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Celebrating St. Patrick’s Day for Families

image of green clover with text for St Patricks Day
With a maiden name like McCoy, it’s pretty clear that I’m a huge fan of St. Patrick’s Day. I’m also a history buff and amateur genealogist, so I love that a holiday exists that allows us to celebrate our Irish heritage (even for those of us with zero “green” in our blood). So, I thought I’d share a handful of ways for you and your family to mark St. Patrick’s Day that don’t involve spending the day at the pub (or church, as true Irish Catholics observe the day in the old world; of course you’re welcome to if you see fit). #RainbowAndGoldEverything - There are some trends lately that make it even easier to celebrate this holiday than ever. Gold is IT (even if it’s tied with rose gold at the moment) and it’s impossible to walk into a store that doesn't sell kids’ clothes emblazoned with rainbows. Just awesome. So, go with it! Dress up in rainbow colors (or green and orange). Make some craft projects using gold glitter and paint rainbows (extra points for shamrock shapes and pots o’ gold), or go with one of these super fun artsy ideas:

St. Partick's Day Crafts

Marshmallow Shamrock Stampers (and more ideas!) Gold at the End of the Rainbow Chain Fruit Loop Rainbow Craft

Leprechaun Traps

Search Pinterest and you’ll find a ton of ideas for your kids to make their own leprechaun trap (and for your kids to see that a leprechaun visited, ahem). Don’t forget to lure those tricksters with plenty of “gold” (chocolate coins work great). Look at it like Elf on a Shelf but with only one night of work involved. ;-)

Read an Irish-themed Book

Hit up your local library (says the totally biased school librarian) to find an age-appropriate book. I gave a solid list last year for just this purpose to help you track one down, but don’t be afraid to ask your librarian for his or her favorites. Since I’m back in the high school setting, I’m going to have to work harder to find my fave - Jamie O’Rourke and the Big Potato - to put on my annual Irish accent for our kids.

Cook Something Irish

Ireland hasn’t really been known for its stellar culinary arts, but in recent years the quality of their beef, milk products, and the rest of their “locavore” delights are breaking down that stereotype.

So, whether you try corned beef, shepherd’s pie, colcannon, stew, creamy mashed potatoes with a sprinkle of Irish cheddar or soda bread with Irish butter (now easy to find at most grocery stores), you can give your family an authentic AND delicious experience. And even if your family won’t touch those dishes (seriously, why don’t my kids eat mashed potatoes?! My Irish blood curdles over that), try a nice Irish dessert (like apple cake with custard sauce - yum!).

And, of course, it’s all about the fun, so even just picking up some rainbow cupcakes at the supermarket still helps make things festive, so don’t get too serious here!

Get Into the Spirit

Take your kids to a parade, visit an Irish step dancing group, or simply put on an Irish playlist on Spotify to have an Irish dance party. (I’m a huge Elders fan, meself.) I also use this opportunity to talk about the Irish ancestors that came before, what it was like for them both there and here, and what we carry today - in our personalities, our looks, our determination, even our tempers (ahem) - that make us who we are and bind us together. It wouldn’t be uncommon for me to have the kids hold a potato and note that my family wouldn’t be in America if not for the lowly spud.
image of green clover with text for St Patricks Day
Whether of Irish descent or not, how does your family celebrate St. Patrick’s Day? I know that Americans mark it totally differently than the Irish, but I love the idea of taking a bit of time to share in the mischievous fun and shared heritage of the day.
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