How to Throw a St. Patrick’s Day Party
Here's the plan for a St. Patrick's Day party that's sure to be leprechaun-approved!
First, understand why it’s a joyous day
For more than 1,000 years, the Irish have been observing St. Patrick’s Day on March 17 to honor the man who introduced Christianity to the Emerald Isle. While that’s certainly cause for celebration, the real reason people may be so happy on St. Patrick’s Day is that although it falls during Lent, the lenten prohibitions against the consumption of meat would be waived for the day. Yay for being able to eat corned beef!
Green your theme
The Emerald Isle is, of course, famous for its lush, green foliage. And green has been synonymous with Ireland since the Irish Rebellion of 1798, when the Irish wore green uniforms to fight the Brits. You can green your St. Patrick’s Day party by using the color in your invites and your decor, or you can “green” your party by sending out evites and otherwise keeping it eco-friendly.
Or, don the …blue?
While green is now synonymous with Ireland, prior to the 17th century, the official color of Ireland had always been blue. If you want to teach your party guests a little Irish history, surprise them with a blue-themed invitation. If you decide to go with a paper invite, here are some beautiful blue-themed invitations from which to choose. Be sure to include a brief note explaining why you’re using blue, rather than green (you can put it on a shamrock-shaped note pad).
Throw in orange and white for unity
Ireland’s flag is made up of three broad, vertical stripes of green, white and orange. Green is said to represent Catholics (the majority of Ireland’s population); orange (the Protestants); and white (the desire for peace between the two). Honor this powerful message by decorating your party space with this Irish flag or by serving up this Marbled Orange Fudge with green swirled in, too.
Photo: Taste of Home
Consider “traditional” beverages
Although St. Patrick’s Day was a day to indulge in meat notwithstanding Lent, it was always a dry holiday, with Irish pubs being required by law to shut down for the day. Drinking any alcohol at all on St. Patrick’s Day was, in fact, greatly frowned upon until the late 1970s. So, if you want to go with tradition, consider skipping the booze altogether. Instead, entice your guests with a mug of Peppermint Hot Chocolate or this non-alcoholic Homemade Irish Cream.
Or, go with modern tradition (Sláinte!)
Beer did not become synonymous with St. Patrick’s Day until the 1980s, when Budweiser pushed their beer as the American staple of St. Paddy’s Day. But if you’re celebrating Irish culture, why not go with a true Irish classic like Guinness? While you’re at it, consider serving up one of these Guinness-infused recipes.
Taste of Home
Reference rainbows in your crudites
Irish legend has it that if you captured a leprechaun, he’d barter for his escape by “revealing” the location of his pot of gold. Being clever and mischeivous, he’d then point to a rainbow and tell you the gold could be found at its end (knowing full well there’s no way to find it). Reference the rainbow of Irish lore with this edible rainbow, which can double as a delicious focal point.
Celebrate those crafty creatures
Speaking of leprechauns, a St. Patrick’s Day party wouldn’t feel complete without some reference to these wee, wizened men. That’s because Ireland’s origin stories always involve the conquering of the Tuatha De Danaan, a tribe of gifted craftsmen. Although history has confirmed such a tribe existed, over time the the “craftsman” story evolved into a story of “crafty” and magical creatures. Here’s a recipe for a Leprechaun Lime Drink to serve at your party.
McDonald’s does the ultra-green Shamrock Shake (here’s when you can expect it this year) and brewers everywhere dye their beer. This practice of dyeing stuff green began in Chicago on March 17, 1962, when city officials dyed the Chicago River green to honor the Irish. So, go ahead and bust out the food coloring for these Chocolate Mint Creams, or use basil and other bright green herbs in your party cuisine (make this delicious pesto and toss with some clover-shaped pasta for pasta salad).
Bring the bacon
Bacon is a St. Patrick’s Day tradition, perhaps even more so than corned beef and cabbage. This is because beef was scarce in the old days; pork was far more abundant. So, serve bacon liberally at your party. You can start with these Bacon Wrapped Sweet Potato Bites or Bacon Wrapped Smokies. Serve this Pull-Apart Bacon Bread with your meal. Or you can even surprise your guests with Chocolate-Covered Bacon.
Taste of Home
Love of lamb
Your guests will probably be expecting corned beef and cabbage, but if you want to truly go traditional, you’ll want to serve up some lamb (along with your bacon). Here’s a recipe for Irish Lamb Stew. For a smaller party, you might consider these Rosemary Lamb Shanks.
St. Patrick’s Day games and activities
To keep your guests entertained, you can organize a game of St. Patrick’s Day-themed Pictionary, Apples to Apples or trivia. If there are kids there (or even if there aren’t), you can play bingo or “Pin The Hat on The Leprechaun” (with this printable leprechaun). And by all means, play traditional Irish tunes or crank it up with a playlist of Dropkick Murphys, Flogging Molly, The Tossers and the like.
Give out gummy snakes
It’s been said that St. Patrick drove all the snakes out of Ireland. That’s probably not exactly true. But, you can drive the snakes out of your party by giving out gift bags filled with gummy snakes (or gummy worms). Or simply serve up this Gummy Worm Punch to guests before they leave.