My Favorite Candy-Free Easter Basket Ideas

candy free easter basket gift ideas

Since we largely avoid candy and other processed foods, I have to get creative and come up with other Easter basket ideas each year. As kids, my brother and I always looked forward to Easter and getting baskets with a chocolate bunny and going on Easter egg hunts. Because of these special memories I work hard to make my kids’ baskets just as special (with a little less of the junky stuff).

My husband and I made a decision early in our marriage to try to focus on giving experiences instead of material gifts, and we wanted to find ways to continue this even with our children’s Easter baskets. Over the years I’ve found some unique ideas and themes for the yearly baskets that were not only fun for the children to receive Easter morning but help encourage family experiences as well.

Healthy Easter Baskets: Taking It Too Far?

I’ve definitely heard the objection that taking candy out of an Easter basket takes the whole healthy thing a little too far. If your thoughts are running along these lines, I’d ask you to consider:

Easter is the second biggest candy-selling holiday of the year after Halloween. Over 16 billion jelly beans are made each year, along with millions of neon marshmallow chicks and hundreds of varieties of chocolate treats. Most of these products are now made with high fructose corn syrup, food dyes, and ingredients our bodies (and certainly our kids’ bodies) were not meant to consume.

Is this not an extreme food tradition of its own?

Since food dyes may affect behavior, and many people consume over 100 pounds of sugar a year, it is becoming increasingly important to consider healthier alternatives. These simple switches don’t take away any of the fun or tradition … they just reduce the sugar and food dye content.

Certainly, sometimes the stress of choosing natural options can outweigh the benefits, but I feel this is a holiday where we can definitely make improvements. We can still celebrate all that Easter is meant to be without going to extremes on either end of the spectrum.

Ok, that’s out of the way … on to Easter baskets!

Experience/Themed Easter Basket Ideas

I think these experience themed baskets are more fun and long-lasting than a sugar-laden basket of candy. Similarly to how we approach Christmas, we enjoy creating Easter baskets around an activity or theme like gardening, baseball, swimming, or camping.

These are some of my favorite themes from past Easter baskets:

Gardening Basket

A favorite in the past and a theme we choose again from year to year. I use inexpensive clay pots for the “baskets” and fill them with child-size gardening gloves, seeds, small garden tools, and other garden-related items. Each child gets a different type of seeds that we will use in our garden and gets to help me start the seeds, plant in our raised beds, and water throughout the year.

Camping Basket

One year, to help stock our camping supplies, each child received camping items in their baskets. They got sleeping bags, flashlights, binoculars, whistles, and camping silverware (we carry the dishes).

Sports Basket

Baskets with gear to play certain sports and even tickets to our local minor league teams to go to games as a family throughout the year are always a family favorite.

Movie Night Basket

Our kids really enjoy family movie nights, so their baskets could contain summer PJs and movie tickets or DVDs/Blu-Ray discs. Each kid gets a different movie and gets to “host” that movie night by making snacks and setting up for the movie. (Perennial favorites at our house are How to Train Your Dragon and Cinderella.)

Craft Basket

Every mom knows the challenge of keeping kids pleasantly and productively occupied (especially in the summer months, which are coming not long after Easter!). Craft-themed baskets are perfect for this. I might fill the baskets with craft supplies like construction paper, glue, scissorsbuttons, and modeling clay.

Scavenger Hunt Basket

With this idea, the basket is part of the experience. Some years when we want to just give one experience/gift to all of the kids that won’t fit in a basket, we create a scavenger hunt around the gift and leave the clues in their baskets. Hide one part of the first clue in each basket so the kids can work together to find the first clue and lead them on a scavenger hunt to the final destination or gift.

Other Candy-Free Easter Basket Ideas

If you don’t want to follow a theme for an Easter basket, just fill it with a random assortment of items that encourage activity and experiences, such as:

Easter Eggs

Easter eggs are a tradition I can appreciate, with a beautiful significance at this time of year. Of course I have some suggestions when it comes to how to dye easter eggs naturally. Check out this post for more on that!

When using the fake plastic Easter eggs to hide treasures, instead of candy fill the eggs with small items like coins or “points” that can be used “buy” bigger prizes from a box. Better yet, hide real eggs or create a scavenger hunt with clues that ends at a fun prize or destination!

And When There’s Time: Try Homemade!

Just say no to the neon jelly beans and marshmallow chickens! Skip the chocolate bunnies and Cadbury eggs completely, or at least consider making healthier chocolatemarshmallows, or gelatin fruit snacks (maybe in an Easter-themed mold!).

And although it’s not as convenient, homemade candy comes with a bonus: quality time together preparing for Easter.

If there just isn’t time for homemade (I so know how that is), choose a simple natural dessert like fresh fruit instead. I know budget-wise I can’t always say “yes” to my kids’ every fruit request, so this is a great time to splurge on their favorites.

An Easter Basket to Treasure

It takes a little thinking outside of the box to come up with new Easter basket ideas, but I’m confident that in the end our kids don’t feel deprived or miss out on any of the Easter joy. In fact, it’s amazing how colorful, sweet, and festive a healthy Easter basket can be. I hope these ideas help you find what’s right for your family!

What special family traditions do you treasure at Easter? Do you have healthier Easter basket ideas to share? I’d love to hear!

Easter doesn't have to revolve around chocolate and food dyes. Try these healthier Candy-Free Easter Basket Ideas and give experiences not sugar!

You May Also Enjoy These Posts...

Reader Interactions

It Shouldn’t Be This Hard to Be Healthy…

Become a Wellness Mama VIP member for free and get access to my handbooks & quick start guides to help you detox your home, become a master of home remedies, make beauty products from scratch, and conquer mealtime madness!

Yes! Let me in!

Wellness Mama widget banner

Reader Comments

  1. I think you could probably still add a couple of natural yummy chocolate treats to your creative Easter baskets. I just had some incredible completely organic chocolate chili almonds. They were super tender and were dusted in cocoa powder with just a tiny kick of chili powder. You could probably easily make them. I put a few of these in a little bowl, along with some organic raisins and shaved unsweetened organic coconut flakes. You could always make tiny little bags of these goodies for your baskets… Dried organic fruits in little bags would work too. You could also use little see through bags with pink bows….

  2. I was just wondering about how to create a basket minus all the candy. Very good ideas. I will also avoid all plastic!

  3. Hi Wellness Mama,

    Lent is the 40 Day penitential season book ended by the feasts of Fat Tuesday and Easter. It is a time when Christians fast, give alms and pray in order to better heed the call of Our Lord Jesus Christ to do for the least of these out of love for Him.

    40 Days is the same period of time that Jesus fasted and prayed in the desert. It is also a perfect amont of time to bring about change. We can loose habits that keep us from God (addictions, obsessions, etc.) and form habits (prayer) that draw us closer to Him. We take the money that is saved by not indulging in luxuries such as meat and coffee, etc., and donate it to those less fortunate, even if it does not come from our excess, like the widow in Gospel.

    The bible tells us to raise up our children in the way they should go, but because little bodies need nourishment to grow big and strong, they cannot fast as an adult would . By giving up non essential treats, children can also participate in the penitential season of the Church. Easter ends the fast and everyone is ready for CHOCOLATE!!!! Parents are happy to reward the valiant efforts of their little future saints with an Easter basket filled with goodies

    On a related note here is information about the Easter egg.

    The egg is a wonderful symbol of birth and rebirth, an apparently lifeless object out of which comes life. Because of this, it is a symbol of Christ’s Resurrection and is seen most often at Easter. In 2006, a necropolis under the Vatican revealed an infant who’d been buried holding an egg to symbolize his parents’ hope in his resurrection, because of Christ’s Resurrection.

    Legend has it that St. Mary Magdalen went to Rome and met with the Emperor Tiberius to tell him about the Resurrection of Jesus. She held out an egg to him as a symbol of this, and he scoffed, saying that a man could no more rise from the dead than that egg that she held could turn scarlet. The egg turned deep red in her hands, and this is the origin of Easter eggs, and the reason why Mary Magdalen is often portrayed holding a scarlet egg.

    Easter comes but once a year and while it’s good to keep sugar in check, a little annual excess to celebrate the Resurection is ok…

    ….”Unless you’re a diabetic,” As my 5 year old daughter reminded me when I said, “Chocolate makes every thing better…”

    • I’m with you. I can get behind (at least in theory) limiting/eliminating sweets and candy most of the time. But I think not even doing some candy once a year on Easter is going too far. It is NOT going to kill anyone and it’s extremely appropriate as a way to feast after the long fast of lent. Besides, candy is practically the whole point of the Easter basket. 🙂 But maybe I’m reading the wrong blog… 😉

  4. Great ideas! I just put together a basket with no candy before I saw this post. I love the idea of a theme, though, and might use that next year.

    To the posters above, the problem with “candy is okay once a year” is that it’s never once a year. There’s a holiday every single month (sometimes more than one). Add in birthdays (family, friends and co-workers) and then the excuses because you’re in a rush or too tired to cook/prepare or there’s a sale or someone made cookies or blah, blah, blah, that “once a year” can easily turn into every single day. Easily – I’m not exaggerating. So a lot of us choose to keep it in check and use alternatives every time. That’s been my experience, anyway!

    • Yes! Completely agree

    • When I was a kid, my uncle would bring me candy on his bi-annual visits. Of course I would eat the candy and be sick because I was not used to it so my mother finally told him no more candy. The thing is, I would have been happy with some fruit, a game or anything he brought. Kids who don’t have candy all the time don’t feel deprived or I didn’t, I had other things that I enjoyed.

  5. this yr i will add kid friendly jokes in plastic easter eggs.

    • I love this idea – thanks for sharing!

    • That is a cute idea

  6. I’m totally with you Wellness Mama on avoiding the excess sugar, dyes and all the other crap that is put into ‘Easter candy.’ Yes it’s once a year, but how many other holidays are once a year? That’s my issue when it comes to just letting them indulge once a year. It will never be that sparingly because once a child is introduced to all of these artificial treats…you will have a hard time trying to explain why only on Easter can they have it and not on Halloween or Christmas or New Years or st Patrick’s day, and even birthday parties. My family probably deals with this likely because of where we live, but we don’t do candy or other treats kids eat no matter the occasion unless I know what is in it and am ok with it or I make it and use ingredients I am ok with being in food. I struggle with this sometimes because I feel bad about excluding my toddler when all of her cousins are eating this stuff, but I just can’t stomach knowing what it is so I always bring home made treats, or something of the like.
    I usually do Easter baskets with crafts, outdoor stuff like chalk, gardening tools, stickers, healthy treats, books, etc.

  7. My mil took 2 cloth diapers ( the kind I use) and pinned them together with a baby book inside as a basket. Loved it!

  8. Cute i was putting together garden baskets this year i got them a little solar light for in their flower pot.

    To the poster above (Kate) There other health reasons not to do candy. I have 5 children, 2 have allergy’s to dairy, 2 have allergy’s corn and 1 is on a Keto diet for epilepsy. So i have one child that could maybe have candy and that would be unfair to the other four.

    Personally i love that she is posting other ideas besides candy.

  9. We always do a fun bathing suit to start the season along with fun glasses, flip flops. A cute coverup or sundress and fun chunky junk jewelry. For the boys the same, swim trunks, flip flops and a new dvd movie. Fun bracelets for girls and guys. I would also include some candy, not much but sometimes I would make my own with Easter molds.

  10. In the past, I have put pieces to a puzzle in the eggs. Sometimes one puzzle for all the kids to work on together and sometimes one puzzle per kid denoted by the color of eggs (Johhny’s puzzle pieces were in the blue eggs, etc.) As a kid I always received pajamas or a swimsuit in my Easter basket. Thanks for all the ideas everyone.

    • Love this puzzle idea!

    • Love this idea! Really great idea for the grandkids…they will love it! Thank you for posting!

  11. We do theme baskets every year. We boat all summer long, so this year the kids are getting new life jackets, swim suits, towels, and sunglasses. I do put a little candy in- they each get a chocolate cross, because that is what our family tradition was growing up, and an egg with jelly beans in it, because that was my husband’s family tradition.

  12. I just wanted to tell you how much I appreciate and love your posts. You are my go to site when I’m looking for ideas, recipes, cures, and remedies. Thank you for making a thorough, easy to follow site and blog that covers EVERYTHING.

  13. Unfortunately, l don’t have any small ones but I’m making Easter bags for my husband and friends. According to the person, they are getting homemade lip balm, lotion bars (labeled), and tooth powder. They will all have a variety of boiled eggs because we have green, bluish, brown speckled, brown and white. Each person will get some fruit and two small avocados. I hope is the thought that counts.

  14. I love this and I am so jealous of you for having the time, patience and finance to do all of this natural stuff. Is everything in your house natural? Everything you ever eat homemade, grown from your garden and healthy! That’s what it sounds like when reading. It amazes me. I will never have the support from people around me to raise my kids that way, grandparents hear organic and they laugh, family members sneak my kids candy/soda without me knowing. bag of whatever that you can only get online for 60 bucks… That will never happen. Natural meat.. Fruits veggies.. Organic milk.. No grains. That’s all I can afford half the time..pasta. In no way do I mean for this to sound rude. Like I said I am completely jealous and admire everything you do! I just wish this was something possible for everyone to do. But I guess that’s life right! The strong carry on and the poor die of cancer they they got from milk.

    • Hi Rainy- great questions… While I do try really hard to make the best choices I can for my family (we all do), I’m certainly not even close to perfect, nor is everything in my house natural or organic all the time (and my patience is lacking much more often than I’d like!). It has been a long and slow process finding sources of quality foods near us (we live in a pretty small town as well) and I still often have to make concessions. At the same time, I’ve made organic food a priority as much as we’ve been financially able, and I feel the obligation to continue this when I can and to vote with our dollars to hopefully make real food options more available and affordable for all of us. That is certainly a goal, for better options to be available to all of us… and I completely understand on extended family not always being on board! Hang in there, it sounds like you are an awesome mom and your kids are so lucky to have you! 🙂

      • Aww thank you so much for replying, I know I came off sounding a bit crazy…it has been one of those weeks! Your response makes me feel so much better, a little less overwhelmed and worried. Thank you. 🙂
        Love all your stuff, thanks for sharing

  15. I was telling my 5 year old today about how we used to do a treasure hunt and at the end he received a present. He asked me why we don’t still do it and I told him it’s because he asked for a chocolate Easter egg. He told me he’d prefer a present from now on – done!

  16. My son, now 23, still asks for an easter basket; I’ve always given him a lovely rustic basket, filled with earthy colored paper shavings and FULL of strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, cuties (tiny citrus), kumquats, honey sticks and a small stuffed animal- he now skips the stuffed animal but LOVES his fruit! 🙂

  17. My son got an apple, mango gummies (just dried mango puree), maple butter, trading cards, crystalized ginger and a bag of raw cashews. Oh and the just fruit bars that are apple and pears. He was stoked!

  18. Last year we did a scavenger hunt with skylanders characters. My husband wrote little messages with each one. My son really really loved that!!

  19. We get a few non-candy gifts and a few dark chocolate treats. Dark chocolate is healthy, containing lower levels of sugar and lots of great nutrients. We also get a bunch of change and put that inside plastic eggs. We hide these so that our son still get to do an egg hunt and he gets some cash to spend on a toy or save towards a toy he has been wanting. Love these basket ideas! Will definitely incorporate them into our Easter in future years!

  20. I get my kids freeze dried fruit, organic beef jerkey, and pricier nuts like cashew and pistachio. Since these are all more expensive things (especially with 5 kids) it is a treat to them. I also try to find chocolate covered sunflower seeds and gum without aspartame, which is impossible in the town we live in. If you get bigger plastic eggs you can fit those trader joes individual packs of trail mix in them. We’ve made homemade peeps in the past. This year grandma made homemade chocolate peanut butter eggs. The truth is though with all the grandparents and different easter egg hunts ( which I’m limiting this year and the future) i don’t have to give them a single piece of candy and they would still have tooooooo much. I always try to get them something about Jesus, like a picture book/bible ect. This year they are getting coins in their plastic eggs.

  21. We do a forty day fast along with our Church too, which means no meat, dairy, eggs, fish or olive oil. Our Easter Basket has almost all of those foods – this year we have rotisserie chicken, dyed eggs, panetone bread, dried fruit cookies, croissants, gouda and camembert cheese, olives – no candy. When you’ve fasted from these foods for forty days, you are looking forward to these foods and not anything overly sweet. Preparing for and making up the basket is a family affair and greatly anticipated. Happy Easter everyone!

  22. Yup, when my first was old enough to do an Easter egg hunt, I put little cereal puffs in the eggs. Healthy and a little treat for finding an egg. Over time, we got more into the junk food and candy, but I always try to keep that to a minimum. The big finish is always an Easter basket full of art or craft supplies. One year we did money inside the eggs. Had to “code” them so they each got the same amount of money. lol Went to the bank and got each a $2 dollar bill, dollar coins (2 kinds), fifty cent pieces, then all the pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters. Probably cost a lot less than the candy! Love hearing ideas from your other posters. Happy Easter everyone! 🙂

  23. Great ideas! I love all the themed basket ideas, and I never once thought of doing that!

    I have used coins in those plastic eggs, with 1 per child holding a dollar bill. One year they each got their favorite stuffed animal. I used to make everything, but I did organic treats this year; Organic chocolate bunny (Lake Champlain chocolates), organic fruit snacks (Annie’s), organic snacks such as snack bars and popcorn in individual serving bags (Buddha Bowl organic popcorn), and organic chocolate bars in some fun flavor that doesn’t use “natural” flavoring. It has to last until Christmas, so my kids don’t eat it all at once.

    You know, you can buy organic dark chocolate bars and melt them and pour them into small candy molds for fun holiday shaped chocolates. I’ve only done this once, but it’s fun and then you get the shapes you want. The antique molds are metal, the new ones are plastic or silicone, sadly, but I chill in the ‘fridge and turn them out quickly so as to avoid all the garbage in plastics as much as possible.

Join the Conversation...

Please read the comment policy before replying to this post.