Grab Your Green And Get Silly With These Family-Friendly St. Patrick’s Day Ideas

We’re still in winter’s grasp throughout most of the country, and many of us are getting cabin fever while waiting for spring.

We all like having something to look forward to – an exciting day of activities that can involve the whole family.

Well, you’re in luck, because another little celebration is on the horizon.

Yes, St. Patrick’s Day has its roots in the culture of the Irish, but the festivities have been adopted all over the world, especially in the U.S. where so many Irish immigrants settled generations ago.

March 17th marks the feast day of St. Patrick, patron saint of Ireland, and is both a Christian celebration in many churches and one of cultural significance for those of Irish descent.

It is not only a public holiday in Ireland, but has been adopted by Americans as a fun and whimsical celebration that everyone loves to take part in.

The day commemorates Saint Patrick, who brought Christianity to Ireland.  It is said that Patrick was kidnapped from Britain and taken to Ireland as a child.

When he escaped back to England, he studied at a monastery and vowed to return to Ireland to convert the mostly pagan citizens to Christianity.  He had a remarkable success rate.

St. Patrick’s Day has evolved into a celebration of all things Irish – the green of the “Emerald Isle,” the fantasy and “magic” of its legends, and the festive atmosphere of food, songs, and stories.

There are plenty of ways to celebrate the day with your family.  It is a favorite of kids, and they can be introduced to a little of St. Patrick’s history and his influence on the modern-day church.

This is also a good time to learn about Ireland’s myths and legends, and if you are of Irish heritage, you can talk about your ancestors, the beauty of the island, and how Irish culture has influenced many areas in the U.S.

One of the most popular activities for kids these days is making a Leprechaun trap.  They love the excitement of planning how to catch this magical little fellow and can come up with their own creative designs using a few things you probably have around the house.

Any old cardboard box can be decorated with green paper, shamrock shapes, glitter, and rainbows.

Each child can make their own or work on an elaborate design together.  Just cut a little door in the box and leave a few tempting treats to entice the Leprechaun.  We hear he likes golden chocolate coins and rainbow-colored candies!

Let the kids put their trap out the night before St. Patrick’s Day and wake up to a “mess” that the Leprechaun left behind while making his escape.  (Knocking over a few chairs, making some little green “footprints” on the floor with washable paint, and leaving some treats like candies or trinkets make for a fun surprise when the kiddos wake up.)

No celebration is complete without food, and St. Patrick’s Day offers many options.

Try making a traditional Irish dinner with the kids.  Corned beef and cabbage, potatoes, and Irish soda bread makes for a simple menu that the whole family can help with.

And there’s no shortage of fun ideas for sweet treats to share after dinner is over.  You can make green-frosted cupcakes decorated with rainbow-colored candy pieces, “pots of gold” by serving yellow or green jello in little paper cups decorated with whipped cream and rainbow sprinkles, or even a cake covered with every color of the rainbow that the kids can decorate themselves.

You can also add some green food coloring to milk or use edible gold spray sold for cakes to decorate cookies.  A shamrock shaped cookie cutter from the craft store can be used to make St. Patty’s Day cheese and crackers, shaped slices of vegetables, small sandwiches, pancakes – you name it!

We’ve got plenty of fun craft ideas for the day as well.  You’ve already made your Leprechaun trap, but how about some other fun decorations?

The kids can string rainbow-colored fruit ring cereal on string to make a colorful necklace, design Leprechaun hats with green construction paper and glitter, or use paint and glitter to make paper plate rainbows with cotton ball clouds.

We have some favorite books for St. Patrick’s Day that the kids will love, and that may inspire them to come up with some other fun themed activities.

Jamie O’Rourke and the Big Potato is written by beloved children’s author Tomie dePaola, who also wrote Strega Nona.  This silly book will become a family favorite and may inspire you to make some mashed potatoes (colored green, maybe?).  Grab your copy here.

Another fun potato craft is potato printing.  Just cut a small potato in half, dip in green paint, and use the circular shape to make the leaves of a shamrock on paper.

Take the other half of the potato you used for prints and leave it in a dish of shallow water until it sprouts – a great science experiment for the kids.

You can even talk to older kids about some Irish history – the Great Potato Famine – and how it impacted the country and had many Irish families moving to the U.S.

Ten Lucky Leprechauns by Kathryn Heling and Deborah Hembrook is great for toddlers and preschoolers.  The counting and rhyming, along with bright, colorful illustrations, makes for a fun and quick bedtime read.  You can find it here.

Preschoolers can have some fun with math by using colorful candies like m&m’s or Skittles to count with or make patterns.  Older kids can try their hand at writing a limerick – a little rhyming poem to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day – and then read it aloud to the family.

And for a kid-friendly history of St. Patrick and the spread of Christianity in Ireland, pick up a copy of Patrick:  Patron Saint of Ireland here.

Have a costume party with all the silly, green clothes and accessories you can find, look online for some Irish songs to sing as a family, or dance a jig in the middle of the living room.

Or you can attend a local parade or put one on yourselves!

St. Patrick’s Day is one of those fun days in the final stretch of a long winter where families can get silly and make new traditions.  So have fun this year with your own St. Patrick’s Day celebration!

Do you celebrate St. Patrick’s Day as a family?  What are some of the fun activities you do or foods you make together?  Leave us your ideas.

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