It must be springtime. The crocuses are peeking out along with a few tentative daffodils. The scent of warming earth greets me when I first step outside for the day. And hints of green are everywhere I turn. But wait, those aren't the green shoots of spring I see. Those are decorations for St. Patrick's Day, one of the surest signs that spring is just around the corner, so anticipate the coming season by planning a family party for St. Patrick's Day to get everyone in the mood for springtime green.
Setting the Stage
*Set your table with a green table cloth and white or green napkins.
*Create a centerpiece from pots of shamrocks (clover) that can often be found at this time of the year in local supermarkets. Group the pots in a decorative basket for one large centerpiece. Or you can place the plants in small terra cotta pots, tie a bow around each one with a sheer green ribbon, and place them down the center of your table.
*If you can't find pots of shamrocks, any white or green flowers that would look equally delightful on your table: Bells of Ireland; Emerald Roses; Calla Lillies; White Tulips; White Daffodils. Check with your local florist to see what is available. Be sure to intersperse plenty of greenery among the flowers.
*If you'll have children at your party, scatter Lucky Charms cereal on your table as an edible confetti. The kids won't believe their good luck!
*Don't forget the Leprechaun's gold! Gold foil-covered chocolate coins can be added to your table decorations as additional confetti. Alternatively, you can create party favors by wrapping these gold coins in squares of green velvet and tying them closed with a gold ribbon.
*Play traditional Irish music during your party. CD's are readily available in book and music stores at this time of year.
*Provide young children with St. Patrick's Day coloring pages to keep them busy while they wait to sit down to dinner.
*Be ready with a traditional Irish toast to begin your meal. One of my favorites is the following:
*May the road rise to meet you, may the wind be always at your back, the sun shine warm upon your face, the rain fall soft upon your fields, and until we meet again, may God hold you in the hallow of his hand.
*Watercress Soup - Both the watercress and potatoes in this soup are quintessentially Irish.
*James Beard's Irish Stew - You can use your own favorite stew recipe, if you have one, but be sure to include plenty of root vegetables or potatoes in your dish.
*Irish Soda Bread - An easy recipe to bake.
*Mint Frosted Brownies - Garnish with fresh mint leaves.