A Nostalgic Regency Game Night

A Nostalgic Regency Game Night

Reading Jane Austen’s novels gives me a nostalgia for my own childhood when we sometimes played cards and board games after dinner. Back then, we didn’t have cell phones, and there weren’t so many channels and shows to watch on TV. We found other ways to entertain ourselves, and games required that we socialize with family members or friends.

The other day, longing for those simpler times, I looked up some Regency games to play with my sons. After a month of snowy weather, we were getting a little stir crazy inside the house, and I thought some old-fashioned games might be a good change of pace.

After researching various Regency-era games, my husband and I decided that bullet pudding sounded easy enough. The instructions I found online said to pile up some flour on a plate and top it with a bullet. Each player takes turns cutting away the flour with a knife until the bullet falls down into the flour. Whoever lets the bullet fall must put his face into the flour and dig out the bullet with his teeth.

I was a little worried about using an actual bullet because it might contain lead or other toxic substances, so I substituted a button. Then, because several members of my family are gluten intolerant, I substituted cornstarch for the flour.

My boys were all too eager to make a mess with cornstarch. It was less than a minute before one of them let the button fall into the cornstarch. In another few seconds, he had the button in his teeth. (In hindsight, I probably should have used a smaller button.) Then one of my sons remembered having heard that if you blow cornstarch out of your mouth over a lighter, it will look like you’re breathing fire. Thinking that sounded like a Regency appropriate game (kind of like Snapdragon), I told them to go for it.

Pretty soon, they had a lighter out on the back porch and were taking turns blowing cornstarch out of their mouths and trying to light it on fire. My husband supervised. They got it to work a few times. (Later on, when the snow melted, the boys were excited to find several patches of oobleck or cornstarch slime under the back porch. These disappeared after another few days of rain and snow.)

After the boys came back inside, I taught them how to play Tableaux Vivants, otherwise known as the living picture game. In this game, the participants choose a famous painting and try to pose like the participants. People of Regency times even went so far as to dress in costumes. We played a much simpler version of the game that was more like charades. After dividing into teams, we each looked through a book of paintings and tried our best to pose like the subjects. Then the other team looked through the art book until they guessed the right painting.

This game was just as fun as charades and probably easier because we had access to the art book. We found ourselves laughing out loud over the comparison between our silly poses and the actual pictures.

On another night, we sat down to a game of Scrabble, which always reminds me of the time Emma and Frank Churchill played with the alphabet together. As luck would have it, the first word happened to be anus. That’s what happens when you play with teenage boys. I wish I’d taken a picture of the board that day. It made me laugh.

What are your favorite games to play?

15 Responses to A Nostalgic Regency Game Night

  1. You’ve taken me right back to growing up years. We always played board games at home. (Monopoly always ended up in a row) and we played cards. We didn’t have electricity when I was very young so we were masters at making up our own games as well. Happy days!!!!

  2. That’s hysterical, Rebecca. It sounds like a lot of fun! We used to mix corn starch with water and make oobleck. We used it as quicksand for our ‘armies’ of smurfs and weebles 🙂

  3. This was a fun post, Rebecca. Had to laugh at anus. I’m the oldest of four with three brothers, so I’m aware of what they can come up with. I’m a game player. Most games at any time are welcome. Now, since I live alone, I play games on my phone or computer. I like to keep my brain active. 🙂

  4. What adorable boys you have! I remember when I was little the family sitting together and playing cards. We had one problem, my mother was a notorious cheat, and an obvious one. While we were all babbling she’d take extra cards, sometimes holding half a deck in her hand before we noticed and erupted. Monopoly was similar. She’d sneak houses everywhere. Lord, I miss her.

  5. We often played board games with our friends on rainy days or on hot summer days when staying in our one air-conditioned room was preferable to anything else. “Clue” and “Life” were favorites. When we went camping each summer in our local mountains, horses in tow, we would wile away the hot afternoons or the evenings after KP playing card games (usually “Gin” or “War,” occasionally “Go Fish”) or “Yahtzee!”

    Even now, my daughter and I play “Gin” and “Dutch Blitz” in the evenings, and we’ll occasionally pull out “Harry Potter Clue” or “Apples to Apples” when we have a larger group. Because we live in a high-fire area in Southern California, there are times when our power is shut off for a few days at a time during Santa Ana winds, low humidity, and high temperatures, and then we play these games during the day and by candlelight. It’s so fun that I almost look forward to these outages if not for trying to keep our food cold and not being able to use the oven and microwave…or the water heater!!

    Maria Grace has a bunch of Regency games listed on her blog; here’s a link to one such post: http://randombitsoffascination.com/2015/12/17/regency-traditions-video-parlor-games/

    Warmly,
    Susanne 🙂

  6. I’m lucky in that my family still has a property we can visit that lacks electricity. (We do have running water and plumbing, which are far more important to my mind.) I sunscreen the kids in the morning and kick them outside. If the weather is bad or in the evening, we light the gas lamps and play games, do puzzles, or just talk. When I was younger we’d all sing along to the guitar. No cell signal there, either, so I make sure to take my kids for several weeks every summer to unplug them. As far as games go, we’ll play almost anything we can get our hands on. We still play a lot of old classics like Phase 10, Uno, Scrabble and whatever else we have. We also love Euro-style board games, Quirkle, Crazy Letters, and a few others. Guillotine is a personal favorite, probably because I love history and the illustrations are hilarious. We also try almost anything if it has a strange name, like Exploding Kittens and Bears v. Babies. There are tons of really fun games. Enough that we even frequently turn off the TV at home and play. I’m a puzzler too. Anything from 200-1000 pieces will make me super happy. I did one last summer of wildlife where the puzzle was shaped like a bear. It was tough, but I had a lot of fun with family.

  7. I have always loved Scrabble but now our family loves Bananagrams! So much fun! Monopoly was also a favorite as well as Trivial Pursuit (when I could get someone to play it! Lol) We have fun with card games too.

    • We still play the old Trivial Pursuit sometimes. It is quite outdated now, but still fun. I wish the literature section had more questions about my favorite authors, instead of ones I never read. Lol.

  8. Oh, my… I remember the days before cellphones and personal computers. We played board games, cards, and occasionally would have a table set up to put a puzzle together. If you had a few minutes… you could go over and help look for puzzle pieces. Like you said, there weren’t too many channels on TV and it was black and white programs back then. What a quieter time… family time. That was what was important. Being together. Thanks for this nostalgic reminder of how it was back before… technology took over our minds and precious time.

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