Whether or not you’re Irish, St. Patrick’s Day is awfully fun to celebrate. Make this year’s festivities the most memorable yet; skip the crowded pubs and tent parties and host your very own Irish-inspired soiree.
With this guide, you’ll have all of the tips and tricks needed to host a legendary bash.
Heidi Thompson, owner of An Affair to Remember Event Design & Production, suggests sending guests a mini bottle of Baileys or Jameson. “Attach a cloverleaf note to it that reads, ‘Just a taste of the fun you’ll have with us on March 17.’ If you opt to send out paper invitations, do so with your best Irish brogue and use the promo bottles as favors,” she adds.
Since you’ll already have your hands full cleaning and decorating for the party, you’ll love this idea from Greg Jenkins, partner of Bravo Productions in Long Beach, California. He recommends offering a “make your own gourmet corned beef sandwich” spread, rather than food you’ll have to prepare yourself before the party.
“For sandwich toppings offer caramelized onions, Dijon mustard, provolone cheese, red onions, crusty buns, assorted grilled eggplants, peppers, zucchinis, portabella mushrooms, and pesto garlic. Instead of boiled cabbage and potatoes, serve colcannon, a traditional Irish dish made from white cabbage and kale,” Jenkins notes.
Hands down, green beer is a must. With that in mind, don’t be afraid to shake things up and offer a small selection of festive cocktails. In addition to serving green beer and Irish car bombs, Angie Zimmerman, known as the Wedding Flower Diva, suggests serving anything that’s green. “You could do green Jell-O shots, margaritas, midori sours, midori cocktails, and appletinis,” she notes.
For a thematic atmosphere, style the décor in shades of green, gold, and white. “Long troughs of grass look festive without trying too hard,” says Sara Gaum, owner of VendorBar.com. “Add gold coins, decorative oversized shamrocks, or even snakes to make the grass appear more Irish.”
Jenkins offers another idea. “Print photos of some key landmarks in Ireland or photos of guests at last year’s St. Patrick’s Day party. Enlarge the photos and incorporate them into gold picture frames. Use the frames as serving trays to display food or to serve your featured drink of Irish whiskey or Baileys,” he explains.
At a previous St. Patrick’s Day party Meagan Murphy hosted, she placed a “Blarney Stone” on the front door for guests to kiss before they entered. “It ended up being a great ice breaker!” she says.
Aside from the drinking, eating, and dancing associated with St. Patrick’s Day celebrations, there are a number of fun games to play with your guests. At Murphy’s party, she engaged guests in a game of “Name that Irish Celebrity.” She explains, “We placed the nametags of famous Irish movie stars and musicians on everyone’s back and they had to go around asking everyone questions to get hints on their ‘identity.'” Once the guests correctly guessed their identity they could move their nametag from their backs to their chests.
Jenkins suggests having a hat contest among guests. “As a take on the largest St. Patrick’s Day parade in New York, encourage your guests to create the most elaborate, zaniest, and clever hats that can be paraded on their heads throughout the party. Give a couple of prizes to award the best hats—perhaps a gift certificate to a local Irish pub or a pictorial book on Ireland,” he explains.
Another idea Jenkins offers is to provide unique entertainment for your party. “Hire an Irish clogger, complete with costume, to give a demonstration of the dance and entertain your guests at a point during the evening.”
“There are two ways to go with this: old or new,” says Thompson. “You can play traditional Irish music or go more modern with Flogging Molly and the Dropkick Murphys.”
There are so many fun things to hand out as party favors, you’ll have a tough time making your selection. A few ideas Zimmerman shares include giving guests a real shamrock plant, green pencils, green notepads, green beads, green candy, gold coins wrapped and tied with green ribbon, green hats, and shamrock or leprechaun pins.