How to Throw a Georgian-Era Christmas Party
by Jessica Pan
Georgian era (1714–1830) English Christmas begins early. Inspired by Sarah Beeny’s A Very British Christmas program, this list will make sure your hair is properly coiffed, your guests are satiated and your knickers aren’t in a wad.
1. Procure a stately home. This one looks nice.
2. Employ at least 15 servants so everything runs smoothly.
3. Gift-giving officially began on December 6. Some good options: money, apples, eggs or a castrated cockerel.
4. Put the children to bed — they aren’t invited or even included in the festivities for a few more decades. This is good, as things will get a bit racy.
5. If your party falls on Christmas Eve, find a yule log, drag it home and burn it for 12 days. Don’t let a bare-footed woman or a flat-footed visitor near it, though. That’s bad luck.
6. Feasting takes place every day, so wear your most comfortable gown. Luckily, high waistlines with loose skirts are en vogue, so you won’t have to suck in at all. Some women choose to wear corsets in this era, but this is not advised as it will severely impair your figgy pudding consumption.
7. Don’t be afraid to bare your bosom. Hiking them up and showing them off is encouraged. But don’t bare so much bosom that you “excite much displeasure or disgust.”
8. Don long white gloves and a choker. Perfect accessories to your burgeoning bosom.
9. Wear a wig or pile your hair on top of your head as high as possible. If you have thin hair, use some horse hair to fluff it up.
10. Have your staff prepare up to 20 dishes.
11. Some of the dishes are disgusting. Don’t fret if you’ve chosen to wear the corset — you won’t want to eat them all.
12. For one delicacy, you must boil a pig’s head for 5–6 hours until the flesh is melted and then mold it into a fatty cake-y paste.
13. You’ll also need a cod’s head and asparagus soup.
14. Adjust the horse hair on your head.
15. Prepare mince pies with actual meat mixed with sweet fruit. Tell guests it’s the caviar of its day when they try to discreetly spit out the mutton.
16. The average Brit eats 27 mince pies each holiday season, so be sure to make enough for everyone to have 27ths.
17. Turkey isn’t very common yet, so serve a traditional Christmas pie with different types of poultry. Chicken, pheasants and pigeons are fashionable choices.
18. The punch bowl is known as a Wassail Bowl, filled with “the richest and raciest of wines.” Interpret that as you please.
19. For entertainment, play a game of snapdragon. Guests must try to pull raisins out of a flaming bowl of brandy. Be sure to have the ladies remove their gloves.
20. How’s that horse hair doing?
21. The Christmas pudding is a staple. It’s made of eggs, suet, plums, flour and breadcrumbs. Let it stand for 12 hours before boiling it for eight. Then boil it for two hours right before serving. Mmmm.
22. Hide a pea and a bean in the cake: whoever finds them in their slice is allowed to reign as King or Queen for the day, servants included. If only they played this in the Post-Edwardian era! Just imagine Mosley from Downton Abbey telling Lord Grantham to lick his boots, or Daisy ordering around Lady Grantham. Hilarious. More Wassail punch, please!
23. Don’t put up a tree. This is not a thing yet. What are you, German? No. You’re not. You’re an English lady in the Georgian era.
24. End the night with blind man’s bluff, which is blind-folded tag. Watch out for your bosoms, your tall hair, and the burning log. This could lead to a fatal disaster.
25. Kissing under the mistletoe is all the rage during this period, so expect to make out with a few Georgian gentlemen.
26. But that’s where this party ends. If you’re a single lady, then you’re a Georgian-era virgin. Have sex before marriage and you’ll be ostracized — the ultimate party killer.
25. Comfort yourself with more Wassail punch. Pat your towering hair and glance down at your elevated bosoms. Who needs men? Not you. You’re a Georgian lady. The kind who eats pig head pâté and has her own horse hair. A real lady.
27. Slide into bed. Take off the goddamn wig. Put on your skullcap to stay warm. Congratulate yourself on your epic Christmas party.
28. The next morning, nurse your hangover by sucking on a sugar cube with clove oil and chewing on a sprig of parsley. Feel better? Good, because the holiday party season lasts for a month. You have 26 more mince pies to eat.
Previously: A Day Among the Millinery at Royal Ascot
Jessica Pan is a lady who lives in 21st century London. She and her friend Rachel wrote an epistolary memoir about their post-college years living in Beijing and Paris. Graduates in Wonderland is available now for pre-order. It’s out in May 2014 (Gotham).