Children’s Easter Parties In The Edwardian Era

Edwardian Children's Easter Party
‘Along the banks of the stream are hidden Easter fish, or “poissons d’avril,” filled with chocolates’ (Every Woman’s Encyclopaedia, 1910-2)

‘Easter week would, indeed, be a dull commonplace seven days without the advent of at least one party, where appropriate merry-making holds sway. It is a delightful time, too, for the younger generation to entertain their little friends, for there are social obligations in their world as well as in ours, and no one more clearly understands this than the children themselves. […]

INVITATIONS FOR JUVENILE PARTIES

Eighteen little invitations slipped through the mail last week that will surely bring happiness to the recipients. These were egg-shaped affairs of water colored paper, colored realistically. The egg was double, the sides opening and displaying the written invitation in gilt letters. A garland of forget-me-nots encircled the invitations. When closed they formed a complete circle. […]

One of the cleverest ideas, but incurring some expense, was the original idea of a bright woman. She purchased twelve little softly coated rabbits with pink eyes and tied a blue bow around those presented to the girls and pink ribbon for the boys. An invitation was attached to each little animal. And as these wee fellows were very much alive, they were personally conducted to the home of the recipient, to their overwhelming delight.

Edwardian Easter Invitations - Easter Party
Edwardian Easter Invitations (Los Angeles Herald, 1906)

UNIQUE TABLE DECORATIONS

Every trick and surprise of the table decoration is appreciated by children who possess special aptitude for absorbing every tiny detail; nothing seems to escape their scrutinizing attention. A comparitively inexpensive idea is to place a table mirror, the larger the better, in the centre of the table and fringe it with greens. Water-cress makes an attractive border; so does smilax and asparagus or maiden-hair fern.

At intervals station miniature artificial trees. In the centre place little goslings, setting several among the greens. Fill a toy boat with wee chickens, out of consideration of their non-aquatic abilities. The chickens and goslings may be purchased for three and five cents apiece, and are most lifelike creatures, but why shouldn’t they be when they were incubator chicks?

More realistic, of course, would be a wide, low dish, filled with water, having fuzzy yellow creatures floating upon the surface. Daffodils, crocuses or jonquils laid at intervals among the green would add a picturesque touch. A sketch of this idea is given among the illustrations.

Another pictorial suggestion is a toy automobile of straw, having two Jack rabbits, one as chauffeur and the other as footman, each one bearing yellow ribbon streamers that extend to each cover. This should be placed upon a bed of green and brilliant flowers.

Edwardian Easter Table Decorations
Edwardian Easter Table Decorations (Los Angeles Herald, 1906)

CREPE PAPER EMBELLISHMENTS

Yellow paper placed under doilies that repose upon a mahogany table are very effective. The edges are ruffled by pulling them straight. All the dishes, including the centrepiece, should be treated in the same manner. Two scarfs, running both ways of the table, also mounted on yellow paper, impart a festive air. For the centrepiece place a large Jack Homer pie of yellow crepe paper, the top being decorated with chickens, the largest in the centre on top, and to which is fastened the ribbon streamers.

Another idea is a little Irish jaunting car of wicker, laden with wee chickens arid surrounded by small flowers and drawn by a high and mighty King Chanticleer. The jaunting car may contain favors for each guest. A little papier mache rabbit in white or brown in a characteristic attitude makes an attractive favor, and may serve as a place card as well, with the bit of pasteboard attached to its neck.

IN THE WAY OF AMUSEMENT

Two diversions offered to a party of youngsters last year proved be successful that they bear repetition. One was played much in the same fashion as the old donkey game. On a large piece of black or white muslin is drawn or painted a mother hen on her nest. Oil or crayons may be used and the hen should at least be of natural size. Each child is given a little toy chicken, to which is fastened a hook or bent pin, the idea being that they should endeavor to place them upon the nest or at least three inches from it. Chickens were pinned at all sorts of impossible angles; one on top of her head, another on her back; some were suspended in mid-air; others were attached to the corner of the cloth: This simple diversion afforded the children all sorts of merriment.

Another game that proved very attractive to youthful minds was an egg-rolling contest. Long strips of tissue paper four inches wide were stretched the length of the room. The children, one by one, were armed with large wooden spoons, such as are used for preserving. These were used to coax the eggs along, but when once the egg rolled off the paper they quit the contest.

Prizes were awarded for both amusements. The first being a large Jack rabbit, carrying a little nest filled with sweetmeats in egg form. Another was a large paper egg, containing a French doll in a pretty dress – the other portion containing a hat, wrap and parasol.’ (Los Angeles Herald, 1906)

-> More Victorian & Edwardian Games

Edwardian Easter Party Games
Edwardian Easter Party Games (Los Angeles Herald, 1906)

AN EASTER EGG HUNT

‘An Easter-egg hunt is one of the most popular ways of entertaining children during the Easter holidays. Given a fine, sunshiny spring day, nothing could more delight children than the merry hunt round the flower-beds, under the shrubbery, amongst the nooks and corners of the kitchen garden, and along the banks of any gold-fish pond or tiny ornamental stream, where the realistic-looking Easter fish, whose in-sides are filled with chocolates – “poissons d’avril,” as they are called in France – are hidden.

Any number of boys and girls, ranging in age from four or five up to ten or eleven, may be invited, and should be asked to arrive at three, clad in their oldest clothes, warm coats and jerseys, and the thickest of boots, with goloshes for the little ones; for much of the fun consists in being able to scramble about on the grass and in and out of bushes, with some stiff tree-climbing for the bigger boys.

EASTER EGG AND RIBBON GAME

Dozens of yards of the cheapest narrow coloured ribbons, or balls of coloured twine or lengths of tape, if preferred, will be needed for the Easter Egg and Ribbon Game; also as many small highly coloured cardboard eggs – which open in half, and can be filled with a few bonbons or chocolates, and cost from 4 1/2d. each – as there are to be children present. A few larger eggs, containing a set of three little downy yellow chicks, or some other funny Easter toy, costing from 6d. to 8d. each, should also be hung in easily accessible places for the tiny tots of the party.

A dozen or two of penny or twopenny chocolate eggs, wrapped in silver paper, should be scattered on the ground in the shrubbery or amongst the rhododendrons. Some fluffy Easter rabbits that sit up and hold in their paws a pretty sugar egg can be dotted about in grassy corners to look as though they had just popped out of their burrows to bring up their Easter offerings. They cost very little, and will delight the smaller children.

Glittering cardboard poissons d’avril, filled with sweets, may be obtained for the bigger boys and girls; and last, but not least, a bundle of hay and moss, and several dozen small speckled sugar eggs, which may be bought cheaply by the pound at any good sweet shop.

Edwardian Easter Egg Hunt
‘Each child is given a length of coloured ribbon, affixed to a small tree as a starting-point, and directed to follow this ribbon clue wherever it may lead’ (Every Woman’s Encyclopaedia, 1910-2)

HIDING THE EGGS

The prettiest and most realistic-looking birds’ nests imaginable can be contrived in a few minutes from a wisp of hay with a little moss inside it. When from three to eight sugar eggs have been arranged in each nest, they should be perched on any convenient nesting-place amongst the bushes at about the height of a child’s head above the ground on the morning of the hunt.

One or two of such nests may be half hidden high up amongst the creepers on the sides of the house, being so arranged that the contents of the nest will show from below. Others may be fixed against the standard rose-trees, or amongst the leaves of any big trees growing in tubs in front of the house.

A small bow-bedecked tree in the middle of the little plantation at one end of the garden is, as a rule, the starting-point for the afternoon’s fun. From this tree run lengths of coloured ribbon, twine, or tape in all directions, like the points of a compass, carried in and out between bushes and round trees until they are lost to sight.

HOW TO START THE HUNT

When everyone has arrived, the little guests are drawn up in line in front of the house. Each is directed to draw out a coloured bow from one of the two small boxes provided, one being for the boys, the other for the girls. These having been pinned on, the children are at liberty to run to the decorated tree, where each one, having untied the end of whichever ribbon, string, or tape matches his or her bow, is directed to wind it up carefully, and follow it wherever it may lead.

The reason for the boys and girls having drawn bows from different boxes becomes apparent as the game goes on, for while the little girls are, before long, merrily untying gaily decorated Easter eggs from the ends of their ribbons that have been hung up in small bushes and shrubs, or from along the verandah rails, the boys have a very different task allotted to them. Their ribbons lead them a chase over all sorts of difficult climbing places, and are sometimes wound high up round a wide-spreading tree, to end half-way down a thick branch, from which dangles a big red or blue egg full of delicious sweetmeats, but high overhead.

To scale the tree is obviously the one thing to be done, and after much climbing and scrambling – amidst applause or jeers from the little girls, according to the skill of the performers – the coveted trophies are at last secured, and placed in a safe place by their young owners before starting off for the next egg-hunting expedition.

Victorian Children's Easter Parties Games
‘The boys’ trails lead them a chase over many obstacles and often necessitate a difficult climb before the prize is captured’ (Every Woman’s Encyclopaedia, 1910-2)

THE END OF THE CHASE

A hint will probably be whispered now by the hostess to the children that something glittering like silver has been seen underneath the rhododendrons. In a moment the whole party are off at a run, diving underneath the bushes; and much laughter is heard and a wild waving of bushes is seen as the children hunt amongst the roots for the glittering silver eggs which shimmer in the twilight obscurity that reigns beneath the thick canopy of leaves.

Only take one each, but help the little ones to find theirs, if you will, are the directions of the hostess. And now a very dishevelled party of young folk merrily emerge, each one bringing out in triumph a silver egg.

EASTER TEA

When eggs, nests, fish, and rabbits have all been discovered, it will be high time to come in and get ready for tea; and as five o’clock strikes a party of merry, laughing children come trooping downstairs and file into the dining-room. There, besides bread-and-butter, buns, and chocolate cake, a delightful Easter surprise awaits each one in the shape of a poached egg, whose yolk is made from half an apricot, placed cut edge downwards on half a sponge cake, and surrounded with a circle of whipped cream to represent the white.

These, needless to say, are hailed with much delight, and give a finishing Easter-egg touch to the party.

HEN AND CHICKENS GAME

After tea, as there will be half an hour or so to spare before the children have to go home, it will be as well to start a game, such as Hen and Chickens, in the nursery or schoolroom. A big sitting hen, with outspread wings, should be cut from a sheet of brown paper and pasted on a big sheet of card-board – the lid of a dress-box answers the purpose – and hung up at one end of the room; or it can be drawn with white chalk on the blackboard, if there is one.

To begin the game, each child is given a wee chicken, cut from brown paper, and a drawing-pin, and, after having been blindfolded, is directed to cross the room and pin the chick under the mother hen’s wings. Some of the chicks find themselves in very queer acrobatic positions indeed – standing on their heads upon their mother’s beak, for instance.

A small prize may be given to the player who succeeds in placing his or her chick in the best and most useful position for enjoying maternal protection.

ANOTHER EASTER GAME

Hide the Egg is another good Easter game played in exactly the same way as Hide the Thimble.

A small silver or coloured cardboard egg is hidden by one member of the party in a spot where it can be seen without moving anything, while the others remain outside the room. At a signal they all return, and any player catching sight of the egg must at once sit down without revealing its hiding-place to the others. When everyone has seen it, and has sat down, the player who fit covered the egg remains in to hide it again, while the rest go outside to await the hider’s signal as before.

Edwardian Easter Party Games
‘The end of a little girl’s ribbon trail, the egg in sight’ (Every Woman’s Encyclopaedia, 1910-2)

INDOOR EASTER EGG HUNT

Should the day for the Easter-egg hunt turn out wet, the eggs may be hidden about the house. The ribbons – with eggs to be discovered at the farther end of each one – may be wound in and out of the banisters, and up and down stairs, round table-legs, and on to the top of bookcases, or even picture-frames.

The chocolate silver-covered eggs may be strewn under the dining-room table and behind the hanging curtains. The fish will, of course, be discovered in the bath-room, and the nests must be built in such places as china vases, ornamental teapots, in the letter-box, in the corner of a high bookshelf – in fact, in every unlikely place where their presence only to be discovered by sharp eyes noting a peep of moss and hay. […]

EGG ROLLING

Then, too, if the weather permits, and there is a grassy slope near at hand, the old North Country pastime of egg-rolling may be indulged in, and will cause uproarious amusement. The aim of each roller is to secure the safe transit of his egg from the top to the bottom of the little hill – a feat that is not so easy as it seems, for collisions, intentional and otherwise, are frequent. A prize should reward the winner, and there need be no limit to the number of entries.’ (Every Woman’s Encyclopaedia, 1910-2)

8 thoughts on “Children’s Easter Parties In The Edwardian Era

  1. Great post… ..
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