Monday, December 9, 2013

Children’s Holiday Games of Long Ago


Holidays, especially Christmas, have always been most exciting for children. In the old days they didn’t have iPhones, iPads or any of the modern “toys” we provide to keep them busy while we cook Christmas dinner, set our tables and greet guests. Instead, they played games. Here are a few of their favorites.

Bag and Stick

A treat-filled paper bag is hung from from the ceiling or possibly a tree branch in warm climates. One child is blindfolded and spun around. Using a stick he or she is given several chances to hit the bag. Everyone takes turns until the bag breaks, spilling out its contents. The kids rush to snatch up as many treats as they can. Sounds like the piñata game, doesn’t it? Probably not a coincidence.

Famous Romance

Kind of appropriate for romance authors! This game was popular at Valentine’s Day. A heart is attached (pinned, I imagine) to each child’s back with a name on it of one half of a famous couple. The players ask each other questions to learn their identity, such as “Am I a woman?” or “Am I alive now?” Once the player knows his or her name, they must find their partner in romance.

The Cobweb Game

This game was often played at Christmas parties. A big, pretty spider (if a spider can be called pretty) made of wire and decorated, is hung from on high. Long strings or ribbons, one per player, were attached to the spider and wound around the room, under furniture, through doorways, maybe up and down stairs. They formed a complicated web. Each child chose one “thread” of the web and followed it to the end, where a Christmas gift waited.

There were also outdoor games, weather permitting. I describe one called Ring Taw in a short story titled A Texas Devlins Christmas, posted on Alison Bruce’s site today. I hope you’ll join the Devlins’ Christmas gathering. 



Now here’s a snippet from my short story, Christmas Cookies for Twoman with cookies 2ristan


Tristan Jameson isn't happy to attend a stuffy New York Christmas party, but when Charlotte Dixon walks in, the evening promises excitement. A tin of homemade Christmas cookies helps bring the two of them together. Recipe included!


Tristan tensed when he saw a striking auburn-haired woman hand her coat to a butler in the penthouse foyer and walk into the crowded living room. He’d never met her, he was certain, yet he felt instantly drawn to her. Despite his avoidance of female companionship over the past two years, his pulse quickened and the chatter of partygoers faded away as he watched her.

She wore a cranberry red dress with tiny cap sleeves that went surprisingly well with her mahogany hair. Smiling brightly, she exchanged air kisses with Johanna Cantrell, their hostess and Tristan’s distant cousin, who had opened up her lavish Park Avenue suite for this early Christmas party. So gracious of her, everyone agreed. Of course they all knew tonight’s party was aimed at garnering backers for the lady’s upcoming mayoral campaign.

The redhead had arrived unescorted. Was she a personal friend of Johanna’s or some high-placed business executive who might be convinced to throw her support behind the candidate? Tristan doubted it was the latter. She didn’t look old enough to fill such a role.

Curious to discover her identity, he edged his way through the crowd and followed the woman down a hall toward the kitchen, admiring the slender curves revealed by her subtly flowing skirt. Members of the catering staff buzzed past like worker bees, carrying empty food trays to be refilled and filled ones back out to the buffet table in the spacious living room, or salon as Cousin Johanna called it.

Pausing in the kitchen’s open doorway, Tristan leaned against the door jam and observed the redhead as she held out a large Christmas tin to a portly, bearded man in a white chef’s uniform. 

“Please arrange these cookies on a tray and set them out with the other desserts,” she said in a low, smoky voice reminiscent of actress Kathleen Turner’s.

The man scowled. “Madame, I personally prepare all food for every event I cater, including the desserts.”

“Oh, but I baked these especially for tonight as a gift for Jo . . . I mean Mrs. Cantrell. She told me to bring them back here for you to serve.”

“I doubt that, young woman,” the pompous ass sneered. “That good woman knows I never allow anything prepared by another hand to be served at one of my events.”

“Are you calling me a liar?” The redhead’s voice shook slightly, either with distress or anger.

Read more:

Christmas cookies

Source: Games from long ago (Historic Communities) by Bobbie Kalman


Ella Quinn - Romance Novelist said...

Fun post, Lyn. I tweeted

Carra Copelin said...

Great idea to share games of the past. Thanks, Lyn, for also sharing your excerpt of your Christmas story.

Lyn Horner said...

Thanks again, Ella! You're a gem!

Lyn Horner said...

Hi Carra, thanks for visiting. I thought it would be fun for folks to know kids managed to have a good time without all the electronic gizmos they have nowadays. Glad you agree.

Susan Horsnell said...

I love the games, Lyn. Times were hard but so much simpler. Children didn't demand so much 'stuff'
Thank you for sharing your excerpt.

Lyn Horner said...

Susan, that is so true. Life may have been harder but it had definite advantages.

Alison E. Bruce said...

What a cool article!

That spider web game reminds me that it's a Ukrainian traditional to have an artificial spider hidden in the Christmas tree. Also a German Christmas story of spiders (with help from Santa Claus) creating the first tinsel.

Caroline Clemmons said...

Lyn, I hadn't heard of the spider game. Thanks for the interesting post. Thanks also for the free read. Best wishes for continued success.