15 Cheap St. Patrick’s Day Party Ideas on a Budget

For over 1,000 years, the Irish have celebrated St. Patrick’s Day in honor of Ireland’s patron saint. Historically, Saint Patrick used the Shamrock to explain the Holy Trinity to the pagan Irish, and since then the Shamrock has been popularly associated with this holiday.

The date chosen for the commemoration is 17th March in honor of Saint Patrick, who passed away on that date. For Christians, St. Patrick’s Day celebrates the arrival of Christianity in Ireland, which was officially made a feast day in the early seventeenth century.

However, today, St Patrick’s Day is celebrated as a celebration of Irish culture and being Irish, as parties are held all day long. During the course of the day, people come and go from parties starting at breakfast. In addition, stews, bread, desserts, alcoholic beverages, and music are all generally free-flowing throughout the entire day.

As St. Patrick’s Day approaches, let’s bring a bit of Ireland to our homes or workplaces. Even better? You can throw a St. Patrick’s Day without shattering your budget.

1. Invite guests on the cheap.

Organizing a St. Patrick’s Day party requires making a guest list of those you wish to invite. Keep in mind that St. Patrick’s Day is a festive occasion that often involves drinking, so decide whether you would like to invite kids to the party or not. Also, this will help you determine what type of food, decorations, and activities.

After you have compiled your guest list, create your own invitation cards. Or, if your gathering is small, you can send out a quick text or create a Facebook group. If you want to make it a little more formal, send an e-invitation using Evite or Minted for free.

Your invitations should include all the necessary information, such as the date, time, location, and parking information. In addition, let your guests know whether there is a particular dress code or color code (keep it green). As a point of advice, I would recommend sending the invitation no later than three to four weeks prior to the event.

2. Create your own pot of gold.

I think this would be a good activity to do with a small group of kids. After whipping up a batch of microwave-salted caramel sauce, let each child decorate his or her own pot of gold.

Just make sure that you have the following supplies ready:

  • A mini glass jar with a lid
  • A rainbow you can print out
  • Caramel
  • For dipping, pretzels

3. Prepare a traditional Irish meal.

Irish food offers comfort and familiarity with a sense of humbleness that makes many dishes both appealing and irresistible. For example, Irish stew.

An Irish stew is a comforting one-pot meal that cooks slowly until the meat is very tender. With only a few key ingredients, this Irish dish is known for its simplicity. Although Americans commonly make this stew with beef, lamb is the meat of choice in Ireland. In addition to potatoes and onions, the dish may also include carrots.

Some other dishes that you and your guests can prepare are:

For a virtual option, online cooking classes and cook-offs provide a great opportunity for friends and coworkers to share a meal and an activity together. Make a meal together by meeting up on Zoom, FaceTime, or another similar software.

If you really want to stick to your budget, make use of use coupons for your ingredients.

4. Make a shamrock body scrub.

Would you like to do something fun for adults on St. Patrick’s Day? This fun DIY is perfect for a ladies night in with wine and green desserts. Or, this could be a fun activity for teachers to do with their students. However, the best part is that homemade sugar scrubs are easy to make and inexpensive.

According to Toni from Design Dazzle, here’s what you’ll need:

  • 1/2 cup coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup melt-and-pour soap
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 5-7 drops of lemon essential oils
  • gel food coloring: kelly green, leaf green, yellow
  • shamrock silicone mold
  • microwaveable bowl
  • spoon

5. Attend a parade (safely).

Parades are held in most cities on St. Patrick’s Day. Make your party feel like a pregame, then head out to the street for the real celebration.

According to Explore, here are the biggest St. Patrick’s Day celebrations in the U.S.:

  • New York, NY
  • Chicago, IL
  • Boston, MA
  • Savannah, Ga
  • Kansas City, MO
  • Philadelphia, PA
  • New Haven, CT
  • Pittsburgh, PA
  • Denver, CO
  • Cleveland, OH
  • New London, WI
  • O’Neill, NE
  • Hot Springs, AR
  • Detroit, MI
  • San Francisco, CA

There are many virtual St. Patrick’s Day parades you can watch online if you cannot attend in person. So, invite people over and watch the parade from the comfort of your home. Or, you can get a crew together virtually and do the same.

6. Design your own outfit.

Make a list of the green items in your closet. You can then create a St. Patrick’s Day outfit with what you already have to minimize costs. Wearing an entirely green outfit, however, is not a requirement for St. Patrick’s Day. You can add green accents to your everyday look with accessories such as a scarf, tie, socks, or jewelry.

In contrast, if you want a totally festive outfit for St. Patrick’s Day, get crafty and make your own clothes. At craft stores, you can buy t-shirts for a few dollars. Get inspired and purchase some fabric paint to create a green outfit for St. Patrick’s Day.

Here are some clever, fun, and easy DIY tutorials that will give you some great ideas and instructions. And, within a few hours, you’ll have your own custom-made St. Patrick’s Day outfit.

7. Organize a scavenger hunt.

You can get everyone involved and move with a themed scavenger hunt. Furthermore, it helps guests get to know one another and encourages teamwork. Don’t forget to have some prizes ready for the winners.

What’s more, this is another activity you can do virtually. If you want to host an online scavenger hunt, ask participants one by one to collect objects. Players or teams win points when they show the item onscreen first.

8. Play a festive slap-the-bag game.

Head to your local grocery store and buy a box of Lucky Charms. Then, after eating this box of Lucky Charms, cut a hole in the bottom. It should be just big enough to fit the Franzia spout through.

Put the bag inside the box and insert the spout. That’s all there is to it. Now you have to slap the bag — St. Patrick’s day edition.

9. Make your own decorations.

The Internet is full of tutorials on how to craft decorations to add some Irish style to your home. To add a little extra cheer to your home, you can print out a number of St. Patrick’s Day printables.

Here are some of my favorite suggestions:

  • Shamrock balloons. Did you know that you can make a shamrock balloon with four green heart-shaped balloons? Decorate the treat table and photo wall with these balloons. It is the Irish tradition to find a four-leaf clover on your way to good luck, so don’t feel that you need to use fewer balloons; ‘less is more’ is not applicable.
  • Party table. It’s not a party unless there’s a table for treats. With a green table runner, place your decadent treats on your table. Using streamers, create a rainbow with a pot of gold at the end above the table. For your guests to dive right in, the table should have sweet treats, rainbow cups, napkins, and plates.
  • Shamrock streamers. Start cutting some green streamers, dark and light. However, this task requires extreme precision. It may be easier to buy St. Patrick’s Day-themed streamers rather than making your own if precision isn’t your strongest suit. You could even invite some friends over and have a competition! Make the best shamrock streamers for the party and you win.
  • Irish flag mason jars. Making Irish flag mason jars would be a great addition to your St. Patrick’s Day decorations. The first step is to apply primer to them. Starting from the top, paint the Irish flag in the colors green, white, and orange — green at the top, white in the middle, and orange at the bottom.

10. Make St. Patrick’s Day slime.

Make a St. Patrick’s Day version of a wildly popular kids’ craft. You can have hours of fun with just a few craft supplies, such as:

  • 1 (5-oz.) bottle of clear glue
  • 1/4 c. water
  • Green food coloring, (optional)
  • Gold glitter
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tbsp. contact solution (with borate)

11. Play a festive game.

Games and activities are great ways to break the ice and get people mingling. Consider setting up a little pot-of-gold game for the kids.

The goal of this game is to hide gold-wrapped candies around your house for a mini-treasure hunt. Ask the kids to find them. You can have the kids fill little black pots if you want to keep the theme.

Here are a couple more games you may want to play on St. Patrick’s Day:

  • Pin the hat on the Leprechaun. There is no need to worry about the audience for this game since it caters to all ages. For the game, guests need to wear face-covering materials (e.g., eye masks) and a leprechaun hat printed out. A full-size leprechaun should be printed and taped to the wall before the party.
  • Coin toss. A coin toss is a fun way to test your guests’ throwing skills. Simply put out a pot and ask your guests to stand at least 10 feet away. Provide them with a handful of gold coins, and let the game begin. Those who collect the most coins win.
  • Shamrock bingo. This activity is guaranteed to be enjoyed by guests of all ages. Participants are encouraged to participate and it brings everyone together. Best of all? You’re all set to play St. Patrick’s Day Bingo once you print out the cards.

12. It should be BYOB-friendly.

If you’re the host, don’t feel obligated to provide every beverage imaginable. The costs of stocking up on liquor, beer, wine, and more can quickly add up, so don’t go overboard. You might want to consider creating a signature cocktail for your guests-one that is delicious and on a theme.

Generally, batch cocktails are easy to make and allow people to serve themselves, so you don’t have to refill everyone’s glass all evening. An Irish mule or green apple sangria are two fun ideas.

As part of your event invitation, let your guests know that they’re welcome to bring a beverage of their choice to share and drink. To keep any drinks guests bring chilled, make sure you have plenty of ice and a cooler on hand.

Make sure there is a non-alcoholic option for kids and adults who don’t want to drink alcohol. You can’t go wrong with lemonade, water, or seltzer with lime.

13. Host a movie marathon.

For a more subtle celebration, try hosting a shamrock-themed streaming party. Here are some recommendations for movies and TV shows:

  • Into the West (1992)
  • The Luck of the Irish (2001)
  • The Banshees of Inisherin (2022)
  • Brooklyn (2015)
  • P. S. I Love You (2007)
  • Michael Collins (1996)
  • Leap Year (2010)
  • Wild Mountain Thyme (2020)
  • Once (2007)
  • The Secret of Roan Inish (1994)
  • Angela’s Ashes (1999)

This is yet another party that can be done virtually. Meet on a video call, pick a festive movie or show, and synchronize the video with Watch2Gether.

14. Make an Irish playlist.

Your party will be the talk of the town if you have a well-curated music playlist. For St. Patrick’s Day, you might enjoy these Irish bands:

  • U2
  • Westlife
  • The Pogues
  • Thin Lizzy
  • Horslips
  • Van Morrison
  • The Cranberries
  • Damien Rice
  • The Boomtown Rats
  • The Dubliners
  • Clannad
  • The Chieftains
  • Glen Hansard
  • The Corrs

15. Take an Irish step dancing class.

Take part in what might be the most difficult, yet beautiful form of dancing. It’s also a great cardio workout. And, you can learn the basics for free on sites like Howcast or Youtube.

This is another virtual party you could throw by either booking a virtual dance class or following a video tutorial.

FAQs About St. Patrick’s Day

Who was St. Patrick?

As the Apostle of Ireland, St. Patrick is considered a Christian missionary. A patron saint is selected to protect the interests of a country, place, group, trade or profession, or activity, and to intercede on their behalf.

In Ireland, St. Patrick is credited with converting the people to Christianity.

It’s interesting to note that he was in Britain in 385 AD. In spite of this, he was brought to Ireland as a slave at the age of 16. Six years later, he escaped and became a priest. In response to a vision, he returned to Ireland to Christianize the Irish.

He is credited with driving out the snakes from Ireland. Most biologists, however, maintain that Ireland never had snakes. The death of St. Patrick occurs on March 17, 461 AD.

When was the first St. Patrick’s day celebration?

In what is now St. Augustine, Florida, a parade honoring St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland, is held for the first time.

According to records, Ricardo Artur, the Spanish colony’s Irish vicar, led a parade in honor of St. Patrick’s Day on March 17, 1601. It was more than a century later when homesick Irish soldiers who served in the English military marched in Boston in 1737 and in New York City in 1762.

How is St. Patrick’s Day celebrated in Ireland?

In both Ireland and Northern Ireland, March 17 is a bank holiday. Schools and some businesses are closed as well. In general, restaurants and bars remain open regardless of their hours. Tourist-oriented businesses (pubs, for instance) may actually extend their hours to accommodate tourists in major Irish cities.

St. Patrick’s Day falls during Lent, a time of prayer, fasting, and repentance for Catholics. Irish families used to dance, drink, and feast during the holiday, but American Irish-born settlers started holding massive parties. In recent years, Ireland has adopted the American attitude toward its national holiday, and Dublin celebrates it with a four-day festival that is reminiscent of American celebrations.

What’s the association with the color green?

Ireland’s national color is undoubtedly green, but it hasn’t always been. In Saint Patrick’s day, the country’s flag was blue. The Great Irish Rebellion of 1641, in which commander Owen Roe O’Neill led his men against the English while flying a green flag with a harp, changed that. The Irish flag was brought to the U.S. by immigrants hundreds of years later, and wearing green gradually became a symbol of pride for the Irish.

In Ireland during St. Patrick’s Day, you’ll see plenty of green, as well as shamrocks, a symbol of Patrick’s religious devotion and national pride. Unless a bar caters to American tourists, you won’t find green drinks there. In fact, as a result of the religious nature of March 17, bars were prohibited from opening their doors prior to the 1960s.

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