There was something charming about parties at the turn of the twentieth century. Looking back to the Victorian era, it seems as though every event was thoroughly planned, classy, and a merry time for each and every party guest. And while we’re lucky now to have technology, more rights for all Americans, and indoor plumbing in every household, you can’t help but feel the Victorian Americans really knew how to throw a party. Luckily, these trends can easily be revived and reconstructed to fit a modern party. It’s an easy way to shake up your everyday entertaining.
From lecturing your friends (politely) on causes close to your heart to playing classic parlor games, here are four classic ways to go help enrich your 2017 parties.
At the end of the nineteenth century, Chautauqua assemblies were all the rage in America. Covering topics from female suffrage to the end of child labor to the rising temperance movement, these educational lectures informed the public on activism and ongoing legislation. In these politically divisive times, consider hosting speakers involved in causes that are near and dear to your heart; or, channel the Chautauqua assemblies by throwing a letter-writing or Congressional call party. These civic acts can enforce real change and can also be fun thanks to the company of like-minded friends.
Ethnic Family Dishes
At the turn of the twentieth century, immigrants came en masse to America, bringing their cultural foods with them. But the longer families stay and settle in this country, the more these ethnic dishes can fall to the wayside in favor of typical American fare. For your next party, call your grandma or great uncle and ask for classic family recipes. Serving your friends classic Austrian wiener schnitzel, crispy Brazilian pão de queijo, or traditional Chinese pork buns can help connect you to your roots and introduce your friends to new foods.
At the turn of the century, going to a social engagement was a big deal, and people dressed like it. Women would put on their finest, newest party dresses and men would wear blazers, topcoats, and ties. These days, unless you’re going to a particularly formal affair like a wedding, you can just wear whatever you want to a party. But gathering with friends is a wonderful occasion and should be treated as such. The next time you throw or attend a party, dress to the occasion and suggest others do the same. Now, you don’t need to wear tuxedos and gowns, but a nice suit and cocktail dress can go a long way in making any evening feel remarkable.
Having planned activities at your party is essentially a requirement in 2017. But if you’re not in the mood for packaged board games or a dance party, going back to inventive parlor games from the Victorian era may be the key to a fabulous time. Charades is the best-known example of a parlor game and has managed to withstand the test of time. But have you ever heard of Blindman's Buff, wherein a blinded guest tries to guess the identity of their fellow partygoers through touch? Or perhaps you can play Forfeits, wherein one “judge” confiscates a personal item from the other guests and they have to perform various tasks to earn back their belongings. These games will help to engage guests in the party and get to know one another through old-fashioned communication and fun.