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Hosting a St. Patty’s Party

Celebrated by both the Irish and non-Irish, St. Patrick’s Day is one of those holidays that is pure fun! Filled with seas of green, great food and drink, and lots of merriment, the holiday festivities that take place on March 17 are a great way to add life to an otherwise drab season and are a good excuse to spend a little extra time with friends and family.
Throughout the U.S. and particularly in areas with large Irish populations, you can find a host of restaurants and bars eager to celebrate the holiday and invite you in for some corned beef and green beer. Many individuals, however, choose to host their own St. Patty’s party, especially if they feel a particular kinship with the holiday. For many, these are a lot more fun than heading out to a local establishment for a party and can be organized to also accommodate children, if necessary. Most of all, it’s an opportunity to gather with friends and celebrate the spirit of St. Patrick, the man who is credited with bringing thousands of 5th Century Irish to the Christian faith.

Planning for your Party
If you’ve decided to host a St. Patty’s party, you’ll need to start your planning at least a month ahead of time to give your guests ample warning and to allow for the organization of all the details.

As with all parties, you’ll begin by making a guest list and sending out invitations. These days, computer-generated invitations seem to be the norm and you can find lots of templates for appropriate invitations. Spruce them up with some St. Patrick’s Day clipart, photos of Ireland, or other appropriate designs. Include all the pertinent information – like date and time – and encourage your guests to wear green.
As for decorations….if it’s green, it’ll do! Gather as much green stuff as you can, including streamers, balloons, confetti, paper shamrocks, and more. And don’t forget a few travel posters of the Emerald Isle, if available. (Check with your local travel agent for these.) Also put out bowls of green M&M’s® or jelly beans for your guests to nibble on before the regular food is served.

Menu
When planning your party, decide whether you want to go for a full sit-down dinner or just serve some light fare or finger food along with drinks, both alcoholic and non-alcoholic.
If you’re opting for the full-course dinner, you’ll probably be expected to serve a traditional Irish classic. These might include the St. Patrick’s Day ultimate favorites – corned beef and cabbage. However, you can also opt for something like Shepherd’s Pie (beef, vegetables, and mashed potatoes) or lamb stew. Purchase or make some Irish Soda Bread (it’s hard to find this in the stores after the holiday, so plan accordingly) or serve classic Irish brown bread (made with whole-meal wheat flour).

If you prefer to serve just finger foods, you can go with the green theme and provide green veggies and dip, green apples, olives, tortilla chips with guacamole, and other foods of the same hue. Another good idea is to take another favorite Irish food – like potatoes – and offer a variety of dishes that include this Irish staple, including potato skins, French fries, boiled potatoes with parsley, and green-colored mashed potatoes.
For dessert, the options are endless. You can choose classic Irish shortbread, shamrock-shaped cookies, ice cream topped with Bailey’s Irish Crème liqueur, cake or cupcakes decorated with green frosting, or a whole wealth of desserts that include a touch of Irish whiskey in the mix, including brownies, cheesecake, or other confections. Have some cinnamon Irish potatoes on hand as well as perhaps some lime jell-o.

Drinks
A St. Patrick’s Day party isn’t a party without some cold mugs of Guinness Stout, Ireland’s signature alcoholic beverage. And if Guinness isn’t to the liking of some of your guests, there are a host of other imported Irish beers available as well. You can even make them green with a little bit of food coloring, which won’t affect the taste of the beer. And, of course, there’s Irish whiskey, which you can drink straight or add to your java for classic Irish Coffee.

Alcoholic beverages made with crème de menthe, a green liqueur, are also popular for this holiday event. However, you’ll want to also include some non-alcoholic fare, so mix up a batch of green-colored punch that includes green fruit juice (like Hawaiian Punch®) or lemon-lime soda with lime sherbet.