Each St. Patrick’s Day, the Norwegians and the Germans show the Irish how to throw a party. For several years, the Gundersons, the Bogners and the Schmidts have thrown their annual St. Patrick’s Day Party and Bean Bag Tournament, what neighbors say is the best party of the year. Our party includes at least 64 couples, and often more. Here’s how we do it.
Location and Decor
We’ve been favored with a perfect place to throw parties, especially a St. Patrick’s Day party. Because of the size of our guest list, we reserve the recreation hall and patio of our community clubhouse. This provides us with a shaded, outdoor area for seating, complete with benches, plastic chairs and tables.
A large, grassy area adjoins the patio, where we can position our boards for the bean bag tournament. The rec hall, accessible at either end of the patio, is where we set up the buffet food line – in one door and out the other.
There’s never any shortage of St. Pat’s decorating ideas in the holiday departments at major markets. We use them all, from leprechauns, to shamrocks of all sizes, to green table cloths, and all the accessories. They have everything we need to dress up the walls, the tables — and the guests. In case someone shows up not properly adorned, we’ve got hats, bangles and those goofy eyeglasses.
The dressed-up guests themselves are a part of the décor, both present and past. Because we have a few years of history, we have lots of pictures from previous parties to hang. Each year the attire gets more outrageous, so we can always count on having great pictures for next year.
Food and Drink
We provide the corned beef and cabbage, and (for the Germans) brats and sauerkraut — a huge roaster-full of each. The guests bring salads, side dishes, and desserts, all with creative touches of Kelly green. We furnish the plastic ware, cups, glasses, plates and napkins.
There are plenty of drinks; soft for the teetotalers and hard for the rest. We serve regular and lite beers and a full bar, including the mandatory Jameson and Bushmills Irish whiskey. Near the reception table, there’s always an industrial-size cooler of a powerful, green punch made with vodka, Crème De Menthe, and lemon-lime soda.
The guests check in at a reception table and get a name tag, and sign up for the bean bag tournament; the first 64 couples are in the tournament — the rest are very vocal spectators. We have a large jar at the reception table filled with golf tees, jelly beans, bottle caps, or some other small objects each year. The guests try to guess how many of these objects there are in the jar and the closest one wins a prize. We’re amazed when someone nails it!
For the bean bag tournament, we have 10 pairs of boards set up on the lawn. As each match is decided, another match begins so that there is play going continuously for two to three hours. We have the winners names engraved on a trophy, which they retain until next year. Their picture is among the decorations for next year.
Each year when it’s over we’re exhausted, but when March rolls around we can’t wait to do it again.