When was the last time you have seen a guest book? It was probably at a wedding. – Yet a guest book can also be used on many other occasions. Below you will find some ideas that you may use to make it more creative.
Apart from a wedding, a guest book may be a precious souvenir from an anniversary, baptism, First Communion, eighteenth birthday or a house-warming party. A friend of mine displays a notebook for guests at each party she hosts.
What can you write in a guest book?
If you want your guest book to be more than an attendance list, you may try out one of the ideas below.
One of the ideas behind a guest book is to collect the wishes from all guests in one place. Greetings cards may get lost. Besides, they are not easy to store as they come in different shapes and sizes. A guest book standing on a shelf, in turn, can be browsed at any time.
Yet not all guests find it easy to write wishes. If you want to avoid several dozen pages saying “All the best!”, ask your guests for one of the below:
Many wedding guests accompany their wishes with a befitting quote. If you like poetry, you may ask your guests to write down their favourite poem. This way you may learn about new writers whose work you may consider exploring.
A guest book with song lyrics is a lighter version of the above. These may include single verses or choruses of well-known hits that bring the married couple or the party host to mind. If you announce the theme in advance, someone may even compose a song especially for you!
A light-hearted version of a guest book: each guest writes down their favourite joke, and you laugh out loud reading your private joke book.
Advice for the married couple, for the future bride at a hen party, for a teenager at the dawn of adult life or for a recent graduate. All of that may be included in a guest book, in particular when the invited guests are more experienced than the host. If not, you may advise them to ask their parents or friends for good advice.
A practical guest book: good advice may relate to any sphere of life or focus on a single one, e.g. cooking. If you manage to collect the favourite recipes of each guest, you won’t need a cookbook for a very long time. And if something goes wrong, you will know whom to call for help.
A sentimental guest book: instead of titling your party keepsake “Guest Book”, title it: “How I met the married couple” or “My best memories of Joanna“. My mum wrote down such a memory related to both me and my husband in our wedding guest book, and every time we read it, we have tears in our eyes.
An idea that is slightly similar to the above yet does not require shared past. “What does Joanna bring to your mind?” A set topic that can be interpreted in many ways. Guests may write a single word, an entire essay, a memory, a poem, a song, a joke, paste a photo or draw a picture. I have already written about a video version of this idea here.
Plans for the future
I copied this idea from a friend who has just come back after living in a different city for a year. At the welcome-back party, she laid down a notebook in the vestibule, where she wrote: “Since you’re back with us, I can’t wait to…” Guests were supposed to use subsequent pages to write their ideas for things they would like to do together with her: go to a cinema, go skating, go to a gym, gossip, etc. If she ever gets bored, she only needs to open her notebook and contact the person of her choice.
Last, but not least, comes the idea we used at our wedding. In the invitation, we asked our guests to bring photos, so that our guest book would be more colourful.
We didn’t specify what type of photos these should be, and we received really varied pictures: from a photo lab, taken specifically for this occasion, holiday snaps, childhood pictures and photos taken with us. Several people who forgot to bring their pictures drew self-portraits. Others left some space free, which we filled with photos taken during the reception. Now, when we browse through our guest book, we don’t look at the headings or the signatures, but at the photos that tell us who a given page belongs to. As a famous idiom goes: A picture is worth a thousand words.
I wonder which of these ideas you liked most. Maybe you could add some? I would love to learn about your ideas!
– If you want to collect entries from all guests, sign each page with a name. This way no one will be forgotten. And if a guest forgets to fill their page, you may follow up with this person after the party. We managed to collect some missing photos after the wedding, and one guest who didn’t write anything at least has a photo from the reception pasted on his page.
– On your wedding day, you will have your hands full. That is why I recommend appointing a responsible person to ensure that all pages of your guest book are filled.
– If you announce the theme or the form of the entries in advance (e.g. while distributing invites), the entries may be better considered.
– A guest book should be sewn because you will browse through it often. We used a photo album with white pages for ours. When you want to have a guest book at a house party or a different less formal party, you may use a decorative notebook. It will definitely be cheaper, and the guests won’t feel overwhelmed by the amount of space for their entries.