It’s no secret that we are big fans of Reese Witherspoon and Draper James around here. Her southern style, laid back personality and the effortless ways she entertains are all things we strive for here at HOUSE of HARPER.  I was so excited when her team reached out about her new coffee table book, Whiskey In A Teacup. I was immediately inspired to host a book club with her new book and beautiful tabletop line Draper James x Crate & Barrel.

The book is all about Reese’s southern heritage and her favorite traditions for entertaining, decorating, and holiday traditions. As someone who grew up in a small Texas town, I can definitely relate to a lot of her sentiments and attachment to old traditions that have been passed down for generations. Read on below for a few of my own favorite traditions along with tips for hosting a book club!

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In Whiskey In a Teacup, Reese talks a lot about her grandmother Dorothea and the southern traditions and recipes she learned from her years ago.  When it comes to entertaining and making people feel at home, my own mother and grandmother are definitely the quintessential southern cooks and host. For them, it isn’t as much about the formalities, it is all about how they make guests feel so welcome and at ease. It sounds cheesy, but there’s a lot to be said in a warm southern smile and guest that know they are welcome in the back door.  Our home is usually pretty lively with two young boys and a dog running around, which I love because I think it helps guests feel immediately relaxed!  (There isn’t anything you can hurt that my kids already haven’t! ha!)

During the holidays, there is something so comforting about being home in Corsicana with my parents. There’s nothing quite like being taken care of by a Southern mom! My mom has been so amazing about continuing our traditions that my grandmother started. Think homemade pies in the oven, the whole family gathered in the kitchen cooking all day and dinner tables with no fewer than 20 of us enjoying the fruits of her labor. We also have newer holiday traditions with the boys that are so fun to share at home in Houston with our family. No matter where we are, I always love incorporating some of my favorite recipes from my grandmother.

Now for a few tips to help you host your own book club…

Book Selection: It probably goes without saying, but the book you choose for your book club group will set the tone for the conversation topics you’ll have and the guests that you will include. For me, Whiskey in a Teacup was the perfect selection leading into the holidays to spark discussion around traditions, special family memories, and of course, delicious Southern recipes.

The Menu: I loved the idea of creating a book club that revolved around the dinner table. Don’t you agree that the best conversations are always around a meal?? This setting made perfect sense for discussing  Whiskey in a Teacup since it covers a lot of delicious recipes and the art of hosting guests. Depending on the book you select and the schedules of your book club members, you might want to opt for wine and light bites, or a morning coffee, instead of a full meal.

Set the Tone: As a mama of two, I know how difficult it can be to clear the house for an extended period of time, but in order to host a successful book club, it’s crucial to have your home be distraction-free! One of the best parts of a book club is meaningful conversation in a relaxed environment, something that feels like a rare treat these days! 

Get Your Guests Involved: Although the hostess is tasked with the main responsibility of providing a clean, quiet place for the group to meet, other guests can pick up some of the hosting duties like bringing a dessert or bottle of wine.

Set Expectations: When I host a book club, I want to have meaningful conversations, but I also want it to be fun! I think it’s important to set expectations in advance so people know what to expect. Some people might feel intimidated by a book club, so it’s helpful to outline some expectations from the get-go. For me personally, I like letting members know that we will be talking through topics discussed in the book, but that they shouldn’t feel pressured to come super prepared or feel like they will be put on the spot. For me, it’s about having fun and catching up with friends in the comfort of my own home!

Prep Topics in Advance: Even if you don’t want your book club to feel super formal (I’m right there with you!), it’s great to have a few topics outlined in advance to keep the conversation going, and to keep it from completely derailing into other topics, i.e. work, kids, etc. If you’re taking the time to meet for a book club, you don’t want to leave the meeting feeling like the book wasn’t even discussed — which is bound to happen with a few glasses of wine and no agenda!

Photographed by Kate Robinson

Have a Regular Meeting Day & Time: In order to make meetings as easy as possible on your guests’ schedules, try to stick to a regular day and time. Realistically for my set of friends, that means once a month either as a late breakfast once kids have been dropped to school or in the evening once kids are in bed. Make it as easy as possible on everyone so that they will want to be a part of it!

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Outfit Details: On Caroline: Top: Frame | Skirt: Draper James |
On Kathryn: Top: Draper James | On Jessica: Top: Draper James 

Have you been a part of a successful book club? I’d love to hear your tips in the comments below! xo