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10 Timeless Parlor Games to Revive the Holiday Spirit

10 Timeless Parlor Games to Revive the Holiday Spirit

Quizzes and Games

Leah Nguyen 24 Oct 2023 7 min read

Have you ever wondered how our ancestors would entertain themselves without television, mobile phones or the internet? With a touch of creativity and a dash of imagination, they embraced a variety of classic parlor games to enjoy during the holiday season.

If you’re yearning to unplug and reconnect with loved ones, here are the 10 Timeless Parlor Games to revive the spirit of old-fashioned holiday entertainment.

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What is The Meaning of Parlor Games?

Parlor games, also called parlour games, offer indoor entertainment for individuals of all ages, including adults and children.

These games gained their name due to their historical association with upper and middle-class families during the Victorian and Elizabethan periods, where they were commonly played in the designated parlor room.

What is Another Word for Parlor Games?

Parlor Games (or Palour Games in British English) can be loosely referred to as indoor games, board games, or party games. 

What Are The Examples of Parlor Games?

Timeless Parlor Games to revive your holiday spirit
Timeless Parlor Games to revive your holiday spirit

Parlor games have long been a source of indoor entertainment, let it be Christmas parties, birthday parties, or family reunions.

Let’s dive into some timeless classic examples of parlor games that bring sheer enjoyment to any occasion. 

#1. Sardines

Sardines is an entertaining hiding palor game that is most enjoyable indoors.

In this game, one player takes on the role of the hider while the remaining players count to one hundred before embarking on the search.

As each player uncovers the hiding spot, they join in the hiding place, often leading to comical situations.

The game continues until all but one player has discovered the hiding spot, with the last player becoming the hider for the subsequent round.

#2. Fictionary

Word games have been a holiday palor game hit throughout history, from Victorian times to today’s board games and mobile apps. In the past, players relied on dictionaries for entertainment.

Take Fictionary, for example. One person reads an obscure word, and everyone else creates fake definitions. After reading the definitions aloud, players vote on the correct one. Fake submissions earn points, while players gain points for guessing right.

If no one guesses correctly, the person with the dictionary scores a point. Let the wordplay begin!

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#3. Shush

Shush is an engaging word game suitable for both adults and talkative children. The game begins with one player taking the lead and selecting a commonly used word such as “the”, “but”, “an”, or “with” as the forbidden word.

Subsequently, the leader takes turns asking random questions to the other players, who must respond without utilising the forbidden word. It is recommended that the questions require detailed explanations, such as “How did you achieve such silkiness in your hair?” or “What makes you believe in the existence of the Unicorn?”.

If a player inadvertently uses the forbidden word or takes too long to answer, they are eliminated from the round.

The game continues until only one player remains speaking, who then assumes the role of the leader for the subsequent round, initiating a new session of Shush.

#4. The Laughing Game

The Laughing Game runs on simple rules. It commences with one player uttering the word “ha” while maintaining a serious expression.

The next player continues the sequence by adding an additional “ha” to form “ha ha” followed by “ha ha ha” and so forth in a continuous loop.

The objective is to prolong the game for as long as feasible without succumbing to laughter. If a player slightly cracks a smile, they are eliminated from the game.

#5. Tic-Tac-Toe

Parlor Games - Tic-tac-toe
Parlor Games – Tic-tac-toe

You don’t need anything else rather than a piece of paper and a pen in this one of the most classic indoor palor games. This two players game requires a 3×3 grid consisting of nine squares.

One player is designated as “X,” while the other player assumes the role of “O.” The players take turns placing their respective marks (either X or O) on any vacant square within the grid.

The primary objective of the game is for a player to align three of their marks in a row on the grid before their opponent. These rows can be formed in a straight line vertically, horizontally, or diagonally.

The game concludes when either one of the players successfully achieves this objective or when all nine squares on the grid have been occupied.

#6. Moriarty, Are You There?

Prepare your blindfolds (scarves work too) and grab a rolled-up newspaper as your trusty weapon.

Two courageous players or scouts will step into the ring at a time, blindfolded and armed with their newspapers.

They position themselves head to head, lying on their fronts, with hands outstretched in anticipation. The starting scout will call out, “Are you there Moriarty?” and await the response.

As soon as the other scout replies with a “Yes” the duel begins! The starting scout swings the newspaper over their head, aiming to strike their opponent with all their might. But watch out! The other scout is ready to strike back with a swift newspaper swing of their own.

The first scout to get hit by their opponent’s newspaper is eliminated from the game, making room for another scout to join the battle.

#7. Domino

Parlor Games - Domino
Parlor Games – Domino (Image credit: 1stDibs)

Domino or Ebony and Ivory is an engaging game that can be played by two or more individuals, involving the use of small rectangular blocks crafted from materials such as plastic, wood, or in older versions, ivory and ebony.

This game has ancient roots in China, but it wasn’t introduced to the Western world until the 18th century. The game’s name is believed to originate from its early design, resembling a hooded cloak known as a “domino,” with an ivory front and an ebony back.

Each domino block is split into two sections by a line or ridge, with spots or combinations of spots above and below the line. The dominoes are numbered according to a specific sequence. Over time, numerous variations of the game have emerged, adding further diversity to its gameplay.

#8. Throwing Up Lights

Throwing Up Lights is a palor game where two players slip away and confidentially select a word.

Upon returning to the room, they engage in a conversation, dropping hints to shed light on the chosen word. All other players attentively listen, striving to decipher the word by decoding the conversation.

When a player feels confident about their guess, they enthusiastically exclaim, “I strike a light” and whisper their guess to one of the two leading players.

If their guess is correct, they join the conversation, becoming part of the elite word-choosing team, while the others keep guessing.

However, if their guess is incorrect, they will take a seat on the floor with a handkerchief covering their face, awaiting their chance at redemption. The game carries on until all players have successfully guessed the word.

#9. How, Why, When, and Where

Get ready for a challenging guessing game! One player selects the name of an object or thing, keeping it a secret. The other players must unravel this mystery by posing one of four questions: “How do you like it?”, “Why do you like it?”, “When do you like it?”, or “Where do you like it?”. Each player can ask only one question.

But here’s the twist! The player with the secret object can try to perplex the questioners by choosing a word with multiple meanings. They cleverly incorporate all the meanings into their replies, adding an extra layer of confusion. For instance, they might choose words like “Sole or Soul” or “Creak or Creek” to keep everyone on their toes.

Prepare your deductive skills, engage in strategic questioning, and embrace the delightful challenge of unravelling the hidden object. Can you overcome the linguistic riddles and emerge as the master guesser in this thrilling game? Let the guessing games begin!

#10. Forfeit The Flag

This fast-paced palor game for adults is sure to loosen up your guests and add an extra spark to the atmosphere.

Each player willingly forfeits an item of value, such as keys, phone, or wallet. These items become the centrepiece of an auction. The designated “auctioneer” takes the stage, showcasing each item as if it were up for sale.

Players will have the chance to reclaim their precious items by paying a price set by the auctioneer. It could be playing Truth or Dare, revealing a secret, or even completing a series of energetic jumping jacks.

The stakes are high, and laughter fills the room as participants eagerly step up to reclaim their belongings.

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