From leprechaun beards to shamrock hats, a few simple crafts can turn you from a spectator into a participant at a St. Patrick's Day parade or party.
"Kids especially like something they can wave, and to join in on the festivities," says Joy Howard, associate editor of FamilyFun magazine.
The crafts should be easy because St. Patrick's Day doesn't have a big build-up like Christmas, says Marianne Canada, host of HGTV.com's Weekday Crafternoon series (www.hgtv.com/weekday-crafternoon ).
"You don't want to invest a whole lot of time and money into that day, but you want to do something," she says.
Here are four craft ideas, beginning with something silly: the leprechaun beard — a twist on the ubiquitous moustache on a stick.
Start by printing (or eyeballing) FamilyFun's online beard template from March 2013, at www.parents.com/familyfun-magazine/ .
Cut that shape out of faux fur and a piece of corrugated cardboard (with the flutes running vertically). Glue the fur to the cardboard. Add a small amount of glue to the end of a bamboo skewer and insert it into a center flute of the cardboard cutout.
Yes, it's that simple. Use different types and colors of faux fur (green is good) and devise your own beard shapes for variety, says Howard.
She also recommends decorating cheap plastic sunglasses with green faux fur and attaching them to a skewer. Or decorate sunglasses with washi tape or duct tape in various patterns and colors.
"Furry green glasses — now that is fun and whimsical," says Howard.
From FamilyFun's current issue comes this idea: the Glad Hatter, made from a dinner-size paper plate. Small children can decorate these paper hats with paint, markers, crayons or glitter.
To make the hat, draw a circle 1¾ inches from the edge of the plate. Fold the plate in half and draw half of a shamrock shape along the fold inside the circle, with the base of the shamrock touching the circular line you drew. Cut out the shamrock shape (not its base) and the rest of the circle, to make a head hole. Bend the shamrock up. Widen the head hole as needed. Decorate.
Here's one to carry: FamilyFun's Spinning Shamrock pinwheel, featured in its current issue. Download the online template and cut the shape from double-sided scrapbook paper. Fold an edge of each leaf section as marked on template. Press a tack through the center of the pinwheel and into the side of a pencil's eraser, leaving space so the paper can turn freely. Blow on the side for best spin.
The final craft — felt shamrocks — is versatile, and provides a pretty way to wear green on St. Patrick's Day.
"Once you know how to make these shamrocks, then when we get to spring you can make them in different colors and have a bouquet of flowers," says Canada. "It's a handy little craft to have in your back pocket."
She suggests wearing several shamrocks on a plastic or ribbon headband, or gluing them to a pretty ribbon for a necklace. Wear three as a corsage or stick one into the eraser end of a pencil for waving. Attach individual shamrocks to floral wire to create a bouquet. Add them to a holiday wreath.
"What's fun about these is they are really easy and super inexpensive," says Canada. "You can make a dozen out of one 29-cent sheet of felt."
Here's her Headband with Felt Shamrocks:
craft felt in assorted shades of green
hot glue gun
1. For each shamrock, cut a 1-by-12-inch strip of felt (for a larger shamrock, make the strip 1½ inches wide). Cut the strip into four equal pieces (each measuring 1 by 3 inches).
2. To create the four petals, cut an "m''-shaped notch at the end of each felt piece, about halfway up.
3. To string the petals together, put two stitches into each petal along the un-notched end. String all four "petals" onto one length of embroidery thread; pull thread tightly (this will cinch the petals, forming a shamrock shape).
4. Tie a knot and trim excess thread. Open the petals and pull them into a shamrock shape.
5. Using hot glue, affix several shamrocks to a ribbon to wear as a headband.