Leprechaun traps are like Elf on the Shelf for St. Patrick’s Day—but they’re way less work.

By Emily VanSchmus
Updated March 05, 2020
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Thanks to an adorable holiday children's book, we have a new favorite St. Patrick's Day tradition. If you’re not already making leprechaun traps for the holiday, you’re going to want to start after you see these clever creations. The tradition is similar to Christmas’ Elf on the Shelf, but with way less work for mom and dad: Rather than moving an elf to a new location each night, you set up the trap once and leave it up all season. The idea is simple: Make a trap and set it up the night before St. Patrick’s Day; if you wake up to find gold coins or treasure in the trap, you’ll know you’ve caught a leprechaun.

The best part about this tradition is that it can be easily made and executed by the kids—all you have to do is add the coins once the kids are asleep (unless a leprechaun beats you to it). To start this tradition with your family, grab a copy of the book How to Catch a Leprechaun ($9.89, Barnes and Noble) to learn a bit about St. Patrick’s Day and get the kids excited to catch a leprechaun. Then, set them loose with craft supplies! These are a few of our favorite leprechaun traps to inspire your own creations.

Rainbow Road 

Every leprechaun knows that at the end of a rainbow, there's sure to be a pot of gold. Lay down a sheet of rainbow-striped paper for leprechauns to follow, then prop up a green cardboard box with a wooden skewer cut in half, and let the kids decorate the sides of the box. When a leprechaun comes to steal your pot of gold, the box will fall and he’ll be trapped inside.

Leprechaun Garden

A secret trap door is a sneaky way to catch a leprechaun. Build a ladder of painted green crafts sticks, then mount it against a small box (like the wooden one pictured here). Cover the top of the box with paper in hopes that an unsuspecting leprechaun will climb the ladder and fall in. This Instagram user decorated the scene with free printable signs from book publisher Harper Collins to make the trap even more enticing.

Home Sweet Home

Kids will love decorating this adorable leprechaun trap. Have them paint a small wooden birdhouse in a rainbow of colors and allow it to dry. Then, place the house on a decorative platter, surrounded by chocolate coins and sparkly foam dots found at your local crafts store. Print out or make your own colorful rainbow on card stock and attach it to the roof of your trap to attract leprechauns by the dozen.

Courtesy of The Suburban Soapbox

Green Top Hat Leprechaun Trap

There’s nothing like the promise of free gold to lure a leprechaun to your trap. Kellie from The Suburban Soapbox made the top hat out of green poster board and topped it with a pipe cleaner rainbow (complete with cotton ball clouds!) and a black pot filled with gold candy. We’re loving the addition of the ladder made from green paper straws, too!

Gold Inside Leprechaun Trap

This DIY leprechaun trap, from Mrs. Henry in First, uses recycled materials to attract the leprechaun. Repurpose an old cardboard shipping box and paper towel tube into a seriously adorable leprechaun trap. This box is balanced on a cardboard tube covered in rainbow stripes, which is attached to a string. When the leprechaun goes inside the box, a simple tug on the string will trap him. If your kids awake to find the box completely face-down on the ground with gold coins inside, they’ll know the trap worked!

Courtesy of Modern Parents Messy Kids

DIY Leprechaun Trap Box

This homemade leprechaun trap is so easy to make. Steph from Modern Parents Messy Kids transformed a plain brown box with a stripe of green paint, sparkly shamrock shapes, and a pipe cleaner rainbow. Since chipboard boxes are inexpensive and can be found at most crafts stores, turn this into a fun St. Patrick’s Day activity by letting each child decorate their own trap.

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