into your existing signature pieces.

For me that meant spearing a stack of pages with Marlin’s point and hanging a banner on Elky’s horns.

Oh A book page banner, that’s number 15.

Banners, pennants, flags, buntings, whatever you like to call them, they are easy, fast and festive.

16. Create book page vine growing from a bust. 

Don’t have a bust? Or at least not one you want vines growing out of?  No problem, make it grow out of a planter or urn or anything.

I grabbed that vine that I first had on the hutch but ugh, the leaves weren’t hanging right. I plucked them off and reglued them on once I had all the vines situated.

I had some pre-existing holes in my walls so I just hid a few nails in the vine to hold it up, but you could easily use command hooks.

The vine filled in a really awkward space that I’ve always had trouble filling.  I think I might leave it for a while.  And there on the left on the dresser I have another book page covered box and two yard sale frames holding ripped out book pages.

so 17. Frame book pages

18. Make a book page chandelier

Two pieces of poster board, packaging tape, string, book pages plus hot glue.

Do not try this at home. Or at least if you do, don’t sue me if your house burns down, I’m not a lighting expert but, something feels safer to me about this than the paper lanterns we all buy from Ikea.

19. How about a book page corsage? 

I like him on the door but…

you can clip him on a drape or a lamp shade or a pillow.

These rolled book pages are so interesting.  I can hardly stop looking at them.

Oh.

20. Roll book pages.

I just piled a bunch of the rolled up pages on the dresser in my office.  Thanks to Caroline and Greta for rolling and gluing all of these–this was probably the most time-consuming project.  But I love the artfulness of them, kind of like a sculpture.

I was pleasantly surprised with how versatile the book pages were to work with.  Plus, my friends were so sweet to come help and Melissa, who lived to far away wanted to join in the pagey fun so it was easy to tell her to just look at my pinterest board and make anything she wanted as long as it was book pages.  Here’s her post about what she made.

Now that the party is over, I plan on keeping most of the book page stuff around for a while.  Funny, for years I’ve seen all the pretty book page stuff that bloggers have made and I never considered making anything for my own home.  But, I love how neutral and textural the pages are, they are a blank canvas just waiting for you do to something with them.  I think I’ll end up moving most of the items into my office over the next few weeks but, I can see how the garlands and such would be pretty at Christmas.  And oh, wouldn’t a book page wedding be pretty?

You can see all the photos from the actual party here.  More photos of the food and other such things are here.

Happy book paging!

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Comments

  1. WOW I am in LOVE with this post!!! I am going to blog about it in my Saturday inspiration post…and I pinned it of course :) Thanks so much for the ideas…even my husband loves them (and that’s saying a lot!) :)

  2. What creativity!!!!! What FUN!

    I love the vines the most.

  3. Wow!
    Okay…that word doesn’t really express my thoughts and feelings. Seriously… I. Am. Speechless.
    You are an artist, pure and simple. And this party was a delightful way to marry the arts of two special sisters, each with amazing gifts. What a celebration!!!!
    Nester, I am going to keep this post before me, along with Henri’s words. I overthink and fail to let my creative spirit soar. You, girlie, were soaring to the heavens. Funny thing too. You touched my soul. And if I could, I’ve give you a big hug.

  4. I love it. I wish that my sister would write a book so I could have an awesome inspired party where I could wear a cute outfit and show off all of my super artyness. Good Job!

  5. oh so very awesome!!

  6. First, what an awesome sister! Second, thank you for this post and all the great ideas!

  7. I am always awe-inspired by your creativity and decorating skills, but this….oh my word…this!! This was truly a work of art. Like others have said, I am speechless. I am stunned that you were able to create such an enchanting fairy-tale-esque setting for under $30, and with just one main ingredient: book pages! I am taking away a very valuable lesson here. When planning an event, I tend to overwhelm myself with inspiration and ideas and run around buying things like a chicken with my head cut off. Your message about the beauty of simplicity is illustrated so well here. Bravo! Kerri, apopofpretty.com

  8. I’m so glad you posted such detailed photos…cause now I can remember all the beauty of that day(s) in detail. Serious love!

  9. Found your blog through Pinterest, and my goodness, you are fabulous! That garland especially took my breath away. Thanks for sharing!

  10. WOW is a complete understatement! I just sat down and read each and every word. The part that struck a chord with me the most was ” It begins with being ok with not knowing what exactly you are making yet committing to start anyway. And then, when you make something and hate it, you don’t cry or throw it away or complain that someone else always has good ideas that work and you don’t. You wait. And you look at it.” Thank you, thank you for writing this! I have so many half done projects that I have walked away from. Some I have gone back and been inspired to finish. Others, I will go back to with a fresh eye now to see what it can be.

  11. I love it! But my husband would not be a happy hunter if I ever put anything on his antlers! I suggested christmas lights once, it didn’t go over well ;0)

  12. That’s some kind of CREATIVE!!!!

  13. LOVE this! So awesome!

  14. As if your bookpage crafting ideas weren’t enough already, you’ve gone & outdone yourself with this doozy of a post! WOW! Luvin’ all these purdys & hope I can give them a try!

  15. Got to be one of the top ten wildest things I’ve ever seen on a blog (I obviously live a rather tame life…), but hey I like it!

  16. Simply beautiful and what a way to celebrate!

  17. Amazing!! You’re such an inspiration..

  18. Amazingness! I adore the simplicity, the repetitiveness and yes I keep saying -ness. Anyway, it’s beautiful and I’m totally inspired! :) xo

  19. I love it. Your sister is so lucky to have you.
    I volunteer at a thrift store and handle all the incoming books. There are times we have to recycle for various reasons… You have given me numerous ideas in how to decorate the book area….and possibly make a profit for the nonprofit. I love it.

  20. WOW – sooo gorgeous. Could not love this more.

  21. Anthropologie’s got nothin’ on you! I LOVE IT ALL (and want your sister’s book, too)…

  22. this is by far one of my most fav posts I have ever SEEN~!! You are incredibly gifted! Bless you! I am sooo signing up!!!

  23. I love looking at Anthro displays for inspiration – so many cheap but completely interesting ways to decorate. And I have a pinterest board going right now for decorating my new office… I love the inspiration stage.
    Thanks for the great tips!

  24. Beautiful stuff! So much inspiration!

  25. I am officially inspired. I need to go on a hunt for some old books to make into art now :)

  26. Anzhela Tesker says:

    Love this post!

  27. Yes.. just like others had said, such an inspiration! Really lovely!

  28. WOW…….so inspirational!! And I agree, Anthro’s got NOTHING on you!!!! I’m not publishing a book, I don’t have a friend publishing a book, but I SO plan on making a book wreath or something just b/c they are so darn cute. I had a question though…could you tell me where you got those velvet looking pumpkins? I LOOOOOOVE them (that means I like them ALOT). :)

  29. Amazing. I got a lot of great ideas coming from just book pages. Very artistic and unique especially the vine and the birds flying in the lamp shade. I love it.

  30. Love these ideas, but ripping up books, really? I think I got sent to the principals office for that once. LOL. Seriously though, what sort of books do you use? I really like the one on the buffet.

  31. This is amazing!!!

  32. Julia Prohaska says:

    WOW, these ideas are AMAZING!! I love all of this, in whole, parts, pieces, in my daughters room who LOVES to read, what inspiration. Just found the blog and could sit here all day reading, just lovely!! Thanks for all the tips, advice, encouragement and wisdom!

  33. Excellent decorating!! I have a book club and we will definitely be using and linking up to some of these ideas for our Christmas party and annual book club dinner party!! Love it all!! (plus I love Emily’s book! On chapter 13 now!) (www.broadened-horizons.org)

  34. This is the coolest post ever. Seriously. It’s so artistic and gorgeous. I love book page everything and this post is so full of great ideas. How I am not a follower of yours yet, I have no idea. LOVE everything. Following now. Hope you have a great week!

  35. Nester,
    I just have to quote (and also edit a bit) “Dumb and Dumber” here- perhaps the best movie of my college days….
    “Just when I thought you couldn’t possibly be any AWESOMER, you go and do something like this… and totally redeem yourself! ”

    Instead of showering, vacuuming, or wrapping presents today, I’m gonna make SOMETHING out of book paper. Perhaps a wreath. And all for FREE. I love it!

    :) Katie

  36. WOW!!! I never knew you could do so much with book pages! Truly amazing and beautiful. I love the grand scale of your wreath and I just love the garland and flower bouquet on your china hutch! Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful! I am your newest subscriber.

  37. This is incredible! I would love to feature this over at Reduce, Reuse, Upcycle. Feel free to stop by. Thanks!

  38. those are some seriously good ideas. i love it!

  39. You are just amazing….truly. I am SO inspired by this post and am CRAZY in love with your hutch garland, and that vine…oy. Wish they were in my house RIGHT now. :) Thanks so much for sharing all of this info, I know there is no way mine would look as artful and effortless as yours but, perhaps I will give it a try! All the best and happy holidays!
    xo
    Melissa

  40. Jennifer Phipps says:

    I just wanted to finally say Thank you for this post. I am sure it was just another post for you, but for us, it was the inspiration for my daughters wedding reception! We were able to transform our church’s Family Life Center into something really different and very special! We called it ” The begining of the story of our lives”
    I would love for you to see the Photos. I think you would be proud to see what you inspired!
    Thank you so much for what you do. It truly is something special!

  41. I am having a book themed wedding! I decided I wanted a wedding based around my favorite thing in life (books) long ago (like when i was 12). My dream is finally becoming a reality this February. Your post has given me ideas to add the perfect finishing touches onto the decorations for my reception. I LOVE the way the nekkid books look (I can’t believe I didn’t think of that) and I love how simple everything is.
    Thanks for being so willing to share your creative mind

  42. I love your book creations! They are so beautiful. But what I wanted to aske was, what color of blue do you have on your walls? It is amazing!

  43. I had my jaw dropped open through most of this post! Wow. You are super creative! So inspired. Thank you.

  44. Not only is the book party beautiful on a budget…it looks like y’all had a heck of a time, too! I wanna come! The garland on the hutch is my favorite. Keep up the good work and thanks for the inspiration!

    xoxo Kayli

  45. Love the vines. Very creative. Love your use of “Happy Accidents” as you work.

  46. I have to tell you this is the first work that has inspired me to be creative in a long time. I have been in a creative slump for months. Your work is so creative and fun it has really got me thinking about using everyday materials in a new way. Thank you for sharing your talent. I will be coming back often to see what you are up to.. Susan

  47. I am enamored with your ideas. I’m getting married in a year and some change and wanted to incorporate books into the theme as my fiancé and I are huge book worms. You have presented me with an abundance of ideas and I can only bow down to your creativity! I may just have to follow your blog now! That’s a big step because I don’t follow anyone! keep those creative juices flowing!

  48. I am doing a book themed open house for my husband’s college graduation and these ideas have been fantastic, thank you so much for posting!

  49. Madison says:

    This is such an awesome collection ideas! Thank you so much for sharing

  50. mp367mchf says:

    i have all of these old book pagges and i dont like throwing things away so this website i so cool for these typs of things

    and thankyou very much
    from mp367mchf

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