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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at CWU chapter.

Growing up Catholic gave me a lot of trauma, but it also gave me hundreds of holidays to be used as excuses to dress up, drink with friends, and eat more food than you ever thought possible. Sure, you could do this any day of the year, but who doesn’t love a good theme?

I’m going to share with you St. Patty’s Day Two-Ways: the perfect party plans for a small gathering with your closest friends or a large rager with your favorite strangers. St. Patrick’s Day is always on the 17th of March, which this year falls on a Thursday. If you’re really in the party spirit, you could have an intimate get-together on Thursday and go all-out on Friday, but your liver may prefer you choose one or the other.


The first step to throwing any good party is to pick the theme. It would be super easy to just make the theme “green” and let people figure it out, but why not have a little more fun? St. Patrick’s Day is the celebration of St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland, and many St. Patty’s Day celebrations across America forget this entirely. My suggestions for you are going to be subtle nods to tradition combined with the popular extravagance of American celebrations.

For your smaller gathering, you could opt for a “clover field” motif, celebrating one of the traditional symbols of the island and modernizing the standard green-plastic-everything that tends to be associated with the holiday. So what does this mean? Flowy dresses, rust and sage accents as a nod to the Irish Flag, and other natural elements. We’ll talk about incorporating this in food, beverage, and activities later.

But what about your Friday Festivity? How do you impose a good theme when you’re bound to spend the whole night making sure no one is throwing up green in anywhere but a toilet?

My suggestion: St. Patty’s Pot o’ Gold. Hear me out, I know the leprechaun-rainbow-pot-of-gold-mixture has absolutely nothing to do with traditional St. Patrick’s Day, and the idea of cleaning up glitter for the next ten years makes you want to never throw a party again, but it doesn’t have to be like that.

We all know people don’t show up to large parties for the theme, so we’ll put most of our energy toward functionality and do the theming for fun. You can keep to this theme in a few small, but impactful ways, such as opting for gold cups instead of red solos, and a few other elements we’ll discuss in a moment.


Let’s talk about the eats. For your smaller gathering on Thursday night, I’d recommend serving a seated meal of classic St. Patrick’s Day Dinner. This would include cabbage, potatoes, carrots, and corned beef, or, if you want to go super-traditional, swap the corned beef for Irish Bacon.

HISTORY NOTE! Irish immigrants in New York found that Irish bacon was very expensive, so they began to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with corned beef instead, something they learned about from their Jewish neighbors. Back to our party.

Corned beef, cabbage, potatoes, and carrots are super easy to make, and can be thrown together in a slow cooker the morning of the party and not worried about until it’s time to serve. Add a side of soda bread and you’re good to go! For dessert, it may be fun to do something a little less traditional, but still on theme. I’d recommend Irish Cream-Frosted sugar cookies with an M&M rainbow on top. You can even wait to make these until your guests have arrived and have the decorating process be part of the celebration!

For your large party, don’t worry so much about the food. Most people show up having eaten already, and won’t want to disturb the delicate balance of alcohol and sustenance in their stomach. Instead, grab chocolate gold coins to put in big black bowls as pots of gold, which lets your guests reach for something sweet and on theme if they choose.


In an attempt to stray from and worn-out ideas and suggestions, I won’t be recommending shamrock shakes for either party, no matter how delicious they are. If you still are looking for that frozen goodness this St. Patrick’s Day, perhaps keep your schedule open on Saturday, March 19 and make homemade shakes with your roommates.

PRO TIP! Use frozen Thin Mints in the shakes and as a garnish. Seriously so good.

Instead, for your little Thursday party, serve mint-infused water with dinner and spiked coffee with dessert, made with Irish Cream and Bailey’s. These tasty beverages will go perfectly with your dinner and cookies, keep to your natural theme, and help avoid any verdant vomit.

The drinks will probably be the main event at your St. Paddy’s Bash on Friday night. If you think your guests are interested, go ahead and serve kegs of Irish beer. If they’re anything like me, however, and would rather drink cupful’s of bleach than beer, here’s what I would recommend to keep on theme: rainbow drink table. Buy alcohol and mixers of all different colors (or just packaged in different colors) and arrange them on a table in the shape of a rainbow, with your pots of gold coins on either side. This way, your guests can drink whatever they like, but still get to enjoy the visuals of the theme. Use all kinds of juices and sodas for mixers, and you’ll achieve the perfect rainbow drink table that will satisfy everyone.


Activities are always the hardest part of parties; you can never tell what people are going to be in the mood to do. For Thursday, we’ve already discussed making cookie decorating an activity, but what else? You might want to look into clover potting, which would include setting up a little gardening station allowing each guest to pot (and take home!) their very own lucky clover. While doing this, you can turn on Netflix’s ‘Derry Girls’ and laugh along while learning about The Troubles in Ireland.

PRO TIP! The show is seriously so good that even if you aren’t going to throw a party, you could absolutely have a one-night-Derry-Girls-and-shamrock-shakes-binge-fest with your roommates.

If your party guests are into board games, try going old school with Snakes and Ladders as a nod to the idea that St. Patrick helped to rid Ireland of snakes. This isn’t actually true, but still keeps with the theme. If it’s something you’re interested in, you could even turn the board game into a drinking game.

There is no point in organizing any formal activities for a large party, people simply won’t do them. Set up the beer pong/die table and you’ll be all set. If you really want to push it though, and think your guests can handle it, consider purchasing packs of gold bead necklaces and passing them out to your attendees upon arrival. Tell your guests to either wear the necklaces conspicuously or hide them more carefully, because at any point someone can “steal their gold”. This gets as frisky as your guests make it.

The Party

The best part of parties, in my opinion, is getting ready with all your friends. When hosting, get your group together to get ready, set up the house, and hide all of your valuables.

PRO TIP! Hide your toothbrush. Don’t ask questions, just do it.

Take lots of pictures, avoid elevated surfaces, and leave the worrying to the morning after.

And there you have it! St. Paddy’s Day two ways.

A future wedding planner advocating for women, the planet, and the Oxford Comma.