St. Patrick's Day
Photo: Thinkstock/liquidlibrary
Luck: It's one of our most universal beliefs. Whether it's beginner's luck or getting lucky, luck changes things for the good. So let's turn the luck of the Irish on its head this week with some fresh ideas for fêting St. Patrick that don't rely on the traditional pub crawl with green beer. Kids tend to have an "all play and no work" attitude, so enlist them to help create a new tradition to celebrate the day—hosting a good luck potluck.
There's a whole grocery list of allegedly lucky dishes—just Google "good luck foods" and get inspired by the variety. Feel free to borrow from traditional New Year's Eve traditions—dumplings, "longevity" noodles, black-eyed peas, a whole fish, lentils, cornbread, cabbage. Do your inviting casually, on the phone, and feel free to throw out some ideas. Everyone leans toward his or her specialty, so let your guests jump in and make the match. As the host, you'll want to create a main course that's a joy for you to prepare. Me, I love Asian noodle soups. Did you know that if you slurp a noodle all the way into your mouth in one breath, it's good luck? Yup. My husband likes to smoke a whole fish, mostly salmon and trout. Whole foods symbolize prosperity and abundance. In other words, luck!
Invites. Check! Menu. Check! Now let's take your cabinet clutter and transform it into some sparkling decorations and ideas to get the fun flying.

The Décor: A Wishing Well Centerpiece
Peruse your old, dusty vases, flower pots or salad bowls (try borrowing before buying, as well). Fill with water and float a flower or two in each one. If you have a floating candle on hand, light it and send it for a swim. Then leave a bunch of pennies for guests to toss in the water while they make a wish! Start a guessing game over who wished what. Luckily, no one can keep a secret, so the game can go all night.

The Icebreaker: Fortune Ribbons
Gather some of those old gift ribbons from the holiday stash box, and cut them in varying lengths—12 to 24 inches. Use a fine-tipped fabric pen and write fortunes on each one. For example, "You are the icing on the cake," "Kiss me, I'm lucky" or "Something you lost will soon show up." If you're stuck for ideas, head to Google for "fortune cookie sayings." The more creative types may even personalize and customize them for your group (this is a great way to set the tone of your event, but keep it G-rated—unless this is an adult-only event!). Tie each ribbon to a lollipop or flower stem, hold them all together in your hand like a bouquet for guests to pick one and read their fortune, to the collective delight of the crowd.

The Game: Feeling Lucky?
For after-dinner fun, customize one of those flash-card memory games. Print two photos of family members and friends (pets too!) on card stock. Cut them all to the same size and shape, and pull out that lamination machine if you've got one. Shuffle the cards and lay them face down in a grid pattern on the table. Players take turns flipping pairs of cards over. If the two cards match, the player scores one point, removes those cards and gets another turn. If the cards don't match, turn them back over for the next player. Have a few lucky charms on hand to give as prizes—look around your place, you might just have a few household items that bring good luck laying around! Use Google to get a list of "good luck charms."
The Mind-set: Lucky Duck
Social events—sharing food, fun, friends and family—are living, breathing reminders of how lucky we already are. Think of parties as a perfect stage for promoting a thankful mind-set among the ranks. Include the kids by giving them a job of honor. First get some paint, glitter, stickers, craft jewels—the works—and let them go wild, decorating a plain-old rubber duck. Then ask the kids to pass the decorated duck around, so everyone gets a chance to say a few words about why they are such a lucky duck. Some responses might be funny: "I'm a lucky duck because I finally found a hairdresser whose liberated me from years of hideous helmet hair." Or heartfelt: "I'm a lucky duck because I finally found the love of my life." Either way, you'll create a lasting tradition for your Lucky Day dinner.

The Theme: Forever Green
Whether or not you choose to host a party this year, mark St. Patrick's Day with an annual, start-of-spring greening ritual. Find ways to make your home more eco-friendly and efficient—more green! One of my friends has a ritual of sifting through her drawers to recruit a new crop of T-shirts and old washcloths to use instead of wasting paper towels. My personal favorite spring activity is planting a small herb and vegetable garden. Even one little pot can yield a super-satisfying herb crop that will bring fresh flavors to your meals all summer long. Even lettuce can be grown in pots on your balcony! Don't overthink it or feel like you have to save the world—just one simple easy green step at a time is enough. Cute new green ideas are always appreciated; ask your potluck guests to bring some. Vote up a winner and issue a prize. This year, I want to try that Topsy-Turvy hanging tomato basket. Let me know if any of you have tried it!


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