Though I can't say my own table manners are up to Victorian code, I do like to borrow a bit of Victorian holiday magic to brighten up my home during the winter season. Something about the creativity they implemented in decorating, making ornaments and creating entertainment for loved ones inspires me to spend the holidays, or just simple get-togethers, with some kind of echo to the past.
In the way of traditions, there is a something sacred about carrying on those of your elders. However, I believe there is a special feeling of joy and future-oriented optimism that one experiences when creating "new" traditions as well. Whether you've moved away from home, are new to celebrating holidays you hadn't in the past, or just think it's time to dust the cobwebs from off the last 10 years of family routine, creating a tradition that feels relevant, unique to you and your loved ones, and sustainable for the future can be very exciting. After all, an experience can be shared and enjoyed for many generations to come, like an intangible heirloom for friends and family.
Yesteryear's Parlor Games
We all love a game of Uno, Scrabble, or watching our favorite movies to pass the time over family holidays and get-togethers...though how about something "new"? And by new, I mean, in fact, old! Today, the Victorians are known for a quiet, composed and altogether well mannered nature, though they did love a good excuse to get silly and loosen up after-hours much like ourselves. Since they didn't yet have TV or radio to entertain them, they had to invent their own diversions from boredom. Parlor games were a treat for families, friends, and neighbors to enjoy after meals were had, everyone had relaxed, and wanted something fun to while away the hours. We hope you try one of these at your next fête!
Squeal Piggy Squeal
This is an odd one, and not for those that are necessarily shy, or perhaps afraid of pigs. However, if you have been practicing your farm animal noises, you might enjoy this!
Requirements: 1 blindfold
How to Play:
- Players stand around in a circle, with one player standing blindfolded in the center.
- In turns, each player on the outskirt performs their best squealing pic imitation.
- When the blindfolded player makes the correct guess of who it is, they switch out with that player.
A possibly more fun, more involved, and more giggly version of hide n' seek.
How to Play:
- One player is the Hider, and has up to a minute to find an excellent hiding spot while the other players wait with eyes closed.
- Each of the Seekers runs about in a wild eyed frenzy trying to find the Hider, without giving away any information to the other players.
- Whoever finds the Hider first must join them in their hiding spot. In time, the rest of the Seeker's will cram themselves into this shared hiding spot as well, with an effort to keep silent and unexposed.
- The last person to find all the "packed sardines" becomes the next Hider.
Reverend Crawley's Game
If you ever did high school theater games, this may sound oddly familiar.
"It provides gentle exercise, enforced intimacy, and ultimately has the effect of a conjuring trick, so there really isn't much to be said against it and everybody should give it a go" (Victorian Fun)
Requirements: best for 6-10 players who aren't afraid of their personal bubbles vanishing
How to Play:
- All players stand in a circle and you link hands...though not with those on either side of you, and certainly not holding both the hands of a single person. You may find yourselves turning into a veritable human knot.
- In a joint effort, you try to untangle yourselves-never losing grip on the hands you hold-with various acrobatics and contortions to make it work.
- In the end, players usually work themselves out into a single, orderly ring of people (sometimes two).
The Victorians were a creative lot, not least of all in their decorating. Before the Industrial revolution came into full fruition, families had to draw on what resources they had at hand to brighten up their homes, rather than going out to purchase readily made baubles, aerosol powdered snow, and the like.
Bring the Outdoors, Indoors
Since the Victorians were a romantic lot, they did a lot of musing on nature, love, life and death, and enjoyed the bitter sweet beauty of that which is ephemeral. How can you blame them, when they had Tennyson, Byron, Shelley at their fingertips?
While elaborate paintings, old ceramic works, and other art is always celebrated in one's home, there is something joyful, relevant, and poetically wondrous about decorating with plants.
A Few Decorating Ideas
(With Links to DIY Tutorials)
- Dried Orange Garlands
- Paper Rosettes (For backdrop, wall decorations, garlands)
- Classic Christmas Wreath
- Bunting Flag Banner
- Popcorn Balls and Garland
- Foraged Evergreen Garland
Of course, even if you can't spend the holidays with loved ones near and far, it's always a nice gesture to remind them you care. We love collecting vintage postcards to send to loved ones, since they carry a timeless beauty and can sometimes be quite funny, too. Here are a few favorites.