Paying Forfeits in Old-Fashioned Themed Parties


When I hosted an old-fashioned theme party for a few friends during the Christmas season, I chose not to use forfeits because there were so many other things to plan and organize. Paying game forfeits apparently added to the evening’s fun in days gone by, especially for young people.

Guests earned forfeits during games. When a player would leave the game for incorrect responses or for not following the rules, they earned forfeits a century ago.

After the games were finished, “Crying the Forfeits” concluded the evening. Paying penalties for mistakes was both anticipated and dreaded because the crowd decided the forfeit for each individual.

The Director doesn’t earn forfeits so he or she usually takes charge of this, but it may also be run by a participant who doesn’t earn any forfeits.

All who must pay forfeits hide their eyes. The Director holds a piece of paper over each person’s head as the crowd decides the penalty without revealing the person’s name. The Director may ask, “Here’s a lovely thing; what’s to be done with this lovely thing?” to reveal that it is a woman receiving this particular penalty. Perhaps the Director asked about a muscular arm to reveal the player was a man.

When everyone’s forfeit had been decided, players open their eyes and learn their penalty. Each takes turns paying their forfeit.

Read next week’s post to learn some of the forfeits paid. For other old-fashioned party ideas, read  Evening Amusements for Old Fashioned Themed Parties – Part 1 for food ideas. Part 2 explains the Game of Concert. Part 3 shows two games that allow guests to show their creativity. Read Part 4 to find how to play a fun game called “Tip It” or “Hands” that moves quickly.

-Sandra Merville Hart


Planche, Frederick D’Arros. Evening amusements for every one; a collection of mirthful games, parlour pastimes, shadow plays, magic, conjuring, card tricks, chemical surprises, fireworks, forfeits, &c., illus. by George Cruikshank and others, Porter and Coates, ca 1880.


One thought on “Paying Forfeits in Old-Fashioned Themed Parties

  1. Pingback: Examples of Forfeits Paid in Old-Fashioned Themed Parties | Sandra Merville Hart

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