How to Give a Children’s Party: Christmas According to the Victorians

How to Give a Children's Party: Christmas According to the Victorians

I have been reading a book entitled Christmas Past: A Selection from Victorian Magazines compiled by Dulcie M. Ashdown. The Victorians created Christmas as we know the holiday today. From the Christmas trees to the food on the Christmas table, the Victorian celebration of the holiday is the idealized notion of Christmas that so many of us still nostalgically long for today.

One selection that caught my fancy is “How to Give a Children’s Party” written by Phillis Browne in Cassell’s Family Magazine. The piece offers advice on throwing a Christmas party for children such as when to host the party, how to entertain the children, and decorations for the event.

As I was reading “How to Give a Children’s Party,” an interesting thought crossed my mind: Victorian magazines were the original mommy blogs. I can image Phillis Browne writing a similar post for her blog nowadays. The format may be different (print magazine versus digital blog), but the intent is similar.

I am sharing the full piece with my readers who might also be interested in how the Victorians gave Christmas parties for children. Here I also am sharing some of my favorite bits of advice that are still applicable today:

“What can be more ridiculous than to collect together a crowd of children, of all ages and dispositions, to exchange for five or six hours…their simple food for indigestible pastry and sickly, unwholesome sweets…” In other words, although Christmas is a time for treats, serve children food that children like and can eat. This advice holds true today. Skip the fancy adult foods and just serve simple treats that kids like.

“For one thing, it is very important not to invite a larger number of children than the size of the rooms will comfortable accommodate.” Another gem that holds true today: Do not invite more children than you and your home can handle.

“It is a great mistake, too, to ask a number of very young children to parties. After sunset the little ones are best in bed.” Young children get tired and cranky at a fairly early hour, so skip inviting each and every infant, toddler, and preschooler you know. Parties are best enjoyed by older children. Do not feel like you are leaving anyone out. This is another piece of great advice. However, I would also like to add that, if a parent does have to bring a younger sibling, make sure you have a quiet room available where that little one can lay down and nap.

“Nevertheless the custom, which is unfortunately too common, of keeping up children’s parties until a late hour cannot be sufficiently deprecated.” Again, children get tired at an early hour than adults. Holiday parties for children are therefore best kept to the afternoon or early evening hours. There is absolutely no need for children to be partying into all hours of the night!

Although many of the customs have changed between now and the Victorian era, many of the pieces of advice that Phillis Browne offers in “How to Give a Children’s Party” still hold true today. If you are planning a party for or with children, I highly suggest you give this little article a read.

How to Give a Children's Party 1 How to Give a Children's Party 2

Image Credits

How to Give a Children’s Party: Christmas According to the Victorians: (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)
How to Give a Children’s Party 1 © 2011 The Parenting Patch
How to Give a Children’s Party 2 © 2011 The Parenting Patch

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