I love to play cards. I grew up in a card playing family with the most favorite game being Pinochle. Sadly, most people I know now don’t really know how to play cards at all. But some people I know now really like Jane Austen and the Regency. And what often gets mentioned in Austen’s books? The playing of cards and more specifically the playing of whist. In order to play more cards and also wear my gowns, I decided to have a whist party.
There are a few blogs that have covered Regency card parties. I found The Georgian Index especially helpful. As for how tos on rules and play, consult Hoyle! It also always seems like whist is either disreputable because of gambling or an activity that characters get stuck playing because of want of a fourth to complete the table. At my party we had both!
I decided to set up a small tournament with a $5 ante for each player. For this party I removed myself from eligibility to win as I was the host and the most experienced whist player. We played two games simultaneously and switched partners at the end of each game. The winner was determined by total points across all games. The pot was split between two guests who had the same total. My husband, who was actually supposed to be out of town for the party, was press ganged into playing and also taking all our group photos.
I served a fairly broad repast of food and drink that was regency appropriate. I had a cheese board of almost exclusively British cheeses, fruit, meats, olives and rustic petit fours. Wine, Pinor Noir Champagne, Tea and Port were served.
Over the course of the evening, I did the most to make things disreputable. I ended up breaking three champagne flutes over the course of the party. We also had puppy shenanigans as Mr. Ollivander had just joined us.
Once the guests were good and lubricated, we finished the evening by playing the no skill dice game bunco. While bunco is not of the era, it seems like something that they could have enjoyed. We again played with a $5 ante and winner take all.
Everyone seemed to really enjoy the party and those who were invited but unable to attend seemed quite remorseful about missing it. I’m absolutely on board to host again and this time, I’m playing to win!