So you could go to a pub for St. Patrick’s Day, but who really wants to stand on a sticky floor at O’Neill’s attempting to get served behind a sea of furry green top hats? And what can Waxy O’Connor’s offer, that you can’t get at home? A queue for a urinal that reeks of the piss of 500 other men? A wince-making wait for the ladies that concludes in a cubicle that won’t lock, wee all over the seat and loo roll all over the floor? I’d say you’re far better celebrating St. Patrick’s Day at home. Which is what I’ll be doing, with a few friends, some cards, and enough booze to obliterate the entire cast of Riverdance.

I’ve planned my own St. Patrick’s Day Party, with Irish flags as capes, Louis Walsh impressions, and green M&Ms as chips if you fancy a flutter at blackjack. If you want to recreate my St. Patrick’s Day Party at home, here’s what to do: 

DRESS CODE

St. Patrick’s Day is on a Saturday this year, so I don’t want to hear any s*** about coming straight from work as an excuse for looking lame. Here’s what I want to see:

  1. Leprechaun beards: male or female, I want everyone with a beard drawn on their face with either face paints or an eyebrow pencil. Feel free to draw your beard on when you get there.
  2. Green for Galway: Everyone should wear a green top – a shirt, jumper or t-shirt - in tribute to the leprechauns, then on top of this, everyone should wear an unbuttoned lumberjack shirt in tribute to Ed Sheeran, who of course sang Galway Girl. 
  3. Get Celtic: Everyone’s got to have either a Celtic band or a Celtic cross painted on them somewhere, using body paint. Don’t feel you need to do this yourself – arrive early and get someone who hasn’t been on the Guinness since breakfast to do it for you.

Note: For each of these, everyone who does it gets an extra two chips in addition to tonight’s blackjack starter stack of ten chips – and anyone who doesn’t gets two chips forfeited.

DRINKS

So your guests get a choice of welcome drink – either a Guinness or a whiskey on the rocks made with shamrock-shaped ice-cubes. Not everyone wants to drink an entire pint of the black stuff, so here are some alternatives:

  • Black Velvet on a Budget: Half fill a Champagne flute with Cava, then top it up with Guinness. Use Champagne instead of Cava if you’re feeling fancy, but frankly, I’d just buy whatever’s on offer in Tesco.
  • Black and Gold: This is half cider, half Guinness. Pour the cider in first, then the Guinness goes on top. Pour the Guinness slowly, over the back of a spoon, to keep the colours separate. This would usually be in a pint glass but there’s no reason not to make a smaller one in a tumbler or a wine glass – and feel free to substitute the cider for lager.
  • Guinness Shandy: Fill half the glass with Guinness, then top it up with lemonade to ease you into the evening.

You’ll also need to get some shots ready, because it’s St. Patrick’s Day and every time someone gets blackjack, everyone has a shot. If you’re hosting, prepare trays of these before your friends arrive, so you don’t waste valuable drinking time in the kitchen. 

  1. Irish Flag: This is sort of the three stripes of the Irish flag, so pour Midori in first (because, green), then Baileys (to represent the white bit), then Grand Marnier (because, orange). To keep the colours separate, so you’ve got three stripes, pour the Baileys in slowly, over the back of a teaspoon (or a bar spoon if you’ve got one), then do the same with the Grand Marnier.
  2. Irish Cowboy: If you can’t be bothered layering your spirits, pour equal parts Baileys and bourbon (or substitute Jameson’s, since you’ve bought it) into a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake well, then strain it into shot glasses. If you put in, say, 5 oz of each, it should make about ten shots (definitely make them in batches).

FOOD

So, we have two main goals here:

  1. Keeping it simple
  2. Soaking up the alcohol – while also keeping to the theme.

I’m going to suggest jacket potatoes (because, potatoes), swimming in Irish butter, and loaded with cheese and bacon (because, nice). Remember that you’ll need to put these in the oven for around an hour, so do it at the start of the evening. Don’t leave it too late, or everyone will be legless.

DÉCOR

Forget any notion of doing this tastefully. Instead, embrace the commercialised plastic paddy paraphernalia, and adorn your living room with leprechauns. These can be bouncing from the ceiling, while Irish flag bunting bedecks your walls. You can buy a trunkful of tat on Amazon or have a look on Google.

SOUNDTRACK

So I could happily put The Pogues on all night. With Dirty Old Town, Irish Rover, Fairytale of New York and Fiesta, The Pogues could easily dominate the St. Patrick’s Day Party soundtrack. But not everyone’s as obsessed as I am (I once read Shane MacGowan’s autobiography three times back to back) so here are some other Irish artists to put on your playlist:

  • U2. Yes, I know no one likes Bono, but come on guys, they made some good music.
  • Sinead O’Connor. Play Nothing Compares 2 U towards the end of the night when everyone’s over-emotional after the beers. There will be singing.
  • B*Witched: C’est La Vie. Yeah, it’s pretty much the Irish version of Hey Macarena, but who doesn’t love three minutes of nonsense that gets you dancing? Play this early on in the evening when everyone’s lively enough to attempt to Riverdance but isn’t too likely to be sick.
  • Mustang Sally by The Commitments because it’s brilliant and there will be SINGING.

BLACKJACK!

OK, so it wouldn’t be a St. Patrick’s Day Party without a bit of betting, so let’s get down to blackjack. Cover a table – or even your ironing board – with an Irish flag [https://www.partypacks.co.uk/irish-eire-cloth-flag-5ft-x-3ft-pid64387.html] and take your places. All the players should be given ten chips each – you can make these by cutting Celtic crosses out of green cardboard. If you’ve got kids, get them to do it – it counts as doing artwork with them. If you don’t have kids, and you can’t be bothered to do it yourself, just buy some green M&Ms - use these as chips instead. 

The host takes the first turn at dealing, wearing a green St. Patrick’s Day hat, and an Irish flag as a cape. While everyone should, of course, have a drink in their hand at all times, when anyone gets blackjack (an Ace with a ten or a face card, ie Jack, Queen or King) everyone should do a shot. Before downing it, everyone’s got to hold up their shot and announce in the manner of Louis Walsh on X Factor: “You look like a popstar! You sound like a pop star, you are a popstar!” Then the person with the blackjack becomes the dealer, and the person who was the dealer takes their place as a player, with ten starting “chips”. If anyone runs out of chips and wants more, they can do a Riverdance for ten more chips. Note: this is the only way to buy in, and you can only do it if you’ve completely run out of chips. At the end of the night, the winner is the one with the most chips, and they can nominate anyone they choose to do a Riverdance!

HOW TO PLAY BLACKJACK ON ST. PATRICK'S DAY

  1. So, making sure each player has put a chip down, the dealer should deal one card to each player from left to right.
  2. The dealer should deal a card to themselves, followed by a second card to each player - all the cards should be face up.
  3. Then still working from left to right, the dealer should ask each player if they want another card. If the player goes over 21, they bust – so take their cards and their chips, then move onto the next player and ask if they want a card.
  4. When the dealer has worked their way round the table, asking each player if they want a card, the dealer should draw a second card for themselves. If the dealer’s hand now comes to 16 or less, they should draw another card, and if it comes to 17 more, they shouldn’t draw any more cards. If the dealer busts (ie if they go over 21) they should pay everyone. Otherwise, they should pay the players with a higher hand, and take the losing blackjack bets from the players with a lower hand.
  5. In a casino (or an online casino) blackjack would be paid at one and a half to one, but for this, let’s keep it simple and make all the payouts even money, eg if the player’s bet one chip, pay them one chip. 

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May the luck of the Irish be with you!

About the Author
By

Samantha Rea is a London based journalist and former croupier. At the age of 18, she learned to deal roulette and blackjack at a private training school in East London. She then earnt her stripes as a trainee in a casino at the Marble Arch End of Edgeware Road, a mini-Middle East in the center of London.