Victorian Christmas Challenge

Victorian Christmas Challenge

Victorian Christmas


1st Hazel-Slade Brownies

Michelle Smith


Victorian Christmas challenge badge.

This challenge has been produced by leaders and girls at 1 st


Brownie Unit, in Cannock, Staffordshire. It is to raise money for transport for an exciting holiday adventure in 2016.

It is suitable for all units. The challenge comprises of four sections: Crafts,

Food, Games and Unit Events.

We suggest that in order to gain a Victorian Christmas Challenge badge, you will complete one challenge from each of the categories, plus one as follows:

Rainbows One extra challenge


Two extra challenges

Guides Any three extra challenges

Senior Section Any four extra challenges

Trefoil Guild Any five extra challenges

The challenge has been designed to be suitable for all sections. For each craft activity we have given a suggestion to its difficulty level, to help with the decision of selecting activities for the challenge.

We have also given consideration to the Five Essentials of guiding when constructing the challenge.

Five Essentials

Group work - Working together in small groups

Uniform Standards - A commitment to a common standard

Independent – care for the individual

Decisions - Encouraging the girls to govern themselves and to make their own decisions

Exciting and varied programme.



Activity 1 – Difficulty: Easy, Time: 30 minutes - Victorian Christmas Card.

Activity 2 – Difficulty: Easy, Time: 20 minutes - Victorian Christmas Cracker

Activity 3 – Difficulty: Easy, Time: 10 minutes - Victorian Wrapping Paper

Activity 4 – Difficulty: Medium, Time: 1 hour - Victorian Table Mats

Activity 5 – Difficulty: Easy, Time: 15 minutes - Victorian Paper Flowers

Activity 6 – Difficulty: Medium, Time: 1 hour. - Victorian Mistletoe Ball

Activity 7 – Difficulty: Easy Time: up to 2 hours - Christmas tree Decorations: bundle, hanging decorations, Cornucopias, paper chains, pomander, gift bag.

Activity 8 – Difficulty: Medium, Time: 45 minutes. A Victorian Wreath.

Activity 9 – Difficulty: Medium, Time: 1 hour Victorian Gift Box

Activity 10 – Difficulty: Medium, Time: 2 hours - Victorian Picture Frame

Unit Activity

Create a scrapbook of your Christmas

Have a movie night and watch one the many versions of Christmas Carol.

Have a carol service for a local care home or hospice

Victorian Christmas Stories.

Produce a travel guide to Victorian life.

Victorian Visit

Victorian Christmas party or sleepover

Cooking Activities

Christmas Pudding

Mince Pies

Sugar Plums

Coconut Ba;;s

American Breakfast Biscuits

Ginger Buns

Lemon Buns

Almond Cakes

Cherry Cake

Brandy Snaps a la crème

Apple Cheesecake

Apricot Cake

Banbury Cakes

Coconut Cheesecake

Custard Patties



Orange Cheesecake

Pithviers Cakes

Snow Cakes

Surprise Cutlets

Shrewsbury Cakes

Victorian Games

Tiddly Winks

Blind Man’s Buff



Elephants foot Umbrella stand

The Ministers Cat

Snap Dragon

Wink Murder


Victorian Christmas crafts and gifts

Activity 1 – Difficulty: Easy, Time: 30 minutes

Victorian Christmas Card.

The first Christmas card was designed in 1843. It was a simple illustration with a seasonal greeting. The first cards were expensive, but by the late Victorian period

Christmas cards became more affordable, creating a tradition and an industry that continues to this day.

Resources Required.

Thin cardboard (150gsm) Pen/Pencil

•Glue Thick Cloth Needle/Pin


Step By Step Guide


Step 1: Cut out the paper lace designChoose one of the

Christmas Card designs (T1 and T2) print and cut out. You could also use one of your own designs or you may have some old Christmas cards you wish to make use of for this.

You will also need a firm piece of card (approx 150 gsm), cut to the same size as your design. If you use the same dimensions there is a pattern which includes the lace border edge (T4), otherwise print out (T3) for cards of different sizes.

Step 2: Make the pin-prick border. Print out the Christmas card borders (T3), copy onto coloured card, and cut-out. Before pin-pricking the lace borders you will need to find a thick cloth and place it over your work area. This will protect the surface and ensure the pin goes all the way through the card. You may find it easier to mark out the holes with a pen or pencil first, or use the template (T3) as a guide and lay it over the top of the card. Push your pin all the way through the card; you can use the round end of a spoon to help you do this.

Step 3: Stick the paper lace and the design onto the cardOnce you have made all the holes in the card it is time to stick the borders onto to the card you cut earlier. These may need cutting to size, depending on the dimensions of you design. Glue the borders onto the card, making sure they over-hang the edges slightly. Place your Christmas card design over the top.

Step 4: Write your message.

Finally, write your Christmas wishes in the space on the front of the card.

Activity 2 – Difficulty: Easy, Time: 20 minutes

Victorian Christmas Cracker

The Christmas cracker was invented in Victorian Britain by a sweet shop owner called

Thomas Smith. Wanting to take advantage of the increase in confectionary sales at

Christmas and inspired by a sweet he saw on a trip to Paris – a bon-bon wrapped in tissue paper with both ends twisted - he came up with the cracker.

String/ribbon Items to decorate with

Coloured crepe paper Cracker snaps

3 cardboard rolls Treats for the crackers


Step by Step Guide

Step 1: Place three cardboard rolls onto paper

Take coloured paper and lay out, we used crepe paper. If you use crepe paper it's a good idea to have several layers of different colours. Evenly space three cardboard rolls across the paper.

Step 2: Glue the edge of the paper and roll around the cardboard rolls.

Glue along one edge of the paper and roll tightly over the three cardboard rolls. Stick the edge down firmly.

Step 3: Stick on the decoration.

In Victorian times you could buy sheets of colourful printed labels that were used for craft activities. We have provided you with some original Victorian designs to decorate your crackers. Choose one of the designs (T1), cut out and stick on to your cracker.

Step 4: Put the snap inside and fill with sweets and toys

Place one cracker snap inside the cracker and slip in your chosen treats. In Thomas

Smith's first crackers he placed just sweets inside; later on he started to use paper hats, small toys and mottos, much like our crackers today.

Step 5: Tie with ribbon

Lastly, use ribbon, raffia or string to tie the two ends of the cracker and remove the two end formers. Now your cracker is finished you just need to find someone to pull it with.

Activity 3 – Difficulty: Easy, Time: 10 minutes

Victorian Wrapping Paper

Marbling was a popular form of decoration in Victorian times, and can often be found on the inside of book covers. It's an easy but effective technique, and we've used it to make some colourful wrapping paper for your Christmas presents.

•A large tray or basin with deep sides

•A large jug of cold water

•Different coloured inks


Step by Step Guide.

Step 1: Fill basin with water.

Make sure the basin is large enough to lay your paper in. Fill with cold water.

Step 2: Put drops of different coloured inks into the water

Add inks one at a time to the water. Take a piece of paper - we used cartridge paper for this - but any paper that has a coarse side that will absorb the ink will work (glossy papers generally don't work as well as the colour slides off).

Step 3: Place a piece of paper onto the surface of the water

Place the piece of paper gently on top of the inks, making sure it is laying flat on top of the water. Do not let the paper go under the water.

Gently and quickly lift the paper out of the water and lie flat. Leave to dry overnight.

Activity 4 – Difficulty: Medium, Time: 1 hour

Victorian Table Mats.

Victorians were very particular about their settings for dinner tables, especially at

Christmas time. Some of the descriptions include water fountains, lakes and elaborate stands filled with flowers and fruit. Since a lake might be a bit ambitious, why not make some Victorian-style table mats to brighten up your dinner setting?

Thick fabric

•Assorted buttons

•Needle and thread


Step by Step Guide.

Step 1: Lay out the buttons in your chosen design

Cut the fabric to size – we would recommend felt or a heavy wool fabric for this. It won't fray and will provide heat protection for your table. Lay out the design. You can use our template, or create your own.

Step 2: Sew the buttons onto the fabric

Take another piece of fabric, of the same size and use the first one as your guide.

Take one button at a time and sew onto the fabric, matching your laid out design. Make a set of table mats using the same or similar styles.

Activity 5 – Difficulty: Easy, Time: 15 minutes

Victorian Paper Flowers

Victorians loved the aesthetic of paper flowers as decorations. There are hundreds of articles from the magazines of the time showing how to make different types of flowers. Most were highly elaborate designs, but we've found a simple rose flower for your first go.

•Coloured Paper Glue

Scissors •Green crepe paper

•Florist wire

Step by Step Guide


Print out the flower shapes, or you can draw the shape yourself.

Step 1: Fold the paper into four and cut out the petals.

Take a coloured piece of paper and fold into four. Draw on the shape from the template, or simply cut out a heart shape.

Step 2: Score the petals using a spoon or your nail to give it shape and movement.

Step 3: Build up the petals to create the rose flower

Create the flower by rolling one of the petals into a tight cone. Take another petal, and place it where the first roll ends. Pinch the bottom tightly to secure them in place.

After about four pieces start attaching the petals the other way around, so they face outwards

Step 4: Use wire to hold the petals and create the stem

Take a piece of florist wire and wrap it tightly around the base of the flower, then extend it, making the rest into the stem. Twist crepe paper around the wire

Cut strips of green crepe paper. Glue the end onto the top of the stem at the base of the flower, and then tightly wrap the rest of the paper around the length of the wire.

You can make multiple flowers to create a bouquet of paper flowers.

Activity 6 – Difficulty: Medium, Time: 1 hour.

Victorian Mistletoe Ball

Victorians made mistletoe balls for the same reason we hang mistletoe today, to steal a kiss from an unsuspecting person passing under it. The mistletoe ball or 'kissing ball' was always made out of evergreen branches and was often decorated with scented herbs and foliage.

•Wire or thin cane Ribbon


•Greenery - holly, ivy


Items to decorate

Step by Step Guide.

Step 1: Make two circles from wire and tie together

Bend a piece of wire or thin cane into a circle and bind the ends together with string.

Do this again, so you now have two circles.

To make the frame, place the two circles together, making a globe like structure. Bind the two wire circles together with string at all conjoining edges.

Step 2: Wind greenery around the frame

Cover the wire frame with all kinds of festive greenery, like holly, ivy and yew. Weave the branches around each other and the wire frame.

Step 3: Add decorations

Attach other items like dried roses and holly berries with wire.

Step 4: Suspend the mistletoe using ribbon

Tie some ribbon in a loop at the top of the newly decorated ball ready for hanging. Add a length of ribbon to the bottom of ball and tie a sprig of mistletoe to it.

Step 5: Hang the mistletoe kissing ball

Hang the mistletoe ball above a door or in a walkway and wait beneath it until someone comes along to give you a kiss.

Activity 7 – Difficulty: Easy Time: up to 2 hours

Christmas tree Decorations.

It was Queen Victoria's German-born husband Prince Albert who first introduced

Christmas trees to England. In 1841 he put one up in Windsor Palace, word got around and the custom filtered down through society to become one of the essential features of the 20th century Christmas, a tradition that continues today. Victorians would use all sorts of things they found around the house and garden to decorate their trees.

Objects from nature were popular, like pinecones, evergreen leaves, fruits and berries.

Small toys and presents were often hung on the tree, until people started to buy larger presents, which then had to be placed underneath.

Step 1 – Bundle

Wrap ribbon or raffia around items like walnuts, cinnamon sticks and pinecones, using the ribbon to tie them onto the branches of the tree.

Step 2 – Hanging decoration

Thread various objects onto ribbon, cotton, string or raffia.

Long chains can be made by threading several items on to one piece of thread. You may want to tie knots between each item so they are not able to slip. A string of dried fruits looks brilliant and smells great.

Step 3 – Cornucopias

Twist a square piece of cardboard into a cone shape and stick together.

Decorate the cornucopias with pictures, ribbons and colour. Make each one different so they stand out on the tree. Thread cotton or string through the cornucopias, fill with sweets and then hang on the tree.

Step 4 - Paper Chains

Cut strips of coloured paper approx 25cm long, 2cm wide.

Start by sticking the two ends of one strip together in a loop. Make a chain by feeding each strip through the previous loop before sticking together. Make the chain as long and as colourful as you like.

Step 5 – Pomander

I use satsumas as they are not as big as oranges and using a cocktail stick , stab the skin and put a clove in it. Do this all over but not too close as they shrink when they dry, you can make patterns if you wish. Then tie thin ribbon round them and hang them on your tree or pile into a bowl for a table decoration, or make a gift of them. They smell gorgeous, quintessentially christmasy.

Step 5 – Gift Bag

Victorians were as enthusiastic about gift presentation as they were about their Christmas trees and decorations.

Much time was spent making ornate papers, bags and boxes to hold small trinkets and presents that could be hung on the Christmas tree.


•Coloured fabric (felt)

•Coloured embroidery threads


Sweets/Small Toy



Part 1: Cut out the sack shape and decoration from the felt material

Print out the gift bag template, or you can cut out the shape by eye. Use a nonfraying fabric, such as felt to make the gift bag. Place two pieces of fabric on top of each other and cut out the shape. Set aside one of the cut out pieces of fabric, you will need this later to make the back of the gift bag.

Part 2: Use embroidery thread to decorate the bag

Choose a design for the front of your bag from one of the templates (T2, T3 and T4), or use your own design. Taking a piece of different coloured fabric, cut out your chosen design and stick it on to the front of your gift bag with glue.

You can also sew the design on to the bag and make the stitching part of the decoration

Part 3: Sew the front and the back of the bag together

Now take some thick embroidery thread and sew the front and back pieces of fabric together. Be sure to use bright and bold thread for the sewing, as this really adds to the look of the gift bag.

Part 4: Fill the bag and tie with ribbon

Fill the gift bag with treats and sweets or a small present. Finally, tie some ribbon in a bow around the top of the bag and hang on the tree.

Activity 8 – Difficulty: Medium, Time: 45 minutes.

Victorian Wreath

•Wire, hazel or other thin cane

•Florist's wire

•Greenery - mistletoe, ivy, holly, yew

•Ribbon, string or raffia

•Items to decorate

Step 1: Create the structure using wood or wire.

To create the wreath's structure, take pieces of hazel or wire, bend them around into a circle and secure with string. If you are using hazel you'll need to build the circle up by using several pieces.

Step 2: Cover the frame with greenery.

Once the basic structure of the frame is made, gather some greenery to cover it. Holly was favoured by the Victorians, as well as yew and bay.

Step 3: Tie raffia onto the wreath for hanging.

Attach a piece of raffia, ribbon or string to the top of wreath, so it will be ready to hang when you are finished.

Step 4: Add decorations like fresh fruit and pine cones.

Add some colour to the wreath, using pine cones, holly berries, or fruit like apples. Skewer the apples with pieces of florist wire and use the wire to tie them to the wreath.


ctivity 9 – Difficulty: Medium, Time: 1 hour

Victorian Gift Box.

Making presents was a sign of love and care in Victorian Britain, and gifts often took the full calendar year to finish. This keepsake box is made using a popular Victorian technique, papier mache, which was even used to create pieces of furniture.


•Newspaper cut into strips

•Items to decorate glue scissors paint

To make the box you can use the template, or you might already have a box that you would like to use.

Step 1: Cover a box with newspaper soaked in glue.

Add some water to PVA glue in a bowl. For thick glues the ratio is usually 50:50. The paste needs to be slightly watered down, but not too runny. You could also use 1 part flour to 5 parts water and boil for about 3 minutes.

Step 2: Rip or cut the newspaper into small strips. Take one piece, soak it in the glue mix, and then gently place onto the box. Repeat this with another strip of paper, laying this one slightly over-lapping the previous strip. Continue to do this until the whole box is covered, ensuring that you have covered the edges. Cover the box lid in the same way. Leave to dry overnight and then apply another layer. You can repeat this if necessary.

Step 3: Paint the box.

You can decorate your box in any way you like. We chose to paint our box using black, as

Japanese style lacquer was a popular aesthetic in Victorian times. Apply paint thinly, but make sure you cover the whole outside and inside of the box. Place to one side whilst you wait for the paint to dry. You can apply another coat if necessary.

Step 4: decorate the box.

Gather together your items for decorating the box. You could use dried flowers or leaves and stick them onto your box in an attractive pattern, or maybe you would like to use buttons or shells. It doesn't matter what you use, the important part is making the box look as special and lavish as possible.

Activity 10 – Difficulty: Medium, Time: 2 hours

Victorian Picture Frame

An intricate handmade gift was a sign of love and care for the Victorians. This padded picture frame can be personalised with your own designs, as well as the image you choose to place in it.

•A wooden frame


•Cotton wool

•Ribbon or embroidery threads


Needle and thread



•Items to decorate

If you do not have a wooden frame, you can make one easily by nailing together four pieces of wood to make a basic frame. This does not have to be neat, as it will be covered later.

Step 1: Mark and cut out the fabric cover

Place the wooden frame onto the fabric. Draw roughly around the frame, and around this draw another box about the same width as the frame. Use the template if required.

Step 2: Create the triangular flaps

Cut around the fabric following the outside box line. For the inside box, draw two diagonal lines from corner to corner. Starting in the centre, cut along these diagonal lines, stopping just before you reach the edge of the inner box. This creates four triangular flaps which will help you to wrap the fabric tightly around the frame. Glue the cotton wool onto the frame. If you've made your frame some parts may need more padding to make it even.

Step 3: Glue the fabric around the padded frame

Take the piece of fabric and place the frame onto it, with the cotton wool side face down. Take one side of the fabric and pull tightly over the frame, then glue down. Pull the triangular flap and glue over the top. Repeat on all sides of the frame. Don't worry if it looks a bit messy, this will be covered up later on.

Step 4: Decorate the front of the frame

We decorated our frame by sewing a piece of ribbon around it, but you can use anything you like. Buttons or lace work well, or you can use fabric paints.

Step 5: Paste the picture onto card and glue to the frame

Take a piece of cardboard, cut to the size of the frame.

Paste your image, illustration, drawing or photograph onto the card, making sure that it is centred and can be seen through the frame. You can stick it on with blu-tack to make sure it is positioned correctly before you finally glue it.


Create a scrapbook of your Christmas.

Scrapbooking was a popular pastime in Victorian times for both children and adults.

Creating a scrapbook was not only a craft project, it was also a way of preserving memories. Victorians bought their scrapbooks with already created covers, but this one uses a popular Victorian design technique – decoupage - the art of decorating by gluing paper cutouts onto each other

Step 1: Design the front cover with cut out images

Lay out your design

Create the decoupage cover by cutting out and laying out scraps on to a piece of card. We have provided some scraps you may like to use. You can also cut out any images you like from magazines and cards. Decoratively arrange the scraps, making sure they overlap

Step 2: Stick all the images onto the card with glue

Once you are happy with your design, you can start to glue the scraps onto the card.

Some glues will have a varnish effect if you dip the whole piece in. This should be tested on a scrap and left to dry before you proceed with the whole cover. Leave to dry overnight. Once dry, place under several heavy books to flatten.

Step 3: Make holes in one side and tie the book together.

Make holes down the side of the scrapbook cover and the cardboard back. Be careful not to punch the holes too close to the edge as they can tear easily. Put holes in some paper, making sure they line up with the holes in the front cover. This paper will be used for the inside so you can use as much or as little as you like. Place the paper in between the front and back covers, then tie together with ribbon.

Step 4: Varnish the front cover.

Varnish the front cover with glue once more, and leave to dry.

The scrapbook is then ready to give as gift for someone to put photos, memories and gifts inside.

Have a movie night and watch one the many versions of Christmas Carol.

On cold winter nights in Victorian times, families would take their seats around the hearth for story-telling. Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol sums up what a Victorian

Christmas meant with its themes of charity, family and goodwill to all men. It still has a lasting legacy in the sort of Christmases we celebrate today.

Why not make popcorn strings, have hot chocolate make a rag blanket while watching the film.

Have a carol service for a local care home or hospice.

Girls can dress in Victorian style and visit a care home, perform Victorian Christmas

Carols. See attached Victorian Christmas Carol Booklet.

Some popular Victorian Carols are:

Away in a manger

Deck the Halls

Good King Wenceslas

Jingle Bells

O’ Christmas Tree

O Come all ye faithful

O Holy Night

O Little town of


Once in Royal David’s City

Silent Night

The First Noel

The Holly and the Ivy

Twelve days of Christmas

Victorian Christmas Stories.

An increasingly technologically advanced publishing industry began at this time to exploit the fact that people were prepared to spend a few more pennies at

Christmas. Until the 1840s spring had been the peak season of book production.

With the emergence of our modern idea of Christmas, October (i.e. the run-up to Christmas) became the peak season in the publishing calendar (as is still the case today).

While the well-to-do had always bought gift-books and keepsakes at Christmas, in the 1840s publishers were able to produce cheaper special Christmas reading material for the aspiring middle classes - Christmas supplements and special editions of serials and magazines.

Authors, too, developed an acute sense of a new Christmas market. Charles

Dickens wrote stories for special Christmas editions of magazines such as

Household Words and All the Year Round. He published A Christmas Carol in

1843. By the 1870s the Christmas market was firmly established and people from all walks of life had a wider choice of new Christmas texts to read.

Christmas was a time for Victorian family get-togethers. The average Victorian household, unable to afford the luxuries of such public entertainment as the theatre or musical concerts would spend cold winter evenings entertaining themselves at home. The hearth became a symbol of family unity. It was where families ate, kept warm, conversed and entertained themselves with singing, parlour games, miming and acting. Reading aloud and story-telling were favourite occupations on cold winter evenings.

Stories you could read are:

Grimm’s Fairy Tales in 1823 – The Mouse, the bird and the sausage. Rapunzel,

Cinderella, Three little men in the woods. There are large selections of Grimm

Brother stories, most have a myth, legend or moral attached.

Lewis Carol – Alice in Wonderland

Robert Louis Stevenson - Robinson Crusoe

Charles Kingsley – The Water Babies

Christina Rossetti – Poem "In the Bleak Midwinter"

Charles Dickens - The Cricket on the Hearth: A Fairy-tale of Home

Lady Barker - A Christmas cake: in Four Quarters

Juliana Ewing - Snap-dragons, a Tale of Christmas Eve

Charles Dickens - Somebody’s Luggage.

Produce a travel guide to Victorian life.

Create a travel guide on Victorian Life. You must include something from each section.

Places of Interest:

Royal Albert Hall – 1871

The” Red Brick" Victoria Building at the University of Liverpool 1891

The Oval Cricket Ground – 1845

Balmoral Castle – 1852

Forth Rail Bridge - 1890

Victorian Dress:

Find out some information about what Victorian people wore. Did wealthy people and poor people wear similar clothes? What materials were available to make the clothes? Where did they buy their clothes from?

Victorian Food:

The Victorians valued good cooking and food. However, there were great differences between what the rich and poorer people ate. The menu was often the same from week to week. Only some of the ingredients (such as the vegetables) changed with the seasons. The food was prepared and eaten to a more set pattern, often linked to the day of the week.

Research Victorian food and create a family menu for the week, decide whether your family is rich or poor as this will depend on what they eat.

Victorian Money:

Find out what the Victorian currency was and how much it is worth compared to the £1?

Victorian People:

Create a biography for a famous Victorian: Include Name, when they were born, when they died, a picture, why are they famous? Who were their family?

Florence Nightingale

Lewis Carol

Robert Louis Stevenson

Mary Seacole

Alexander Graham Bell

John Cadbury

Louis Pasteur

Charles Darwin

Victorian visit

There are many museums and days out that will incorporate activities for

Christmas as well as all year round Victorian experiences.

Dickens World - Kent

Blist Hill Working Village – Shropshire

Ironbridge Museum - Shropshire

Penrhyn Castle – Victorian Day

Morwellham Working Village – Devon

Witley Court Victorian Day – Worcester

Windermere Lakes – Victorian Day

Black Country Living Museum – Dudley

Osbourne House – Isle of White

Victoria and Albert Museum – London

Bluebell Steam Railway – Sussex

Minehead Steam Railway – Somerset

Severn Valley Railway – Shropshire / Staffordshire

Chasewater Railway – West Midlands

The North Wales Coast Express – Wales

Llangollen steam railway - Wales

Theatre visit to see a Pantomine

(Most steam railways are Victorian and often will do Christmas rides to see

Santa, ideal visit for younger girls)

Victorian Cooking.

Victorian Christmas Pudding.

The Victorians evolved this fruit pudding and began some of the traditions about luck that are now associated with it. Queen Victoria was the first to add coins to the mixture, apparently as a gesture of thanks to her cook, a practice that some continue to this day.


450g/1lb shredded beef suet

225g/8oz flour

225g/8oz breadcrumbs

225g/8oz sugar

450g/1lb raisins

450g/1lb currants

large pinch freshly grated nutmeg, or to taste

2 tsp mixed spice

115g/4oz candied peel, chopped

pinch salt

1 lemon, rind only

8 free-range eggs, beaten

300ml/10½fl oz brandy (optional, but the alcohol will evaporate, but leaving the brandy flavour in the cake once cooked.)



Mix together all of the ingredients in a large mixing bowl until thoroughly combined.



Dampen a cotton cloth (could use a tea towel) in water, squeezing out any excess. Spread the cotton out onto a work surface and rub a handful of flour over it (this seals the cloth).

Place the floured cloth into a large bowl, so that the cloth lines the bowl and any excess hangs over the edges. Transfer the pudding mixture to the bowl and use the bowl and the cloth to mould the pudding into a


sphere. Bring the edges of the cloth tightly together so that the pudding is wrapped inside it, then tie the top of the cloth together tightly with string, to seal.

Place the wrapped pudding into a large pot of boiling water and cover with a lid. Boil for 5-6 hours, adding more water during cooking, as necessary,



if the water level gets too low - the water should cover the pudding at all times.

Alternatively, cook the pudding in a pressure cooker for about one hour

(or according to manufacturer's instructions).

A pudding this size will need to be cooked in a pan large enough to hold a minimum of six litres of water, plus the pudding. Otherwise the pudding can be divided into two smaller puddings and cooked separately for 4-6



hours each, or until cooked through.

When the pudding is cooked, remove and pat it dry with kitchen paper, then hang in a cool, dark place for as long as possible, ideally several days

(it will keep for up to three months).

When the pudding is required, prepare a steamer. Add the wrapped pudding to the steaming pan, cover with a lid and steam for two hours.

Remove from the pan and unwrap

To serve, place the pudding onto a serving plate, douse it in brandy, and set the alcohol alight. Serve with custard, whipped cream or brandy butter

Victorian Mince Pies

The identifying ingredient in a Victorian mince pie is meat. Though it was in this period that there was a revolution in the composition of this festive dish. Mixes without meat began to gain popularity within some of the high echelons of society. This particular recipe comes from Mrs Rundle's cookbook Modern Domestic Cookery (1851) and includes meat


Mince meat:

450g/1lb sirloin steak, finely chopped

450g/1lb suet, grated

4 large apples, peeled, core removed, flesh chopped

1.35kg/3lb currants

½ small loaf day-old bread, grated

Freshly grated nutmeg, to taste

Ground cinnamon, to taste

Ground cloves, to taste

Ground ginger, to taste

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

450g/1lb sugar

2 lemons, zest and juice

3 large oranges, juice only

Candied peel, diced (optional)

250ml/9fl oz brandy

250ml/9fl oz ruby port

Short crust pastry:

225g/8oz flour, plus extra for dusting

115g/4oz butter or margarine, cut into cubes

Water, as necessary

4-6 tsp milk

1 tsp sugar

This recipe makes 8-10 meal-sized mince pies


Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6.


For the mincemeat, mix all of the mincemeat ingredients together in a large



bowl, using your hands, until well combined.

Transfer the mixture to a saucepan and heat over a very low heat for 3-5 hours, stirring occasionally, or until it has reduced to a thick, dark paste.

Meanwhile, for the shortcrust pastry, sift the flour into a large mixing bowl.

Add the butter or margarine cubes, and then rub them into the flour using your fingertips until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.




Gradually add the water, a tablespoon at a time, stirring well until the mixture comes together as a stiff dough.

Roll out the remaining pastry onto a lightly floured work surface. Using the same mug as before, cut eight discs from the pastry to create four 'lids'.

Place one pastry 'lid' on top of each pie, tucking the edges into the pastry case.

Pinch the pastry together well to prevent the filling from leaking out during baking. Using a sharp knife, cut a cross into the top of each pastry lid to allow



the steam to escape.

In a bowl, mix together the milk and sugar until the sugar has dissolved. Brush the top of each pie with this mixture.

Place the mince pies onto a baking tray. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes, or until the pastry is crisp and golden-brown.


Remove the mince pies from the oven and cool on a wire rack.

Victorian Sugar Plums

Victorians would often sugar coat fruits to hang on the Christmas tree, much like our modern day Christmas tree chocolates. Sugar coated plums were a popular treat, they even get a mention in Tchaikovsky's famous ballet The Nutcracker, with the the 'Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy'.


Sugar (approx 1kg/2lb 2oz)

1 jar whole plums (preserved in syrup)


In Victorian times, the sugar plums would have been left to dry out on a hot range for

1-2 days. In modern kitchens, the sugar plums will need to be heated in a very low oven for several hours.


Pour the sugar into a bowl. Shake off any excess syrup from the plums. Roll each plum in the sugar until completely coated.



Place each sugar-coated plum onto a baking tray and set aside for 30 minutes, then re-roll the plums in the sugar.

Transfer the sugar-coated plums to the oven, set to its lowest setting. Heat gently for several hours, until the juice has seeped out of the plums



Coat the plums in sugar again, then place the coated plums onto a clean baking tray and repeat the drying process again.

Repeat the re-coating and drying process a further 3-4 times, over a period of



several days, until the plums have completely dried out and the sugar coating is crisp.

As the plums dry, the juices will seep out, so they will need to be re-coated in sugar and transferred to a clean baking tray every 1-2 hours.)

Thread with cotton to hang on the tree or place in a keepsake box

Coconut Balls

•Four ounces of butter

•Six ounces of desiccated cocoanut

•Four ounces of caster sugar

•Three eggs

•Quarter pint of double cream

•A few drops of vanilla

Method; Beat the butter to a cream, then beat the eggs, add the flour; then beat the mixture until it is quite smooth and light; add a four ounces of cocoanut again mix well.

Pour this mixture into a round cake mould which has been lined with buttered paper— the mixture should be about one and a half inches thick. Bake for twenty to thirty minutes, then carefully lift out of the tin and remove the paper. When cold, stamp out rounds with a plain cutter which is about two and a half inches in diameter. Whip up the cream until it is stiff and flavour with vanilla, sweeten to taste.

Apply to the rounds and sprinkle with cocoanut, serve.

American Breakfast Biscuits

•Sixteen ounces of flour

•Three ounces of butter

•One ounce of sugar

•One egg

•One teaspoonful baking powder

•Half a pint of milk


Method; Mix the baking powder with the flour, rub in the butter, add the sugar, salt and mix into a light dough with the eggs well beaten and milk. Divide into pieces, roll our half inch thick and prick with a fork. Bake in a sharp over for fifteen minutes

Ginger Buns

•Eight ounces of flour

•One and a half ounces butter

•One and a half ounces of dripping or lard

•Three ounces of sugar

•One ounce of mixed candied peel

•One and a half tablespoonful baking powder

•One teaspoonful grated ginger

•One egg

•A little milk

•Pinch of salt

Method; Rub the butter and dripping/lard into the flour, beat up the egg with a little milk and add together with all the dry ingredients to the flour etc. and mixed thoroughly. Divide into twelve small heaps on a greased tin and bake for fifteen minutes in a hot oven.

Lemon Buns

•Twelve ounces of flour

•One egg

•Four ounces of butter

•Two ounces of caster sugar

•Two ounces currants

•Two ounces lemon peels

•Quarter pint of milk

•Juice and rind [grated] of one lemon

•A little nutmeg

•Two teaspoonfuls baking powder

•Quarter ounce caraway seeds

•Pinch of salt

Method; Rub the butter into the flour, add all the dry ingredients; beat up the egg and milk and using this, mix the flour into a stiffest paste. Grease a baking tin and divide the mixture into twelve buns and brush over with a little sugar and milk. Bake in a quick oven for eight to ten minutes.

Almond Cakes

•Three ounces of flour

•Two ounces ground almonds

•Four ounces of sugar

•Four ounces of butter

•Three eggs

•Two ounces roughly chopped almonds

•One teaspoonful of brandy

Method; Beat the butter and sugar into a cream, then add the eggs well beaten, alternately with the flour [well sifted] and beat for five minutes then add the ground almonds; spread the mixture in a baking tin which has been lined with oiled and lined paper. Bake for fifteen minutes, then remove from the oven and brush over with egg, spread over the top the chopped almonds. Return to the oven for a further fifteen minutes, or until the almonds are a pretty golden brown colour. When cold divide into fingers lengths or diamonds and serve as a pyramid.

Cherry Cake

•Ten ounces of flour

•Four ounces castor sugar

•Four ounces of butter

•Three ounces of candied cherries

•Three eggs

•Quarter pint of milk

•One teaspoonful of grated lemon rind

Method; Beat the butter and sugar to a cream beat up the eggs, added alternately with the flour and milk, and beat thoroughly; lastly add the lemon rind, fruit and baking powder. Pour into a mould well lined with oiled paper and bake in a moderate oven for one and a half hours.

Brandy Snaps a la Crème

•Two ounces of flour

•Two ounces of butter

•Two ounces Demerara sugar

•Two ounces golden syrup

•Half a pint of cream

•Half a teaspoonful of ginger

•Half a teaspoonful of lemon juice

•Half a teaspoonful of vanilla

Method; Put the butter, sugar, syrup and ginger into a saucepan and heat gently until the butter is melted, sift in the flour and add the lemon juice. Wax or grease a baking pan and pour into rounds a good distance apart one teaspoonful of the mixture. Baking in a slow oven until a deep golden brown; lift off with a knife and quickly round a slipper mould, with rough side out; when set remove the mould. Whip up the cream, add a little sugar and the vanilla, fill some with white cream, and the remained may be coloured pink, serve at once.

Apple Cheesecakes

•Eight ounces of apples

•Three cloves

•Three ounces of brown sugar

•Two eggs

•One ounce of butter

•One tablespoonful of castor sugar

•Some scraps of short or puff pastry

Method; Roll out the pastry and cut into rounds, then line some patty tins. Peel and core the apples then cut into quarters, place in a saucepan with one tablespoonful of water together with the cloves, then stew until soft. Add the butter and sugar and when dissolve mix with the cooked apples then rub through a fine wire sieve; beat up the eggs and add the apples. Place a little of the apple mixture into each patty tin and bake for fifteen minutes. The cakes may be decorated if so wished.

Apricot Cake

•Half a tin of apricots

•Quarter pint of apricot juice

•Four ounces of rich short pastry

•Five ounces of sugar •Whites of three eggs

•A little almond essence

Method; Roll the pastry into a round the size of a dinner plate, roll scraps of pastry into strips to form edging. Wet the edges of the pastry and form a lip with the strips.

Place on a flat baking tin, make two or three incisions with a fork in the centre of the round of pastry to keep it flat and bake until a light brown. Whip the eggs to a stiff paste and sweeten with two ounces of sugar and almond essence. Using a force bag add plenty of the stiff paste around the whole circle to produce a high edge then dust with sugar; return to the oven until it is lightly brown. In tandem with the above place a quarter pint of apricot juice with three ounces of sugar into a saucepan; boil gently until it sets, test by dropping a little from a spoon onto a plate. When both the pastry and the syrup had cooled arrange the apricots and pour over the syrup.

Banbury Cakes

•Eight ounces of puff pastry

•Two ounces of sugar

•Two ounces of minced mixed peel

•One ounce of biscuit crumbs

•Four ounces of currants

•One ounce of butter

•Half an egg

•A dust of all spice

Method; Roll out the pastry to one eighth inch in thickness then stamp into six diameter rounds. Beat the butter and sugar into a cream then add the bread crumbs, egg, peel, currants and spice and mix well. Divide the mixture on each round of pastry and slightly moisten the edges, bring together and carefully seal. Turn over the cakes so that they have a smooth side to top and flatten slightly, brush over with water and dust with sugar and bake for fifteen minutes.

Coconut Cheesecake

•Three ounces of grated coconut or two ounces of desiccated cocoanut

•One and a half ounces of castor sugar

•One and a half ounces of butter

•One tablespoonful of rice flour

•One egg

•Quarter teaspoonful of baking powder

•Some scraps of pastry short or puff

Method; Roll out the pastry very thinly and line twelve patty tins; beat up the butter and sugar to a cream then add the egg, rice powder beat well; then add the cocoanut and baking powder. Place a good teaspoonful of the mixture in each tin and bake for fifteen minutes. Serve hot or cold.

Custard Patties

•Eight ounces of puff pastry

•One ounce of candied cherries

•Whites of two eggs

•Stiff custard

•Vanilla or almond essence

Method; Roll out the pastry to quarter of an inch thickness and stamp out three inch rounds, using a two inch cutter stamp the rounds half way through. Place on a baking sheet and bake for fifteen minutes in a hot oven. When baked take out the centres and place two candied cherries in each and fill with stiff custard which has been sweeten and flavoured. Whip up the whites of the eggs very stiffly and add one tablespoonful of sugar and a little flavouring [the same that was used for the custard]. Full a forcing bag fitted with a fancy nozzle and decorate the top of each patty. Return to the oven and bake until brown, they can be served hot or cold.


•Eight ounces of puff pastry

•White of six eggs

•Two ounces of castor sugar

•Two tablespoonful of jam

•A little vanilla or almond essence

Method; Roll the pastry out into a square about one eighth of an inch thick, bake for ten minutes then spread with the jam. Whip the whites of the eggs into a stiff froth and add the flavouring and sugar. Spread over the jam and dust with sugar then bake in a slow oven until set. Cut into fingers and serve.


•One and a quarter pounds of pastry

•One egg

•One ounce of sugar

•Half an ounce of butter

•Half an ounce of ratafias

•Grated rind of one orange

Method; Roll out the pastry as thin as possible and line some rather deep tartlet moulds. Crush the ratifies and put them into a basin with the egg and sugar, beat all together until light and frothy; add the butter [melted] and orange rind. Pour into the mould and dust thickly with sugar, bake in a moderate oven for fifteen to twenty minutes.

Orange Cheesecake

•Eight ounces of puff pastry

•Two ounces of Savoy biscuits

•Two tablespoonful milk or cream

•One and a half of sugar

•One and a half ounces of butter

•One dessertspoonful of brandy if liked

•One egg

•The grated rind and the juice of one orange

Method; Roll out the pastry, cut into rounds and line a dozen [12] patty tins. Beat the butter, sugar to a cream and add the egg and crushed Savoy biscuit, then the juice and rind of the orange mix well. Place a teaspoonful of the mixture in the patty tins and bake for fifteen minutes.

Pithiviers Cakes

•Eight ounces of puff pastry

•Quarter pound crushed almonds

•Three ounces of sugar

•Two ounces of butter

•Two ounces of biscuit crumbs

•The yolk of four eggs

Method; Roll out the pastry to quarter of an inch in thickness and stamp into three inch rounds. Set these aside and roll out the remaining pastry very thinly and stamp into three and half inch rounds, line some patty tins with these. Cream the butter and sugar then add the eggs, crumbs and almonds. Fill the patty tins, roll the edges and put on the tops, using a sharp knife cut a design in the pastry. Brush the top with an egg and bake for twenty minutes.

Snow Cake

•Eight ounces of potato flour

•Four ounces of butter

•Four ounces castor sugar

•Yolk of one egg

•A few drops of lemon essence

•One teaspoonful of baking powder

•Whites of an egg

Method; Beat the butter and sugar to a cream, add the beaten egg alternately with the potato flour and beat for ten minutes, then stir in the vanilla and baking powder. Pour into a flat baking tin which must be buttered, dusted with sugar then flour. The mixture should cover the tin to about half an inch thickness, then bake in a slow oven for about thirty minutes. Turn out when cold, and divide into finger lengths of fancy shapes, the cakes can be covered in icing in liked.

Surprise Cutlets

•Three ounces of butter.

•Five ounces of grated or three ounces of desiccated cocoanut

•Three ounces of flour

•Three ounces castor sugar

•Two tablespoonful of raspberry jam

•Three tablespoonful of water

•Two eggs

•A little candied angelica

•Two tablespoonful Demerara sugar

Method; Beat the castor sugar and butter into a cream, then add the beaten eggs, flour and cocoanut, mix well. Butter some small cutlet moulds and dust with sugar and flour and almost fill with the mixture, Bake for 15 minutes in a slow oven and turn out, when cool stick in the thin end of each about inch of angelica to represent the cutlet bone. Place in a round glass or silver dish. Boil the Demerara sugar, jam and water for ten minutes and then rub through a hair sieve and when cold pour around the cutlets.

Half a pint of double cream may be whipped stiff, flavoured with sugar and vanilla and placed in the centre.

Shrewsbury Cakes

•Six ounces of flour

•Four ounces of castor

•Four ounces butter

•One egg

•Rind of a lemon

•One tablespoonful of caraway seeds

•Half a teaspoonful of cinnamon

Method; Beat the butter and sugar to a cream, add the flour, carraway seeds, cinnamon, egg and enough water to make a stiff paste. Roll out, cut into rounds and bake until a nice light brown. Note the caraway seeds may be left out if they a not to taste.

Victorian games.

Victorian children had fewer toys than you have today.

Poor Children:

Poor families made their own, such as cloth-peg dolls and paper windmills. Children would save their pocket money to buy marbles, a spinning top, skipping ropes, kites or cheap wooden toys.

Rich Children:

Girls played with dolls and tea sets whilst boys played with toy soldiers and marbles.

During Victorian times, people became fascinated by toys that made pictures move. One of the earliest and simplest of these was the thaumatrope. This is a disc with a picture on either side that is attached to two pieces of string or a stick. When you spin the disc quickly, the two pictures appear to combine into one.

Tiddly Winks

Tiddlywinks is an indoor game played on a flat felt mat with sets of small discs called "winks", a pot, which is the target, and a collection of squidgers, which are also discs. Players use a

"squidger" (nowadays made of plastic) to shoot a wink into flight by flicking the squidger across the top of a wink and then over its edge, thereby propelling it into the air.

Each player controls the winks of a colour, the colours being blue, green, red and yellow. Red and blue are always partners against green and yellow. There are six winks of each colour, which begin the game in the corners of a felt mat measuring 6 feet by 3 feet.

This mat is ordinarily placed on a table, and a pot is placed at its centre. There are two primary methods of play with the four colors of winks: a pairs game, and a singles game. The pairs game involves four players, playing in partnerships, with each winker playing a single color. The singles game involves a single winker playing against another single winker, each playing two colors of winks in alternation.

The players take turns, and there are two basic aims: to cover (or squop) opponent winks, and to get one's own winks into the pot. As in pool or snooker, if a player pots a wink of his own colour, then he is entitled to an extra shot, and this enables a skilled player to pot all of his winks in one turn. The point of squopping, which is the key element distinguishing the adult game from the child's game (though recognized in even the earliest rules from 1890), is that a wink that is covered (even partially) may not be

played by its owner. The wink on top may be played, though, and sophisticated play involves shots manipulating large piles of winks.

The game ends in one of two ways: either all the winks of one colour are potted (a potout), or play continues up to a specified time limit (usually 25 minutes), after which each colour has a further five turns. Then a scoring system is used to rank the players, based on the numbers of potted and unsquopped winks of each colour.

Blind Man’s Buff

Blind man's buff or blind man's bluff is a children's game, a variant of tag in which the player who is "It" is blindfolded. The traditional name of the game is "blind man's buff", wherein the word buff is used in its older sense of a small push.

There are several versions of the game:

In one version, the first player tagged by It then becomes It, and another round of the game is played. The Chinese version refers to the tagged It as lìng dài


, literally "to bid to take the place of".

In another version, whenever any player is tagged by It, that player is out of the game.

The game proceeds until all players are out of the game, at which point another round of the game starts, with either the first player or the last player to be tagged becoming the next It player.

In yet another version, It feels the face of the person tagged and attempts to identify the person, and only if the person is correctly identified does the person become It.

In a unique Japanese version, young girls dress up in their kimonos and the blind-folded girl must catch or touch the other girls both while blindfolded and at the same time carrying a full cup of tea


It is played by a group of people who arrange themselves in a circle, with the nonplaying judge (or "Carnelli Master") standing in the center of the circle. The Carnelli Master starts the game by pointing to one of the players and saying a title. The pointed-to player must continue the game by saying a title himself, which must connect to the previous title in some way, such as having a word in common (The Time Machine and

Time Enough for Love), having a common creator (an author as with Hamlet and

Macbeth or producer or director), or other linkages of a similar nature — different groups of Carnelli players can vary in exactly what kinds of links are permissible.

Play proceeds around the circle, with each player naming a title that connects to the last one said. If a player is unable to come up with any title within the allotted time

(kept by the Carnelli Master; generally, the time limit reduces as the game proceeds)

he or she is eliminated and must move outside the circle. If a player names a nonexistent or incorrect title, a title that does not legitimately connect with the preceding one, or a title that has already been used in the current game, another player may challenge it, and such challenges are ruled upon by the Carnelli Master, whose judgments are said to be "arbitrary, capricious, and final". If the challenge is upheld, the challenged player is eliminated, but if the challenge is rejected, the challenger is instead eliminated. The winner is the last player remaining after all other players have been eliminated.


The rules used for the acted charades are usually informal and vary widely, but commonly agree in essence with the following basic rules:

The players divide into two teams.

 Each team in turn produces a "secret" word or phrase, to be guessed by the other team, and writes it on a slip of paper. Rules vary as to which phrases are

 allowed; single words may be restricted to nouns as found in dictionaries, while multi-word phrases usually are required to be commonly used phrases, or common expressions for well-known concepts. Often the secret phrases allowed are confined to titles of books, songs, or movies.

The slip of paper with the secret phrase is revealed to one member of the other team, the "actor", but kept secret from the remainder of the other team, the


The actor then has a limited period of time in which to convey the secret phrase to the guessers by pantomime.

The actor may not make any sounds or lip movements. In some circles, even clapping is prohibited, while in others, the player may make any sound other than

 speaking or whistling a recognizable tune.

The actor cannot point out at any of the objects present in the scene, if by doing so they are helping their teammates.

Most commonly, the actor is allowed to make any gestures other than blatantly spelling out the word. In more stringent sets of rules, indicating anything about the form of the phrase is prohibited, even the number of words, so that only the meaning may be acted out.

The guessers attempt to guess the word or phrase based on the actor's performance. They can ask questions, to which the actor may give non-verbal responses, such as nodding in affirmation. If any of the guessers says the correct word or phrase within the time limit in the literal form as written on the slip, their team wins that round; if the phrase is not guessed when the time limit

 expires, the team that produced the secret phrase wins the round.

The teams alternate until each team member has had an opportunity to be the actor.

Since so many rules can vary, clarifying all the rules before the game begins can avoid problems later

Elephant’s foot Umbrella stand.

Play takes the form of rotating around the group of players, each player adding an item of their choosing to a list. The item is then either allowed or disallowed by the player(s) familiar with the rules based upon the logic to the game. The basis of the game is to not only to remember the list, which can be difficult as the game progresses, but also to work out the logic behind what items are allowed.

For example, the game may start as such:

Player 1: "I went to the shop and I bought an elephant's foot umbrella stand".

Player 2: "I went to the shop and I bought an elephant's foot umbrella stand and a large orange plate".

Player 1, or the player who knows the rules, would then allow or refuse the new item.

Play then continues in this manner until everybody has worked out the logic.


The logic behind the game is that each new item must begin with the next letter of the phrase 'elephant's foot umbrella stand'. In the example above, the addition of the second item "large orange plate" would be allowed since the item begins with the letter

"L", the second letter of the phrase 'elephant's foot umbrella stand'. The third item, in order to be allowed, would have to begin with the letter "E".


The game requires a large and preferably unabridged dictionary, a pencil, pen or other writing implement for each player, and notecards or identical pieces of paper for each player.

Individual house rules may vary when playing Fictionary, but play usually proceeds like this:

One player, the "picker" for the turn, chooses an obscure word from the dictionary and announces and spells it to the other players. The chosen word should be one that the picker expects no other player to know. If a player is familiar with the chosen word, he or she should say so and the picker should choose a different word. If a word has more than one definition listed, the Picker privately chooses which one to use, but in such a case must specify, "X, when it does not mean so-and-so." Generally, the Picker can edit the dictionary definition as he or she desires.

Each player writes a crafty and credible definition of the word, initials it, and submits it to the word picker.

The Picker collects and shuffles the definitions, including their own, which is the correct one. As definitions are handed in, the picker should check them over to ensure that they can read the handwriting and to clarify any questions. Stumbling over or

misreading a definition is usually a sign that it is not the correct one—unless the picker is trying to bluff.

Once all definitions have been handed in, the picker reads the list aloud, once. On the second reading, each other player in turn then votes for the definition he or she believes is correct. Because the picker selected the word and knows the definition, the picker does not vote.

Players earn one point for voting for the correct definition, and one point for each vote cast for the definition they wrote. (Other traditions for scoring award more points for guessing the correct definition than a player gets for picking their own.) The

Picker earns three points if no one selects the correct definition. There are variations where the picker earns no points during their round as picker, fairness being achieved by ensuring that all players take equal numbers of turns as picker.

Play then proceeds with the dictionary going to another player, which starts a new turn. A full circuit of the dictionary constitutes a round.

One variation allows a player to vote for their own definition, although they do not get points for doing so. (This can encourage other people to vote for that definition as well, and the player would get those points.) Another variation does not allow a player to vote for his own definition.

The Minister’s Cat

All players sit in a circle, and the first player describes the minister's cat with an adjective beginning with the letter 'A' (for example, "The minister's cat is an adorable cat") Each player then does the same, using different adjectives starting with the same letter. Once everyone has done so, the first player describes the cat with an adjective beginning with the letter 'B'. This continues for each letter of the alphabet.

In an alternate variation, the first player describes the minister's cat with an adjective beginning with the letter 'A', the second with the letter 'B' and so forth, going around the circle.

In both variations, a player is "out" of the game if they are unable to think of an adjective, or if they repeat one previously used. Players may clap in unison or speak in a rhythmic manner during the game, setting the pace for each player to speak his line; if a player falls too far behind the pace while thinking of an adjective, he may also be declared "out."


It was played during the winter, particularly on Christmas Eve. Brandy was heated and placed in a wide shallow bowl; raisins were placed in the brandy which was then set alight. Typically, lights were extinguished or dimmed to increase the eerie effect of the blue flames playing across the liquor. The aim of the game was to pluck the raisins out of the burning brandy and eat them, at the risk of being burnt.

This obviously cannot be played in this way but instead try to get raisins out of water or flour without getting wet or flour on your face.

Wink Murder

In each round of play, one player is secretly assigned the role of "murderer", perhaps by handing every player a playing card with a particular card signifying that the recipient is the murderer. The murderer has the ability to "kill" other players by making eye contact and winking at them. If a player is winked at, they must count silently to five before feigning sudden death, and either lying on the floor where they died, or silently leaving the playing area.

If a player suspects they know the identity of the murderer, they may raise their hand and announce "I accuse", without naming their suspect. At this point, the game pauses and the accuser asks for somebody to second their accusation, again with neither naming a suspect. When they have a seconder, both of these players simultaneously point to their suspect; if they are both pointing to a player who admits to being the murderer, the game ends. Otherwise (if they are pointing to different players, or to an innocent player) the accusers are both eliminated as if they had been murdered.

Players are forbidden from communicating their thoughts on who the murderer might be, and players who are not the murderer are not allowed to wink.

The objective of the murderer is to murder as many people as possible without being caught.


Matches are played by two teams. Players take it in turns to pitch four rubber rings across a distance of around 8½ feet onto a raised quoits board.

Five points are awarded for a quoit landing cleanly over the pin, two points for a quoit landing cleanly in the dish, and one point for a quoit landing cleanly on the outer circular section of the board. The scoreboard consists of numbers running from 1 to 10, 11 or 12, and the object of the game is to score each of these numbers separately using four or fewer quoits, the first side to achieve this being the winner.

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