Saint Patrick's Day Family Fun

We're all a little Irish on St. Patrick's Day. How about celebrating as a family? As you're getting ready to practice your best Irish "brogue," check out all the fun things you can do as a family for Saint Patrick’s Day!

by Dana B. Bryant

St. Patrick's Day Family FunAs children, my brothers and I would wake up on March 17 and find our house turned upside down, allegedly by a leprechaun.

While we never caught the little culprit, he did leave muddy footprints on the floor, green milk in the refrigerator, and cookie crumbs on the table.

Now that I am all grown up, I suspect my parents might have been in cahoots, no matter how magical it seemed at the time.

Almost everyone you meet lays claim to their Irish heritage (no matter how many times removed). What's a "bit of blarney" amongst friends?

As you prepare to practice your best Irish "brogue," we pulled a few favorite suggestions to let you and your family get in on the Saint Patrick's Day fun.

Saint Patrick's Day Trivia

Leprechauns are magic creatures that guard an ancient treasure. They bury the treasure in large pots at the end of a rainbow. According to the legend, if you catch one, the leprechaun will promise great wealth if you set him free.

According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the highest number of leaves found on a clover is 14.

In Ireland, people traditionally wear a small bunch of shamrocks on their jackets. Women and girls wear green ribbons in their hair.

Since 1962, Chicago pours tons of green dye into the Chicago river on St. Patrick's Day (the quantity has been reduced, for environmental reasons, from 100 to 40 tons).

Creative Crafts for Luck

Children and children-at-heart love making crafts. Gather a few simple supplies and spend the afternoon bringing out the "Irish" in all!

Even the Flowers Turn Green

You could just buy already green flowers, but what's the fun in that? Set up a wee one's science project and turn white into green. Start with carnations, daisies or other white flowers, add a few drops of green food coloring into their water and watch their colors change -- like leprechaun magic. While you're waiting for the transformation, try one of these crafts.

Shamrocks: Pretty or Edible or Both?

Cut small heart shapes from bright green paper, sugar cookies or various texture of fabric. Arrange three or four hearts with the points inward to form shamrocks. Glue into place or bake, depending on your choice of media.

Hand Print Four-Leaf Clovers

Trace your child's hand onto green construction paper. Make four hand prints. Cut out a green rectangle for the stem. You might need to help with the cutting. Arrange the hand prints, fingers out so they looks like leaves. Once you have the "shamrock leaves" in place, glue them together.

Put on Your Leprechaun Hat

Create and decorate a hat you can wear from green construction paper or build miniature hats for place settings or center places.

Make a Homemade Card

Press shamrocks and glue or tape onto your card. You'll be sending extra luck if you find a four-leaf clover.

A Rainbow of Activities

Trap a Leprechaun

Rumor has it that the night before Saint Patrick's Day, leprechauns come out of hiding and cause a wee bit of mischief. Encourage your kids to catch one in the act. Create and decorate a trap. Bait it with gold coin or a shoe that needs repaired.

Melinda, a member shares, "My hubby's best friend and his daughter make a leprechaun trap every year. They decorate a box with paper and glitter and rig it with a trip string. Then they leave some cold coin candy in it. During the night, Rick goes out and checks it. If a small green man hasn't already tripped it, he gets rid of the gold candy and leaves a trail of some other kind of candy out the door."

Don't worry if you don't have a box handy. You can cut a trap door in the top of an oatmeal box or rig up a strawberry basket to drop on the wee creature.

Hunting for Treasure

Legend says that the fourth leaf on a four-leaf clover stands for luck. It also says that every leprechaun has a pot of gold. May the "luck of the Irish" be with you in your search for treasure!

Shamrock and lucky clovers: Head to the park or the backyard and search for shamrocks. Bring along a snack to quell the hungry explorers. We suggest shamrock green peppers, leprechaun logs (celery filled with cream cheese and sprinkles with parsley), Irish flag kebabs (pepper, cauliflower and carrots on a toothpick) or veggie rainbow wraps.

Looking for gold, indoors: Dust a bit of gold onto green pompoms and put your preschooler on the trail treasure.

Where's the pot 'o gold: Send the kids on a treasure hunt for that elusive pot 'o gold. Share the lucky leprechaun's secret map to his treasure chest, complete with the clues leading to the prize.

Spotting the Green

Play "I Spy with My Little Eye" something that is green. If you're out driving, have a contest and see who can find the most green shapes.

Recipes and Treats

On Saint Patrick's Day, it seems there's a wee bit o' the Irish in most of us. Celebrate the day with the Irish-inspired treats.

Yummy Green Shamrocks

Melt a package of green chocolate discs in a double boiler or in the microwaves. Dip mini pretzels into the chocolate. Arrange on wax paper in groups of three to resemble a shamrock. Cool and share.

Green and Jiggly

Make lime jello "jigglers." Instead of cutting into squares, cut into shamrocks.

Other ideas for green food:

  • Add spinach to a smoothie and rename it a "shamrock shake"
  • Make an omelet or crepe with basil pesto
  • Cut green peppers into circles

Rainbow Muffin Tin Snacks

Line a six-muffin tin with rainbow colored paper wrappers. Then fill each cup with a corresponding fruit or vegetable.

You can use these ideas for each color of the rainbow:

  • Red: Strawberries, raspberries, radishes
  • Orange: Carrot sticks, mandarin orange slices
  • Yellow: Banana slices, yellow bell peppers, pear tomatoes
  • Green: Cucumber slices, kiwi, avocado wedges
  • Blue: Blueberries
  • Purple: Purple plums, blackberries

Corned Beef and Cabbage

Host a Saint Patrick's Day feast with Corned Beef and Cabbage, Irish soda bread, and a plate of shamrock cookies.

Whether you'll be wearin' the green, following a rainbow to find hidden gold, or cooking up a feast, we'd like to hear your plans for Saint Patrick’s Day. Share your bit o' Irish lore!

Copyright ©