25 Fun and Festive St. Patrick's Day Activities for the Whole Family

·8 min read

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Whether you have ancestors who came over from Ireland or not, everyone is Irish on St. Patrick's Day. Irish folks have observed the Roman Catholic feast of St. Patrick, patron saint of Ireland, since around the ninth or 10th century, but nowadays, those celebrations look very different than they once did, especially in America. In fact, many of the St. Patrick's Day activities and traditions you know and love today actually originated in America. However, whether those beloved traditions are traditionally Irish or not, what really matters on March 17 is having a good time.

Before you worry that you're doing it all wrong, take it as a good sign that Ireland has embraced some of these St. Patrick's Day activities that started in America, such as parades, corned beef, and even green beer (though it took a while for Ireland to come around to that tradition). From making yummy St. Patrick's Day recipes to putting together easy St. Patrick's Day crafts, there's really no wrong way to celebrate all things Irish on March 17. If you're not sure how to spend your day this year, then here are some ideas that people of all ages can enjoy.

Photo credit: skodonnell
Photo credit: skodonnell

1. Bake soda bread.

Making a traditional Irish soda bread recipe consisting of flour, baking soda, buttermilk, and salt is easier than you think. This type of bread originated in Ireland in the early 1800s and allowed people who didn't have an oven (which was most people at the time) to make bread.

2. Wear green.

Of course, March 17 can't come and go without you donning at least one piece of green clothing. Whether you're trying to avoid being pinched or want an excuse to wear your green pleather pants, consider embracing the colorful tradition, even with a simple green accessory.

3. Make an Irish meal.

There are so many delicious St. Patrick's Day recipes out there to make your celebration even more authentic this year, like a traditional beef stew infused with two cups of Guinness or corned beef and cabbage with a mustard glaze.

4. Have a shamrock cookie decorating contest.

Decorating cookies can be a part of any holiday, not just Christmas. Gather your kids or friends for a shamrock cookie decorating contest, with the winner getting bragging rights (and maybe an extra cookie or two after dinner). Make sure you invest in a shamrock cookie cutter and green icing ahead of time!

Photo credit: AnnaPustynnikova
Photo credit: AnnaPustynnikova

5. Play a St. Patrick's Day-themed game.

No matter your age, there are St. Patrick's Day-themed games for everyone to enjoy. From St. Paddy's Bingo for the whole family to green drinking dice for the adults, everyone's bound to find a game that'll keep them laughing and competing for hours.

6. Make green slime.

Slime on its own can be really fun — but making your own slime? That takes the fun to the next level. You can watch the goo come to life in front of you, and the best part is that this slime kit comes with a bunch of colors, so you don't have to limit the fun to St. Paddy's Day.

7. Attend a St. Patrick's Day parade.

St. Patrick's Day parades are held throughout the country, both in major cities and small towns, and you can do an online search to see whether there's a parade taking place near you this year. While the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic hindered last year's in person parades, these annual celebrations will return in 2022. Chicago, New York City, and Boston are just a few cities known to hold notorious St. Paddy's Day parades.

Photo credit: Drew Angerer
Photo credit: Drew Angerer

8. Whip up a shamrock peppermint shake.

Don't limit your St. Paddy's Day drinks to alcohol. With some vanilla, ice cream, peppermint, and green food coloring, you can have the most beautifully delicious and festive milkshake.

9. Make a St. Patrick's Day craft.

Your little leprechauns will love making shamrock-shaped plates, wreaths, and hats using affordable materials. The best part? Your finished products will leave you with cute holiday decorations to spread around the house.

10. Bake something green.

Starting the day off with green velvet silver dollar pancakes and ending it with sweet Lucky Charm cookies sounds like the perfect way to ring in the colorful holiday.

11. Watch a holiday-inspired movie.

Move over, Christmas movies — it's time for St. Patrick's Day movies to shine. Spend the day or night watching a fun St. Paddy's Day movie at home (and make sure you accompany your viewing with some green snacks).

12. Make St. Patrick's Day cards.

Cards are one of the easiest ways to brighten someone's day, even if it's for a holiday you don't normally dish out cards for. Make some St. Paddy's Day cards for your grandparents, people at your church, or the kids at the local hospital, and you'll bring smiles to many faces on March 17.

Photo credit: FotografiaBasica - Getty Images
Photo credit: FotografiaBasica - Getty Images

13. Plan a scavenger hunt.

Test your luck this year by setting up a scavenger hunt with a few friends, family, and the kids. You can hide treats around the neighborhood with clues, and, who knows — you just may win a pot of gold!

14. Brush up on your Irish-American history.

According to the 2016 United States Census Bureau, 33.1 million Americans claim Irish ancestry. There are a ton of online resources for learning about Irish culture, like Cultural Atlas, Irish Central, and more.

15. Listen to Irish poetry.

Ireland has birthed some of history's most renowned poets. Luckily, you can get inspired for free by listening to the audio works of W.B. Yeats, Seamus Heaney, and Samuel Beckett on Spotify.

16. Cook like an Irishman.

Grab your partner or a friend and have your own at-home Irish cooking class, following along with an online tutorial. And if you prefer step-by-step directions, then you can get a copy of My Irish Table: Recipes from the Homeland and Restaurant Eve, which features classic Irish recipes, like Irish Stew and Shepherd’s Pie, from a four-star chef.

17. Listen to Irish music.

Nothing gets you in the holiday spirit quite like Irish music. On March 17, throw on some classic Irish tunes and perform a jig in your living room with the whole family. You can listen to a three-hour compilation of some of the best Irish music here.

18. Give to a green cause.

Concern Worldwide is one of the largest international charities based in Ireland, providing food, shelter, and healthcare to those in need. Consider donating water or supplies at ConcernGifts.org.

19. Have an Irish coffee.

If you're not a Guinness fan, then Irish coffees are the tastiest (and most festive) cocktails to drink on March 17. Try this delicious Irish coffee recipe, which features brown sugar for extra sweetness. There's a healthy amount of Irish whiskey in here to keep you toasty, so savor it slowly.

20. Have a Guinness.

Guinness really is the official drink of St. Patrick's Day, and whether or not you're usually into the stout beer, go ahead and try a pint if you never have. You may just find that the creamy, delicious beer is your new favorite.

Photo credit: jdwfoto - Getty Images
Photo credit: jdwfoto - Getty Images

21. Learn Irish dancing.

Irish step dancing is a unique style of dancing, and if you're in the mood to break a sweat and try something new, then an Irish step class is a fun way to get out of your comfort zone on St. Paddy's. There are plenty of online how-to videos for beginners that'll show you a few moves, so you can learn from the comfort of your own home.

22. Taste some whiskeys.

Irish whiskey is hugely popular these days. Sales of the drink generated over $4 billion in revenue in 2021, according to the Distilled Spirits Council. And could there be a better time to try out the trend than St. Patrick's Day? We think not. Pick up a few bottles from your local liquor store and prepare to become the whiskey connoisseur you always knew you could be.

23. Search for four-leaf clovers.

Take the kids on an adventure in search of lucky four-leaf clovers. They'll be endlessly entertained searching through a clover field to find the lucky ones, and it's a good way to get outside and get the imagination wandering.

Photo credit: Yuki Kondo
Photo credit: Yuki Kondo

24. Listen to some of your favorite Irish singers.

Ireland is home to many famous singers, and a great way to pay tribute to the holiday is to dance around your house or belt out some tunes sung by your favorite Irish artists. Some singers to put on your St. Paddy's Day playlist: Hozier, Niall Horan, Bono, Sinead O'Connor, and Van Morrison, among many others.

25. Design a festive manicure.

Designing some festive St. Patrick's Day nails will have you feeling extra lucky come March 17. Stick to a solid green, or paint on some rainbows, clovers, or perhaps a pot of gold if you really want to make a statement.

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