Celebrating those Minor Holidays with Ward Members
by Clark L and Kathryn H. Kidd

A reader, Kathleen of Rochester, Washington, writes:

Hi. I do have your book and like it a lot.  I am the Activities Chairwoman for our little ward in Rochester, WA.  The High Priests and wives do one activity a year, centered on St. Patrick’s Day. It used to be corned beef and cabbage potluck but is now more of an anything potluck. I have been asked to be in charge of about 30 to 45 minutes of entertainment. Last year we did the “Oldie Wed Game,” and it was great.  I can’t think of anything great this year.  Any ideas? 

Our book, Ward Activities for the Clueless, covers holidays extensively – even the minor ones.  And if that’s not enough we have a holiday (along with party suggestions) for every day of the year!  But for the benefit of you who are worrying about St. Patrick’s Day ward parties, here are some suggestions that may appeal to you or your group.

Saint Patrick’s Day Green Party

The obvious idea for a Saint Patrick’s Day party is to emphasize the color green.  Request that everyone wears a green costume, and give prizes for the best ones.  Continue that theme with the food, and make sure that all the food served is green (green punch, green frosting on the cookies and cakes, maybe even green mashed potatoes).  If members are requested to bring food, give prizes for the green dishes that look and taste good.

One thing you may want to take into account is that the day before St. Patrick’s Day is National Artichoke Hearts Day.  Artichokes are green, aren’t they?  Artichoke hearts are food, aren’t they?  You may want to incorporate an artichoke hearts cook-off into your Green Party.  The dollar store in your town will be an excellent source of tacky – and oh-so-cheap – prizes for the winners.

Saint Patrick’s Day Shamrock Cookies Decorating Contest

As a class activity, make and decorate shamrock cookies.  You can find shamrock-shaped cookie cutters in most kitchen stores, and remember to add green food coloring to the frosting.  For older people, such as the couples you’d find at a high priests social, you can make the cookies ahead of time and have a cookie decorating contest on the night of the party.  If you don’t want to eat all those cookies afterwards, take ’em to a shut-in or drop them off at a nursing home.

Saint Patrick’s Day Irish Dancing

If you have anyone experienced in Irish dancing, have them put on a performance and then teach the audience members some of the more basic routines.

Saint Patrick’s Day Tall Tales Contest

The Irish have a natural love of blarney, which is another word for tall tales.  Have a contest for the best tall tale, and be sure to give valuable prizes!

Saint Patrick’s Day Green Service Project

Make gift baskets for members of the ward or the community.  Make sure the contents of the baskets are green, or have some other Irish connection.  Have class members deliver the completed baskets, and have them wish the recipients a Happy Saint Patrick’s Day.

Saint Patrick’s Day Green Scavenger Hunt

Divide into teams and equip each team with a video camera.  Give each team a list of items they need to film, and a time limit for when they must be back to the meeting place (30-60 minutes).  Specify whether or not cars may be used (if this is for a group of youth, consider requiring an adult to be the driver).  At the conclusion of the time limit, watch each video, determine the winner (based on creativity and the number of items filmed), and have refreshments.  Examples of items you could have on the list would be: a green house, a green automobile, a man wearing green clothes, a woman wearing green clothes, a billboard with green lettering, a can of green beans, a whole watermelon, and a box of frozen broccoli.

St. Patrick’s Dinner’s on Me

Women are known for their cooking skills, but this is one opportunity your high priests can turn the tables on them.  (This is also a great service project the Young Women can perform for the Young Men (or vice versa), or that the youth can perform for the adults of the ward.)  Host and sponsor a dinner for another group in the ward.  Your group should take care of all of the arrangements, including publicity, menu planning, cooking, serving, decorations, program (optional) and the cleaning up.  If you want to commemorate the holiday, serve only green food!  At the end of the meal, present each of the ladies with a small box of candy, a flower, or similar memento.  A little pot of shamrocks would be nice.

Remember – it’s not the day itself but the opportunity to get together that people want to celebrate.  There’s something you can do creatively no matter what day your group decides to meet.  The only criterion is that people have the chance to fellowship with one another, to spend time socially with the people they work with in their church assignments, and to develop stronger bonds as a ward family.  If you can provide an atmosphere of warmth and friendship, and if you can offer them something that will be more interesting to them than whatever happens to be on television that particular night, you’ll be able to plan ward activities for any day of the year.