Planning your kids’ Easter baskets? Here are more than a dozen fun ideas that honor the religious meaning of the holiest day in the Church year.
by Meagan Daoust
Easter is my favorite holiday. The build-up of the cold, dark, Lent ending with a bright, warm Easter morning is nothing short of majestic. I want our children to have fond memories of Easter and look forward to it with great anticipation each year. Some years we make it really big. Two years ago, our children came back from Easter Sunday Mass to find new bikes for everyone.
Other years we keep it fun but simple. Less is more! After all, Jesus’ tomb was empty, and King Tut’s tomb was stuffed to the brim . . . except he was in it, dead. And if your family is a large one like ours, less is definitely more.
When I start thinking about Easter baskets I break things down into five categories:
Let’s start with the “Reason for the Season.” Pick a faith-based item to remind your children about the joy of the Risen Christ.
How about a Mass Kit?
Thrifty version: You can easily make one yourself for next to nothing, using instructions from Catholic Icing.
Catholic Dress Up Clothes
Next up, how about some vestments or saintly dress-up clothes?
Thrifty version: Oriental Trading has some Biblical dress up clothes for little cost.
Splurge: Last year, I had a friend make the most gorgeous Latin Rite vestments for my older boys and altar linens for the younger boy, and had her make a St. Therese of Lisieux costume for our daughter. As a bonus, we were all set for The Feast of All Saints! There are a number of sites that hand-make vestments and saintly dress up costumes if you don’t know someone yourself. And while you’re at it, maybe get some saintly dress up clothes for your daughter’s 18 inch doll?
How about some Catholic games?
Thrifty version: We have “Vessels & Vestments” card game. Our kids love this game and it helps me brush up on some terminology, too. You can use the cards to play Memory or even Go Fish. “Do you have a ‘thurible’? “Go Fish!”
We also have Saints Memory Cards. The images in this set are just stunning.
Next up. Rosaries.
Thrifty version: Rosary rings, rosary bracelets, or even one-decade chaplets make great basket fillers. If your family prays as hard as mine does, then you might have some broken rosaries around your house (cough, cough). Rope-style rosaries are great for kids and last the longest, in my opinion. For a baby this wooden rosary is a favorite and I think our baby may be getting this rosary rattle this year, or maybe even this Immaculate Heart of Mary rosary rattle. Too cute!
Splurge: Too young to count beads? How about crocheted roses from Fig & Thimble? We bought a set for our family a few years ago and love them. They come in a set of 10 colored roses and one white rose. Little ones place a rose in a basket for each “Hail Mary” and the white rose for the “Our Father” prayed. In our house everyone has a different way to pray the Rosary. Some use beads, some the crocheted roses and some use the Illuminated Rosary books. Don’t forget to check out the handmade clay roses at Roses for Mary, appropriate for older kids.
Catholic sacramentals, jewelry, and accessories
Thrifty version: Holy medals and scapulars from your local religious goods store make great basket fillers.
Splurge: I love these handmade scapulars from Mary Devotions.
Last year, I had gorgeous patron saint necklaces made from my friend Elizabeth at Blessed Beans Boutique for our daughter.
Looking for something more traditional? How about a chapel veil?
Thrifty version: You shouldn’t have a hard time finding Catholic coloring books to fill your baskets. Holy Heroes has many to choose from.
This Sense of the Sacred coloring book is my new favorite, with its breathtaking coloring pages for the advanced artist in your home.
Don’t forget the new crayons, pencils or markers. Crayola twistable crayons and pencils are my favorites.
How about paper dolls? Leaflet Missal has a wonderful collection.
Splurge: Legos! Our friends at Domestic Church Supply have assembled a lovely Mass Lego Set. We gave one to our seven year old for his First Confession this year and he absolutely loved putting it together. Note: These sell like hot cakes! Limited Supply. Must order by March 17th! How about pillowcases? Our children each have a pillowcase that reminds them of the saints and angels as they fall asleep.
Journals and notebooks
Last, but not least, in the Catholic Category we have journals and notebooks.
Thrifty version: Believe it or not, you can get beautiful notebooks/journals and pens from Dollar Tree. Children love an empty notebook all to themselves.
Splurge: Holy Heroes has come out with an inspirational Spiritual Diary that I am really excited about. Young or old, it looks really promising with prompts for daily prayers, reflections, prayer intentions. I’m thinking of getting one for our nine year old…and myself.
If you are looking an exhaustive list of real Easter book ideas, head to Shower of Roses. It’s where I start every season, every year. Her book choices are flawless. From board books to chapter books, I always see what she recommends first. This year our seven-year-old is getting “Gospel Time Trekkers” (think Magic Tree House, the Catholic version) per her suggestion.
Thrifty version: Include missals or Mass books found at your local religious goods store.
Splurge: Treasure & Tradition: The Ultimate Guide to the Latin Mass, first recommended by Jessica at Shower of Roses, is a favorite of ours. You can sit reading and looking at the beautiful images for hours or bring it to Latin Mass and use it to follow along.
Thrifty version: You can easily find fun basket fillers like chalk, crayons, bubbles, Hot Wheels, G.I. Joes, puzzles, glow sticks, silly string, play dough, sunglasses, sand box toys, balls, rubber ducks, Pringles, gum, and slinky at Dollar Tree or in the $3 section at Target. I prefer consumable items myself so as not to add more clutter to the home.
Splurge: Want a bit more substance? How about a kite? Nail polish or coffee for the teens? Their own can or bottle of pop? A new purse,r some jewelry, or hair accessories would be appreciated by an older daughter. Gift cards go a long way with teens as well.
It’s not uncommon to get new jammies for Christmas; why not a new set for the warmer months? For Christmas, some of my children got a box of super-sugary over-priced cereal that I am otherwise completely opposed to. Do they need a new water bottle or sippy cup?
One of my favorite go-tos is a new toothbrush and toothpaste. Kids love it and you needed to buy it anyway. Win-win!
Finally, these “Toobs” are always a hit.
Now, there is not as much to write about here as everyone has their preferences, but maybe if you are hoping to put a fun spin on things try and find candy that is symbolic: Cadbury Eggs to represent new life, Lindts Easter Lambs to represent the “Lamb of God.” We always get chocolate crosses from the Dollar Tree.
While you are prayerfully discerning what sweets to include in this year’s Easter baskets, consider the Ferrero Rocher candies. The owner of these and other lovely goodies like Nutella was a devout Catholic. The Ferro Rocher candies were designed after the grotto at Lourdes. Eat away my friends, it’s for a good cause!
Easter wouldn’t be complete without eggs! Eggs remind us of new life and and an open egg reminds us of the open and empty tomb. I’m getting excited just thinking about it!
Last year I found these gorgeous religious egg wraps and there’s no turning back. Gorgeous. Simple. They are our new go to!
Color-coded Easter egg hunt
A few years ago I came up with an idea for our Easter egg hunt. Each child gets a color of egg assigned to them ahead of time and there are equal amounts of eggs. This allows discretion for how the eggs are filled and hid.
Traditionally our littlest ones have their eggs scattered on the grass with one or two Annie’s Gummies, crackers, or cookies in each one. (Festive and healthier, I love it!) The rest of the eggs are hid based on the height and climbing ability of the child and their assigned egg color.
I’m telling you, this system will change the way you do egg hunts. It’s more fun, no tears from little ones who didn’t find eggs. And you know when all the eggs are found and won’t have the unfortunate situation of having your three-year-old excitedly bringing you jelly beans they found outside in July. We also try and have one gold egg for each child that we leave empty to remind us of the empty tomb, or you could include a coin to represent the price that was paid.
Ideas for filling eggs
- Jelly beans. In case you are new to this Easter business.
- I like to stick to one or two pieces of candy per egg, and the littles get Annie’s crackers/gummies/cookies. Our seven-month-old will probably get some puffs this year.
- Coins. Money is exciting for all ages and represents the price Jesus paid for our sins.
- Legos : You could hide a small set in all their eggs. Wouldn’t that be fun?!
- Puzzle pieces: Hide a small puzzle within all their eggs.
- Finger Puppets
- Silly Putty
- Fun Band-Aids
- Coupon for something fun they will love.
Is it unfair that moms and dads get all the fun of planning these Easter treats while our kids are still stuck in the middle of Lent?
Nope . . . happy shopping in anticipation of Easter morning!