Planning Your St. Patrick’s Day Party

Storm Trooper with Green Afro

Boston St. Paddy's Parade 2009

St. Patrick’s Day falls on a Saturday this year which means quite a lot of people in the US will spend their day at a favorite pub drinking green beer and possibly singing along to ‘Whiskey in the Jar’.

I prefer a more family-friendly St. Patrick’s Day celebration filled with music, food and plenty of craic.  While I may not get to spend St. Patrick’s Day in Ireland I do plan to spend it with family & friends. 

Enjoy a St. Patrick’s Day Parade

You’ll find St Patrick’s Day parades in practically every US state- and many countries!  This is a great way to kick off the festivities of the day.  You’ll see troupes of Irish dancers, Drum and Bugle Corps, marching bands, and maybe even an Irish Storm Trooper. 

Parade tips:

  • Know the parade route.  Some parades change from year to year.
  • Arrive early enough to get a good spot- then send a spotter out to find the closest bathroom!  If it’s a long parade you may need it.
  • Bring snacks, drinks and something to sit on.
  • Check the weather forecast and come prepared. Wear layers.
  • Don’t forget a bag to carry any goodies that may come your way!

Find Some Irish Dancers

If your city has an Irish dance school, chances are the dancers will be performing somewhere on St. Patrick’s Day.  In fact, you’ll probably be able to find them throughout the month of March.  Simply contact the school and inquire about performances.  Or maybe hire a few of the girls to perform at your own festivities!

Plan a St. Patrick’s Day Feast

Favorite Irish Recipes - Steak & Guinness Pie

Favorite Irish Recipes - Steak & Guinness Pie

You’ll find many places serving corned beef and cabbage, but don’t be tempted.  You can make a tastier version at home.

I usually begin cooking 5 days in advance as many items can be made ahead- at least partially- and finished on the day of the feast.

Tips for your St. Patrick’s Day Feast:

  • Invite people at least 2 weeks in advance (4 is better) and get RSVPs.  Really.  You don’t want to run out of food!
  • Plan your menu and shop about 7 days in advance.
  • Plan to cook throughout the week.  And ask for help.  I love to have friends over to hang in the kitchen and cook with me. 
  • Some people are picky and won’t want to try your fabulous boxty or black pudding.  It’s ok.  Use food coloring to make something green and call it good.

The recipe for Whiskey Glazed Corned Beef is in my Favorite Irish Recipes cookbook, as are Colcannon, Irish Stew and decadent Irish Car Bomb Cupcakes.

Or try the delicious Steak and Guinness Pie, pictured at the right.  Just click the image for the readable version.

Looking for more St. Patrick’s Day food and fun?  Check out my St. Patrick’s Day Goodies Pinterest board.

Get Some Great Irish Music

You can’t have a St. Patrick’s Day gathering without the proper Irish music.  A few of my favorites are:

  • Gaelic Storm  The Irish party band.  ‘Bring Your Wellies’ is one of my favorite CDs, but anything by them is sure to bring on the craic.
  • Makem & Spain Brothers  Traditional songs take on a whole new level when performed by these guys.  The ‘Live’ album from 2006 is one of their best.
  • Celtic Woman   Really, anything by these ladies is worth hearing.  Beautiful songs in a mix of English & Irish.  
  • The Killdares  Another really fun band for a lively gathering. The live album ‘Up Against the Lights’ has a great mix of songs.
  • Metallica  I adore their version of Whiskey in the Jar.
  • Red Hot Chili Pipers  Think you know bagpipes?  Think again.  These guys are incredible live- I highly recommend taking in a show!- but their ‘Blast’ live album is worth adding to your playlist (even if they are Scottish!).

Don’t Forget the Drinks

There are a few beverages that are a “given” on St. Patrick’s Day…  Guinness, Irish Cream and a nice Irish Whiskey.  My personal favorite is Bulmer’s, a crisp hard cider.  Outside of Ireland you’ll find it as Magner’s.  While not available in every state, it’s worth the drive to fetch.  Really.  I drive 3 hours away to get mine.

Non alcoholic drinks on your list?  Make your own version of a Shamrock Shake.  Or add some green food coloring to a clear soda or ginger ale. 

But, whatever you do, I’m begging you, don’t turn your beer green.

I would love to hear how you celebrate St. Patrick’s Day!  Please share in the comments!

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