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St. Patrick's Day Progressive Party

It always seems that every bar in town has something special going on for St. Patrick's Day. This year, instead of limiting your fun to one spot, check out several by hosting a progressive party.

    You'll Need
  • A car and driver
  • Human décor
  • Maps
Date, Theme, Budget, and Venue
St. Patrick's Day—March 17th at 6:00 p.m.

A touch o' the green theme—St. Patrick's Day is a celebration of all things Irish, including beer, corned beef, four-leaf clovers, and Celtic music. Because you and your guests will be imbibing quite a lot of beer at this progressive party, feel free to get a little silly with your planning.

Midrange budget—For progressive parties, guests pay their own way at the various establishments you visit. However, you'll want to arrange transportation for the event, for which the host should pay—unless you have very understanding friends who wouldn't mind chipping in on something fancy, such as a limo. Plan on about $20 per person.

Bars and restaurants venue—You'll need to do a bit of research when you're planning this party. Call the Irish bars and restaurants in your city of choice, and find out about their different holiday offerings. Restaurants often plan special Irish meals (corned beef!), and many bars have food, drink, and live-music specials. Talk to the bartender or manager to find out when they think the bar will be most crowded and plan your evening accordingly. You don't want to spend the whole night waiting in line to get into an over-crowded venue.

Select three to five locations, planning to hit a happy hour first (to get you lubricated), and then go somewhere for dinner. After that, visit one or two lively bars, sandwiching in at least one bar that features live music.

So you don't have to worry about drinking and driving, consider your transportation carefully. Of course, your budget will dictate your options, but you'll want to think creatively: a taxi, a rented SUV, or a minivan—or even a bus—would all work well. You'll also want to hire a driver, which will cost you about $100. Call around and find out what's available in your area, and don't forget to tip the driver at least 10% above his contracted rate.

If you have the bucks and want to make your party an event to remember, hire a limousine and driver for the entire night. You and your guests will be treated with lavish courtesy, and you won't have to worry about transportation the entire evening. You might want to invite guests to your home or office (if appropriate) to meet up before the progression begins. A general meet-up will give folks the chance to say hello and will lend a party air to what could easily degenerate into an evening of bar hopping. You can also end the party at your place, as long as you prepare that venue accordingly.

Guest List and Invitations
Your guest list should include about 10 people. Because it can be difficult to keep track of larger amounts of people as you move from location to location, you might want to keep the guest list small. However, if you have the stamina and can afford to rent a bus, invite as many people as you would like, assuming your chosen venues can accommodate larger parties.

Because of the nature of this party, you'll probably have a lot of last-minute invitees and RSVPs. To easily keep track of your numbers, use a web-based invitation system. Don't forget to keep in mind the size of vehicle you're using and the amount of people that vehicle can safely seat.

Menu, Décor, Favors, Music, and Entertainment
The very best part of this party (from a hosting perspective) is that you are not required to provide any food or beverages. If you'd like, you can get something small, such as a cheese-and-cracker plate or St. Patrick's Day cookies, to offer at your meet-up. However, it's really not necessary.

In lieu of decorating your venue, create "human décor"—something your guests can wear that will identify them during your party. Irish-themed hats, wristbands, pins, necklaces (perhaps a day-glo green gel necklace?), or festive nametags would all suffice. Think about your guests' personalities and select something most of them will find entertaining, and then get creative and fashion something festive.

Maps make great favors for this party. After you've determined what venues you'll be hitting, create a colorful list and include a small map that shows the location of each venue (use an Internet map site to find a good map). In addition to providing your guests with something tangible by which to remember the evening (even if they remember little else), you'll ensure that no one gets lost, should he miss the bus.

You don't have to plan the music for this party. However, you might throw on a CD for your meet-up—Enya, The Pogues, or another Irish band.

To keep this event a party, and not just a bar-a-thon, plan fun activities en route to each destination. You can repurpose almost any kid's car game for your activities; here are a few to ponder:

  • Alphabet Game—As you drive to the next venue, challenge your guests to spot objects beginning with the letters of the alphabet, beginning with "A." As adults, your selections might be very different from those of children: For example, "D" could stand for "Drunkard," and "S" for "Streetwalker." To add a theme-appropriate element to your game, instruct guests that they must limit their spotting to things related to the Emerald Isle ("Look! A drunk leprechaun!"). Because there is no "winner" for this game, it might be a good activity to get the car party started.
  • License Plate Bingo—Challenge drivers to spell out different Irish-related words (Ireland, leprechaun, pot o'gold) with letters they spot on license plates. The first person to complete his word wins a drink on everyone else.
  • Ladder Lingo—Begin with a St. Patrick's Day-themed word, and request the guest next to you to think of another themed word beginning with the last letter of your word. For the word "Celtic," the next word could be "Clover." Keep the game going until no one can think of another word; the loser buys the next round.

The purpose of these activities is to continue the merriment. If you find your games aren't going over well, eliminate them. Remember, as the host, it is your job to ensure your guests are happy, not annoyed or bored.
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Reproduced from Plan a Fabulous Party In No Time, by Tamar Love, by permission of Pearson Education. Copyright © 2005 by Que Publishing.

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