This is a guest post written by Sarah Lockwood.
Over the years, the cultural and religious celebration of St. Patrick’s Day has become closely associated with—you guessed it!—drinking alcohol. Indeed, St. Patrick’s Day is probably one of the drunkest days of the year in the United States (followed closely by the 4th of July).
Still, more and more people are choosing to abstain from alcohol during this long-celebrated holiday—because they or a loved on is in recovery, because they are celebrating in conjunction with their families and young children, or just because alcohol isn’t their thing.
Whatever the reason, it’s important to realize that the beer-soaked St. Patrick’s Day that many people know (and some people love) is mostly an American invention. In Ireland, the holiday is a bit more reserved, focusing more on friends, family, history, and food than on alcoholic beverages.
Indeed, St. Patrick’s Day is also known as the Feast of St. Patrick, and since its inception more than three centuries ago, the day has been a traditional feast day.
So if you’re looking for a way of celebrate that is both fun for the whole family and true to tradition, here are some tips for creating a special St. Patrick’s Day feast—while holding the booze.
Break out some traditional Irish recipes.
Sure, you could just serve some Lucky Charms and call it a day, but that’s not really keeping in the spirit of St. Patrick Day. The good thing about traditional Irish food is that it is not all that complicated, often consisting of just a few key ingredients. Don’t confuse simple for boring, however, as traditional Irish fare can be absolutely delicious.
Traditional Irish cuisine is heavy on the meat, potatoes, bread, and hearty vegetables. With this in mind, dishes like stew and shepherd’s pie are great for any St. Patrick’s Day feast. Colcannon, a dish of cabbage and potatoes, is also easy and super tasty. If you have a couple of days of preparation time, you can even try corning your own beef.
The best part? These meal ideas not only make for a special St. Patrick’s Day feast, but they also create excellent leftovers to enjoy throughout the week.
Get creative for dessert.
When it’s time for sweets, it’s time for green. The traditional color of St. Patrick’s Day looks great in a variety of desserts—from cookies and cakes to pies and puddings. Start here for a good list of St. Patrick’s Day dessert recipes, and invite your kids to get into the spirit by baking alongside you!
Don’t forget the decorations.
St. Patrick’s Day is one of those holidays where it’s fun to go all out with the decor; going over the top isn’t going to hurt! Try green tablecloths or place settings for a simple option, or get more creative with things like green yarn-covered flower vases, clover wreaths, and streamer tissue paper rainbows. (Brit+Co has even more wonderful ideas!) You could even consider going all-out and providing your guests with special, custom-designed shirts that coordinate with your green decor.
For entertainment, look to Irish pop culture.
Sure, the conversation of your friends and family is well enough to have a good time—but what’s a holiday party without good music? Whether it’s traditional folk, celtic, or modern tunes, be sure to think Irish when picking your playlist. After dinner, you can always digest with a classic piece of Irish cinema.
Enjoy some fun green drinks!
Yes, you can turn beverages besides beer green and yes, you should! One little bottle of green food coloring can turn a normal drink into a St. Patrick’s Day-themed beverage. And if artificial green isn’t your thing, there are plenty of delicious Irish cocktails that are also wonderful when served virgin. You certainly won’t miss the hangover!
How will you celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in a family-friendly way?
Sarah Lockwood is a former social worker who understands the difficulties young people and their loved ones face when drug use becomes an issue. She put together ThePreventionCoalition after watching her own daughter struggle with addiction for years.