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Victorian Era Parlor Games We Need To Bring Back

Back before video games, television and home stereos people in the Victorian era entertained their guests by playing parlor games, which turned conversation into a friendly competition.

Games like Fictionary, The Minister's Cat and Elephant's Foot Umbrella Stand were created to keep people chatting and socializing with lighthearted wordplay.

Fictionary involved one person picking out an obscure word in the dictionary then everyone else writes what they think the word means on a piece of paper. The definitions are read aloud and the players vote on which one is true- players receive points for guessing correctly or faking voters out, and if no one guesses right the dictionary holder gets a point.

The Minister's Cat is much simpler- players go around the circle choosing a new adjective to describe the minister's cat, such as "the minister's cat is a stupid cat" or "the minister's cat is a smelly cat", until someone fails to come up with a new word.

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Elephant's Foot Umbrella Stand should probably be renamed something like IKEA Coffee Table, but otherwise it's every bit as fun to play today:

The leader starts the game by saying “I went to the store and bought…” followed by an object. Whatever object the leader names has to fit a secret rule they’ve decided to follow throughout the game. For example, if the rule is that every object must end with the letter “E,” the leader might say “I went to the store and bought an orange.” Players then taking turns guessing the rule by naming objects they think apply. If a player says “I went to the store and bought a boat” the leader would say something like “They’re all out of boats.” But if they said they bought a kite instead, the leader would approve their purchase without sharing why. The game becomes more fun the longer you play, assuming you’re not the last player to catch on.

See 14 Parlor Games to Bring Back This Holiday Season at mental_floss


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Decades ago I played The Minister's Cat at a party. The rule was that everyone's adjective must start with the letter 'A'. But when somebody gets stuck, he's out of the game, and the next player must start the 'B' adjectives, and so on. It's hard to plan ahead because you don't know when somebody will stumble and the letter will change.
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