A Dickens-Era Christmas: Entertaining With Victorian Flair
Whether you are spending the Christmas holiday at home or in a luxury rental property, choosing a theme for your gathering is a great way to set the tone for your guests. In the UK, a Dickensian Christmas theme is a very popular Christmas party theme, and for good reason. The legendary writer Charles Dickens is a historical giant in the literature of the Victorian Period, a theme that lends itself wonderfully to any Christmas gathering; the richness of Dickens’ writing is reflective of the rich, picturesque décor and cuisine of the Victorian era. Choosing to add a Dickensian theme to your Christmas gathering is a great way to not only honour the memory of this important British author, it is also a sure-fire way to really wow your guests.
Although it would be impractical, if not downright unsafe to try to reproduce every aspect of the Victorian home at Christmas (no candles on the Christmas tree please), the following decorating tips will help to create your space into something Dickens himself would have revelled in.
If you are confident that your quests would be comfortable doing so, you might suggest that everyone arrive at the gathering in period dress. However, there is added expenditure involved for your guests if you choose to take this route, and many people are turned-off or intimidated at the prospect of fancy dress, so proceed only if you are absolutely sure that every one of your guests is up for it.
There is nothing as strong as the sense of smell to really set a stage. In trying to achieve this traditional English Christmas aura, dispense with the store-bought tinsel and try to use real garland to decorate you rooms. Instead of adding mass-marketed ornaments to complete the look, instead opt for artefacts that would have been found in Victorian homes: gingerbread, fruits, nuts, paper chains, and brass horns are all very authentic representations of Victorian ornamentation, and are fairly easy to find.
Candles were the Christmas lights of the day, but again, here you are going to want to exercise caution. There are plenty of electric candles that appear quite realistic. For the table, real candles placed in the centre of a small wreath of garland is elegant, austere, and very authentic, just make sure you keep an eye on them!
When considering drinks, a simmering pot of mulled wine will add depth to the notes of Christmas garland already floating about the house, and a traditional eggnog (don’t skimp on the brandy!) is the perfect period-appropriate holiday drink. Make sure to make your own. The store-bought versions of eggnog with their chemical ingredients are quite far removed from the more authentic versions that were originally served. A simple internet search will reveal a host of recipes at your fingertips. Other drinks of the period include dark beer, brandy (neat) and port. Other traditional recipes include roasted goose, clear turtle soup, ham, oysters, boar’s head, Yorkshire pudding, cranberry pie, mincemeat, and plum pudding.
Once you have set the stage and decided upon your menu, the rest should be easy. Sit back, and enjoy each other’s company!