Yea or Nay: Bringing Your Kids to the Bar on St. Patrick's Day
St. Patrick's Day is right around the corner, and you might be seeing lots of specials at your local bar or pub crawls being advertised around town. Holidays can be a great source of fun for the whole family, and there are often lots of family-friendly events surrounding this one (click the link for some in the Los Angeles area!). But for a holiday that can be as alcohol-heavy as this one, it begs the question: is it a good idea to bring little kids to bars? At Hugalongs, we believe that having little kids shouldn't mean completely giving up activities that aren't primarily branded as child-friendly. There is much debate on whether bars are a suitable place to bring children, and a holiday like St. Patrick's Day can add to the already rowdy and uncontrollable environment that might make a child feel overwhelmed or unsafe. So we've decided to unpack some of our thoughts here, along with some tips and tricks for how to have a great St. Patrick's Day whether you're adventuring out or adventuring in. So read and decide for yourself--should you bring your kids to the bar this St. Patrick's day?
Adventuring Out: Proximity to the Powder Room
If you've been to a bar on a busy night of the year before, you know the bathroom situation can get a little out of control sometimes, especially in the ladies' room. Our big tip is to pick your location strategically based on the knowledge that little ones are going to need to go when they need to go. Try to scope out a table that is near the bathroom, so you don't have to walk all the way across the room just to get in line. The actual location of the bar can be important too! If the line gets too long, are there grocery stores or other businesses nearby that you could run into if your child really has to go? The big thing here is making sure that they never have to feel physically uncomfortable. Adults may know that going out on a busy night sometimes means holding it, but little kids shouldn't have to go through that experience.
Adventuring In: Avoiding Crowds and Attaining Skills
If staying in feels more your style this year, use this Friday night as an opportunity to introduce parts of the Irish culture that don't include leprechauns or pots of gold! We are all for activities that get you moving, and Irish dancing will definitely have you up and on your feet! Try pulling up a video on Youtube to learn the basics together! We especially love Irish dancing because it teaches a lot about rhythm and balance, and the focus on the feet without the use of the hands makes it easier to break down for little ones!
Adventuring Out: Venturing into Virgin Territory
If you're going to bring a kid to a bar, why not allow them the same experience that you're going there for? More and more bars have started to offer zero-alcohol beers, and while the kids may not enjoy the taste, it can give them the opportunity to be introduced to something new. These alcohol-free beers will also keep the theme focused on Ireland. On top of the beers, many bars will offer special St. Patrick's Day themed drinks, so our tip is to order the same thing as your kid (theirs virgin, obviously!) to make it a fun bonding experience! The fun of going to a bar is the experience of getting fun drinks, so utilize whatever ways you can make that happen for the little ones!
*Pro Tip: Not sure if your kid is adventurous enough to try something new? Order some mocktails for yourself and let them have a small taste! Offering a new drink as something you want to share with them may be just the encouragement they need! Plus, it's always good to have a water or regular beverage in between each alcoholic drink!
Adventuring In: Mastering the Mocktail
Mixology is a hands-on craft that has many of the elements kids love about making slime or playing in the dirt. There are so many fun elements to drinks that allow for getting your hands dirty and creating something. Whether your kids will be best as the designated stirrer, the sugar-rim roller or the lemon zester (with supervision, of course!), they will love assisting in the process of making a delicious, fun drink that is on-theme with the holiday. If there are fun elements to a recipe that may not satisfy a picky eater, let them help you prepare it for your drink and leave it out of theirs!
Click here for a great list of St. Patrick's Day mocktail ideas!
Adventuring Out: Out is In
One of our big fears with bars, especially on a drink-heavy holiday, is that you cannot always control the environment or the people around you. While you cannot control the noise level of a large group of people, you can control which bar you go to, and we recommend one with an outdoor seating area where noise can dissipate and reduce the risk of your child being overwhelmed too quickly. Depending on the whether, outdoor seating may be popular so we recommend getting there early, snagging a high chair if you need it and camping out before the place becomes standing-room-only. Ordinarily, Happy Hours often start at 4 p.m., so try planning to arrive at 2 or 3, or before your local bar's special is supposed to start!
Adventuring In: The Best of Both Worlds
There are so many fun, hands on activities that you can do with your little ones on St. Patrick's Day with just a few supplies and a desire to get creative. But kids tend to tucker out when they've had a full day of fun, so organize that four leaf clover hunt, make those mocktails, and even read them a St. Patrick's Day themed bedtime story. If you were on the fence about bringing them to the bar, now is the time to note that bars are often a nighttime activity. Even if you did bring your kids out with you, you might have to adjust the desired time around their desired bedtime. So if you still want the full St. Patrick's Day experience, call in the sitter around 6 and you can still make it well before the fun is over!
Adventuring Out: Bring a Buddy
There are lots of reasons a bar can be overstimulating, even for adults, so make sure that you bring along an item your child feels safe with to help them navigate whatever feelings may come up for them while they are out with you. Stuffed animals are known to reduce stress and can really come in handy for a child who needs a cuddle to calm them down! Just make sure you don't leave their friend behind at the booth to party into the wee hours of the night! (Of course, to prevent that from happening we recommend bringing a Hugalongs Wearable Stuffed Animal.) The bottom line is, anything you can do to make them feel safe, comfortable, and familiar is going to make the experience more enjoyable for them and for you!
The truth is, every family is going to have a unique situation this St. Patrick's Day. So whether you decide to bring the kids out, leave them with a sitter, or stay in and party on your own, that decision will be what is right for you and your little ones! And if you follow our tips and tricks, we guarantee you'll be feeling lucky this Friday--wherever you may be. Happy St. Patrick's Day!