Ideas to Celebrate St. Patrick's Day
It's time for the "wearing o' the green," as we honor the patron saint of Ireland, Bishop Patrick and everything Irish. St. Patrick introduced Christianity into Ireland during the fifth century. According to legend, he used the shamrock, or three-leaf clover, to teach his converts about the Holy Trinity, and performed many miracles.
In Ireland the people honor St. Patrick with a national holiday and a week of religious festivities. Celebrations in the United States include parades and parties with green food and drink. Those who are Irish (and most other folk) wear articles of green clothing to get into the holiday spirit. Almost everyone claims to have a little Irish in them on this special day.
Penny Warner, author of The Best Party Book (Meadowbrook Press, 1992), has these great ideas for a happy St. Patrick's Day.
- Send out Blarney Stone invitations. Paint large stones green, write party details in permanent marker and set the Blarney Stones at your guests' front door. Write party details on green paper shamrocks, then slip into green padded envelopes filled with chocolate gold coins and mail to guests.
- Write "Mc" or "O" before each of the guests' names on the envelope.
- Dress up as a leprechaun and have your guests do the same.
- Ask your guests to wear as many green articles of clothing as they can.
- Award a prize to the guest wearing the most green.
- Turn the party room Irish with shamrock decorations. Cut out oodles of giant shamrocks from green construction paper. Tape the shamrocks to the walls, use them as placemats or hang little ones from the ceiling.
- Make a rainbow wall. Cut out rainbow colors from construction paper or use crepe paper streamers to form a giant rainbow to tape on the wall. Set a pot filled with chocolate gold coins at one end.
- Cover the table with a green or shamrock-printed tablecloth and sprinkle on gold coins, green candies and shamrock stickers. Add little leprechaun figurines for fun.
- Tape travel posters from Ireland, maps and Irish brochures on the walls.
- Fill the party room with green balloons, dangling green streamers and big banners with Irish phrases, such as "Luck o' the Irish" and "Erin Go Braugh."
- Play Irish music in the background as the guests arrive.
Games and Activities
- Hot Potato: This fast-moving game is a great party activity. Have players stand in a circle about an arm's length from each other. Give the "hot" potato (a real potato but not hot) to one player with instructions to toss it to any other player as quickly as possible. Keep playing until a player either drops the potato and is out, or holds it longer than three seconds and is out. The last player left is the winner.
- Mr. Potato Head Contest: Divide the guests into teams or pairs, give them potatoes, cut-up veggies and toothpicks and have them create a crazy Mr. Potato Head.
- Make "Leprechaun Glasses": These special glasses are great for turning the world green. Cut shamrock-shaped frames from green poster board. Cut out the center of the frames to make eyeholes. Glue green cellophane over the back of the holes. Poke a small hole on each side of the glasses, insert pipe cleaner and twist to secure. Put on glasses, securing pipe cleaners around the ears, and take a look at your Emerald City.
- Have a limerick contest and tell the guests to make up funny limericks to share with the group.
- Sing along to Irish songs, such as "Danny Boy" and "When Irish Eyes Are Smiling."
- Serve a cool and refreshing mint-flavored shamrock shake. Mix two cups milk, one banana and 1/2 cup mint ice cream in a blender. Blend until smooth and creamy and pour into glasses.
- Bake a shamrock cake. Bake three heart-shaped cakes and join them together at their tips to form a shamrock. Frost with green-tinted icing and top with gold coins and small leprechauns. Serve with mint green ice cream. (Make four small round cakes to create a four-leaf clover if you don't have heart-shaped pans.)
- Offer a stuffed potato bar. Add a little pizzazz to your Irish potatoes with a variety of fillers. Bake potatoes and offer guests a variety of toppings to put on top, such as shredded cheese, bacon bits, cubed ham, cooked peas, broccoli florets, chili, beef stroganoff, Mexican and Cajun seasonings.
- Make traditional corned beef and cabbage.
- For the adults, serve Irish whisky, Guinness stout and Irish coffee.
- Tint your foods and drinks green.
Favors, Prizes and Gifts
- Mr. Potato Head kit
- Irish soda bread recipe and ingredients
- Green Blarney Stones with "Good Luck" written on top
- Chocolate gold coins
- Little leprechaun figurines
The Meanings of Popular Irish Names
Irish names are all the rage – even if your family didn't originate on the Emerald Isle. In honor of St. Patrick's Day, baby name expert Bruce Lansky offers the meanings of some of the most popular Irish names in America, from his book, Baby Names Around the World (Meadowbrook Press, 2000).
Brianna – strong, virtuous, honorable
Bridget – strong
Caitlyn – pure
Kylee – attractive
Mackenzie – daughter of a wise leader
Megan – pearl, great
Brendan – little raven
Conor – praised, exalted
Kevin – handsome
Kyle – narrow piece of land where cattle graze
Ryan – little king
Sean – God is gracious