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Save Some Green on St. Patrick’s Day

St. Patrick’s Day—the one day when, regardless of our heritage, we are all a little bit Irish—has become a major holiday in the U.S. In fact, according to the National Retail Federation’s annual survey, Americans spent a record $5.9 billion celebrating St. Patrick’s Day last year. The survey found that the holiday is most popular among individuals 18-24 years old, with 77% celebrating, but those 35-44 years will be the biggest spenders at an average of $45.76. Food, beverages, clothes, decorations and candy are the top expenses.

Spend Less Green on March 17

March 17 falls on a Sunday this year. As a result, many may forego the traditional Irish pub bar crawl (Drinking green beer all day doesn’t make for a very fun Monday morning!), and opt to have a party at home or dinner with friends instead.

If you decide to have a festive get-together, you don’t need to spend a pot o’ gold to enjoy this fun holiday. Savings and deals abound as stores fight for your cherished dollars. Here are some ways to save some green on St. Patrick’s Day—no luck required!

Save on food. If corned beef and cabbage is a must-have for your family, grocery price-tracker apps like Flipp, Ibotta and ShopKick can help you find the best prices near you. Download them from your device’s app store. Make your dinner a potluck to share the food expense. Ask everyone to bring their favorite Irish dish.

If you don’t want a heavy meal, ask guests to bring finger foods or desserts. Make it fun, and a little challenging, by asking everyone to bring a food or drink item that’s gold or green.

If you prefer to go out to eat, consider getting lunch instead of dinner. Some restaurants will offer lunch specials or early bird deals to draw folks in before the evening dinner rush. Or consider going just for happy hour; many Irish bars and pubs celebrate the holiday by lowering their prices and showcasing happy hour drink specials. Better yet, bring some friends and split the cost of green beer pitchers.

Be sure to keep an eye out for promotions like “Wear green and get a free taco!” and other restaurants offering free or discounted green foods and drinks. Follow your favorite restaurants on social media so you don’t miss their holiday specials. Some offer exclusive savings if you “follow” them on Facebook and other social media sites.

Save on decorations. One inexpensive way to decorate for the day is to cut out large green shamrocks from green construction paper or craft foam. Hang them all around, use string to hang from the ceiling, tape to your front door, windows, and walls. Add glitter or sparkly thread for some extra bling. Take it a step further and write Irish blessings or fun facts about the holiday on them. Or, write your guests’ names on the shamrocks along with something special about that person, or a fun memory you have together, and why you’re “lucky” to know them. It’s sure to bring some smiles and won’t cost you more than some paper and a sharpie!

If you’re a little craft-challenged and would rather buy decorations, you can get some great decorations, themed paper plates, tablecloths, etc. for cheap at your local dollar store.

St. Patrick’s Day may also be the one holiday where you can save money by procrastinating.

Kerry Taylor, author of 397 Ways to Save Money, says shopping at the last minute for party supplies can mean big savings, since retailers know there isn’t much demand for St. Patrick’s Day items after the holiday. Taylor recommends buying supplies in the afternoon of March 17 before your party.

If waiting until the last minute causes too much anxiety, seasonal sales are underway at most craft and party stores. Check out Oriental Trading Company, Michael’s Crafts, Party City, and Target.

And remember on March 18 to shop post-holiday clearance sales so you can stock up for next year!

Save on clothes. Your local thrift store or Goodwill are bound to have some funky green shirts, pants, dresses, etc. (you may even find some green dishes or glassware!) Most have discount days where certain items are marked down even further; check out your local second hand shops to find out when these special sales days are.

If you’d prefer to buy new, many retailers offer deals on St. Patrick’s Day apparel and accessories. Check out Walmart, Kohls, CostumeDiscounters, eBay, Amazon, and Etsy. Bundle with online coupons, special discounts, and free shipping deals, and you can save more than a leprechaun’s gold!

Save on activities. If you do choose to go out on St. Patrick’s Day, check out coupon sites like Groupon and Living Social for discounts on pub crawls, festivals, dining, and more. For kid-friendly activities, look into your local children’s museum or library. Certifikid is also a good resource for discounts on local events geared towards families with children of all ages.

Almost every town in America has its own St. Patrick’s Day parade and festival. It’s a great (and free!) way to get dressed up in light-up shamrock headbands, wear oversized goofy green hats, and celebrate the Irish holiday with your neighbors. Maryland parades worth noting are in Baltimore, Annapolis, and Ocean City. For more Maryland events, click here. For Washington, D.C. events, click here.

If you’re up for a day trip to D.C., be sure to go by the White House. For St. Patrick’s Day, the fountain on the North side of the White House is dyed green, in honor or James Hoban—an Irish architect who won the design competition for the presidential mansion. He oversaw the building of the White House twice, originally in the 1790s and after its burning in 1814.

Reserve Your Spot Early
Regardless of what activity you decide to do, try to purchase your admission in advance to save money. This is especially true of 5K races, which have become a popular St. Paddy’s Day tradition. You can often save up to 50% off the race admission price if you purchase your spot early. Generally, the same is true for bar crawls, live music and other events.

And if you do go out, be sure to plan ahead so you have a ride home. Ride services like Uber and Lyft offer discount codes on St. Patrick’s Day, and organizations like SoberRide and many cab companies offer discounted or free rides to help make sure holiday revelers make it home safe.

Resources: NerdWallet, TurboTax, Savingadvice.com, Creditbox, Free Tours by Foot, Visit Maryland