On March 17th, the streets of Dublin, and all of Ireland, erupt with the drunken revelry of St. Patrick’s Day festivities. Parades, sweet treats, and lots of Guinness are usually par for the course. If you can’t make your way to the Emerald Isle, you can still engage in some spectacular Paddy’s Day festivities. Let’s take a look at how to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day at home and make it special!
Enjoy An Adventure Any Day of the Year
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What Are We Celebrating Anyway?
Long before Guinness and Shamrock Shakes, Catholics began celebrating a feast of honor for the Patron Saint of Ireland, St. Patrick. Pat was a pretty amazing dude. He was a 5th-century missionary credited with bringing Christianity to the Celtic tribes of Ireland. He was later the bishop of Ireland and became a celebrated cultural hero. The St. Patrick’s Day celebrations don’t look much like the original anymore. In fact, St. Patrick might be a bit blushed at some of the shenanigans that occur on his holiday.
The celebrations have gone worldwide and the traditions have changed quite a lot. In fact, the corned beef, green beer, and parades that we associate with the holiday are American St. Patrick’s Day activities. Ireland has embraced them though, and it has become a big jumbled ball of multi-cultural traditions and fun!
20 Ways to Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day at Home
While there is no wrong way to celebrate, the best St. Patrick’s Day celebrations combine a little Irish culture and history with a lot of fun. Here are a few of our favorite traditions and activities to ensure you have the perfect St. Patrick’s Day!
1. Make An Irish Treat
If you have ever taken a trip to the “Emerald Isle,” you know the food is hearty and wonderful! Whether you want to make a traditional Irish sweet like Irish Soda Bread, or just make some cupcakes with green icing or shamrock-shaped cookies. It’s fun to get in the kitchen as a family, learn a new recipe, and celebrate with tasty treats. Just make sure that your countertops, faces, and clothing are green by the time you finish. If they aren’t, you did something wrong! Try again.
2. Watch A Virtual Parade
There are plenty of St. Patrick’s Day parades around the world, and many are streamed live online. It’s just one of the perks to our ever more and more virtual world! So get on some festive gear and watch a parade … or three. You could even invite friends from all over the world to tune in with you and chat while you add commentary to the events you’re watching together!
If you can’t tune in to a parade, dust off your crafting skills and make your own. Get some large refrigerator boxes from Lowes or your nearby hardware store and let the kiddos create their own floats and costumes. It will keep them busy for the day, and if the weather is nice, you can show off your creations to the neighbors with a little block parade of your own.
3. Have A Costume Contest
If you spent all day making costumes, you might as well have a prize for the best one. Pull out all the green fabric, sequins, and glitter you can find and see what you can come up with. Not only is it a fun activity that the kids will love, but it also makes for some really cute family photos to memorialize your day. The winner gets gold chocolate coins!
4. Learn The History With St. Paddy’s Trivia
What would a party be without a few games? You can order pre-made St. Patty’s Bingo games from Amazon, or for a more inventive and informative game, make your own St. Patrick’s Day-themed game.
Lookup a few facts on the person of St. Patrick, Irish culture and history, and St. Paddy’s Day traditions. Break your friends or family into teams and have a friendly competition to see who can come up with the right answers. It’s easy to do and will provide a little education and a lot of humor!
5. Suck Down Shamrock Shakes
The creamy green deliciousness of the Shamrock shake is another American tradition, originally made by the founder of McDonald’s. This innocent milkshake is one the whole family can enjoy. You can always load up and swing through the drive-through to grab the original version, or for a little something to pass the time, make your own! It is one of the easiest of the St. Paddy’s Day recipes. All you need is your favorite vanilla ice cream, whole milk, green food coloring, mint extract, and toppings of choice. Blend them up, and enjoy! We love this recipe the most, made with Blue Bell Vanilla Bean ice cream!
6. Have A Rotten Beer
Whip up some green kool-aid, apple juice, or matcha for the kids, and grab the green food coloring. Pick up some of your favorite brews, and drop in a few drops. It’s an easy way to make your good old favorite beer a bit festive! With all the green drinks laying around, just make sure you keep track of which ones are “mommy’s juice.” We don’t want any tipsy toddlers running around.
7. Hunt For Leprechaun Treasure
Turn your home into a scavenger hunt course! Leave clues to help your crew find the buried treasure at the end of the rainbow (or under your bed). Remember to tailor your clues, depending on the age of your children … or the intelligence level of your friends. The trick is to make it hard enough to be a challenge, but not so hard that people get bored and give up.
We love to lace our scavenger hunts with a few fun challenges along the way. You could incorporate Irish-themed photo challenges, athletic challenges, or for a real riot, make your family compete in an Irish dancing challenge. Once the challenge is complete, they get their next clue.
Each new clue is decorated with a gold coin for the last challenge winner to enjoy! You can also use Lucky Charms or cucumbers cut into shamrocks if you would prefer to limit the chocolate consumption. The prize at the end can be whatever your want, a pot of gold, perhaps?
8. Dance a Jig
One of the most fun ways to celebrate with your crew is to learn a traditional Irish dance. There are several tutorials on YouTube that you can follow along with. You will be surprised at how difficult it is to get your feet to move as step dancers do. It’s great exercise and provides tons of giggles. You might even unlock a newfound talent. We highly doubt it, but who knows?
9. Create An Irish Blessing
Irish Blessings are a traditional part of the culture, and they are really a beautiful sentiment. This is our favorite St. Patrick’s Day craft for sure. You can grab some small canvases and paint pens or colored sharpies and go to town. Or, for a gift that keeps on giving, pick up some card stock. Have your family or group of friends bust out their best calligraphy skills and make some cards to send to quarantined loved ones. Here’s a fave!
“May love and laughter light your days
and warm your heart and home.
May good and faithful friends be yours,
wherever you may roam.
May peace and plenty bless your world
with joy that long endures.
May all life’s passing seasons bring
the best to your and yours!”
10. Get Crafty
Pull out the paper plates, crayons, and glue. It’s time to make a craft or two! (More on poetry later, so stay tuned). The most popular St. Patrick’s Day craft is building a leprechaun trap. Legend says if you catch a leprechaun, they have to grant you three wishes or barter for their freedom with treasure.
Make a simple leprechaun trap from a shoebox, or get crazy-elaborate. There are all kinds of leprechaun trap tutorials online. One quick Pinterest search will have you brainstorming for hours. People get pretty ingenious with these things. Generally, parents leave little green footprints in the morning or eat all the Lucky Charm bait themselves. Think “Elf on the Shelf” but with a green leprechaun instead of a red one.
11. Create an Atmosphere
If you are missing out on the fun of normal St. Patrick’s Day galore, make your home a festive place. The atmosphere is important, and for goodness sake, we could all use a little fun around us after the last year. Hang up some green streamers. Pop some popcorn and dye it green to make necklaces. Hop on your favorite music streaming app and make a playlist of Irish music to liven up the party. Heck, sometimes the best part of a party is decorating!
12. Give Yourself a Gaelic Name
Everyone in America seems to claim (or exaggerate) their teeny bit of Irish heritage. St. Patrick’s Day is an opportune time to look into your ancestry, especially if it’s Irish. Many people choose to do a DNA test or go searching online for their heritage records. This is a lot of work though.
An easier way for a quick cultural link is to find the equivalent of your name is in Gaelic. Gaelic is the traditional Celtic language of Ireland and is still spoken by a small part of society. A quick google search will give you your Irish name for the day and probably give you the meaning as well! There may be some names that aren’t there, but you will be surprised how many are!
13. Make A Hearty Irish Stew
It wouldn’t be a St. Patrick’s Day party without a hearty, traditional Irish meal. The isle of green can be a bit windy and rainy for a lot of the year, and Irish food centers around warm stews, loaded with fresh veggies and meat! Incorporate some lamb instead of beef or throw in an Irish Stout for a special flavor kick. You will want to start early, as this one takes a few hours to simmer! There are several great recipes out there, but this stew is amazing!
14. Hunt for Four-Leaf Clovers
If you have a moderate climate, the clovers will likely be blooming in your area by St. Patrick’s Day. Send the family outside for some fresh air and a four-leaf clover hunt. As you probably know, most clovers are three-leaved. So, finding that special one with four leaves is the highlight of every kid’s spring day (until they catch a firefly at night that is).
In Irish tradition, the four-leaf clover is said to be a good omen for the finder. The leaves bring faith, hope, love, and luck! If you have the good fortune of finding one, press it in a special book with a note to remember your 2022 St. Patrick’s Day festivities.
15. Go Green
Any holiday is a good excuse to give back, right? Consider taking your extra change and giving it to a “green” organization. You could choose to support an Irish NGO or one that works for a cleaner, greener environment! Concern Worldwide is a large international charity based in Ireland that provides water, food, and shelter to the needy. The Waterkeeper Alliance is a wonderful one, too. They are working towards providing clean water for “all people and the planet.”
16. Write Your Own Limerick
Irish limericks are a special kind of poetry. They are a short, humorous verse that doesn’t always make perfect sense. Many of them are downright crude, but they are always lighthearted. So, you can be free to be silly. The poem should consist of five lines with the specific rhyme scheme of “aabba”
A popular one from Edward Lear goes like this …
“There was an Old Man who said, ‘Hush!
I perceive a young bird in this bush!’
When they said, ‘Is it small?’
He replied, ‘Not at all!
It is four times as big as the bush!’
We love this activity because it works for everyone! It is a great teaching activity for homeschool folks, teaching about poetry and encouraging creativity and writing skills. It is also hilarious with a group of friends, especially after a few green beers.
17. Build a Fairy House
If you have spent any time in Ireland at all, you will have recognized the significance of fairies in the culture. Even today, many Irish will say they believe in the little people, and several legends surround the significance of fairy forts.
It’s not uncommon to find fairy houses or even whole fairy villages in parts of the forest. If you are crafty, then grab some wood scraps and paint and get to building. If not, there are pre-made fairy house kits online.
Make one house or make a whole village. Turn on some music or read a fairy book while you create. It’s a great time to talk about the myths and legends of fairies, gnomes, trolls, and leprechauns that litter Irish culture too!
18. Have An Irish Coffee.
There is no better way to cap off the perfect St. Patrick’s day at home than with a classic Irish cocktail. Most people either love or hate Guinness, and whiskey is an acquired taste for most, but we can all agree on coffee, right? … Right? Please tell me we can all agree on coffee! Anyway, Irish Coffee is a delectable concoction of Irish Whiskey (we prefer Jameson), strong coffee, and luscious cream.
That’s the traditional version, and it is perfection. However, if you are not usually a whiskey drinker or a black coffee drinker, you might find that traditional is too harsh for you. To help out with the whiskey burn, some recipes call for a little brown sugar to add extra sweetness. For a really lush mash of flavor that just feels right, try this magical Irish coffee recipe that calls for a little maple syrup.
19. Decorate Yourself
It’s not everyone who can pull off green lipstick. Green is not the most popular color for makeup or toenail polish, but this is St. Patrick’s Day! So, pull out the green eye shadow. Paint your nails and toes in several shades of glittery green. This is a great activity if you have little ones that love to do their nails. Plus, if green is not your color, you can sport yours on your fingertips and not have to wear it all day to avoid being pinched!
20. End Your Day With A St. Patrick’s Day Movie
Finish up your busy day with a warm blanket and a great flick. Wolfwalkers and Secret of the Kells are two animated Irish movies that the kids will love. Just check them first, as they do have some mystical elements and every family is different on what is and isn’t cool for kiddos to watch in that realm.
For adults, Emily Blunt’s Wild Mountain Thyme is popular, or if want something a little scary, The Hole In The Ground is really good.
St. Patrick’s Day is an old Irish Tradition, steeped in history and importance. While it has changed quite a lot over the years and has become a bigger deal in parts of America than it is in parts of Ireland, it is still a wonderful excuse to celebrate Irish cultures and traditions!
Whether you normally go out for St. Paddy’s Day or not, do something special this year. Turn your home into party central. Invite your nearest and dearest, pull out all the stops, and make it big. Everyone could use a little joy and a lot of laughter!
St. Patrick’s Day is not the only thing on the horizon to celebrate! Spring Break is coming too. While spring break in college is an excuse to get away and relax. Spring Break with kids is a whole different ballgame. To avoid the dreaded “I’m bored,” every five seconds, check out our “Ultimate List of Spring Break Ideas For Kids.” You’re welcome.
Frequently Asked Questions
If you want to celebrate St. Paddy’s Day at home, there are plenty of great traditions you can start! Make Irish coffee, build a fairy house, or get creative and make Irish blessing cards.