Shoe the Wild Mare - Strange Christmas Games

Shoeing the Wild Mare is a traditional Christmas game that goes back to at least the early 17th century.
Get a narrow(a few inches wide),strong wooden beam and suspend it from the roof with two even length ropes. The beam is the 'mare' of the title and should be level yet high enough above the floor so that a player's feet are off-ground. A player 'the farrier' then sits on the 'mare' in the centre, a leg either side. This player has a hammer and has to give the underside of the beam "four time eight blows" at a designated spot. If he falls off, it is someone else's turn.
Much hilarity, and the odd broken shoulder ensues.

nursery rhyme:
Shoe the colt,
Shoe the colt,
Shoe the wild mare;
Here a nail,
There a nail,
Yet she goes bare.

weird web: wiltshire white horses
strange games no:89...category: party games

Snapdragons - strange games with fire #1

As Christmas Eve approaches the nation tries to decide which family game to play. Should it be a classic board game, a cosy parlour game or maybe even a DVD quiz game. No, please don't make those mistakes...there is only one game for Christmas Eve: Snapdragons.
Very popular from the 16th to the 19th centuries, Snapdragons (or Flapdragons) has explicably declined in popularity.
Gather everyone around the dining room table, place a large flat dish in the centre. In the dish scatter a good handful of raisins then pour on top a layer of brandy or cognac. Set fire to the brandy and dim the lights. Players take it in turns to pluck a raisin out of the burning liquid and eat it quickly down. For a more competitive edge to the game use larger dried fruit such as apricots, one of which has a lucky sixpence stuffed inside.
Equipment needed: plate, matches, raisins, brandy, address of nearest accident and emergency department

Snapdragons, famously, makes an appearance in Lewis Carroll's Through The Looking Glass:

"Look on the branch above your head", said the Gnat, "and there you will find a Snap-dragon-fly. Its body is made of plum pudding, its wings of holly leaves, and its head is a raisin burning in brandy."
Alice thought to herself, "I wonder if that's the reason insects are so fond of flying into candles - because they want to turn into Snap-dragon-flies."

strange games no:88..category: Christmas games
Strange Games the Videos: Snapdragons

Blood Potato

Combine 'blindman's buff' with 'murder in the dark' and you get Blood Potato - a superb party game similar in form to Mouchard (Strange Games no.46). It's rare at parties but reasonably common at drama schools - presumably for all those budding Bela Lugosis.
All players are blindfolded and one player is given the role of murderer (without anyone else knowing). Players then move around the room. If two meet then they must say the word 'potato' to each other, however if the murderer meets someone he must say the word 'blood' to them upon which they scream dramatically, die and remove themselves from the game by standing at the edge of the room. The game continues, with the body count increasing and fear rising until no 'potatoes' are left. The game is improved if eliminated players encourage and shout directions to the remaining ones.

weird web 1: potato fan club (don't miss the spud version of pong)
weird web 2: potato search engine - for all your Solanum searches
strange games no:87...category: party games

Strange Games with Bubblewrap #1 - Thieves Variation

I wrote about the blindfolded party game Thieves in Strange Games no.41 in which partygoers have to steal the blindman's treasure without being struck with his rolled up newspaper. This brilliant variation builds excitement levels even higher.
Position the blindman on a swivel chair and place his treasure (a set of handbells for example) at his feet. Arm him with a water pistol. Then, cover the floor surrounding his chair with layers of bubblewrap. The idea, as before, is for players to approach the blindman and steal one of his bells but this time without getting squirted with water. The game works best if only one player at a time is allowed to make an attempt at theft.
If the blindman scores a hit on a player, then that person must return to his position on the edge of the circle. If he is hit twice then he becomes the next blindman. The game finishes once all the treasure has been stolen.

weird web: virtual bubblewrap popper - plus description of techniques
strange games no 86...category:party games

Toilet Tag / Stuck in the Toilet

Strange Games is indebted to Bertie Windcheater (an English reader) who informed me of this fantastic contemporary stuck-in-the-mud tag variation - one which I think should immediately be positioned at number 1 (or should that be number 2's) on the recent
Top Tag Variations post.
Simply, a tagger is designated and all other players must run away to avoid being tagged. If a player is tagged then they must adopt a toilet position by crouching down with knees fully bent and one arm held straight out to the side (the flush handle!). Free players can then release this player by approaching them and pressing down on the 'lever' and 'flushing the toilet', however if they are tagged then they become a toilet too. If any player has 'been to the toilet' three times then it is their turn to be the tagger.
Thank you Bertie.

weird web: toilet seat art museum
strange games no:85...category: party games

General Post

Another ancient game that I remember playing at one of Herbert Rowsell's now legendary parties is General Post. At first sight this fabulous game appears to be just a blend of Blindman's Buff and Musical Chairs but it is vastly superior to both and is long overdue a renaissance.
Line up two rows of chairs facing each other (other chair formations can be tried). Each player is allocated a town which he must memorise because he will 'be' that town for the remainder of the game. Players then choose a chair to sit down upon, except for one who is blindfolded and stands between the rows of chairs.
A further player is picked to be the Postmaster General. The Postmaster General's job is as follows: he calls out the names of two of the sedentary towns, "I want to post a letter to Crewe and Scunthorpe". Upon which command each of those two towns must stand up, clap their hands, and change seats as quickly as possible. If the blindman catches one of them then places are changed, else the game continues. Occasionally, especially if the blindman is struggling, the Postmaster General can shout, "General Post" and all towns must stand up, clap hands, and find a new chair...almost as chaotic as the real postal system but lots more fun.

weird web: photos of American Post Offices (4000+ to view)
strange games no:84...category: party games

Roadside Whist

Roadside spotting games still retain some popularity for children on long journeys. Games such as 'counting the number of legs and arms in Pub names' or 'decoding car registration plates'. However Roadside Whist surely deserves a comeback - especially if you follow these original instructions from 1900.
One person takes the left side of the carriage, the other player the right. The coachman teaches both players the rules and the journey commences.
If you see:
A baby in arms you score 1
A baby in a perambulator scores 3
A white horse scores 5
A ladder against a house scores 2
A woman in a white apron scores 1
A butcher's cart scores 1
A postman scores 5

Then there are things for which points are deducted if they appear on your side and it is the job of your opponent to make sure they are counted.

If you see:
A pug dog you lose 2
A piebald horse loses 4
An open gate loses 2
A flock of sheep loses 3
A soldier loses 10

And the best rule of all, no matter what the score, whichever side sees a cat on a window ledge wins the game.
Now is the time to throw away your headrest embedded DVD players and get the kids playing Roadside Whist.

weird web: virtual pram museum
strange games no: 83...category: travel games. strange and stupid games

Rats and Rabbits

In my youth, no party was complete without the squeals of delight and panic that occurred whenever Rats and Rabbits was played.
Split the partygoers into two groups. Line them up standing back to back in the middle of a large room and designate one team Rats and the other Rabbits. A non-playing shouter then shouts out either "Rabbits" or " Rats". If Rats is shouted then the Rats must run to their end of the room as quickly as possible whilst the Rabbits must turn tail and chase them. Any Rat caught before reaching the sanctuary of the wall changes teams and becomes a Rabbit. If "Rabbits" is shouted out then obviously all play is reversed. The game continues with the shouter calling out randomly until everyone is either exhausted or totally confused, or there is no player left on one of the teams.

weird web: games to play with your pet rat!
strange games no:82..category: party games