Save Some Green on St. Paddy's Day

Soon it will be St. Patrick's Day, when everyone is Irish for a day and frugal bloggers go haywire with puns on the word "green." Although the historical significance is lost on many, the celebration began as an annual observance of the death of St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland, who is credited with converting Irish pagans to Christianity. (Legend has it he used the three leaves of a clover to explain the Holy Trinity.) What was traditionally a religious holiday has expanded into a multiday festival of music, parades, theater performances, carnival rides, and Irish food and drink. Whether you're looking forward to pinching the friend who forgets to wear green or to drinking a refreshing green beer, you can enjoy a variety of St. Patrick's Day activities on the cheap.

Spirited St. Patrick's Day Activities.

These days, of course, the secular and debaucherous norm on March 17 is to go out and drink too much. Many bars will run specials on green beer and themed cocktails throughout the weekend, so try not to pay full price. An organized bar crawl can let you hop from bar to bar with guaranteed drink specials and sometimes even free drinks. The question is whether the upfront cost of a ticket will outweigh the savings.

A more frugal approach is to throw your own party. Green beer can still be enjoyed by all with only a small investment in a bottle of food coloring. The site SaveOnBrew aims to help you find the stores in your ZIP code with the lowest prices on your preferred brand of beer. An added bonus of imbibing at home is you won't find yourself stopping between bars for expensive grub. Run with the obvious green theme and have your friends bring over festive snacks. You can set out bowls of green popcorn (try this recipe from or take a healthier cue from Martha Stewart. She suggests carefully slicing green bell peppers widthwise to create shamrock-shaped munchies that guests can eat with dip. Find the right pepper and you may wind up with lucky four-leafed clovers.

Sober St. Patrick's Day Activities.

Prefer to center the celebration on something besides drinking? Turn your party into a potluck featuring traditional Irish food and learn a recipe for a classic dish. Most of the ingredients for Ina Garten's Irish soda bread on the Food Network are probably already in your pantry. For decor, you'll find cheap St. Patrick's Day tchotchkes galore in stores leading up to the 17th but also plenty of unique ideas online if you're sick of plastic use-it-and-lose-it decorations. A few candles and a cluster of thrift-store vases, glasses, and other vessels in various shades of green makes a cheap yet charming centerpiece. It's also convenient that greenery almost always comes cheaper than flowers.

If you're seeking St. Patrick's Day activities for children or would rather be out and about, most large cities and even some smaller towns host annual parades and other free events. Don't forget to wear green!