The tea lighter side


The tea lighter side

Recently, in the blog Joseph Nebus’s Sense of Humor, the redoubtable (from the French redoubtable, “able to be doubted more than once”) Joseph Nebus expressed curiosity about how tea lights could be used as toys.

This concept got stuck in my head like an intellectual earworm (one of those songs you can’t get out of your head).

So I searched Far and Wide (Disclaimer: Mostly Wide. It takes too long to get to Far, especially with rush hour traffic.) until I found a battered, dusty copy of the game Tea Lights from back in the Good Old Days (later than “Yore”, but before “When I Was Your Age”). The instructions are reprinted below, with grateful acknowledgement to the game’s inventors, poet John Milton and Gen. Omar Bradley.

Tea Lights
A Game for 2 to 4000 Players of All Ages (except 31-year olds)


  • 4000 or more tea lights (sold separately)
  • Fire (the good kind, not the kind that scares monsters into rampaging) (not included)
  • Challenge Cards (number not specified: some cards may be pre-lost before opening)


Order of play is determined by a show of hands.  Each player is given hundreds of tea lights and some fire.  Each player selects a Challenge Card* and, using his/her tea lights and fire, must complete the challenge.

* The remaining Challenge Cards in this set included:

  • Burn for 3 to 5 hours
  • Make teapot warm
  • Make fondue melt
  • Float in water for decorative effect
  • Heat scented oil
  • Successfully pray for departed loved one
  • Juggle without burning yourself
  • Request an encore from a musician
  • Indicate that the British are coming by land or sea to people very close nearby
  • Curse the darkness
  • Scare monsters into rampaging
  • Jack of Diamonds
  • Take back some or all of the night

The game ends when everyone stops playing. The winner is everyone who doesn’t have to put all the tea lights and fire back in the box.

Editor’s Note: During the minutes of research devoted to this article, I came upon the following statement from the Wikipedia article on “tealight”:

Tealights may be distinguished from nightlights by the candle size; A tealight usually burns for 3 to 5 hours, but a nightlight (any candle you wish to use as a “nightlight”) burns for as long as the manufacturer claims it will.

When I retire, I am going into the “nightlight” business.  All I have to do is make some birthday candles, carry them around in the dark, claim they will burn until the heat death of the universe, and wait for the money to start rolling in.

Please do not steal this idea.

2 thoughts on “The tea lighter side

  1. Reblogged this on Joseph Nebus's Sense Of Humor and commented:
    I wanted to point folks over to A Labor Of Like again, this time because after last week’s big humor piece about tea lights as a non-toy, they went and found the rules for a game of tea lights, so you can go and enjoy that.
    That feels like a bit of a skimpy day of writing to me so I felt like I should offer something, like, words of general wisdom about how to make life better. Unfortunately all I’ve really got right now is that you’ll feel a little bit better if you replace the used coffee filter in the drip maker with a fresh one now rather than later. I can’t explain why, but going to make some coffee and finding that there’s already a fresh filter in there instead of moist, cold grounds feels pretty good, even if it means you just deal with the filter when there’s no coffee-related business going on. It’s not much, but it’s there for you to do what you like with. Probably get coffee set a tiny bit sooner.

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