How to Convince Kids a Leprechaun Has Crept Into Your House

We’ve got to love St. Patrick’s Day — favorite holiday of small children, Bono, and the makers of green food dye. And is there anything more iconically St. Patrick’s-y than those roguish tricksters, the leprechauns? And is there anything more fun than convincing your kids that one such leprechaun has secretly invaded your house?

Legend has it, leprechauns are tiny creatures who drink heavily and cause mischief, wreaking havoc on unsuspecting, innocent humans — often while said humans are asleep and unaware. Think of the leprechaun as the Elf on the Shelf’s evil Irish twin.

So when March 17 rolls around this year, why not work some magic — and, OK, play a friendly prank — on your favorite kids by trying to convince them a real-life leprechaun has paid their home a visit? Fair warning: Kids may love these fun tricks so much, you’ll be stuck doing them every year until they go to college. Worth it.

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Even a busy leprechaun needs to take a break from creating chaos and use the, um, facilities. With a couple of drops of green food coloring in your toilet water and a little bit of green paint (washable, of course!), you can elicit plenty of kid giggles when they go into the bathroom in the morning. Because who doesn’t love a good bathroom joke? And speaking of the bathroom, while you’re in there setting this trick up, go ahead and unspool the toilet paper, TP the shower, and write a message or joke on the mirror in green soap. Leprechauns love to make a mess, after all.

Leprechauns love to make mischief, so make copies of your beloved family photos — or just take a dry-erase marker to the glass-framed ones — and give your kid devil horns, buck teeth, or a Tom Selleck mustache. Go nuts. Think classic high school yearbook-style defacement. In fact, you might want to take a picture of your handiwork — you know, for your kiddo’s actual high school yearbook.

Arrange some white carnations, daisies, or roses in a vase. After the kids head to bed, add green food coloring, and voila. Overnight, your naughty “leprechaun” will have turned your flowers green. Pair them with an apology note from the leprechaun for all the household mess and mischief (hey, no one said leprechauns can’t be remorseful).

This one can be a little tricky, but depending on how deeply your kids sleep, try putting this free printable four-leaf clover temporary tattoo (you’ll need to stock up on the special printer paper first) from Modern Parents Messy Kids on your children while they sleep. They’ll be stunned to discover a leprechaun was in their room and they didn’t wake up! If they’re light sleepers, you can always try a St. Patrick’s Day sticker instead, or just slather on some green lipstick and give them a smooch.

Since leprechauns love wreaking havoc, feel free to “TP” your kids’ rooms — or any room, really — with these super-simple shamrock streamers. Some other festive mess ideas: Fill your bathtub with green balloons or blanket everything under some green silly string. You can even turn the water from your faucet green for a truly magical leprechaun trick. Simply follow these step-by-step instructions.

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All of these tricks are guaranteed to elicit many an excited early-morning holler from the kids when they awake to discover all the shenanigans the leprechaun was up to. Plus, you know, rumor has it that if a leprechaun likes your house, he tends to come back every year. So maybe keep a few of these tricks in your back pocket for future years of monkey business.

And hey, if the last green cupcake just happens to mysteriously disappear on St. Patrick’s Day … blame it on the leprechaun.

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