What did children do at Christmas before television or video games? They kept themselves amused in other ways. The following old-time Christmas games are taken from May C Hofmann's Games for Everybody, which is probably seriously outdated but nevertheless of interest:
A novel amusement for children at Christmas time is to trim a Christmas tree when blindfolded. Stand a small tree at one end of the room, ready to be trimmed. Have all the ornaments on a table near at hand, ready to be put on the tree.
Blindfold the children one at a time, lead them to the table to take their pick. The first thing touched must be taken, and after turning the child around three times start him straight toward the tree.
When he reaches the tree, he must wire the ornament, or whatever he had, in place. Some older person can be ready to turn the tree around, as it will be trimmed only on one side, if not. The children can have as may turns as they wish until the tree is trimmed.
Suspend a large bunch of mistletoe from one of the chandeliers. The children, one at a time, stand under the mistletoe, and guess how many berries there are on it. The berries are counted when all have guessed. The one coming the nearest receives a prize.
While watching the Christmas tree, after the presents have been distributed, some one says, "I see something on the Christmas tree which commences with T. What is it?" Many guesses are given, the one who says "Tinsel," has guessed correctly, and it is his turn to give a guess, which may commence with P and C. Pop-corn is easily guessed, and so on, until everything has been guessed.
Suspend a large Christmas wreath in a doorway at a convenient height from the floor. Prepare in advance "snowballs," made of cotton batting covered with white tissue paper.
The players stand about eight feet from the wreath, and take turns, one at a time. Each is given three "snowballs," and the one who succeeds in throwing all three, one at a time, through the wreath, is given the prize.
To make it more exciting, sides may be chosen, and each one of the three snowballs numbered, one being 5, the other, 10, and the third, 20. If the ball numbered 5 goes through, it counts 5 for that player's side. If it does not go through, it is a loss, and so on. The side scoring the most points is victorious.
A small tree is placed on a table. The candles are lighted. Blindfold the players, one at a time, turn around three times, and allow each to take five steps toward the tree. Then he must blow as hard as he can, endeavoring to blow out all the lights, if possible. The one who succeeds in extinguishing the most receives a prize.
Another amusement is playing "The night before Christmas" like "Stagecoach." Give each child the name of some part of Santa Claus' outfit, the sleigh, the reindeer, etc. The hostess then reads the well-known story, "The Night Before Christmas." As she mentions the names, the players having them, rise, turn around, and sit down again. When she mentions Santa Claus, all change places, and she tries to secure a seat. The one left out continues the story, and so on, until completed.
A GAME WITHIN A GAME.
While the children are waiting on Christmas for their presents, or dinner, or whenever the time seems to drag, suggest that each one think up the best game he knows.
Give each child a pencil and a card on which the game and the name of the child who thought of it are written. Each one in turn tells his game and all the children play it. When all have had a turn, and each game has been played, the children look over their lists and choose the game they liked best. The originator of the most popular one receives a prize.
TOSS THE GOODIES.
The children form a square, each one holding the sides of an old tablecloth or piece of sheeting. In the center of this is placed a pile of nuts, candies, raisins, fruits, and all sorts of goodies. When a signal is given, the children all together toss the cloth up and down, singing:
"Toss the goodies up and down,
Up and down, up and down,
Toss the goodies up and down,
Goodies for you and me."
When the last line is sung, an extra large toss is made and thus all the goodies fly to all parts of the room. The children then all scramble around picking them up and having a jolly time.
A pretty idea for concealing Christmas presents for the children is to make a lot of snowballs out of white tissue paper and cotton batting, and concerting the gifts inside.
Pile all these snowballs under the tree, and when the time comes for distributing them, the mother, or some older person tosses them, one at a time, to the children, who are standing at distance eagerly waiting for them.
As the children catch them they step out of line to leave room for others until all have received one. Then all the balls are opened and the presents disclosed.
DECKING SANTA CLAUS.
Santa, who has been invited to the party, after being introduced to all the children, sits at the end of the room.
The children are blindfolded one at a time, and after being turned around three or four times, are told to walk up to him, and place on his head their own caps, which they had received in bonbons just before.
The child who succeeds in decking Santa Claus with his own cap may receive a little prize.
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