Games for Old and Young
for Christmas, Birthdays, parlor games for any time of year
for Christmas, Birthdays, parlor games for any time of year
"Here are some ways to amuse and entertain both old and young. Make an
|Mary Brian, Sue Carol,|
Sally Eilers, Hoot Gibson,
Jobyna Ralston, Dick Arlen,
Nick Stewart 1929
Choose games where "all present may join and which affords the opportunity to tax the skill, education or ingenuity of the assembled company or on the other hand that is calculated to catch them in some way as to make the subject of innocent and good-natured mirth."
-- quotes and first two games from a December 1896 article
Many of the games call for getting people seated in a line or a circle. Do you have enough chairs? Have a BYOC, bring your own chair party? :-) Here are some old parlour games from the 1800s and some games suggested by Hollywood stars of the 1930s-1940s. They may just liven up your next party.
The game of memory.
Select two dozen small articles and place them upon a table. Then let the company stand around and look at them for two minutes. Then cover them up and with pencil and paper each one will write down as many of the articles as they can remember.
There are many ways you might turn this into a Christmas-themed game. How about a baby boomer game, perfect for testing our memories in general?
Someone begins the play by saying, "I have something to sell that begins with S'
Then the players must discover what the leader has thought of but they must put their questions directly as "Is it something to wash clothes with?" Whereupon the leader will say, "No it is not soap."
Is it something to make your teeth ache?
No, it is not sweet
Is it something to make puddings with
No, it is not Sago
The solver is then allowed to offer something for sale.
The Minister's Cat, a Victorian parlour game played in the 1970 musical film version of Scrooge. Each participant thinks of an adjective, a word to describe the minister's cat alphabetically. The minister's cat is an adorable cat. The minister's cat is a bombastic cat! And so on.... Until someone cannot think of a word to go with his/her letter and that person is out.
Ida Lupino likes to play her own version of what we used to call the Telephone game if she has more than a half dozen people at her house. She said it's because 'Hollywood is supposed to be the hotbed of scandals and rumors."
They call their sly game Scandal. The company is seated around the room, one person at one end whispers some remark or brief story very rapidly to the person next to him or her.
For example, "It looks like a nice day in Wichita if it doesn't thunder." Then that person whispers it to the person next to him and so on. The final person in the group announces with a straight face, it's specified, what the resulting message is. In the game they had, that comment about Wichita became, "The withes in the city will ruin the motion picture business if war doesn't stop."
Thelma Ritter, The Model and the Marriage Broker (trailer). A few lengths of rope can add some festivity to your party if you're trying to hook up some single friends.
Ann Sheridan suggested this game for any party. She sent out cards of invitation which requested that each guest bring one of his baby pictures. each person handed photo to Ann on arrival. guests were given pencils and papers. Photos were numbered and they were asked to guess which photo belonged to whom.
These days these are much easier to do via the Internet. You see this kind of game a lot at engagement parties, wedding and baby showers.
Leave it to Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn in Charade to find a way to make a party game out of citrus fruit
William Powell loved to give parties. Known for leaving notes for those he cared about, he also put up witty signs everywhere at his shindigs. He told a magazine that even though he'd played some of the best detectives on screen, he was terrible at detective-type party games. He'd rather play poker.
From Judy Garland, 1939:
"Two or three small objects such as a footstool or a vase are placed in a line on the floor. The one who is called in is told that he is to walk blindfolded over these without touching them. He is then blindfolded.
"Before it begins, the objects are quietly removed. You should see the way he steps high trying to avoid what is not there. When Jackie Moran was the victim he tried so hard not to step on the objects that he tripped himself up. This is a game that's fun for the spectators - I can't say as much for the victims."
From Jeanette MacDonald, 1935:
"Nelson Eddy introduced me to a game at my last party. The idea is you can't answer six questions dishonestly.
"It goes like this. He pointed to my white lamp and asked that's a green lamp isn't it? Firmly and untruthfully I said yes it was. He asked two more similar things then suddenly he looked at his watch and my clock and cried, 'For heaven's sake that clock is not right, twenty minutes past one, is it?' And I bit, of course!
|Anna May Wong gave Mah Jong parties in the 1920s|
Hollywood was mad for what may be considered traditional games. Card games, particularly bridge were new and played everywhere. Crossword puzzles may have been handed out or sometimes customized, blown up poster-sized and worked on as a group.
Card games (regarding the Mary Brian, Hoot Gibson, etc photo at the top of the page.)
"Games on the floor completed the evening. Fake card games and Classification created by Charlie Chaplin at one of Mary Pickford's parties. Ten qualifications for each person. Ten points the limit for each qualification. Personality, beauty, brains, etc. You rate each of your fellow guests as well as yourself.
"Then compare what you gave yourself with what your friends gave you. One guest awarded himself 10 per cent in brains while the others only averaged two for the same person. No it would be too mean to reveal who this was. There were a number of guests from Chicago. We'll let it go for one of them." You'd have to have a special group of people to play some of these games.
-- quote and photo New Movie Magazine holiday 1929
A game played with an earring and some string. Midcentury hijinks
Arnold Stang, Betsy Palmer, Audrey Meadows, Henry Morgan, Bill Cullen and Garry Moore are optional
Mary Astor says "Men love to dress up. They'll complain for days if they know they have to go to one but actually there is nothing that assures a party of success more than asking people to come in costume. Preferably funny costumes." Maybe some reindeer antlers?
|Men vs Women Charades Christmas 1949|
Barbara Lawrence, Piper Laurie, Tony Curtis
Don't forget scavenger hunts and charades. With all the parties in Hollywood, there were scavenger hunts that went from party to party!
Vincent Price on Pantomime Quiz
Charades on television 1951
Of course physical activity and games are always fun. "Ice skating is out since a couple of stars nearly broke their precious necks... now a fad of roller skating is setting in. Cary Grant and Virginia Cherrill started it all when their roller skating party undertaken quite spontaneously with no malice aforethought one night after at dinner at their home where a number of friends were guests.
"Slacks were donned by everybody -- some of the guests had to go home to get theirs, but Cary and Virginia had quite a supply -- and then everybody went to the Rollerdome in Culver City. Sally Blane already knew how to skate but Randy Scott had rather a tough time learning. Or maybe he only pretended not to know how so Sally Blane could teach him. Virginia and Cary are awfully good skaters and hospitably lent a hand to their less skilful brothers and sisters."
-- New Movie Magazine 1934
|Cary Grant (now single) and Josephine Hutchinson 1936|
-- A party given by Carole Lombard at a fun house;
Cary & Josephine have just gone down a slide
[In Topper, Grant and Constance Bennett go down a slide in a nightclub]
What if the stars came to your party?
A 1921 article from a British fan magazine suggests that if movie stars attended your Christmas party, they might entertain, or at least liven things up. Some stars were asked what they might do at a party.
"Douglas Fairbanks was at the centre of a bunch of men. Evidently Doug was accustomed to being the life of the party for he was soon organising games that promised to break the ice of that first half-hour which is the dread of every hostess. As soon as the interest in one ridiculous game, such as blowing the feather showed signs of flagging, Doug would start something else, until everyone was breathless with laughter.
"Just as I was wondering what we should do next, Mary Pickford made a clever suggestion. 'Let them entertain themselves," she whispered. Most of them are screen stars by accident, they can all do something else just as well as they can act. Doug will be master of ceremonies, he always is at our Hollywood parties!'
"Charlie Chaplin is so versatile that it's difficult to know what to ask for his share of the evening's entertainment. His recitations, stories and burlesques are much in demand, finally he may consent to play violin which he does very well.
There's "Tom Mix's latest rag-time effusion, the jazz band including Wally Reid on saxophone." Tom Mix might sing some ragtime tunes. Wanda Hawley and Ethel Clayton play piano. Bertram Burleigh would entertain with some sleight-of-hand tricks. Clara Kimball Young may tell some very amusing and original stories while Sessue Hayakawa may recite Kipling's A Fool There Was. Mae Murray might dance.
|13 Pc Photo Booth 1920s |
Mustache on a Stick
Ladies Cloche Hat
(1 Harold Lloyd type)
"When Marilyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggio first started going together, she was asked if they discussed baseball. She replied thoughtfully, 'The subject has never come up.'
Since then she has seen quite a few games with Joe but doesn't quite dig it. She is not an outdoor sports enthusiast. It has never really mattered to her that Big Joe (that's what Marilyn calls him) was one of the truly great ballplayers of all time. What impressed her much more was an incident that took place last Christmas Eve.
"When she returned to her room after the annual Christmas party, she found a miniature Christmas tree standing on a table, a pasteboard sign on which was hand-printed: Merry Christmas, Marilyn, and Joe sitting in a chair in the corner.
"'It's the first time in my life anyone ever gave me a Christmas tree. I was so happy I cried.' This is from the blonde who sings Diamonds are a girl's best friend."
Links to Related Pages of Interest:
Hollywood Hostesses party dress decor menu 1930s Hosting your own party?
Consider a making it a buffet
Join these stars for Thanksgiving Dinner
Throw a Classic Hollywood Fancy Dress Party 10 Tips for Your Old Hollywood Celebrity Fancy Dress Party with the stars themselves
Desk Set: Christmas with Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy
The Sunday Herald, December 25, 1896
Picturegoer December 1921