Easter baskets were not a thing at my house when I was a kid. Easter wasn’t much of a thing. We were Seventh Day Adventists and Easter was pretty much a non-holiday. We would dye hard boiled eggs for my parents to hide in the yard, then after the hunt we’d have egg salad sandwiches for lunch, but we didn’t dress up in fancy clothes or have a big family dinner, and neither my parents, nor the Easter bunny, ever left us baskets.
Then one rare and auspicious Easter weekend, we were invited to celebrate at a friend’s house — they were Catholic. There were at least six kids in this family, I think there might have been eight, but my memory is a bit foggy, I just remember that their house was exciting, and they always got Easter baskets.
I already liked visiting them and my opinion increased tenfold that weekend when I received an Easter basket too! It was pink plastic with fake yellow grass and miracle upon miracles, in addition to candy my mother would never dream of buying me, there was a bottle of nail polish. On that day I graduated from being just a girl, to being a girl who owned her very own bottle of nail polish.
I had tasted the wonders of the world, and I liked it — my life would never be the same!
Needless to say, I have always given my children Easter baskets and they are always filled with wonders. Here I’ll share with you what I do to make their baskets special without buying a lot of stuff that will end up in the dump by the end of the month.
I have no recollection of where this idea came from; I’m not the originator, but having real grass in an Easter basket adds an awesome sensory experience. Planting the grass has become a tradition we look forward to. We try to schedule the planting on the first day of spring as a way to celebrate the warmer weather and the days becoming longer than the nights.
We fill disposable pie plates (which can be washed and reused year after year) with soil and seeds. After all the festivities, the grass is given over to one of our pets to enjoy as a tasty treat.
As an experiment, this year we’ve planted cat grass for our kitten. It grows without soil and instead uses a layer of rocks, covered by a paper towel, and lots of water. We’ll have to pour the water out before setting it in the basket, and the rocks might be heavy, but I’m sure our kitten will enjoy the end product!
A Forever Basket
Ten years ago, tired of broken baskets, I bought the kids each a sturdy basket from the Pottery Barn. They were spendy, but look as good today as they did new.
EGG HUNT 2015
EGG HUNT 2020
The baskets have taken on a sentimental value, almost like a Christmas stocking. The ribbons tied around the handles have seen better days, but they’ve been there since the beginning and have become part of the charm.
There are so many great reusable candy containers to chose from. I use these nostalgic German papier-mâché eggs for small toys or wrapped candies. (I’ve had them for so long, I’m afraid I can’t tell you where to get them… but you could buy plastic ones and decoupage them. I’ve also seen a similar style made from tin.)
While the stores would love me to buy all the special pastel colored candies, I’m often not interested in paying the markup. Fabric gift bags, lined with food safe plastic bags, are my go-to for small candies that are not particularly pretty to look at.
Pretty candies can be shown off in clear containers, which are easy to find in all shapes and sizes from craft stores to flea markets.
My kids often prefer savory snacks over sweet, so Cheetos are a mainstay in their Easter baskets. I usually put them in a 16-inch piping bag from the cake decorating department (easy to wash and reuse) and then tie a green ribbon around them. This year I found some green raffia and played with making the carrot top look more realistic.
If you have a favorite snack mix you make, or want to do a craft, then these cute little butterflies might fit the bill.
The butterfly body is reusable year after year, and sometimes the pipe cleaner antennae are too.
To make the body: Use a hot glue gun to attach the craft pompoms to a clothes pin. (The largest pompom, for the head, goes at the end of the clothes pin that snaps shut.) Then hot glue on the googly eyes and you’re all set.
To assemble the butterfly:
Fill a sandwich sized plastic bag halfway full of snack mix. (I highly recommend the glad flex bags because they are so easy to work with without tearing.)
Pinch the bag tight in the center, pushing the mix to either side equally to create the wings, then secure a pipe cleaner around the middle to hold it tight.
Curl the ends of the pipe cleaner down to make the curlicues at the antennae tips.
Clip the body over the pipe cleaner to complete your snack creature.
Let the hunt begin!
We use plastic eggs for our hunt. As you may have guessed, we’ve used the same eggs for many years; probably the same ten years we’ve been using the baskets! In the beginning, because our kids are 5 years apart in age, we bought a brighter color for our daughter, so she could finish the hunt just as quickly as her brother.
Now that she’s almost a teen, we have to work harder to hide her eggs so she doesn’t breeze through the whole thing.
When the kids were younger and played with Legos, we’d take a Lego set and distribute all the pieces through the eggs. Once the hunt was over we’d give them each the box from their set (which had all the bigger pieces in it) and they’d get to building.
This idea would work well with game pieces too. The only downside is that you must remember where every egg is hidden, otherwise you’ll spend hours looking for the missing piece! This year we’ll be putting activity coupons in each egg for them to use over the rest of the year. Here’s the list:
Make a TikTok craft or recipe together
Movie Night: you choose the film & the food
An afternoon with Dad
An afternoon with Mom
Two hours of video games together
Go for a hike anywhere within 2 hrs of home
Go out for bubble tea
Order takeout of your choice for dinner
Go kayaking on the river
Take a picnic in the park
Visit the science museum & watch an Imax movie
Visit the art museum
Visit the aquarium
Spend the day at the beach
Mini vacation: One night at a hotel
Day trip: Destination of your choice... anywhere within 3 hours of home
Go out to the movies
Spend an afternoon at the lake
Play a board game of your choice
Wildcard: Any family activity you want
Eat dinner outside around the campfire
Make & deliver a Birthdaywishes.org box
We’ll donate $50 to a charity of your choice
However you and your family celebrate, I hope you have a wonderful Easter and a joyful Spring!