Victorian Parlor Games

Victorian Parlor Games

Need some entertainment while sheltering?  Try a Victorian parlor game.



This is a good game for older children and adults. Prepare by thinking up a list of phrases or words that can be acted out. For younger children, keep them to a topic such as Children’s TV characters or Children’s films. It is important that the phrases are likely to be known by all the participants. Write each phrase on a piece of paper and put them into a hat.

Divide the players into two or more groups. Each group will take a turn at acting out their phrase.

Phrases and words can be broken down into smaller parts, so for example, football, could start by pointing at the foot, and then the mime could indicate kicking the ball, or throwing and catching a ball. It is common to indicate with a show of fingers how many words are included. Syllables are indicated by tapping the correct number of fingers on the forearm.

No speaking is allowed by the actors, but clues can be given. For example, cranking a handle might indicate a film, a square drawn in the air a TV program, and down on one knee and flinging out the arms in a theatrical gesture indicates a play. Cupping the ear means the word needed sounds like the word being acted, while holding the fingers out and close together means the word is a short word such as “an” or “in.”

The game of Charades was mentioned by Charles Dickens and Jane Austen and was certainly a Victorian favorite.

Twenty Questions

One of the most popular games of the Victorian century the game of twenty questions is still popular. In this game, one player thinks of a person, thing or a place and the others try to guess what he thinks by asking questions which would give an answer in the form of yes or no. The game ends if the twenty questions are asked or if the player discovers what the player was thinking of.

How? What? Where? When?

In this parlor game, one player needs to think of the name of an object.

The other players try to discover what it is by asking (only once) the following four questions:

  • How do you like it?
  • Why do you like it?
  • When do you like it?
  • Where do you like it?

Player 1 must answer the questions truthfully. The person who guesses correctly wins, and then takes the role of Player 1.

Look About

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 becomes “it”).

Kim’s Game

If you always liked memorization games, this is the one for you. A serving tray with various unrelated knickknacks on top of it is prepared for game play. The players are given a certain amount of time to look at the tray to try and memorize the contents. Then the tray is covered, and each player makes a list of the items that were on the tray. The person who names the most items wins the game.

  1. Well, I know what we will be doing before TV tonight!

  2. If I was with someone during this self-quarantine, I would love to play charades…..maybe FaceTime will work!

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