Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Fun With Leprechauns

Neither Sam nor I are morning people so getting up early after being night owls has never been easy. When Sam was little I would play a little game with him in the morning and tell him that a little leprechaun lived in his belly button and he'd have to wake up quick to catch it. It worked for quite a while actually. 

Because he did believe there was a leprechaun living in his belly button I thought it only fitting we do something special for the little guy on St. Patrick's Day. On Christmas people leave cookies out for Santa right? 

To tell you the truth, in our house we leave cookies and milk and goat cheese and crackers. Why the goat cheese and crackers you ask? Well, in the book "The Autobiography of Santa Clause" Jeff Guinn explains that in addition to  cookies and milk Santa would love to find some goat cheese left out for him. And ever since I read that book to Sam in kindergarten, we've left goat cheese and crackers out along with our home made cookies. I really can't recommend this book highly enough, but, I digress... 

So, a few weeks before St. Patrick's Day I went on a hunt for a fun St. Patrick's Day tradition for us to start, involving a leprechaun. I found plenty of "how to trap a leprechaun" crafts to make, but that just didn't seem right. We didn't want to trap our friendly leprechaun, we wanted to thank him. Then I came across the "Legend of the Leprechauns" on the Family Fun website and knew I found what I was looking for. I did add a twist to how we carried out our tradition.
Mint Oreo Cookie Fudge from Tip Junkie

Clover Cookies from Family Fun
According to the legend, leprechauns are full of magic and love to play tricks. If you decorate a treasure box and leave it empty, out in the moonlight, a leprechaun will fill it with some kind of small gift, but then they hide it on you. If the box is found before the end of St. Patrick's Day, you get to keep whatever is in the box, if you don't find it, poof, the gifts are gone.

Shamrock and Rainbow cookies by Amanda's Cookin
We wanted to thank our little green friend for bringing us good luck so rather than leaving him an empty box to fill, we left him a treat and of course hoped he'd leave Sam something in return.We always left him a home baked treat like Shamrock shape sugar cookies, mint chocolate chip brownies, or golden cupcakes with green icing. While waiting for our goodies to bake we'd decorate the treasure box.

Recycle a small box like a shoe box or tissue box. This is a good lesson in going green both for St. Patrick's and by recycling. Tell your child that even though they are magical, leprechauns are very small and if they can't lift the box or reach the top of it, they most certainly can't hide it and fill it.

 Use construction paper, glue, glitter and stickers to decorate the treasure box. Once the glue is dry, set the treasure box on a windowsill where the moon can shine on it. You can leave the box empty if you wish. We always set the cookie or cupcake we baked on a little plate next to the box for our leprechaun. Apparently leprechauns have a voracious appetite when it comes to sweet treats, we only ever found crumbs on the plate the next morning.

Once your child is asleep, the leprechaun can get to work filling and hiding the treasure box. Some things Sam's leprechaun left for him over the years were marbles, matchbox cars, bubbles, sidewalk chalk, bouncy balls, and books. 

Some cute Leprechaun gifts
To help wee ones find their treasure box, leprechauns always leave a trail from the windowsill where they left the box over night, to the box's new hiding spot. Our leprechaun always left behind gold wrapped chocolate coins, but your leprechaun could use paper shamrocks, green candies, tiny glitter footprints. 

Leprechauns will hide the box in a fairly easy spot for a young child, the older the child gets, the more difficult the hiding spot. The last year we did this, our leprechaun left multiple trails all over the house, some even leading outside. Then that tricky little bugger kept moving that treasure box all day long until Sam found it under his pillow when he went to bed that night filled with some art supplies.

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