Victorian Parlor Games

During the Victorian era parlor games were a popular activity for both men and women. With the rise of industrialization, people had much more time for leisure activities which often included these games. The games could be played with nothing at all or sometimes items found in a common household, and it is for that reason that they were so accessible and remain so to this day.

The Victorian home was the realm of a dutiful wife; therefore, the parlor fell under her dominion and cultivated the image of a cultured and well rounded family if decorated properly. While most rooms in the home were for a specific gender (for example the smoke room for men and the boudoir for women), the parlor was a rare space in which the genders could mingle and court in a proper fashion. This meant that games were a realm for both men and women to participate in, and the games often involved logic or word play. In class we played Charades and used the categories of sports and Disney movies.

Some examples of these games are:


Charades: Played with teams who guess clues from the actions of their teammates. Players have to act out clues without using props or words while their teammates guess the answer. The goal is to correctly guess more clues in less time than the other team.


Byron acting out Pinocchio.



Tara acting out football (Roll Tide!)



David acting out Disney’s Dumbo.


Similes: To play this game, you need a list of similes and a group of people. One person goes around the room and picks people. He/she picks one person and begins a simile. If the player finishes the simile incorrectly, the “game master” thanks them but gives them the correct ending and moves on. The “game master” should be fairly well versed in well-known similes so as to be able to accept variations or answers that are close.


Blindman’s Bluff: One person is blindfolded, and all other guests scatter around the room. When the blind-folded person catches someone, they then have to tell who it is they have captured or the prisoner is then freed and the blind man must continue his/her pursuit until he/she can identify the person caught. The blindfold then changes hands.


Dictionary: Each person needs paper and a pen or pencil. You need at least one dictionary to play this game. Each person uses the dictionary in turn to look up a word (the more obscure the better) and writes down the real definition (in simplified form) and then makes up two or three others. The word and the definitions are read to the rest of the players and each has to guess which definition they believe is the correct one. The player gets points for each person he/she fools. The dictionary makes as many rounds as you would like, and the player with the most points at the end wins.


The Name Game: Provide each guest with 10 small pieces of paper, and a pen or pencil. Ask them to write down the names of 10 famous people. Fold the papers, and put them into a hat, bowl, or basket. Seat guests in a large circle. Each round is limited to 30 seconds, so have a watch with a second hand available. Player One pulls out a name, and tries to get the person beside him/her to guess the name by giving clues, but never actually saying the name or what it starts with. Gestures are not allowed. After the name is guessed, the clue-giver can continue pulling names out of the hat until their time is up. The guesser gets to keep their pieces of paper, and the clue-giver gets credit also. The bowl is then passed to the next person and the clue-giver now becomes the guesser and there is a new-clue giver. The bowl proceeds around the circle until everyone has guessed and everyone has given clues. The one with the most correct guesses wins.
Game Rule Sources: