Each holiday brings with it the opportunity to participate in unique celebrations with your kids, and St. Patrick’s Day has no shortage of fun festivities. Whether you are lucky enough to be Irish or just love celebrating the holiday, try these fun and educational ideas to bring some luck to your home.
Eat all things green
For breakfast, try some green eggs and ham while reading the Dr. Seuss book to your kids, or dye your pancakes green just for fun. For lunch, try serving up a buffet of green foods— broccoli, celery, salad, guacamole and grapes. Wash it all down with some green juice. Who knows? Maybe your child will try some new foods while trying to get good luck on St. Paddy’s Day.
Attend a parade
Check your local listings for a St. Patrick’s Day parade and attend as a family. The Alexandria St. Patrick’s Day Parade is the largest one-day event in Old Town Alexandria, with authentic pipe bands and performances by Irish dance schools, community groups and more. Beginning at 12:30 p.m. at 300 King Street, festivities last until 3 p.m. Go green by painting your face or picking up some silly hats or headbands at the local dollar store. See which family member can dress in the most green for the event.
Set a leprechaun trap
The night of the 16th, have your kids set a leprechaun trap using a box or laundry basket. Put gold coins inside to attract your leprechaun, but remember, leprechauns are very sneaky and do not like to be seen. In the morning, your child may awake to see that the leprechaun has taken their gold coins and left them a small gift or treat.
Create a scavenger hunt for your kids (or let the leprechaun leave the first clue in the trap). Make it educational by asking kids to answer a question or riddle to figure out the next clue, or leave an interesting fact about Saint Patrick to teach them about the holiday. Have your kids follow the clues through the house to find a pot of gold coins at the end.
Make a rainbow
St. Patrick’s Day wouldn’t be complete without a rainbow. Have your kids use watercolors or finger paint to create their own rainbow. Vanilla pudding with food coloring makes for a fun and edible finger paint. Put food coloring in cups of water and let kids experiment by mixing them to see what colors they can create. Using eye droppers and ice cubes trays lets you sneak in a little fine motor practice, too. Make sure to offer some Lucky Charms cereal as a snack for a little inspiration.
Explore the Irish culture
Learn about Irish culture by checking out books or movies about Ireland and the history of St. Patrick’s Day from your local library. Have the kids watch a video of an Irish dance performance (YouTube is a great place to find one) and try some of the dance moves themselves. This activity will get the whole family moving, and probably produce some giggles, too. For the crafty family members, try painting or drawing an Irish flag or four-leaf clover. If you are lucky enough to be Irish, make a family tree and discuss your heritage. For dinner, try serving a traditional Irish meal like corn beef and cabbage. If this isn’t a family favorite, Reuben sandwiches may be a good alternative.
There are so many ways to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day that do not involve the stereotypical party that comes to mind. Parents can get creative with crafts and activities that are family-friendly and sure to become a well-loved tradition in years to come.
Sarah Lyons is a mom of six kids, including 7-year-old triplets. She enjoys reading, writing and spending time outdoors with her family. (Heather M. Ross contributed to this story.)
Connect Through Local Libraries
The D.C. Public Library has a wealth of titles to help you and your children celebrate St. Patrick’s Day.
“Lucky Tucker” by Leslie McGuirk (Best for ages 2-5)
Tucker, a terrier pup, is having a horrible day, but a roll around a patch of clover changes his luck. A quick and fun story with simple and charming illustrations.
“St. Patrick’s Day” by Anne F. Rockwell (Best for ages 3-5)
A classroom celebrates St. Patrick’s Day by wearing green, learning the story of St Patrick, dancing, music, and more. An Irish student shares traditions from his family in Ireland.
“Fiona’s Luck” by Teresa Bateman, illustrated by Kelly Murphy (Best for ages 5-8)
“Luck’s all well and good, but myself? I’d rather depend on my wits.” A clever heroine restores luck to Ireland by beating leprechauns at their own tricks. Beautiful, dream-like illustrations accompany this original folktale that embraces the message of making your own luck.