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:
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.
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).
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.)
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, scissors, buttons, 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:
- jump ropes
- card games
- jump gym passes
- bowling lane tickets
- outdoor games
- water guns
- hair accessories
- beach towels and toys
- wooden airplanes
- coupon for a lunch date with Mom or Dad
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 chocolate, marshmallows, 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!