Your Worst Event Idea — Contest!

Elizabeth Bluemle - July 25, 2013

A friend of mine once worked for an advertising firm that was brainstorming names for a new breakfast cereal. The committee sat around a big table, throwing out suggestions fast and furious. Every idea, no matter how terrible, was recorded on a list and kept on file. Ten years later, my friend still had this list, and shared it with me: ten pages of possibilities for a new kind of oatmeal. My favorite entry was something called Hot Cooked Goo Crunch. Hot Cooked Goo Crunch! Did the whole room of ad execs just lose it when someone excitedly called that out? Did the person taking notes think twice about including it? (Honestly, I would pay to see a box of Hot Cooked Goo Crunch sitting on a supermarket shelf next to Grape Nuts, GoLean, and Rice Krispies.)
We booksellers are always striving to come up with creative event ideas to draw in customers. We’ve had Phantom Tollbooth “square” meals, Harry Potter Potions and Herbology and Divinations classes, and Hunger Games skills contests. In staff meetings, we’ll often brainstorm possibilities. Not all ideas are winners; some are downright painful, and others are just silly — which made me think of Hot Cooked Goo Crunch and some very bad ideas for events inspired by popular books. For instance, I don’t think any bookstore would want to hold a How to Eat Fried Worms speed-eating contest. Or a Running With Scissors race.
Readers, what terrible events can you dream up, inspired by a favorite and/or popular book?
There will be prizes for the funniest entries — advance reading copies for the two runners-up and an autographed copy of something fabulous (recipient gets to choose from the Flying Pig’s sizeable collection of signed books) for the grand prize winner.
Keep your ideas coming: winners will be announced in Shelftalker on Friday, August 2.

37 thoughts on “Your Worst Event Idea — Contest!

  1. Margo Jantzi

    “[My mom’s] funny that way, celebrating special occasions with blue food. I think it’s her way of saying anything is possible. Percy can pass seventh grade. Waffles can be blue. Little miracles like that.”
    ― Rick Riordan, The Sea of Monsters
    How about all the refreshments for the Sea of Monsters movie edition book party featuring all BLUE refreshments.

  2. Helen Platts-Johnson

    A “Coraline” inspired event which includes:
    – How many black beetles can you eat in 60 seconds (pie contest style) – winner receives a brand new set of eye buttons
    – The never ending garden maze – where you just keep going round the same bit because the maze was never completed beyond the first 100 yards
    Also highlights such as: the small room with no light (based on the cupboard coraline gets locked in), terrible amateur acting hour and the foggy mirror (based on the mirror at the end of the hall where she sees her parents) would be featured.
    I wouldn’t miss it! 😉

  3. Kelly

    I feel horrible suggesting it, but here goes:
    Come one, come all! Celebrate a beloved classic with our “Put Down Old Yeller” contest! Test your aim and win the game! (Fine Print: Toy rifle, not real. Moving target is cardboard, not actual dog. No (live) animals will be harmed in the course of this event.)
    Parents, have your children been naughty? Teach them to love reading–and behave–with our special Matilda night, complete with a full size replica Chokey! Make reading come alive and give the kids an experience they won’t forget. 🙂

  4. C Hernandez

    The Divergent amusement park survivor event- jump from tall buildings, climb a moving ferris wheeel, try to board a roller coaster as it goes by, moving target shooting competition, and of course knife thowing along with a martial arts wrestling match.

  5. Jennifer Oleinik

    Celebrating the completion of Michael Grant’s YA series, a “Gone” party! Kids aged newborn to 15-years old only. For a full day of store operations, no adults will be present, and it is up to the partygoers (kids) to run the Fallout Alley Youth Zone (FAYZ). What could possibly go wrong?
    Another good choice: “Animal Farm,” the event! Whoever thinks having an in-store petting zoo is a bad idea is clearly a party pooper.
    I also like the previously recommended Fahrenheit 451 idea, although to make it truly authentic the firemen party would need to include burning ALL the books in the store. (Special prizes for being able to hide or protect a book from incineration without getting caught!)

  6. A. L. Luring

    Contest announcement! As of tomorrow all staff members and customers are here-by adamantly requested to wear something, each day, in any shade of grey or gray, for the next 50 days. P-R-I-Z-E-S will be given to those people wearing the best conservative oufit while smiling in the most provocative way. This should make us #1 in the world of books for weeks and weeks and weeks. Don’t forget to sign the rules agreement and the promise of non-disclosure when you complete the contest application. Regardless of the anticipated success of the contest, no rights are yours.

  7. Trish K

    Come one, come all and celebrate the great literary masterpiece that is The Book Thief. We’ve stolen pizZa from Cucina Antica and some fabulous chocolate mousse cake from Harrington’s for this sure to be popular event.
    Make sure you bring a big backpack that can be easily.filled with our inventory when management is distracted.
    Feeling a bit tuckered out after the festivities commence? Hop on over to the Next Door Cafe and help.yourself to some coffee.

  8. Lizzy

    Well I would say that there needs to be a battle for the Iron Throne like in Game of Thrones. Sure, that means probable beheadings, poisonings, and a station will have to be created for battle planning…what person doesn’t want to strategize offensive/defensive war plans while needing people to taste test their food from the snack table?
    Although, it would be fun to come up with house sigils and mottos…

  9. Amanda D

    Harriet the Spy contest: the kid who brings in the best true story about their friends and neighbors wins a prize!

  10. Meredith B.

    Get your jammies on and come to our special Sleepy Storytime! We’ll be reading the classic picture book, “Go the F*** to Sleep”. Parents will be invited to join in on reading alound that classic phrase with our storyteller as it appears throughout the book. Our promise: you’ll never have trouble getting your kids to bed again!

  11. Meredith B.

    Inspired by the wonderfully funny picture book, “Richard was a Picker” by Carolyn Beck, the library will be hosting a booger-flicking contest. Open to children of all ages – and parents, too – join the competition to see who can flick their booger the furthest! Grand prize will be a copy of the book and a box of Kleenex. Sign up today!

  12. Heidi Sinnett

    Calling all twins aged 10 – 20! Drop by and kill your twin!*
    We’ll be holding a “DUALED” event at the library, celebrating Elsie Chapman’s debut YA book. We’re officially “activating” you now. Bring your favourite weapons or borrow one of ours. Hide in the stacks, under a table or tuck yourself away in our storage closet for the best assassination point possible! Just think, you’ll never have to share a room again, never be called by another name, and never have your sentences finished by someone else!
    One is definitely better than two.
    *cleanup costs apply

  13. Suzanne Warr

    Come celebrate H.I.V.E with us by unleashing your inner diabolical genius! We’ll hack into national security sites, take hostage any visiting dignitaries, and give out prizes for the best self-built bombs!

  14. Sue Morris

    Join the Summer of Peyo Event and celebrate all things 3 apples high. Wear your favorite blue top and white footed pants. Special contests include the first to explode something in Papa Smurf”s lab.
    Forget real dolls, steal Gargamel’s Smurfette formula and make your own Smurfette. It will delight your child when your Smurfette speaks, no pull-string needed.
    Ride atop Puppy throughout the Smurf village, wrestle with the littlest ghosts, try to match wits with Brainy Smurf.
    See if you have enough grouchiness to be the new Grouchy Smurf. Trade you baby in for a real Smurf Baby or join in on a special Smurf talent show–no instruments larger than 2 apples allowed.
    End the day’s festivities sleeping under a small mushroom, hay beds are extra, of course.

  15. Bethany B.

    Ramona Roulette! In honor of Ramona Quimby, we invite children to participate in a high-stakes game–with eggs! Some of the eggs are hard boiled and some are not. And the only way to find out which is which is to crack them against your head!

  16. Becky

    Come help us celebrate the debut novel by Kate Allcott, “The Dressmaker.” Join us in our very own wave tank as community members fight to get on board lifeboat number 1. Watch the life and death struggle through the clear tank walls as contestants beat each other to death with oars and push one another under the water to conserve the most space in the boat! Excitement for all ages!!

  17. Linda Marshall

    Charles Dickens Halloween House of Horrors.
    Convicts leap at you from behind tombstones. Be chased by thieves, cutthroats, pickpockets, and hags in shredded wedding gowns. Be haunted by ghosts, old and new., large and small. Be spooked by hunger and ignorance. For the grand finale, the Best of Times, the Worst of Times Exit. Choose the correct exit and you are out free. Choose the wrong exit and…don’t lose your head.

  18. Linda Marshall

    Hunger Games “The Capitol” Costume Contest. Come dressed and coiffed as if you lived in The Capitol!
    (Actually, this wouldn’t be half bad for a real event.)

  19. Miranda Paul

    A revenge party in honor of Klassen’s I WANT MY HAT BACK and THIS IS NOT MY HAT. Invite siblings, friends, etc. who have ever stolen something or had something stolen and let them work out the justice food-chain style and get their stuff back.

  20. Miranda Paul

    A Wet Cement Graffiti Party – in honor of MICK HARTE WAS HERE by Barbara Park. Invite readers to the nearest construction site and have them write giggle-worthy words in the freshly poured concrete.

  21. Kathy E

    Books & Paints
    Storytime & Crafts at the book Store
    I Ain’t Going to Paint No More! By Karen Beaumont
    Blue Chicken by Deborah Freedman
    Purple, Green, and Yellow By Robert Munsch
    Craft: Each child will be provided with 5 buckets of paint to re-enact their favorite scenes from each of the books.
    Celebrate the Movie Opening Night of 50 Shades of Grey at the Book Store
    Re-enact your favorite scene from the book. Handcuffs will be provided, and a free book given out to each participate. The book store will be decorated with prints of Georgia O’Keefe’s famous flower paintings, while intimate mood music plays in the background.
    “I hate flowers – I paint them because they’re cheaper than models and they don’t move.”
    Georgia O’Keeffe

  22. Martha Simpson

    A contest based on Your New Potty.
    Hey, toddlers! Show us how you use your new potty chair!
    You can bring your own potty, and we will also have an assortment of bowls, saucepans, oversize hats, flower pots, and other containers for you to try out.
    Prizes will be given for the first to pee, the biggest poop, demonstrating wiping skills, and to the boy with the best aim.
    Fun for the whole family! Parents – bring your cameras to catch all the action!

    1. Kathy Echavarria

      After receiving enough “water-damaged” and wet children’s books returned to the library with pungent urine smells, I certainly got a good giggle from this idea!

  23. Linda Young

    Newspaper headline: “Local Bookstore Closes After Incredibly Successful Themed Event Based On Abbie Hoffman’s Steal This Book” (showing my age here–this made the rounds when I was in college, at least until someone stole it)

  24. Linda Marshall

    The Jane Austen “Pride and Prejudice” speed dating for a rich man event. Everybody knows that a single man with a fortune is in want of a wife. Therefore, we have rounded up all the rich bachelors in town. All you single ladies in need of a wealthy husband should show up at the bookstore Friday night where you will each have one minute to convince a millionaire that he needs you as his wife. For all of you who have to go home alone Friday night, copies of Pride and Prejudice will be available for sale.

  25. Kathy Echavarria

    Celebrate Mo Willem’s Elephant and Piggie books with a live Elephant and Pig at the Book Store!
    (Sorry to post twice! I really like this game! And the visual was just too funny not to share).


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