It’s the most wonderful time of the year, well it is according to Christmas crooner Andy Williams and actually, given the rampant delights offered by 2020, any time that edges me closer to the end of it, I consider downright bloody marvellous. Despite the giddy abandon we may be collectively feeling, on heading into a new year, it is definitely a busy and potentially stressful time, particularly on the entertaining front. There seem to be a slew of work dos. Christmas parties and New Year’s functions that can make even the most committed host feel a tad overwhelmed.
I am not cruel enough to offer any culinary tips and I’m definitely not sharing my booze, but if you are stuck for ideas of how to amuse and titillate your party guests this summer, relax, I’ve got you. Remember when we were young (think cave painting and riding on your dinosaur to the local mammoth-burger restaurant- I am sure that my blind faith in the historical accuracy of “The Flinstones” was partially responsible for my School C history result). My point, yes, I do have one, is … that what made parties fun for us as children wasn’t just whimsical party food that looked like hedgehogs, but games. Ahhhhhh, who could forget pass the parcel, pin the tail on the donkey, Kellie lurk under the buffet table and eat all the party food while other children actually attempt to conceal themselves – I believe that is actually called hide and seek, whatever, you get the drill. Games, I tells ya, that is where the good times are at; and which era do you immediately think of when I say mirth and merriment? Of course, it’s got to be the Victorian age. What screams shizzles and giggles like the early 1900s, that gag filled era of work houses, black lung and child labour. Yet lurking under that grim Dickensian facade was a much more fanciful side when it came to the parlour game and I have dug up some crackers for your next summer shindig!
The Paper Bag Game – as the title suggests, you need one paper bag per guest, I think you will agree after reading the following, it is imperative that neither plastic bags or pillow slips are used instead. As each guest arrives, they get their bag, which the host has already cut eye and mouth holes in, and places it over their head. The bottom of the bag is tied around the neck with string or a ribbon (if you’re feeling fancy), each party goer is also given a large number to attach to the front of their shirts and pen and paper. The idea is that as guests mingle, they have to guess which person is which and who is wearing what number. I think it sounds like a mix between Eyes Wide Shut and the sheep dog trials and frankly, that’s a combo I’d like to see in action.
The Mitten – this frivolity really appeals to the sadist in me. Basically, all the party people are made to don large mittens (if you are wanting in the oversized wool mitten department, I would use oven gloves. Yes, I really have thought about this) and then asked to complete a series of tasks involving dexterity, like picking up grains of rice from the floor, doing up small buttons and making a spicy margarita (actually that last on is not traditional, I just like someone else making me cocktails whilst looking really stupid). Apparently, this game is a real oldie but a goodie. George and Martha Washington were said to be big fans, who even made their guests eat dinner in their giant mittens. Which makes me feel better about the time I had that Handmaid’s Tale themed dinner party – those head pieces are really tricky to get soup into.
The Vegetable Hop – This is evidence that there really was no life before reality television. In this “game” the host scatters a range of vegetables of differing shapes and sizes around the allocated fun area. The guests then have to collect as many of said vegetables in their hands without the aid of pockets or buckets. But wait there is indeed more, all of these hysterical hijinks must take place while ….. hopping on one leg. If you fail to keep your balance, you are sent to the asylum and given the water treatment until you are either cured or die. That is inaccurate, you actually just have to re-scatter your vege stash and start again. I think there is definitely room for some poetic licence in this one.
The Hobo Party – I have saved the most disturbing until last. This whole game is centred around making fun of those less fortunate, a pastime the Victorians embraced with fervour. The premise of this diversion is for all guests to wear old, shabby clothes, while the host “decorates” their lawn with all the rusty old junk they can find (for anyone passing my house, no we are not playing the hobo game, I just haven’t got to the tip yet). Large wooden boxes are littered around the place to represent train cars, obviously, a mode of transport for those down on their luck was to hitch a ride on a moving train – very dangerous and not really the stuff of hilarity. Anyway, music was played and like a game of musical chairs for older people with no souls, the last person to jump on a “box-car” when the music stopped was out. A little added mirth came later when the losers of the game had to go begging in the neighbourhood for their dinner and then eat it on the hosts back stairs. Good times.
Alas, I didn’t get time to delight you with tales about the Swinging Boot Game, a delightful mix of swing ball and common assault, maybe next time. However, I think I have supplied you with enough ideas that, if you decide to employ them, your next stint as party host could well be your last. Keep safe this summer and make sure you enjoy your time with whānau and friends, with or without the assistance of paper bags and mixed vege.