Growing up in a home heavily influenced by our Irish heritage meant that during the month of March the walls echoed with harmonious Celtic music. The savory smell of my mother’s famous corned beef and potatoes was so potent it saturated our clothes. There was also the annual anticipation that maybe this would be the year that my sister and I would catch the leprechaun with a leprechaun trap!
Whether or not you have a wee bit o’ Irish in your lineage, setting a leprechaun trap is a simple and fun activity for any family wishing to bring a little more magic into their March. And since this tradition isn’t nearly as publicized as others (I’m looking at you, Elf on the Shelf), you truly get to make your own rules. Now, in case some of you are overwhelmed by the possibilities of this blank canvas, let me share a few helpful tips to get you ready to hunt that little green guy in no time!
It’s All About Creativity
First, you might be wondering how to even present this leprechaun trap idea to your little ones, especially if you’ve had several St. Patrick’s Days without this tradition. I can assure you, if your child is young enough to have imaginary friends or play make-believe, there’s no need to contrive an elaborate backstory. In fact, I never remember hearing any sort of explanation as to why we were responsible for (or capable of) catching this guy.
Now that I think about it, I have some questions for my mom. Like, is it even ethical to trap a leprechaun? We don’t see leprechauns often, so aren’t they under some sort of protections as an endangered species? Nevertheless, it took me a good 31 years to begin questioning this whole thing, so you should be safe. However, there are plenty of resources just a keyword search away, if you’re looking for a solid script.
The Leprechaun Trap Can Be As Simple (or As Complex) As You Desire
You’ll notice that this point, and the next, really build upon the concept of creativity. While Pinterest is filled with plenty of impressive contraptions and treats to make your leprechaun heist memorable, none of that existed back in the day. When it comes down to it, there are basically two required components:
1. A Leprechaun trap
Whether or not the trap is effective is of no consequence. So, if your child decides to rig up a motion-sensored apparatus, go for it. If instead your child opts for the timeless cardboard-box-propped-up-by-a-stick, that’s great too! Every approach has its merits, and the name of the game is to just have fun. They can even make a story out of it. For example, my sister and I typically had a multi-layered approach incorporating matchbox cars to trip him, the set-up from that classic Mouse Trap game, and the final stop was to lure him into a propped-up-box baited with a Barbie. Looking back, I’m still not sure how he managed to make it out alive.
2. Incriminating evidence
If your child was to catch the tooth fairy or any other mythical or holiday figure, you might find yourself in a sticky situation. The leprechaun is no different. Similar to any good action or suspense movie, the culprit has to always find a loophole to keep the story alive. Sure, your kids want to catch him, but the story has the opportunity to live on for them and other kids if despite their best efforts, Mr. Lucky Charms is still at large.
On St. Partick’s Day morning, all that matters is that the leprechaun trap appears to have been tripped or tampered with. As far as what the leprechaun leaves behind, that’s entirely up to you!
As I mentioned, there weren’t any of the resources available back then to spark creativity like there are now. I’m blessed to have a very crafty mother who went down to the tiniest detail to set the perfect scene. A few of the key components she never missed were:
- Green or gold confetti/glitter to mark the trail that the leprechaun took while maneuvering our set-up
- A note from Sir Shamrock (or whatever we named him) that explained how impressed he was with our trap and detailed why he decided to leave us some “consolation prizes” for our efforts
- Some clever rearranging of the surroundings (i.e., often it would appear our G.I. Joe or Beanie Babies were roped into helping him escape)
- Prizes such as gold chocolate coins, green nail polish, shamrock accessories, etc.
Granted, my mom definitely went “extra” by spray-painting rocks gold, leaving them on the scene (and in the school sandbox for other kids to discover) and somehow acquiring tiny shoes to leave green footprints. However, what truly made those March mornings magical came from the love she put into those simple items listed above and the experience of us marveling as a family how the little leprechaun managed to escape!
YOU are what makes these memories magical
I hope this piece assured you that making a leprechaun trap doesn’t have to be costly in time or money; it’s simply an activity for you and your little ones to use your own devices to create a plan and find joy when it doesn’t pan out exactly as expected.
If you wish to get some visuals or inspiration from the DIYs and tutorials out there, go for it. Just don’t forget that the real fun comes from making it your own. Decades later, my heart is still warmed with the magic from those stones from our driveway that turned into painted gold nuggets overnight, so I promise that whatever you do to make your child’s St. Patty’s day special will absolutely be enough!