Friends of Library holding Novel Night Zoom open house Wednesday to attract dinner party hosts

The organizers of Novel Night are looking for hosts to turn over their homes for dinner parties themed to different books, as the planners deal with a much shorter timetable to get ready for the event because they had to wait for the Covid-19 pandemic to abate.

The event, one of the biggest fundraisers in Pelham and first held in 1994, will be on Oct. 2 and is run by the Friends of the Town of Pelham Public Library for the benefit of the library. The biennial gala had to be moved from last November to this fall because of Covid-19.

Because the event still needs hosts, the Friends of the Library are holding a Zoom open house Wednesday (tonight) at 7 p.m. for those new to Pelham or who are perhaps concerned about hosting because of the pandemic. Sign up on the Novel Night website to get the Zoom link.

The difficulty caused by Covid for the event is it shortened the time the organizers have to plan because they were waiting for an all-clear on the public health front. Usually, Novel Night takes a year to plan, but the friends board now has to put it together in a span of four months, said Debbie Winstead, president of the Friends of the Town of Pelham Public Library.

“The way it works is people around town volunteer to put on dinner parties based upon a book,” said Winstead. “We call them dinner hosts. They pick a book, and they create a party with a theme around the book. People come in costume. The food is centered around the theme of the book, decoration, music, drinks.”

“It could be any book, it could be fiction, it could be nonfiction,” she said, “The one thing that we hope is that the book chosen by the host is something they are excited about.”

In previous years, tickets for the dinner parties and the after-party at the New York Athletic Club sold quickly.

“When (attendees) buy their tickets, each person has the option of choosing up to five dinners, and we, in most cases, give them one of their top choices,” said Winstead. “That doesn’t always happen, but the vast majority of the time it does. The sooner you buy the ticket, the more likely you are to get your top choice.”

As for health safety, attendees will have to show proof of vaccination to attend Novel Night. Also, those uncomfortable hosting at their houses can do so at the NYAC. The Novel Night committee is helping hosts who want to do their dinners outdoors: They worked with Atlas Party Rentals to get dinner hosts a 15% discount on all rentals. The dance floor at the athletic club has also been moved outside.

“We are trying to move as many pieces outside just to give people a greater comfort level with the event,” Winstead said.