How to take the candy out of Easter

Easter doesn’t have to mean gigantic baskets overflowing with candy. Many parents are limiting the candy in favor of more useful and lasting token presents. Here’s how you can have a fun Easter celebration with less candy.

girl with easter gifts

When I was a little girl, I could barely contain myself as I ripped back the colorful mylar and picked through all the candy in my giant Easter basket. Excitement overwhelmed me. But a few hours later, when much of the candy was consumed, I was left tired of sugar and a little down — probably from the receding sugar high.

These days, I’m the mom. And while I look back fondly on my overflowing Easter baskets of candy, I also have decided to take a different route with my own kids: Very little candy in the baskets but lots of fun.

And I’m not alone. Parents are increasingly saying no to the Easter sugar high.

>> Easter: Recipes, egg decorating, crafts & more

Easter without so much candy

Joylynn M. Jossel says that she had a brainstorm to do a themed Easter bag with very little candy this year. “I bought my girls some of those reusable ‘good for the earth’ bags that had little peace signs and earth symbols all over them. Then I had the idea to include a bunch of little gadgets relating to going green, peace on earth, etc. There is so much out there, from stickers, flip-flops, to socks, to posters, jewelry. I even found t-shirts to stuff in the bag,” says Jossel.

She’ll be tucking in some gum, suckers and an Easter bunny too. “But that’s where I drew the line with candy. This is a first and I think my girls will be far more excited to receive the little gifts and gadgets anyway (not to mention a bag there can carry outside and more than just one Sunday out of the year),” she says.

>> Fun Easter gifts for kids

Limit, but not remove

Are you thinking of doing a low- or no-candy Easter basket this year? Experts say that you should limit the candy, but not necessarily remove it altogether. “Try not to make candy the primary focus of the basket by including other things that your child might like. What you choose will, of course, depend on your individual child,” says mom of two Christina Scirica, M.D., MPH, a pediatrician.

Why not? Because deprivation can have bad consequences. “I strongly believe that expecting children not to eat any treats at all is unreasonable and likely to backfire. The key… lies in moderation. If children practice healthy habits most of the time, a few small treats here and there are unlikely to do too much harm,” says Scirica.

>> Easter gift guide: Ten ideas for the ultimate Easter basket

So, what could you include in your Easter baskets? Check out these ideas:

For preschoolers

Think small Easter-themed toys and other age-appropriate things that kids can play with. “Easter is really all about the tots, so fill their baskets with fun. Instead of sweets, opt for creative toys, plush pals and a hidden surprise for them to find that’s a little bit easier than the traditional egg hunt,” says gifting expert Dana S. Holmes of

For elementary school kids

Activities are the name of the game when it comes to kids in elementary school. They love being able to do something with their treats. “This is the Easter basket’s ‘sweet spot’ but you don’t have to load up on candy and treats. Include a fun activity that they can do Easter Morning with friends and family like a full scale egg hunt or craft project like egg shaped sidewalk chalk or an egg decorating kit,” says Holmes.

For tweens

By the time kids reach tween age, they may not be so into plushies and kid-activities. Look for music, toys for their age group and even books. “These cool kids may be too old to egg hunt, but they still love the Easter basket tradition. Throw in some small, age appropriate toys, a gag gift for boys and sweet and shiny trinket for girls to keep them hoppy,” says Holmes.

For teens and beyond

For teens, the coolness of Easter may be wearing off a bit. But they still like their baskets. Trade the candy overload for tech-related gadgets, books, gift cards and accessories.

Ultimately, the Easter baskets should be fun, so keep your child’s interest in mind and think beyond the candy aisle.

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