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?