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A party game of Auction

There are not many entertaining party games that are educational but a game of Auction will encourage simple arithmetic and money management for all and provide insights into the value of everyday and luxury items. Best of all this game costs almost nothing to prepare and it is a lot of fun to play.

This version of Auction also involves some strategy as individuals try to out bid or ‘bid up’ each other.

The game of Auction needs to be planned ahead of time so that items for the auction can be selected and their value recorded. No real items (or money) are used, but the organizer will need to research items, and their selling price, that have recently been sold. The best place to get such information is EBay, you can choose expensive cars, watches, fashion dresses etc. You can also choose unusual objects (for example art, or fossils) or objects which most people know, have value (such Gold, Silver or Jewelry). In addition you can auction off a house or other property that has recently been sold in your area or in New York or somewhere where the house prices are unbelievably high.

Having researched the list of objects to be auctioned the organizer makes a card for each item, which has the name of the object on it with a detailed description to help the participants guess its value. A list of the object and price it sold for is also made and kept by the host, separately.

The party guests are then allocated an amount of money (each guest starts with the same amount of money). There is no need to give out ‘fake’ money (unless you prefer) as the participants can keep a running balance of their ‘cash’ by subtracting the amount they paid for an item. The idea is that at the end of the auction the person with the highest “net worth”  (that is item values plus money unspent) is the winner. In some cases, spending nothing and keeping the original amount might be good enough to win.  If you are auctioning off high value items you might need to start each player with a balance of $20 Million or so, to be able to cover the high end items. If you prefer (for younger guests) you might just auction off less expensive items like kids toys etc. and start each player with a balance of $500 or less.

The items are then auctioned off as with a real auction. There are no reserve prices as the idea is to ‘sell’ everything and the Auctioneer needs to get into the part to try and sell the items for the highest possible amount, although the Auctioneer should never reveal the items true worth. In order to get the bids started in the right ‘ballpark” a low‘ estimate’ can be given, i.e. this item is worth at least $10,000 so the bidding can start in a realistic range.

The party guests need to get a list of all items that are being auctioned off (with the low estimates also listed against each item) so that the auction bidders can plan their spending and strategy. A simple auction catalog (single page that list the items and low estimates) can be given out to each guest just before the auction starts. 

When an item has been purchased the item card and price paid are given to the highest bidder (the real value of the item is not disclosed until the end of the auction). It is up to the players bidding to know how much money they have left (by keeping a balance) and bid accordingly. If a player spends more money than they have, then their last item purchased is re-auctioned. For younger guests it is advisable to have an older person assisting with the arithmetic.

At the end of the auction, the value of the items is revealed and each person can then calculate what “net worth” they have in items and cash. The person with the highest net worth is declared the winner.


The Frog Prince Games – Part 1

The idea of a frog turning into a Prince (or King) is one of the classic fairy tales and first appeared in Grimm’s fairy tales in the early 1800′s. This classic tale is sometimes referred to as The Frog King or Iron Henry but whatever the name this story makes an ideal theme for a princess party.

As with the other princess story themed parties the story can be told either at the beginning of the party or told in sections as the accompanying games are being played out.

The only difference between the story and the games that can be incorporated into the frog prince themed party is that the princesses (party guests) all play and eat together and each will take turns of playing the role of the main princess or frog as needed.

Game 1 Balloon (Ball) tossing game.

This game recreates the scene in the story where the princess loses her golden ball in the pond. The game is simple and the guests should form a circle and in the middle of the circle is a blanket or another marked out area, which represents the ‘pond’. The party guests then hit a balloon to each other being careful not to let the balloon touch the area in the circle (pond). The game can be played with variations, for example the guests hold hands in pairs or stand on one leg. There could also be a limit of three strikes (or three times the balloon touches the ‘pond’ area) before the balloon (ball) is ‘lost’.

The balloon itself should ideally be golden (or silver) as it represents the princess’s prized ball. If you buy a special balloon for this then you will need 3 or 4 since your princesses will surly burst a few.

After some time the hostess can declare to the party guests that the ball (balloon) has been lost down the pond.

Game 2 – Fishing game.

After the ball has been lost the princesses can try to retrieve it using a variation of a popular fishing magnet game. This type of game has been popular for over a hundred years and is a great fit for the Frog Prince party theme.

The hostess will need to provide a very large cardboard box, the bigger the better. In addition one fishing pole (which consists of a cane, string and U shaped magnet) should be constructed. I would recommend only using one ‘fishing’ pole for the whole party so the hostess can control the stick waving which will happen if the multiple poles are distributed to the princesses.

In the ‘pond’ (large cardboard box) there should be images of various objects such as old boots, actual fish and any other items you can think of. These objects should be made of thin card (possibly printed from images on the internet or handmade and colored) and should have paper clips attached so that they are attracted to the magnetic fishing pole. You should experiment with the weights of the objects and the placement and size of paper clips so that an object can be easily retrieved.

The hostess should be the only person that can ‘see’ into the ‘pond’ and should assist in guiding the princesses to fish out the objects. The guests form a line and each have a couple of attempts trying to retrieve the golden ball. The golden ball image can be placed into the ‘pond’ so that all see it going in but it should not have any ‘paper clips’ or metal attached so that it remains in the pond!!

After the princesses have unsuccessfully tried to retrieve the golden ball from the pond, the story moves on to the Frog’s assistance in retrieving the ball in exchange for a friendly visit. There are suitable games and activities for the rest of the story, which are covered in part 2 of this princess party theme.


Victorian parlor game of Slander

Yes the Victorians enjoyed parlor games that provoked conversation (to say the least), although good etiquette and manners dictated that one should never embarrass or make any guest feel uncomfortable. All that said, this parlor game of Slander should entertain young ladies of today in the same way it entertained young ladies of the late 19th Century.

The game is extremely easy to play and involves one of the party guests going out of the room whilst the others write down ‘remarks’ about the absent person. These remarks are written separately on a piece of paper and placed in a hat, or similar bowl shaped object. When the absent guest returns a piece of paper is drawn and read out aloud. The person to whom the remark was anonymously made then has to guess which one of the other party guests made the remark. If the guess is incorrect then another remark is drawn and another guess is tried. If the guess is correct then the person who wrote the remark leaves the room and the game continues with remarks being made about the new absent guest. If the guest fails to guess who made the remarks after three attempts then she leaves the room for a second time and the game repeats itself with new remarks. After a second round of guessing if the guest cannot correctly identify who made the remarks then another person takes her place.

The type of remarks made should be in a good spirit but the more intimate knowledge the guests have each other the more precise the remarks can be. Examples of the Slanderous remarks taken for the original description of the game are, “this person is a gossip”, “this person slurps her tea” etc. Some modern examples of suitable remarks would be “this person fell asleep at the cinema”, “this person snores” etc, basically remarks that are not “too” personal but are made from actual observations.

It is clear that, as with a number of Victorian parlor games, there is an element of mischief that the young girls should address with the right party spirit. In fact most, if not all, Victorian parlor games relied on the willingness of all guests to become engaged and participate fully in the spirit of these games. The expression “making our own amusement” really meant something when it pre-dated Radio, TV and the Cinema.

This parlor game will make a great accompaniment to a vintage Victorian tea party, in particular for girls that know each other “really well”.