Once again I need to start a holiday post with my standard disclaimer: I was raised Jewish. I converted to Christianity during college, and many Christian holiday traditions involving kids are things I've had to muddle through without any guidance from my past to inform my duties as the parent.
Easter, of course, much like Christmas, has become fairly secularized in America. While I'm pretty sure I never went on an egg hunt as a kid, I do have memories of chocolate bunnies and marshmallow peeps (more on that in a bit). And I'm pretty sure Jesus didn't rise from the dead and command his people to present the children with brightly-colored baskets of sugary treats and other small delights. But regardless of specific religious beliefs and rituals, for many parents, Easter baskets are a yearly tradition.
I enjoy Easter baskets. For one thing, it's an opportunity to give something fun to my kids where the expectations are pretty low (no one is going to sulk if they don't get a new Nintendo DS, for example). For another, Easter baskets feel to me like a little bundled reminder to enjoy life. Cliched? Maybe. It doesn't matter. Whether or not you believe Christ is risen, an excuse to eat some sugar and celebrate the arrival of Spring is something most of us can get behind, I think.
Over the years I have cobbled together the Tao of Easter Basketing (whoops, there I go mixing my religions again) from friends, reading, random ideas of my own, and probably a few other sources I'm forgetting. I hereby present The Way Easter Baskets Are Done 'round here:
1) Easter baskets are left, empty, on the kitchen table the night before Easter. You know, so that the bunny can find them, fill them up, and hide them. (Confession: I did go a few Easters purchasing a basket every year. That got old very quickly. I bought some sturdy wire baskets on clearance one year and ever since, the Easter Bunny has been appreciative of our commitment to recycling. Ahem.)
2) Easter baskets are hidden for the children to find on Easter morning. When the kids were little there were trails of (plastic) eggs leading to the hiding spot. Now that they're older there are sometimes written clues and sometimes they just have to look. But the Easter Bunny tends to be a little tricky.
3) Easter baskets must contain candy. This is probably why my youngest still believes; his totally mean mother doesn't buy candy, ever. Candy must come from another source.
3a) There must be marshmallow peeps. Color and animal form (actual peeps or bunnies or something else) is unimportant, but there must be at least one box of them per basket.
3b) There must be something small hidden in a plethora of plastic eggs, like jellybeans or malted milk ball mini-eggs.
3c) There must be one big chocolate bunny. With two children, the bunnies must be exactly the same size, but variation in flavor is appreciated both for the sake of differing palates and because it makes them easier to tell apart once they've had the ears nibbled off and are left on the kitchen counter. (My son always gets a milk chocolate bunny. My daughter prefers white chocolate, the weirdo.)
4) Easter baskets must contain something that says "Yay, warm weather! Spring! Summer! Outdoor fun times!" It's not at all unusual for the Easter Bunny to bring swimsuits and goggles, or other fun pool toys. Or rainboots and funky little umbrellas. One year there was sidewalk chalk, bubbles, and a kite. Now that the kids are older and warmer weather means hiking and camping trips, the bunny will be bringing water bottles and card games to take on the road.
5) We don't do grass in our baskets. It makes a mess and I've yet to meet the kid who beholds the loot and gasps, "Oh my goodness, it's all just so pretty and such a perfect presentation!" Yeah.
That's how it goes at our house, and so far there have been no complaints (of which I'm aware, anyway). I realize it's a relatively low-frills affair, so I started looking around to see what other folks are doing. Frankly, I'm starting to feel a little inadequate.
For starters, go check out Not Martha's chocolate Easter surprise eggs, and tell me you didn't need a nap just from reading that. That's a level of dedication I just lack, though I am really wowed by her results. Gorgeous!
On the other hand, Picky Palate's fudge-dipped Easter Oreos look a lot more my speed, and would probably be just as delightful to my kids as candy, so I may actually try this one.
If you just want to find out what sorts of Easter-themed candy is out there this year, look no further than On Motivation and Chocolate for a rundown of some old favorites as well as new concoctions.
And if you're trying to cut down on candy, Trainer Momma has lots of suggestions for keeping candy out of the spotlight... while if you want to go sugar-free entirely, you should check out Super Healthy Kids for non-edible ways to celebrate and stuff baskets.
Alright, fess up: What's in your Easter baskets?
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