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How Do you Make an Easter Basket Without Junk?

Unique Easter basket ideas I’ve collected over the years to fill the Easter eggs without candy OR little junk! Find more inspiration in my Non Toy Kids Gifts for Christmas.

no-junk toys for Easter baskets (without candy!)

It’s not even all about food this time. Or creating things with food like my dye-free Easter eggs.

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 without candy and attempt to avoid food coloring (and messes) on Easter eggs as well.

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 4 kids, I feel it even worse because little things magically end up all over the floor in random places, all the time. I used to think this was a toddler issue with the toddler thing of emptying shelves and drawers, then carrying something around until the very moment they see the next thing to carry around, at which point they drop the first thing.

Turns out it’s all kids. Darn.

So while people love to give little things to kids, and it makes them very happy in that moment, all that happiness is lost when mom is constantly saying, “Where does that go? Put that away. Why are there so many things all over the house!?”

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 2030, 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. I kind of use the word “junk” a lot when telling kids to clean up their stuff. 🙁

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. (Here’s one from my friend Erin.)

Around here, you’re going to get a dose of practical, with a capital P.

Candy-Free Easter Basket Ideas

Junk Free Easter Basket Ideas

Unique Garden-themed Spy Kid Easter Basket Idea

This was exactly what was in our “healthy” Easter baskets circa about 2012, with 2 big kids and a toddler (and how it went):

  • kid-sized gardening shears (dollar store)
  • kid-sized gardening gloves from Meijer, our local big box store
  • 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!)
  • hair clips for Leah
  • Larabars (some of which were still around after a year in our “emergency” snacks stash, oops) They offer minis now which I bet would fit inside Easter eggs though!
  • YumEarth organics suckers (also still around after a year because they got so much candy other places, arg!) I do my best to trade out “better” candy for the horrid stuff now. I also see sour now, which might go over better with big kids!
  • Surf Sweets no corn syrup/no artificial colors jelly beans and gummies (also still around after a year…sigh…the kids are inundated with parade candy and other junk, and it’s like they know which ones are “healthier” and avoid them. I actually thought about just refilling the eggs with the same old candies the next year! This was the last year I spent money on better candies – almost. See below…)
  • 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.
Creative Garden-themed Easter baskets
toddler loves his freeze-dried fruit healthy Easter basket

The toddler’s only contained organic freeze-dried fruits that we got for him as on-the-go finger foods anyway. Find freeze-dried fruit at:

The toddler was overjoyed and they were definitely long gone before the next Easter. 😉 I’ve gotten smarter now and when I get healthier options for the kids in stockings or Easter baskets, I tell them immediately that they can eat something that morning, and then put the rest in their backpacks for school snacks for the next week. Done.

Easter Basket Idea with “Healthier” Candy and Treats (No Junk!)

Another year you can see that I focused on fun things to eat, but I refused to buy any junky candy.

healthier options for Easter basket, no food coloring
  • freeze-dried fruit for everyone
  • fruit strips from Costco (find them here online)
  • no-sugar squeeze pouches from my favorite ALDI
  • SimplyNature brand granola bars (no refined sugars) and Moser Roth dark chocolate, also from ALDI
  • Inside the Easter eggs are little candies from Costco with no food colorings, trans fats or high fructose corn syrup

This was the year I learned that my kids will put good dark chocolate in with a bunch of other candy so it starts to smell bad, and then 6 months later they’ll try to give it to me. I don’t bother anymore! Which leads to the advent of…

The Completely Candy-Free Easter Basket (because they won’t eat it anyway!)

toy ideas for Easter baskets without candy

I’ve given up on putting anything edible in the basket, more or less. They may get some of the fun fruit-based foods this year, but last year was ONLY good toys:

Summer-Themed Easter Basket Fillers (no candy!)

summer themed Easter basket goggles

Never underestimate how fun a set of goggles can be to give the kids something to look forward to for summer! New flip flops, swimsuits, dive toys for the pool, sunglasses, summer hats, sand shovels, or beach towels are great theme ideas too. Tip: wrap the whole basket in the beach towel when you hide 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…

We are actually low on bubbles, finally, so those and Legos are the centerpiece of ours for this year. No junk. No candy. Coins in the eggs. Done.

Other Creative Easter Basket Ideas Without Junk or Candy

Gotta switch things up a bit each year, so this is my back-up list:

  • Paleo Valley meat sticks
  • tape, glue sticks, any craft supplies you’re actually running out of (never crayons, they always have too many of those!)
  • Easy Reader books
  • .mp3 books for big kids to listen to in the car
  • a special new glass drinking cup or fun utensils for each, if I can come across something like that.
  • whole fruit like an apple an an orange in each basket, and they can eat them before breakfast
  • watercolors or finger paints – only if you don’t already have a zillion
  • Clues in the eggs leading on a treasure hunt to one largish toy for the family

I can’t wait to hear your ideas for Easter baskets without candy or junky toys in the comments as well!

What’s Going in Your Easter Baskets This Year?

Reader Question: How to Keep the Season Holy

I received this question from a reader during 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.

My answer:

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…

Other No-Candy Holiday Ideas:

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15 thoughts on “How Do you Make an Easter Basket Without Junk?”

  1. ‘Kits’ are a great idea, depending on the recipients’ interests. The first aid kit that is BO-RING to one may be cool to another. Camping kits with an inexpensive compass, bandana, good whistle, colorful marking flag. Scrap booking kit with small booklet of papers, funny scissors, little punches. Also, things in their favorite colors or favorite themes – socks, small pendant on a cord, coin purse, key ring, etc. And don’t count out bubbles. The blowing kind may be passe, but kids up to a certain age all love them in the bath, along with soap crayons.

  2. I think how scary candy was, became clear when my 5-year-old went out Trick or Treating for the first time. After I put him to bed I went through his basket. I was horrified that a little body would be consuming that nonfood stuff. I unwrapped all the fake colored confections and placed a nut or piece of dried fruit inside the wrapper. That’s what mothers do sometimes. Later we saved that kind of candy stuff to make gingerbread houses with…I called it candy for decorating only. Of course, I do love most chocolates. Peanut m and m’s are the devil. LOL I think stuffing the eggs with dried fruits and nuts is still a tasty treat!

  3. Last year we hid the Resurrection eggs in the living room, plus one egg each with a piece of chocolate. (I also put the candy in a candy jar only allow one a day, I stole the chocolate from this container) I had them bring me all the eggs and put them in one basket, so there was no fighting over who found what, then I pulled them out and told the Resurrection story and they each got one treat. They were 2 and 4 so the hunt was the big deal. This time I am going to number the Resurrection eggs so I can tell the story in the right order. We may switch this up to a treasure hunt as they get older.

    Also because they did attend an egg hunt at church with a lot of candy I don’t let them eat, we bought the candy from them and gave them money that we took to the store and let them pick out healthier choices. They ended up with a bunch of chocolate eggs from the bulk bin at WINCO. (I would rather they have chocolate then a lot of food coloring) That candy was put into the candy jar and enjoyed one piece at a time for the next month. This made the festivities last longer.

  4. Oh my goodness! I’m not even sure how I got on your e-mail list or what divinity happened for me to happen to open yours in my over-crowded inbox, but I’m so glad I did. Because I could have totally written this post. It’s like we are the same person. Haha! Thanks for sharing your great ideas.

  5. Some thoughts –
    – I applaud the idea of not overloading our kids on sugar! We continuously try to feed them in a healthy way all year, so why would we want to encourage their overeating sugar on such a Holy occasion?
    – My experience is
    — Once they’ve had sweets in their basket, they don’t want them completely left out. So, I find that including some that also have at least some nutritional benefits is a good way. Some possibilities (among many): juice boxes, pudding cups, fruit cups, beef jerky, crackers-possibly a different flavor than normal to your family, chocolate covered peanuts/raisins/pretzels, popcorn(maybe sweet/salty flavor), dried fruit, possibly cheese sticks, etc.
    — For those wanting to include a chocolate bunny, consider switching to a chocolate cross which is so appropriate for the holy season. I think Hersheys makes a cross. It’s smaller (less sugar) but better tasting, anyway.
    — Just a bit of caution with regard to switching over to gifts in Easter baskets. As they grow, they won’t be happy with $1 store (junk) items. Then what? At one point I had to say to myself: this isn’t Christmas
    — There are some non-food items that everyone seems to like. For example, lip balm. Another possibility is a pastel colored Rosary or possibly other colors symbolizing His Passion, Death & Resurrection. Craft stores have little paint projects individually wrapped for around $1
    — Consumables (food & non-food) are great because they eventually disappear & don’t add clutter.

    1. Perfect, Laure, what great ideas and insights. Love this: “this isn’t Christmas” – it’s a trap that’s easy to fall into! For the bigger kids, we can give little Kindle book gift certs or computer game/app gift certs that can be fairly inexpensive.
      🙂 Katie

  6. Fruit snacks are a big treat here! And they each get one chocolate bunny. Non-food- melissa & doug puzzles, a book & binoculars. We like dover coloring books too & a lot are educational. Love the seeds idea. And I totally agree on junk trinkets. Big kids are getting a $10 human body puzzle to share but it’s way better quality and will last longer and will be better appreciated than a dollar store one.

  7. We don’t do baskets, but we usually put Legos in the eggs for an egg hunt (sometimes a certain color egg for the toddler that has stickers instead). We bought a small new set and distributed it between the eggs, then after collecting they had an entire set. Most little toys are junk, but Legos are quality toys that I’ll put up with small pieces for.

    My husband even started a Lego exchange store for our kids after the church Easter egg hunt: each kid could keep up to X number of candies, and the rest (and those X if they wanted) they could exchange for a Lego from his bin, 1 piece for 1 candy. He buys used mixed Legos and they love collecting new pieces. That way we can dispose of the excess candy and the kids feel like they got a better deal!

    1. Evelyn – Lego exchange store!!!!??? That is AWESOME. My kids truly want nothing but Legos right exactly now, so I have to try that. WHERE do you find used mixed Legos! My kids really just want to create rather than follow directions, but if a box HAS directions, they are compelled to follow them and then never take the thing apart… 🙂 That would be perfect for our eggs too!! Thank you! Katie

  8. When my sisters and I got older and less into candy, my mom started filling our Easter baskets with “egg-shaped fruits.” As broke college kids who couldn’t regularly afford expensive fruits like mangoes and avocados, we thought this was awesome! Plus, it kept the look of an egg-filled basket.

  9. Easter is my very favorite holiday, and I used to go nuts over the baskets. I have never done a lot of candy, but still did nice big baskets. My kids are older now (10, 13 and 15) so last year we got a family gift of a trampoline I got on a huge sale. I had a trail of eggs leading to the door as it was outside, but between 3 kids it was 4 or 5 eggs each with candy in them, and that was all the Easter candy they got. Grandma gave them each a nice squirt gun. This year they are getting a basketball hoop. It is so much nicer to have a lasting family gift, them a bunch of “stuff” laying around the house. Plus by the time I did 3 baskets, eggs, etc. The cost added up, so I don’t think I spent any more on 1 big gift them all the other stuff.

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