December is all about the holidays. One of my favourite Christmas stories is Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. I’ve already watched the Disney animated adaptation twice, and plan on watching it many more times before the holidays are over. It’s inspired in me visions of the perfect Victorian Christmas tree. So for Dickens aficionados like me, today’s Book Love post is all about how to throw the perfect A Christmas Carol theme party, from the cutlery to the music, all the while hoping that the ghost of Jacob Marley doesn’t decide to crash-land in your dinner table.
A Christmas Carol takes place in the Victorian time period, well before electric lighting. If you want your party to have the right mood, tone down the lighting with some romantic, non-scented candles (scented candles can be too overwhelming for some guests). These will really take you back in time and give the party a cozy feel.
2. Decorate your tree accordingly.
Back in the day, they didn’t have electric lights to string about their trees. They also didn’t have plastic figurines boasting #1 DAD hanging from their Christmas tree branches, either. For your party, put away the corny ornaments and go for a natural, simplistic look. Wooden or glass ornaments (or ones that look like them), ribbons, a string of popcorn, and pinecones are what you’ll want for this special night.
3. Centrepieces and other décor.
I love stuffing hurricane vases, and you can absolutely do that for this party, but if you want to really replicate the period, perhaps consider filling a bowl or wicker basket with oranges. Oranges were very popular during this period to give out at Christmas. If you want to tone down the orange scent, consider making packets of ginger, cinnamon, and allspice to set amongst the oranges in order to fill the air with holiday scents.
I would recommend finding a friend who can play the piano (or, even better, the harpsichord), but if your friends lack skills you can always find a CD or iTunes station that plays classic, instrumental Christmas carols. You’ll want to stick with the classics—it’s doubtful that Scrooge would be caught jamming to Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas.” To really get a feel for the times, consider gathering your guests in the living room after dinner for a round of caroling.
5. Cutlery and dishware.
A Christmas Carol takes place in the Victorian period. If you can find Victorian-style cutlery and dishware, that’s great, but your best bet is finding cutlery with rounded handles, usually carved, and simple china dishes. A little gold embellishment wouldn’t hurt, either.
Turkeys were expensive back then, and if you relate more to Tim Cratchit than Ebenezer Scrooge, perhaps mixing things up a little by buying a Christmas goose. Try avoiding chocolate for desert and have a guest bring a fruitcake. Remember to give out oranges to the children, and roasting chestnuts or popcorn over the fire can be a fun and social activity.
I hope these tips have given you all some inspiration for your A Christmas Carol themed party. I want to emphasize lighting and scent as the main aspects that will really transport you and your guests back in time. A few other holiday tips: put a cap of vanilla extract in the oven at 350 degrees F for a few minutes to make your house smell like baked goods; if you don’t have a real tree, consider buying a candle or spray that smells like pine; avoid using the television for entertainment—break out a pack of cards or play some charades to get the party going instead.
Feel free to share your own tips and suggestions in the comments below.
-Ember Book Reviews