Monday, December 13, 2010

A Victorian Christmas Party: Dickens' Inspired Old Fashioned Party Ideas, Decorations, Menu, Games and More...

Dickens' Old Fashioned Christmas Party Invitation by B.Nute productions on Etsy
Tis the season for merriment and mirth! Why not throw an old fashioned Christmas party this year filled with Dickens' inspired, Victorian charm. Below are ideas for your old fashioned gathering, sure to delight young and old.
A Victorian Christmas Inspiration Board

Decoration Ideas
Vintage Ornaments - A large bowl of vintage glass ornaments set on a table, vintage ornaments strung with ribbon from a window, or a tree filled with old tarnished ornaments.... any and all of these ideas are perfect for decorating your space.

Photo from Martha Stewart - Pin Up Holiday Wreath
Vintage Holiday Cards - Last year I spent hours in an antique store in Portland scouring through bins of vintage holiday cards... this year they are in prominent display! Whether you get your cards at an antique store, or at Dover Publishing, for their collection of Old Fashioned Christmas postcards, be sure to fill your space with these images for charm. Drape a ribbon garland over the mantle, and hang the cards from clothes pins across the garland, or set the cards on the mantle. Another alternative is to buy an inexpensive embroidery hoop. Then, simply pin the cards around the wreath.

12 Days of Christmas Party Crackers from Williams-Sonoma
Vintage Crackers - There's nothing more festive than a festive Christmas cracker set at each person's place at the Christmas table filled with little goodies! Many are available online, and/or if you're up for it, you can make your own!

Handknit Holiday Stockings by Sundance
Old Fashioned Stockings - Your fireplace won't be complete without some old fashioned hand knit stockings... long and lean with a stuffed animal or wood toy peaking out of the top!

Find some mistletoe at your local florist and hang it in the front foyer for kisses all night long.

Bouche du Noel from Plaza Sweets
Yule Log, a Roasting Fire and a Buche du Noel
There is much history surrounding the Christmas Yule log, a tradition that started even before Christmas itself! Leave the hauling of a large log for another time, but make sure to have a roasting fire in the fire place throughout the party. If you'd like to add a little French flavor to your party, serve a Bouche de Noel for all to enjoy!

Father Christmas
Well before the legend of St. Nicholas hit the British Isles (St. Nicholas' legend came to Britain around 1066), the area was seeped with traditions of Father Christmas. The rituals of Father Christmas are many, but he became known as the bestower of blessings and bounty at winter time. It was thought if you showed him hospitality, the winter would be a little less harsh. By the time of the Vikings, the idea of secret visits from Father Christmas, leaving gifts, added to the mythology.

Father Christmas was banned when the Puritans came to power, and it wasn't until the Victorian era that Father Christmas made a comeback. He was prominently featured as the Ghost of Christmas Present in Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol.

Carry on the tradition at your party, and share a little history of Father Christmas. Fill your space with images of him (the man dressed in the long cloak), and give the "Ho Ho Ho" of Santa a rest for the evening!

Vintage Toys
Vintage Victorian toys set out on the buffet or bar can add old fashioned charm to the party.

Menu and Drinks
Christmas Pudding from
There are many traditional Christmas meals served in England, but the most well known is Minced Pies (meat pies), Mulled Wine, and Christmas Plum Pudding. Enjoy these links to some old fashioned Christmas dinner traditions:
Christmas Cooking in the UK - Traditional British Christmas Foods
Christmas Mince Pie Recipe
Traditional English Recipes - Christmas Food

Parlour Games
Entertaining your guests at parties with games is not something new! Many books have been written, even from long ago, to suggest party games that will prevent "long awkward pauses" during your party. Below are just a few summarized games from a wealth of ideas from the book "How to Entertain Your Guests - A 1911 Collection of Indoor Games."

Noah's Ark - This game is more of a way to have guest mingle and find their "dinner partner" or whom they will be sitting next to at dinner. The game suggests putting a small picture of an animal on the invitation that you send (or writing the word is fine too). Then, at the party, the person needs to find their "partner" or matching animal. The pair would then head off to the table to sit next to each other. You could also hand out the animal names at the party, and have folks find their partner right before dinner.

Labyrinth of Presents - This one is a little more elaborate to set up, but could make your guests feel like kids again! Tie the end of a very long string to the top of your guests "goodie bag" or small gift. Then begin to wrap the string around the room in a maze-- around chair legs, a table, etc. At the end of the string, put a tag with the guest's name. Now proceed to do this with all your guests' gifts. In the end, this will be a tangled maze of fun! (This may be best to do in a room not used for the party.)

Shadow Game - In the book "How to Entertain Your Guests - A 1911 Collection of Indoor Games," there were many shadow games suggested. One such game is much like making finger shadows and guessing what animal it is (i.e., making a crocodile with your fingers, and casting the shadow on a wall). This game suggested taking ornaments, and casting the shadow on a wall, then guests need to guess what the ornament is (tin soldier, drum, angel, etc.). Obviously, make sure they can't see you with the ornament. You could be behind a hung white sheet, and cast the shadow on to the sheet with the guests on the other side.
Who? from

Recently, began to sell a whole host of nostalgic games from Britain. The game "Who?" looks like a perfect game for this party! Be sure to see their site for more!