With St. Patrick’s Day comes plenty of green, but what if you’d rather have gold? You’ll need to trap a leprechaun to find out where the elusive pot o’ gold is hiding (hint: it’s not at the end of the rainbow). Read on for the how-to on capturing a creature on your own. Or at least trying.

photo: Kevin Poh via flickr 

You will need:

A cardboard box or shoebox

A stick (or pencil in a pinch)

A pillowcase

Food  (see below) 

Optional: bling

Rainbow-Rice-Krispie-Treats-3

photo: The Gracious Wife

Step One: Make the Bait

Leprechauns, in spite of the rumors, do not subsist on pints of Guinness and shamrock-shaped cookies alone. They like a variety of foods but most of all they like a rainbow of flavors. Try making one of these dishes. Bonus: you get to keep the leftovers. This can be the most time-consuming step. If you are in a hurry, just grab a pack of Skittles and move on to step two. 

leprechaun trap

photo: Amber Guetebier 

Step Two: Make the Trap

The leprechaun is usually just under a foot high, although size varies depending on age (they shrink as they get older) and origin.* So the best method here is a simple box trap. 

Get a smallish box, like a shoebox. A plain box works fine but if you want to increase your odds of getting a leprechaun,  paint the box green, a color most pleasing to them. Decorate it with anything that gives it that special glitz: glitter, coins, gemstones, or just an artistic use of the brush. 

Find a stick or pencil to prop the box up. You can even use a piece of cardboard, cleverly disguised as a friendly sign.

Now, place the “bait” on a plate underneath the lid. No string is needed. Once the leprechaun takes his first bite of your delicious food, he’ll dance with joy. This dance almost always leads to kicking the stick over. Voila. He is trapped.

Hint: Don’t bother waiting up for the leprechaun. They never show under a watchful eye.

photo: Thomas via flickr 

Step Three: Get the Gold

Wait at least 3 hours before checking your trap, but if you can, wait a full night. (Parents, you can leave a small note or coin in place of the treat from the escaped wee man). If your trap is empty, better luck next year. If, however, you caught your leprechaun, you’ll need to transfer it from the trap into your home. Use a soft pillowcase, and scoop up the entire box including (hopefully) the leprechaun. Remember, your goal here is to get him to reveal the location of his gold, not bring harm to him. Be firm but kind, be persistent. 

photo: Eden, Janine and Jim via flickr

Further Tips:

Once you have him inside, lock your doors and close your windows. Leprechauns are master escape artists.

Be ready to barter. They are very clever and can trick you out of just about anything, but you will need to offer something in exchange for the gold (i.e., his freedom). Do not believe him when he tells you it’s “at the end of the rainbow.” They like silky fabrics, velvet and shiny things.

Be sure you have enough food: They can eat an incredible amount of food so be ready to lay out a feast or at the very least, a decent tea party.

If you can actually get them to tell you where the gold is, you truly have the luck of the Irish!

*While it was once true that a leprechaun could only be find in Ireland, there are generations of leprechauns that have naturalized in the woods, parks and gardens across America. Rumors of how leprechauns came to the U.S. include stowing away in luggage, sliding across rainbows (totally unfounded) and the most plausible: paid passage. They are, after all, in possession of copious amounts of gold.

What cute traditions do you have with your kiddos for St. Patrick’s Day?

Editor’s note: No leprechauns were harmed in the making of this article. 

—Amber Guetebier