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The Victorians were particularly fond of parlor games, a number of which have since been forgotten, though a select few have been passed down to successive generations and remain firm favorites even today. Victorian families were among the first ever to be blessed with abundant free time, and among the last to pass that time without television. They enjoyed numerous interactive parlor activities, ranging from cards (euchre, bridge, seven-up) and board games (dominoes, checkers, chess) to 20 Questions and charades. Young ladies and their mothers spent their leisure time learning needle crafts, creating ornaments, and reading novels. Popular titles of the age include Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's ADVENTURES OF SHERLOCK HOLMES and L. Frank Baum's THE WIZARD OF OZ. Male and female family members alike frequently gathered around a parlor organ, a piano, or a player piano to have "a sing." New entertainment technologies of the year included the phonograph, a stand-alone console for playing back recorded audio programs, and the stereograph, a handheld device for viewing 3-D-like images.

The Ball of Wool

The party are seated round a table, from which the cloth must be drawn. A little wool is rolled up into the form of a ball, and placed in the middle of the table. The company then commence to blow upon it, each one trying to drive it away from his own direction, and the object of all being to blow it off; so that the person by whose right side it falls may pay a forfeit. The longer the ball is kept on the table by the opposing puffs of the surrounding party, the more amusing the game becomes, as the distended cheeks and zealous exertions of the players afford mirth to lookers-on as well as to themselves.

Blowing the Feather

in which a small feather set floating in the air answers the same purpose as the ball upon the table. The forfeit falls to the individual whose puff is ineffectual in keeping the feather afloat, or who suffers it to drop when it reaches him.

Shadows

This game, sometimes called "Shadow Buff," is productive of much amusement in a round party. It consists in the detection of the individuals who compose the company by their shadows; but these they are at liberty to disguise as much as possible. The following is the method pursued:

A white tablecloth or a sheet is suspended on one side of the apartment, and, at a short distance before this sheet, one of the party, chosen for the purpose, is seated upon either the ground or a low stool, with his face directed towards the cloth. Behind him, on the farther side of the apartment, the table is placed, and upon it a lamp or taper, all other lights in the apartment being extinguished. Each of the company in turn passes before the lamp and behind the person who is gazing upon the cloth, which thus receives a strong shadow, If the individual seated can name the person whose shadow is thus thrown, the latter has to pay a forfeit, or to take the place of the guesser, as may be agreed upon. It would be easy, in playing this game, to detect particular individuals if they passed in their natural attitude ; but they arc free to change this as much as lies in their power, by stooping, standing more erect than usual, bending the limbs, or using the arms in any way calculated to obscure the outline of the shadow and render it difficult of detection. An alteration in costume, such as turning up the collar or changing the coat, if a gentleman, and enveloping the head in a hood, in the case of a lady, is also allowable. The game gives rise to a good deal of ingenuity in this fashion, and may often proceed for some time before many forfeits have resulted.

The Messenger


The party are seated in line, or round the sides of the room, and some one previously appointed enters with the message, "My master sends me to you, madam," or "sir," as the case may be, directed to any individual he may select at his option. " What for?" is the natural inquiry. "To do as I do;" and with this the messenger commences to perform some antic, which the lady or gentleman must imitate - say he wags his head from side to side, or taps with one foot incessantly on the floor. The person whose duty it is to obey commands his neighbor to the right or to the left to "Do as I do," also and so on until the whole company are in motion, when the messenger leaves the room, re-entering it with fresh injunctions. While the messenger is in the room he must see his master's will obeyed, and no one must stop from the movement without suffering a forfeit. The messenger should be some one ingenious in making the antics ludicrous, and yet kept within moderate bounds, and the game will not fail to produce shouts of laughter. Among the other tricks which may be commended are such as rocking the body to and fro, wiping the eyes with a pocket-handkerchief yawning, whistling, stroking the chin or the beard, and making any grimace. Another game, of much the same character, is known by the title,

Magic Music


In this game a player is seated at the piano, and one of the others leaves the room, while the company decides what the last-mentioned is to do on his return. When called in, he is given a hint, but only a hint, of what he is expected to do. We will suppose that he is told that he is to "make an offering to a certain lady." He is left to himself as to what the offering may be, but [-128-] he must guess the lady to whom it is to be offered, and offer to each in succession until he discovers the individual selected. The musical part of the performance is this: When he re-enters the room, the person at the piano commences to play some piece, with a moderate degree of vigor. As the guesser approaches the right lady, or the right thing to be done, whatever its nature, the music becomes louder or quicker; but if he appears to be going farther and farther from his appointed task, the music becomes softer and softer, until it is scarcely heard. This gives him a clue as to whether he is on the right scent, or otherwise. If there is no piano in the room, the "magic music" may be of another character, It may consist in the tinkling or clashing together of any articles that wil1 emit either a harmonious or a discordant sound, according to the degree of hilarity or boisterousness to which the age and other circumstances of the company dispose them. But, played with a little tact, the game in any of its forms will be found amusing.

We have had occasion to mention forfeits; and as those form an important element in many in-door games, we shall have something to say about them in our next paper, in which we hope, at the same time, to introduce to the notice of our younger readers several novel amusements, which in the long evenings they may find especially acceptable.

Prussian Exercises


The players are drawn up in line along one side of the apartment, and are supposed to represent a regiment. On the extreme right of the party a corporal is stationed, and the captain, selected for his knowledge of the game, takes his place in front, It is his duty to give the word of command for the movements of the line, and he must do this with mock solemnity, however absurd the antics which he orders to be performed. Thus, he commences with the ordinary "Attention Eyes right!" at which all are bound to look straight at the commander ; and he then gives such orders as his own will and experience may dictate. "Fold arms;" "Extend arms!" "Slap cheeks!" "Tweak noses!" "Ground knees!" and similar evolutions, are all to be performed at the same instant by the whole company, under penalty of a forfeit; and the corporal on the right, who has had a previous consultation with the captain, sets the example for the guidance of the rest, where the meaning of the order is not clear. At the word "March!" the party must move one foot after the other, as in walking, but without changing position ; at "Right march !" they move the right leg only, backwards and forwards "Left March !" they do the same with the left. "Ground knees !" may be varied by "Ground right knee!" or "left," and in this case the regiment sinks with that knee to the ground. This is a favorable position for bringing the amusement to a climax, as follows:- When the party are on one or both knees, the order is given, "Present arms!" which they do by stretching them straight out in front. The next command is "Fire!" and the corporal who is in the secret, then gives his next neighbor a nudge with the shoulder. This causes him, as he is already kneeling, to lose his equilibrium; and falling sidewise, he brings down the next person to him, and so on along the whole line, which is thus "floored" in a moment. When young ladies and gentlemen are playing together, and it is thought desirable to wind up the exercises in more polite fashion, the word may be given to "Salute!" The players having been stationed alternately according to sex, each gentleman then salutes his neighbor to the right, to the left, or on both sides, as the captain may order.

The Dumb Orator


This is a very amusing performance, enacted by two persons for the benefit of the rest of the company. One of the two recites a speech, or any popular piece of declamation- My name is Norval," or the like - keeping all the while perfectly motionless, and without a quiver upon his countenance, while the other, standing silent by his side, gesticulates furiously, according to the emotions called up by the passage recited. Of course, the more closely he follows and burlesques the action natural to the words throughout, the greater the amusement created. There is another way of performing the same oratorical show, namely, by the two players enveloping themselves in the same cloak or wrapper, and the arms of the one - which are all the company are allowed to see of him - keeping up an action suited to the narrative of the other; but this is more awkward in the performance, and less effective than the method first described.

Twirling the Trencher


This is a brisk game, requiring activity without ingenuity. A circle is formed in the room, and a good space is left clear in the midst. A trencher or round wooden platter is obtained, or, if such a thing is not available, a small round tray or waiter will best answer the purpose. When all the party are seated, one of the company stands up in the center and twirls the tray round upon the floor, at the same time calling out the name of any other person present, who must rise and pick up the trencher before it falls to the ground, otherwise he or she pays a forfeit. The person who twirls the trencher returns to his own seat immediately, and the one who picks it up, or has been called upon to do so, has the privilege of making a call afterwards.

FORFEITS


IT will have been observed that many of the games already described lead up to the payment of forfeits, and that some appear to be designed for the express purpose of extracting as many as possible from the various members of the company. This is really the case, for "crying the forfeits," as it is called, often forms the most amusing part of an evening's entertainment, and is, therefore, usually reserved until the last. It is conducted in the following manner: Each player who has to pay a forfeit deposits some small article, or trinket, in the hands of one of the company appointed as collector - say a handkerchief, a knife, a pencil-case, or anything which can be readily identified. One article is given for every forfeit incurred, and it is redeemed when the particular task assigned to the owner has been duly performed. It is not desirable that very many forfeits should accumulate before they are "cried," as this often takes up a considerable time ; but when an average of one to each member of the party has been reached, if the number is between a dozen and twenty, it is time to stop the collection. Two persons, chosen from the rest of the company for their knowledge of a good number of suitable and amusing forfeits, and generally ladies, cry the forfeits thus:- One is seated, and the various articles collected are placed in her lap. The other is blindfolded, and kneels down before her companion. The object of the blindfolding is to prevent the recognition of any of the articles as belonging to particular members of the company, and thus to assure something like impartiality in the allotment of the various tasks. The person seated takes one of the articles from the collection before her, and, holding it up so that the company may recognize the owner, usually cries, "Here is a thing, and a very pretty thing; what shall be done by the owner of this very pretty thing?" This established form of words, which dates farther back than the memory of man, may, however, be reduced to the latter clause alone, if that plan is preferred. The blindfolded lady asks, "Is it fine, or superfine?" or "Is it a lady's or a gentleman's ?" for this much she is allowed to know, that she may name a suitable forfeit. Having received an answer, she declares the task which the owner must perform. The following are examples of the forfeits which may be allotted.

For a Gentleman


1. To kiss every lady in the room Spanish fashion. The person to whom this forfeit is assigned usually imagines that an agreeable task is before him; but he is thus enlightened. A lady rises from her seat to conduct him round the room, and she proceeds to each lady in turn, kisses her, and then wipes the gentleman's mouth with her pocket handkerchief.


2. To make a Grecian Statue. To do this the gentleman must stand upon a chair, and take his pose according to the pleasure of the company. One person may stick his arm out, or bend it into an awkward position; another may do the same by a leg; a third may incline his head backward, with the chin elevated in the air ; and so they may proceed, until his figure is sufficiently removed from the "Grecian" to satisfy the party. He is bound to be as plastic as possible while the statue is molded.


3. To perform the Dumb Orator. How to do this was described in our last paper. The forfeit may either be allotted to one person, who is to go through the action while either a lady or a gentleman volunteer recites, or two forfeits may be coupled, and both reciter and actor may take their parts as a penalty.


4. Say Half-a-dozen Flattering Things to a Lady, without using the Letter a. This may be done by such phrases as "You are pretty," "You are entertaining," but such words as graceful, beautiful, and charitable are, of course, inadmissible.


5. To try the Cold Water Cure, the gentleman is first blindfolded, and then a tumbler filled with cold water, and a teaspoon, are produced. Not to be too hard upon him, he is allowed to take a seat. Each member of the company is then privileged to give him a spoonful; but if he can guess at any time the name of the person who is "curing" him, he is at once released from a further infliction of the remedy.


6. To play the Learned Pig. To do this, the gentleman must first put himself as nearly as possible in the attitude of one. He must go on all fours, and he is then to answer questions that may be put to him either by the company or by somebody who may volunteer as his master, to show his attainments. The questions asked are something like the following: "Show us the most agreeable person in the company," or, "the most charming," "the greatest flirt," . After each question, the victim is to proceed to any one whom he may select and signify his choice by a grunt. The learning as well as the docility of a pig has its limits, and the game must, therefore, not be prolonged too far.


7. To go round the Room Blindfolded, and kiss all the Ladies- The company, of course, are seated, but as soon as the gentleman is blindfolded they change positions, with as little commotion as possible. He consequently finds, in his progress, that he as often attempts to kiss one of his own as one of the opposite sex; or a lady may reverse the position of her chair, so that the gentleman kisses the back of her head.


8. To choose One of Three Signs.- To do this, he is to stand with his face to the wall, while any lady present makes three signs behind him - of a kiss, of a pinch, and of a box on the ear. He is then asked whether he chooses the first, the second, or the third, not knowing the order in which they have been made, and receives the corresponding action.


9. To imitate any Animal that may be named. If the company call upon him to imitate a goat, a donkey &c he must do it ; but if the forfeit happens to fall upon any one who, from age or other reasons, may be excused from such performance, "a man" is named as the animal and a bow will suffice.


10. To kiss a Lady through the Back of a Chair He must wait, with his visage inserted in the chair-back until some lady comes to his rescue ; but if the chair be of a fancy pattern, she may dodge him through the framework before giving him his release.


11. To blow the Candle out.-He is blindfolded and the candle held near his face, until he happens to give a puff in the right direction.


12. To perform the Clown's Pantomime - This consists in rubbing the forehead with one hand while you strike the breast with the other, standing up in the room for the performance. If correct time is not kept, in the judgment of the company, another forfeit is to be paid.

For a Lady


1. To Choose Partners for a Quadrille - In this the lady, after making her choice, is informed that the quadrille must be performed blindfold. The gentlemen selected must be satisfied with that honor, and go through the performance which devolves upon them; but the second lady may be allowed to reclaim her forfeiture, if she has one, as compensation. All stand up, blindfolded as we have said, and go through the first figure of a set, as best they may.


2. To repeat a Proverb Backwards. Any proverb may be chosen by the lady for the purpose.


3. To stand in the Middle of the Room, and spell Opportunity. If, after the lady has spelt the word, a gentleman can reach her before she regains her seat, he may avail himself of the "opportunity" offered, under the mistletoe.


4. To say "Yes" or "No" to Three Questions by the Company. The lady must go out of the room, while the company agree as to each of the questions to be asked. To each of these the lady must give one or other of the plain monosyllables. Ladies of experience say the safe answer is always "no;" but this hint must be reserved to readers of these papers.


5. To kiss a Gentleman "Rabbit Fashion." - This is usually a source of great amusement to the rest of the party. The lady has the privilege of choosing any gentleman present. A piece is broken off a reel of cotton, and the lady takes one end of the piece in her mouth while the gentleman takes the other in the same way. They then both nibble the cotton until the kiss ensues, as a matter of course. If the gentleman is sufficiently gallant, he will perform the chief part of the "nibbling" process. The company may exercise their discretion as to the length of the cotton.


6. To sing a Song, or play a Piece of Music.-This is given either to elicit the musical capabilities of a lady who may be shy, or to make an agreeable interlude in the round of other forfeits. If the lady called upon can really do neither, another forfeit is allotted to her.


7. Ask a Question to which Yes must be the Answer. - This is a great puzzle to any one who is not in the secret. The unfortunate forfeiter may ask all kinds of questions, without eliciting the answer required for her release. But if she simply inquires, "What does y-e-s spell?" there cannot be any other reply.


8. To kiss the Gentleman you love best in the Company, without any one knowing it.-There is only one way of paying this penalty, and that is, to kiss every gentleman in the room, leaving them to settle the question as to "loving best" amongst them.


9. To put yourself through the Keyhole.- This is one of those quibbles upon words, for which persons called upon to pay forfeits should watch, as they are often in use. We give this as an example. The forfeit is paid by writing "yourself" upon a piece of paper, and passing that through the keyhole.


10. To kiss each Corner of the Room.- When this forfeit is declared, a gentleman stations himself in each corner, and the lady has to pay an unexpected penalty.


11. To spell "Constantinople." - This must be done an the old schoolmistress's fashion- "C-o-n, Con, with a Con, s-t-a-n, stan, with a stan,"; but, after the third syllable, the company attempt to embarrass the speller by crying out, "No! No!" as if a mistake had been made. To this, the proper reply is, "Thank you;" the fourth syllable is then spelled, and the fifth completes the task.


12. To form a Rifle Corps.- The lady goes to one end of the room, and calls up a gentleman, who stands opposite to her. The gentleman then calls a lady, who stands at his side; and she in turn names a gentleman, who places himself opposite to her. So the calling goes on, until all present are included. If the number of ladies and of gentlemen present is unequal, the more mirth is created by the last persons called standing opposite one of their own sex. When all are called, the word is given by the first gentleman in the rank, "Present arms." All then join hands with the persons opposite; and the next command is "Salute," which is done in osculatory fashion. We conclude our list of forfeits with a few contrived to include more than one member of the company.

To the forfeits for a lady given in the previous paper may be added

1. Either a lady or a gentleman may be called upon to "sit on the Stool of Repentance." He or she must then sit in the center of the room, while one of the party goes round to inquire, in a whisper, of each person present, what the repentant individual "looks like." The reply may be "wise," "silly," "pitiable," "beautiful,", according to circumstances. The answers are repeated openly to the forfeiter, with the question after each, "Who said that ?" If the right name is guessed, as is often the case, the person who made the particular observation must then sit on the "stool" in turn, and so on until the company are satisfied with the round.


2. A lady is required to "be Postman." She is to go outside the room, and rap on the door, when one of the company inquires, "Who's there?" The answer is, "The postman, with a letter for -," any gentleman she likes to name. "How many seals?" Whatever the answer may be, the gentleman may exact so many kisses; and he in turn remains outside, and declares he has a letter for a lady. So the forfeit proceeds, a lady calling a gentleman, and a gentleman a lady, until the company have all been called, but no person present is bound to answer twice.


3. When the calling of forfeits has been continued long enough, and several remain, which it is desired to clear off together, the forfeiters may be called upon to perform a "Musical Medley." Each one must then sing some verse or stanza of a song, no two choosing the same melody, but all commencing and singing together. The effect is generally so grotesque as to produce shouts of laughter.


FORFEITS are in such general demand during the season when round and merry games are in vogue, that we add a few more to the list given in a previous paper. Before doing so, however, we may be allowed to remind our readers that the spirit in which forfeit games should be conducted is to extract as much harmless fun from them as possible, avoiding everything rough and unseemly, or in which a mind exceptionally sensitive can find a cause of offense. With those which are simply boisterous in character, or have any element calculated to cause a feeling of annoyance or pain, we have nothing to do. But at the same time, all who enter on games of this kind should be prepared to give as well as to receive amusement. Blind man's Bluff


One member of the company was blindfolded and counted to twenty whilst the rest scattered about the room. The blindfolded person had to chase and catch somebody and identify him or her correctly, by touch alone. Once identified, that person donned the blindfold and the game began again. A popular children's game today. One variation on the game was known as 'Queen of Sheba', which involved the prettiest girl in the company being seated on a chair, after which the blindfolded player had to make his way over to steal a kiss from her. The girl was replaced by an elderly relation at the last moment, to the intense delight of all present.

Hunt the Slipper


The players sat in a circle with one person in the middle, their eyes closed. A slipper was then passed round the players' backs. When the middle person opened his or her eyes, the players continued to pass the slipper surreptitiously between them, and the person was required to guess who had the slipper at any one moment. If he or she guessed correctly, the person named then took center stage.

Snapdragon


This game was one of the favorites. Each person had to pick currants (known as plums) out of a shallow bowl of burning spirit using their mouth, thereby extinguishing the flame. Not one to recommend today!

Charades


This was perhaps the most popular of all Victorian parlor games. The company divided into teams of up to six. For a simple game of charades, the first team was given a two- or three-syllable word to act out in total silence, which the others had to guess. The more complicated game could involve the acting out of a scene from a complicated staged production. Members of the opposite team were required to guess the required word or scenario before it was their turn to act.

Squeak, Piggy, Squeak!


In this second variation of blind man's buff, the company sat in a circle and the blindfolded person stood in the center and was spun around. The 'blind man' then placed a cushion on someone's lap and sat down on it (without touching that person), saying "Squeak, piggy, squeak!" The chosen person had to squeak and the blindfolded person was required to identify them. If the person was correctly-identified, he or she then became the 'blind man'.

Look-a-bout


The host shows everyone a little knick knack in the room. All the guests are to leave while the host hides it. When they return, everyone is to look for the item until they spot it. They are then to sit down. The last one to find it loses (or has to be "it"). If the guests continue to mill around for a few more seconds before they sit down it makes it a bit more difficult! You're Never Fully Dressed without a Smile


One person is selected to be "it." That person is the only one in the group who is allowed to smile. He or she can do anything they want to try and get someone to smile. If the person smiles, he or she becomes it. The person who never smiles is declared the winner. Blind Man's Bluff

One person is blindfolded, and all other guests scatter around the room. When the blind folded person catches someone, they then have to tell who it is they have captured or the prisoner is then freed and the blind man must continue his/her pursuit until he/she can identify the person caught. The blindfold then changes hands.

Change Seats!


This is a variation on a Victorian game, but a warning to those attempting this one, clear the room of precious little decorations, it can get a little wild! All but one person sits in a chair. The person in the middle asks someone in the circle "Do you love your neighbor?" The person selected then has to state either "No." at which point the people in the chairs on each side of him/her have to change seats QUICKLY. If they aren't quick enough, the person in the middle may slip into one of the vacated seats, making the unseated neighbor it. The chosen person may instead answer, "Yes, I love my neighbor, except those who (fill in the blank....are wearing blue, or have brown hair, or play tennis, etc) Everyone who fits the description (i.e. is wearing blue for example) has to jump up and change seats, while the person in the middle tries to steal one. The person left standing has to ask another person if he/she loves his/her neighbor, beginning a new round.

Charades


This is a classic Victorian game with which most people are quite familiar. In its modern form, charades is a game where one player acts out a word or phrase, or sometimes a movie title, by miming similar-sounding words. The other players must guess the word or phrase. The goal is to use physical rather than spoken words to convey the meaning to other players.

Pass the Slipper


We used to play this at church when I was little. You take an object, the "slipper." Pick a person and put them in the center of the circle. They must close their eyes while the "slipper" is passed from person to person behind their backs. When the center person opens his/her eyes, the passing immediately stops and he/she must hazard a guess as to who holds the "slipper." If he/she is correct, they trade places. If wrong, the eyes are closed and the passing begins again.

The Name Game


Provide each guest with 10 small pieces of paper, and a pen or pencil. Ask them to write down the names of 10 famous people, leaders, movie stars, authors, sports figures, politicians, artists, inventors, scientists, etc. Encourage them not to make it too easy! Fold the papers, and put them into a hat, bowl, or basket. Seat guests in a large circle. Each round is limited to 30 seconds, so have a watch with a second hand available. Player One pulls out a name, and tries to get the person beside him/her to guess the name by giving clues, but never actually saying the name or what it starts with. Gestures are not allowed. After the name is guessed, the clue-giver can continue pulling names out of the hat until their time is up. The guesser gets to keep their pieces of paper, and the clue-giver gets credit also. The bowl is the passed to the next person and the clue-giver now becomes the guesser and there is a new-clue giver. The bowl proceeds around the circle until everyone has guessed and everyone has given clues. The one with the most correct guesses wins.

Example: Name - Abraham Lincoln Clues: He lived in a log cabin. He was president during the Civil War. His wife's name was Mary Todd. He wore a stove pipe hat and had a beard. He was assasinated by John Wilkes Booth.

I'm Thinking of Something


One person picks something and commits it to memory (Mount Rushmore, the ocean, an item in the room). They do not tell what this item is but they say, for example, "I'm thinking of something large." The guests are then allowed to ask yes or no questions. "Is it a building?" "No" "Is it an animal" "No." "Is it a monument?" "Yes." "Is it in Europe?" "No" and so on until one person guesses the item correctly. If the person guesses incorrectly the game still ends and the wrong person must chose a new "something." Players should never guess until they are completely sure they know the answer. Alphabet Minute


Have everyone write a general topic of conversation down on a slip of paper, along with a letter of the alphabet. Pick two or three people at a time to play the game. Have them pick a topic out of a hat or basket. They then must start a conversation with one another regarding the topic. The catch is that they have to begin each sentence with a letter of the alphabet, beginning with the letter written in the slip of paper. They must follow the conversation through the alphabet, ending back with letter in which they started.

Example: Topic: Shopping

Letter: H

Player 1 - "Hey, I have to go shopping, wanna come?"

Player 2 - "I'd love to, but I don't have much money"

Player 3 - "Just come anyway; it'll be fun!"

Player 1 - "Kim said she would meet us at the food court."

Player 2 - "Last time she was twenty minutes late!"

Player 3 - "Maybe she'll make it on time today."

And so on until they arrive back at H to finish. You can either time them and cut them off at 60 seconds. The go on to another group and see who gets the farthest in 60 seconds, or you can let them finish the alphabet and see which group finishes their topic and alphabet in the fastest amount of time. Dictionary

We used to play this with family friends when I was growing up. Each person needs paper and a pen or pencil. You need at least one dictionary to play this game. Each person uses the dictionary in turn to look up a word (hopefully one unknown to most people) and writes down the real definition (in simplified form) and then makes up two or three others. The word and the definitions are read to the rest of the players and each has to guess which definition they believe is the correct one. The player gets points for each person he/she fools. The dictionary makes as many rounds as you would like, and the player with the most points at the end wins.


Example: Somnambulist a. a person who practices rituals

b. a person who likes to be alone

c. a person who sleep walks

d. a person who is solemn and serious

(answer is c) Similes

Similes is a fun Victorian Parlor Game, and can actually be used in classrooms to teach similes. A simile is a figure of speech that compares to unlike things using like or as. One of the most famous come from Robert Burns, who wrote "My love is like a red, red rose." To play this game, you need a list of similes and a group of people. One person, we'll call him/her the "teacher," goes around the room and picks people. The "teacher" picks one person and begins a simile "Love is like a......" the player must finish the simile by stating...."rose." If the player finishes the simile incorrectly, the "teacher" thanks them but gives them the correct ending and moves on. The "teacher" should be fairly well versed in well-known similes so as to be able to accept variations or answers that are close (or even very creative!)

Name the Nursery Rhyme

How Well Do You Know Your Nursery Rhymes? Using a list of lines from nursery rhymes, do your best to guess the title (usually the first line) of the nursery rhyme.

Example: What! Lost your mittens? Answer: Three Little Kittens

Peter Coddle’s Trip to New York

a simple word game that was wildly popular in 19th century America.

In the game box, there’s a story of a country rube who comes to the big city for the first time. One person is the reader; everyone else has a pile of cards,with strange little phrases on them.

In your pile of cards, you might have "a horrid big spider." Or a heap of pancakes. An unmarried woman. A broken jackknife, a flood of tears, a ten-cent lunch, some good advice.

The reader's text will eventually come to a blank, and each of the other players, in turn, gets to fill in that blank with one of their funny little phrases.

The game’s first publication, by the McLoughlin Brothers, is usually pinned to the late 1880s; soon after, other game companies were pumping out their own versions. The story always went about the same, though. One day, countrified Peter Coddle decides to make the trip to New York City. Once he reaches his destination, hi-jinks ensue.

With the cards in play, a paragraph from the game might read:

Rest assured that to a turn-of-the-century audience, this would be very entertaining. “Peter Coddle’s Trip to New York” was a wildly popular game that didn’t go out of print for decades. Coddle didn’t stop traveling after New York, either; he would go on to visit Chicago and Boston, too.

There were no winners or losers in Peter Coddle, and unlike in Cards Against Humanity, players were instructed to pick cards randomly, rather than play for laughs.

Still, the game was guaranteed to produce at least as much fun as [a carpenter’s chest] full of [yellow dogs] and [a pair of pantaloons.]