Victorian Parlour Games

Victorian Parlour Games
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Contrary to popular belief, Victorians loved games, indoors and outside. Here are some Victorian Parlor Games, as well as some modern parlor games, that can be played indoors or out.


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 (ie 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.


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.


We played a version of this when I was little as well. One person is chosen to leave the room. All the other guests must "forfeit" a special item that belongs to them. All of these 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 "fess-up" and do something amusing/embarrassing to win back the item (sing, dance, do an imitation, recitation, tell a clean joke, etc.) 

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.


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.


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:


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 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!)

Click Here for a few well-known similes to print and and use for your party.

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

Click Here for a printable page with the rhyme lines and the answers. Click Here for a printer friendly version of this entire feature.



About The Author

Tamera is a stay-at-home-wife who loves to cook, read, write, garden and craft. She has a free email newsletter called Tamera's Tea Time Talk and Culinary Chatter.

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