If you aren't Irish, you can certainly pretend to be one on March 17th! Not only is St. Patrick's Day a great excuse for a fun party, it's also a celebration of spring, which is a handful of days away. So go ahead and plan an office party, a pub crawl, or bake some traditional Irish fare. Here are a couple great ideas and tips to celebrate with your local leprechauns.
Planning Your St. Patrick's Day Party
If you are hosting an office party, start with the décor and think about the food. Green must be everywhere, of course, but you can also contrast with white and gold. If you are having an office party, a potluck lunch is a great idea – a few days beforehand, jot down a few Irish recipes to hand out to participants, or simply ask your co-workers to come in with their own Irish-inspired appetizers.
Choose green and white plastic utensils and shamrock-themed plates and cups. To impress your guests, decorate with green carnations. Other themes to keep in mind include green and white streamers, pictures of leprechauns, rainbows, harps, horseshoes and green and gold confetti. Fill your iPod with Irish music to play.
This is also a great chance for some fundraising. Have everybody chip in a couple bucks to a local charity to wear green. If there are a lot of participants, have a 50/50 draw for the co-worker wearing the most outrageous green clothing or prop.
Food and Drink
If you can't serve alcohol, simply bring in some green food dye and add it to your fruity punch. For the occasion, a lot of breweries bring out special green beer, but if you can't find any, simply use the dye in your favorite lager. A drop or two will do.
For your table, have a centrepiece such as a black pot and fill it with gold coin chocolates or other candies. Desert ideas include clover-shaped cookies and cupcakes with tophats (add a biscuit and a marshmallow covered with green frosting on top of the cupcake.)
For traditional Irish fare, here are a couple foods to serve:
Traditional Irish soda bread:
- 4 cups all purpose flour
- 1 Tsp baking soda
- 1 Tsp salt
- 14 oz buttermilk
Preheat oven to 425F. Lightly grease a round pan or oven-proof pot. Combine all dry ingredients. Add buttermilk and lightly kneed (not too much, or the bread will be too tough.) Shape into a flattened ball and put in the pot. Score an X along the top. Bake, covered, for 30 minutes. Remove cover and bake another 15 minutes.
After it's done (the bread will have a hollow sound when tapped), cover in a tea towel and sprinkle some water to keep it moist. Enjoy!
(The bread easily dries out, so more modern recipes add raisins, butter, etc. Check around and try some varieties.)
Corned Beef and Cabbage:
- 4 pounds corned beef brisket
- 2 tbsp brown sugar
- 1 bay leaf
- 10-15 baby potatoes, unpeeled
- 5 carrots, peeled and chopped
- 1 large head of cabbage, cut into wedges
- 1 bottle of your favorite beer (I prefer micro-breweries, for their deeper taste.)
Cover the brisket with water in a Dutch oven, add sugar and bay leaf, bring to a boil, and simmer, covered, for 2 hours (50 minutes per pound). Add the potatoes and carrots and return to a boil, then simmer for 30 minutes, covered Add cabbage and beer, cover and simmer for 15 minutes. Drain vegetables, reserve cooking liquid and discard bay leaves. Leave meat for 15 minutes, then slice with the grain. Use cooking liquid as sauce. Also, try hot honey mustard with the beef.
Fun and Games
For party fun, make sure to have Irish music such as the Chieftans or the Irish Rovers (or even the Pogues for edgier tunes.) Bring along a karaoke machine to sing traditional songs like Danny Boy or Molly Malone, or teach your guests an Irish jig.
A couple games to try include:
- Up and Down the River, an Irish drinking game (beware – it will necessitate a lot of designated drivers.)
- Lucky shamrock bingo – use green markers – winner gets an Irish-themed prize
- For the kids – face painting with green paint and gold dust, pin the gold on the leprechaun, and find a four-leaf clover - make a bunch of three-leaf paper clovers and one four-leaf, then hiding them around the house