From the archives:
Christmas is here! Although if anyone is like me you will find yourself
occasionally bored, or feeling a bit of the humbuggery of it all. To stave off these Scrooge-like tendencies I have listed some fun (or interesting) traditional Victorian activities that can easily be incorporated with a Steampunk theme.
You need: 3 cups of flour, 3/4 cup of salt, 3/4 teaspoon powdered alum, 1-1/4 cups waterMix all ingredients together (dough will be stiff). Knead until smooth. Dust flour on rolling pin and roll dough on large board. Use cookie cutters for desired shapes. Make a small hole in the top of cookie for hanging ornament. Bake and set until hardened.Now you can paint designs on them. When dry, insert ribbon, or string through hole and hang on tree for your viewing pleasure.
Pine Cone Trees
Take a pine cone and glue wide part to a cardboard (or otherwise sturdy) base. Then glue tiny beads and buttons on to its petals (glitter or sequins would also work). Create a star, paint in gold or whichever color you desire and glue to the top. In the case of Steampunk, a fashionable top hat or cog would not go amiss as a pine cone topper.
Dresdens are ornaments which appear “metal-like”, but are made of cardboard painted in metallic colors of silver, gold and copper. Create a pattern of your choice or
for very simplistic patterns for beginners or children. Cookie cutters are also good for this purpose. When the pattern is traced, cut it out and punch a small hole to thread ribbon through, then paint.
You need: 8 cups of popcorn (popped over the fire if possible) 1 stick of butter, 1 cup sugar, 1/4 cup corn syrup (a better health choice substitute to corn syrup is golden syrup)Mix sugar, butter and syrup in a bowl. Heat to boiling. Boil for two minutes and remove from heat and stir. Pour over the popcorn and mix well, then enjoy (after letting it cool for a moment or two).
Now moving on to other fun alternatives to Christmas Eve boredom.
Traditional Parlour Games:
The host shows guests a knick-knack in the room. All guests are to leave while the host hides it. When guest come back they look until they find it. Then as each person finds it they sit back down. The last one to sit loses (or has to be it). The game becomes more difficult/fun when guests loiter about beore sitting back down.
You’re Never Fully Dressed without a Smile
One person is it. They are the only one who is allowed to smile. They can do anything to get the other guests to smile. The person who never cracks a smile is declared the winner. (Just think of all the ridiculous antics that could be involved!)
- Blindmans Bluff
One person is blindfolded, and all other guests scatter around the room. When the blindfoled person catches someone, they have to guess correctly who they are. If they guess correctly, the blindfold then changes hands. If not they continue until they are correct.
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 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 (ie is wearing red 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.
A classic Victorian game with which most people are already quite familiar.
Pass the Slipper
Make a circle, pick a guest and put them in the middle (they are it). Take an object, the “slipper.” They must close their eyes while the “slipper” is passed from person to person behind their backs. When the ‘it’ guests opens his/her eyes, the slipper stops and he/she must guess who holds the “slipper.” If he/she is correct, they trade places. If wrong, they close their eyes and passing begins again.ForfeitsChoose one person to leave the room, the ‘actioneer’. The other guests must “forfeit” a special item that belongs to them. All items are placed in the center of the room and then the auctioneer is brought back in. He/she picks up an item and tries to describe it as one would an item about to be sold. In order not to forfeit the item, the owner must confess to owning it and do something amusing/embarrassing to win back the item (sing, dance, do an imitation, recitation, a joke, etc.)
I’m Thinking of Something
One person picks something and commits it to memory (Airships, tophat, 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 vehicle?” “Yes.” “Is it on the ground?” “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 somtething. Players should never guess until they are completely sure they know the answer.
Now that your head if spinning from the different parlour game choices one more classic Victorian tradition that cannot be overlooked…
Caroling. (My personal favorite.)
Traditional Victorian Carols with Lyrics and music samples can be found here:
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from your friendly Scrooge.