With St. Patrick's Day comes kegs of green beer and cocktails with Irish whiskey, but we all know those alcoholic drinks won't exactly fly in the corporate world. Instead, host a celebratory luncheon filled with traditional dishes and games. Slip on a green T-shirt, throw on that leprechaun hat and get ready to party with your favorite office buddies in true Irish style – minus the booze of course.
Here are some ideas to help you prepare:
What's a party without a formal invite? Start by sending out holiday party invitations to all your lucky co-workers (get it?). Write something along the lines of, "Whether you're 100 percent Irish or Irish at heart, join us for our annual St. Patrick's Day bash! Wear something green and bring your favorite Irish treat." Don't forget to include the date, time and location. Since this is an office party, consider doing a luncheon so your employees are still able to celebrate with friends and family after work if they choose.
Send a companywide email asking for some extra hands to help you decide on decorations for the party and little favors to pass out at the end. Get a committee going to make sure the office space is decorated in time and that there are enough party favors for everyone. Create a backdrop to hang over your buffet table. Pick up a pack of multicolored streamers, and hang them in the shape of a rainbow. Use balloons to create clouds around the design. Place a large basket that is filled with the party favors at the end of the rainbow to represent the pot of gold. Just be sure to keep an eye out for those sneaky leprechauns, of course!
For a more elegant look, decorate with bouquets of green carnations and traditional Bells of Ireland, a plant that symbolizes luck.
A simple party favor idea could be a mason jar filled with green, gold and white candies. Attach a note using your company's business stationery and thank everyone for coming and making a dish for the potluck. Or, you might opt to fill a bag with St. Patrick's Day-themed items your employees can use for next year such as green beads, a leprechaun hat, shamrock-shaped sunglasses, etc. Employees can utilize these items at next year's holiday celebration, or they can just give them to their kids to have some fun with.
Traditional Irish dishes
Potlucks are great for big office parties, so request that your co-workers prepare something that has a St. Patrick's Day theme – or even a traditional Irish dish if they know how to cook up a good meal. Ideas for dishes include a corned beef and cabbage casserole, soda bread, Shepherd's pie or a Dublin Coodle, which is Irish sausage, bacon, onion and potatoes. This dish dates back as early as the 18th century! For those co-workers of yours who always manage to burn the cookies or start a fire, suggest they bring spinach artichoke dip or guacamole – it's green, so it works! Set everything out buffet style. Since some of these dishes may be foreign to some people, create a festive sign that identifies the food items.
Delicious and interactive desserts
Since buffet meals turn out smoothly with large groups of people, consider setting up an ice cream bar on one end of the room and a cookie decorating table on the other.
For the ice cream bar, feature green tea, pistachio, mint chocolate chip and key lime pie flavors. Pick up a couple of tubs of chocolate and vanilla ice cream, too – just in case. Aside from your essential toppings like whipped cream and cherries, put out some green M&M's, sprinkles, Skittles, gummy bears, rock candy bites, etc.
As for the cookie bar, go with a plain shamrock-shaped sugar cookie that everyone can decorate the way they choose. Set out white frosting and green food coloring to make a festive base that allows the toppings to stick. Don't forget to include an array of green sprinkles and more of the same candies listed above. Have some plastic bags ready so people can bring a couple of cookies home to their kids.
Fun and games
We saved the best for last, as the games are always the best part of the party. Play a couple of rounds of lucky bingo, pin the shamrock on the leprechaun or have a St. Patrick's Day-themed scavenger hunt. Here's how to play:
As the host, hide Irish-related gifts or facts about the country around the office before everyone arrives. Next, write clues on green paper shamrocks, each relating to something you hid around the room. For example, you could ask, "What's a traditional Irish drink?" The answer is beer, so employees would head to the kitchen to locate the next clue. The winning team (or individual) will win an Irish-themed prize – surprise, surprise – like a case of Guinness, a bottle of Irish whiskey, a photograph of Ireland or leprechaun memorabilia.