It’s not even all about food this time.
Clearly we thoughtful parents are going to try not to buy bags of jelly beans, sweet tarts, Cadbury eggs, and pastel M&Ms, to name a few, but we’ll shoot for healthy Easter baskets.
Unfortunately, the alternative ideas are often things.
Often cheap little things.
I don’t know about you, but my house is full of cheap little things. With an 18-month-old, I feel it even worse because they’re all over the floor in random places, all the time, since he makes it his life’s work to empty shelves and drawers, then carry something around until the very moment he sees the next thing to carry around, at which point he drops the first thing.
All. Day. Long.
So while people love to give little things to kids, and it makes them very happy in that moment, the happiness we all lose when mom is constantly saying, “Where does that go? Put that away. Why are there so many things all over the house!?” is not worth it.
Even worthwhile “things” are driving me nuts.
My kids have enough pencils and erasers to write their memoirs five times over.
We have more stickers than we have time to stick.
We have hairties and clippies for every room of the house.
More bookmarks than books, a half gallon of bubbles leftover from last year, sidewalk chalk from now until 2020, and more decks of cards than there are kids in our neighborhood.
And those dollar store puzzles for every holiday? They don’t stay together.
So as much as I want to make a list of 100 things you could put in an Easter basket without using sugar, I’m not going to.
If you need ideas for little things, check stocking stuffer lists. It’s the same system but with more pastels.
Around here, you’re going to get a dose of practical, with a capital P.
Last Year’s Easter Baskets:
- kid-sized gardening shears (dollar store)
- hair clips for Leah
- a package of seeds for each (the bunnies got Leah’s peas when they were about 3 inches tall, but Paul did manage to grow one whole pumpkin!)
- Larabars (some of which are still around in our “emergency” snacks stash, oops)
- Yummy Earth organics suckers – also still around
- Surf Sweets no corn syrup/no artificial colors jelly beans and gummies – you guessed it – also still around. Think I should just refill the eggs with the same old candies this year?
- Their own tape, since they were always stealing mine
- Along with their baskets, each one got a “spy kit” with a magnifying glass, silly glasses for a spy “disguise,” a notebook for clues and a pouch to keep it all in.
John’s just contained organic freeze-dried fruits that we got for him as on-the-go finger foods anyway.
And those…are long gone!
Reader Question: How to Keep the Season Holy
I received this question from a reader this Lent and thought I’d share, since minimalizing is on the brain anyway:
This is not necessarily a kitchen question, but more like a christian mom trying to simplify life.
Easter is on its way. When I was a child we did our own celebration with the traditional baskets and all. Now, everyone involved in my children’s lives feel the need to do it as well. Sigh… Tons of tiny plastic toys and bags of sugar explosion treats piled up in my home. And I contribute to that pile as well!!!
Do you have any suggestions to simplify the holiday? Any thoughts on getting extended family members to back off…or at least scale down?
On such a sacred holiday, I find myself dreading all the times of saying “no”, and sneakingly trashing the majority of the piles of sweets. Thank you for any suggestions.
There’s nothing easy about holiday, even holy ones! First, I would say to keep Good Friday very stark, sacred, and quiet. No one will likely interfere with that, so take the control you have and run with it.
Wake up Easter Sunday and start with prayer in your bedroom, setting the stage for the reason for the day, not the basket hunt. As for baskets, I hear you – my kids get plenty, too. Last year I made a conscious effort to put together baskets without junk…
With any candy that comes into our house, it goes into a bag (each child has their own) and they are always allowed one “dessert” a day. If that’s a homemade dessert, great. If it’s one piece of candy after eating a good dinner, fine. If they have a treat for a birthday party at school, that counts as their “one.” Two on Sundays to celebrate the Sabbath.
I’d love it if they ate even less candy, but for now, this works for us. That way I also don’t have to stress as much about the total amount showered on them, because it just means they’ll have candy until they’re 25 years old. I make them weed it out from time to time and give away and throw away.
For extended family, sometimes a gentle and clear discussion helps, and sometimes it doesn’t. If you want to be frank, you could honestly say that you hate the thought of throwing away money they’ve spent, but that your kids can never get through all the Easter/Halloween/Christmas/parade/bank/etc. candy that they get, and it ultimately hits the can.
You could point out that your kids go ga-ga over fruit (if it’s true) and that you’d totally love to let them eat their hearts out while singing [insert family member's name here]‘s praises for the gift. My in-laws have always had the tradition of putting coins in their Easter eggs, so although that doesn’t mean they don’t still buy candy, it does mean we have less already unwrapped candy coming in.
If cheap toys are a problem, take the offensive: during Lent, practice almsgiving by weeding out toys with your kids and taking them somewhere in your community where kids need toys. You hit two birds with one stone that way, the “service of God” bird and the “too many toys” bird.
Hmmm, methinks I should take my own advice on the weeding…if only there were 8 days in the week…
What’s for This Year?
That’s a good question.
I’m still thinking about it. Good thing I’m writing this post or I’d probably forget until too late!
Seeds are definitely a repeat, probably a few more varieties this year so they can be even more involved in the garden and feel vested in it.
Tape is not a bad idea again, and I have new books in the basement that I can pull from. I’m so boring, but I just have no desire to pick up a “few little toys” just so the basket looks fuller. I have so many “few little toys” underfoot, I can’t stand it!
We’ve been loving a few of these Glory Stories that Santa got the kids, so maybe the E.B. will have to be in cahoots with S.C. and give them a few more from the stash in the basement that were supposed to be for their birthdays…
I’m thinking about a special new glass drinking cup or fun utensils for each, if I can come across something like that.
Is it totally boring to just include an apple an an orange in each basket and they can eat them before breakfast?
In the past I’ve done a few things that might work again:
- Stretch Island fruit leather
- Individual freeze-dried fruit (but they’ll recognize it from Costco, I’m afraid)
- meat sticks from a local butcher
New ideas from the comments that I’m loving:
- watercolors or finger paints – only if you don’t already have a zillion
- Piggy Paints, non-toxic nail polish – my daughter has been begging, but yowza, it’s a splurge
- Note: This AllyKats brand is tempting, but the ingredients are listed in a review, and I see at least two that I avoid, so phooey. You get what you pay for.
- Sunglasses or summer hats (although for our family, we have plenty)
- Clues in the eggs leading on a treasure hunt to one largish toy for the family
But what will go in the eggs?
We hide the actual hard-boiled, colored eggs, so the plastic eggs in the basket are almost a necessity. (By the way, I just saw a kit for naturally dyed Easter eggs that I might have to get – I explained last year that I’m far too lazy to make my own natural colors just for one day a year…)
Can I get away with taking candy out of their massive candy bags and filling the eggs with them?
Chocolate chips are always good. Would blueberries be okay?
Maybe I should just bribe them with money and fill the eggs with coins.
It turns out this post really is one big question: how DO you make a junk-free Easter basket? Is it even possible?
What is the E.B. bringing to your house this year?
If you missed the last Monday Mission, click here.