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Party Games

I’m back in party planning mode, now for my youngest’s 9th birthday. We’ve decided to do an acting/improv theme, having kids use whatever props and costumes we have around the house (and they are many and varied!) doing skits and playing games similar to those on “Whose Line is it Anyway?” Games like Superheroes and Party Quirks, the one in which “guests” are given slips of paper with descriptions of what they are to act out and the “host” must guess what they are supposed to be.

It’s actually not unlike some party/parlor games played during the Regency. Amateur theatricals such as in Mansfield Park, glees and charades were typical house party entertainment. While googling around, I also found evidence for a number of games, some familiar, like “Blind Man’s Buff”, and some that were new to me. Such as this one:

I was surprised to hear that you did not know what a Bullet Pudding is, but as you don’t I will endeavour to describe it as follows: You must have a large
pewter dish filled with flour which you must pile up into a sort of pudding with a peek at top. You must then lay a bullet at top and everybody cuts a slice of it, and the person that is cutting it when it falls must poke about with their noses and chins till they find it and then take it out with their mouths of which makes them strange figures all covered with flour but the worst is that you must not laugh for fear of the flour getting up your nose and mouth and choking you: You must not use your hands in taking the Bullet out. ” –Fanny Austen to a friend, January 17, 1804

As I don’t have servants to clean up, I doubt I’ll do this one at our party!

The Jane Austen Center lists quite a few games played during the Regency and even by Jane Austen and her family. They include games like “Snapdragon” (which sounds dangerous to me!), Bouts-rimees, and “Rhymed with rose”. Here’s what Jane herself came up with:

Happy the lab’rer in his Sunday clothes!
In light-drab coat, smart waistcoat, well-darn’d hose,
And hat upon his head, to church he goes;
As oft, with conscious pride, he downward throws
A glance upon the ample cabbage rose
That, stuck in button-hole, regales his nose,
He envies not the gayest London beaux.
In church he takes his seat among the rows,
Pays to the place the reverence he owes,
Likes best the prayers whose meaning least he knows,
Lists to the sermon in a softening doze,
And rouses joyous at the welcome close.

How about you? Do you enjoy theatricals? Parlor games? Which games would you most like to see at a Risky Retreat? Here’s one I think we could play if we invited the right guests: say Colin, Orlando, Sean and Gerard?

Elena
www.elenagreene.com

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Amanda McCabe
14 years ago

LOL! I like your retreat idea, Elena. 🙂

Your girls always have the most fun-sounding parties. I wish I had thought of them when I was their age!

Todd
14 years ago

OK, but I get to invite Jennifer Ehle and Rachel Weisz. 🙂

A number of years ago now I came across The Oxford Guide to Word Games by Tony Augarde, which was the first time I ever encountered Charades the word game (as opposed to the acting game with which I think people nowadays are much more familiar), along with a bunch of other games, like Enigmas. These were supposed to be party games, but I’d never heard of them. But then I read Emma, where at one point they are collecting Charades and Enigmas, and Mr. Elton makes up a Charade for Emma that she mistakenly believes is for Harriet Smith.

Todd-who-is-a-charade-wrapped-up-in-an-enigma

Louisa Cornell
14 years ago

The bullet pudding game sounds like loads of fun! Charades and Enigmas sound like fun too.

I love party games that allow people to come out of their shells. It allows you to get to know more about people in a really fun setting.

Elena Greene
14 years ago

Amanda, if you lived closer I would invite you over for these parties!

I knew that charades during the Regency referred to the word game version. Now I want to go find JANE EYRE, because I remember the characters staging a combination word play and staged version, but I can’t remember if it was called “charades” or not. Now I’m curious about the game’s evolution.

Louisa, I think party games like these are great and infinitely preferable to the standard Chuck e Cheese kids’ party, where kids go off to play video games, usually by themselves, which seems to miss the whole point of a party, I think. Not to mention the noise levels–the only time I went to that dreadful place I wanted a Scotch afterwards!

Amanda McCabe
14 years ago

“Not to mention the noise levels–the only time I went to that dreadful place I wanted a Scotch afterwards!”

LOL! I had to go to Chuck E Cheese once for a friend’s kid’s party. I’ve never seen anyplace more Dante-esque in my life. 🙂

I recently read an article that said tea parties were coming back “in” for kid’s birthday parties. We can only hope.

Diane Gaston
14 years ago

I’m up for that last game, if Gerard shows up!

I’ve only been to Chuck e Cheese twice, thank god! Avoided it, even though there is one nearby.

The best birthday party I did was for my son at about age 9. We took him and his friends to nearby Burke Lake Park where they have a real old-fashioned kind of playground with a big slide, good swings, teeter-totters, and monkey bars. Then we ate cake at the picnic table.

Kathy
14 years ago

These games sound really cool!

Oh, Diane. I bid you to share Gerard with me. 😀

Elena Greene
14 years ago

The best birthday party I did was for my son at about age 9. We took him and his friends to nearby Burke Lake Park where they have a real old-fashioned kind of playground with a big slide, good swings, teeter-totters, and monkey bars. Then we ate cake at the picnic table.

Diane, that sounds lovely. While my kids and I like to have fun with themes, the most important thing is making sure they and their friends get to do something fun together. It’s not about what’s trendy or expensive. The improv party won’t cost us more than food and I expect it’ll be a blast.

Diane Gaston
14 years ago

Oh, Diane. I bid you to share Gerard with me. 😀

You’ll have to fight me for him, Kathy….Unless you have a Black Belt in Karate or something.
I know! A battle of wits!!!!
No, I only have half of mine left.

sigh.

janegeorge
14 years ago

Age 9 seems to be primo for parties.
For my daughter’s 9th we did a Harry Potter trip to Hogsmeade. They came up through the basement/garage “tunnel” and into Honeydukes where they were blindfolded one by one and made to guess the flavor of the Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor bean, then they made wands, went to the joke shop, and ended with lunch & butterbeer at the Three Broomsticks. I got to be Rosmerta. 🙂

In regard to organized games
at adult parties I’m kinda like Hugh Laurie as Mr. Palmer in Sense & Sensibility. In other words, don’t ask me to put my snout in the flour.

janegeorge
14 years ago

I meant “grown-up” parties. I’ve never been to an “adult” party. Not yet, anyway.

Cara King
14 years ago

Jane George wrote:

For my daughter’s 9th we did a Harry Potter trip to Hogsmeade.

Ooh, how neat!!! And Elena, your parties always seem heavenly too!

Cara

Diane Gaston
14 years ago

I meant “grown-up” parties. I’ve never been to an “adult” party. Not yet, anyway.

Bwwwhaahaahaaa, janegeorge!

You are some stiff competition for Elena as best mom-as-party-planner! I’m sure that beats my playground party, which wins the mom-as-laziest-party planner prize. Cheapest, too.

Jane
14 years ago

These games sound fun. Maybe we can play a murder mystery game. We could split up into pairs. Some lucky gal could end up with Gerry or Richard as their partner in solving the crime.

Elena Greene
14 years ago

That party sounds like a blast, Jane!

As for games at grownup parties, I usually feel awkward. But I can enjoy that sort of thing if I’m among good friends with whom I can relax and be silly, like one Halloween party pre-kids where we played charades til 4AM.

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