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St. Patrick's Day

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Fun ways kids can celebrate St. Patrick's Day

St. Patrick's Day is a time of year when everyone gets to celebrate Irish heritage. Although once celebrated primarily by those people of Irish descent, St. Patrick's Day is now celebrated by people of various ethnic backgrounds. Many of the festivities surrounding St. Patrick's Day are geared toward adults. However, any celebration can be customized to include enjoyable activities for younger celebrants.

Before buying supplies for the party, make a list of guests who have acknowledged they will attend the festivities. This will help determine just what is needed for the party based on the number of participants and age groups. It may be wise to divide the celebration into two parts. Have the party start earlier in the day and cater to all age groups. Later on the children may retire to bed or be under the care of babysitters while the adults continue the revelry.

Here are some other ideas for success.

* Children are more well behaved when they have something to keep them occupied, so organize games and activities to keep their attention. Instead of an "egg hunt," which would be an Easter activity, borrow from the theme and hide leprechaun treasures around the house. Send children on a scavenger hunt to find chocolate gold coins or other treats.

* Enlist the help of children with refreshments. They can help whip up a batch of Irish soda bread or a green-frosted cake. Purchase M&M(R) candies and have children sort out the yellow and green ones for festive candy dishes.

* Create a specialized beverage that children will enjoy. It's easy to make a bowl of punch with a few ingredients. Mix seltzer water with a green- or yellow-hued fruit punch. Float spoonfuls of lime sherbet on top, which will gradually melt into the punch. Spoon into green plastic cups.

* Children enjoy pinatas because they get to break them open and find the treasure inside. Purchase a treasure chest, shamrock or another pinata shape that will tie into your theme. Fill with stickers, gold coins, candy, and other St. Patrick's Day items.

* Be sure to have foods on hand that children will enjoy. Anything can be turned festive with a hint of green food coloring. Tint macaroni and cheese green and serve in little bowls. Color biscuit dough and wrap around mini frankfurters for clever "pigs in a blanket." Serve chicken strips with green-hued mashed potatoes. Cut sandwiches into four-leaf clovers with the appropriate cookie cutter. Think creatively to put smiles on the faces of children. Even adults may appreciate the creativity put into food and beverages.

People of all ages and cultures gather together for St. Patrick's Day festivities. Help everyone to feel welcome by catering to the needs of party guests of all ages.