I fondly remember Easter as a child. My grandmother would hide Easter eggs, chocolate bunnies, other treats and usually a pair of socks or a new coloring book in her garden. And when I say ‘hide’, I mean HIDE. We had to truly look for them. And almost every year, we would fail to find one or two chocolate treats. Then weeks later, my grandmother would discover them while working in the garden.
I also remember painting blown out eggs and decorating forsythia branches with the eggs along with little yellow chicks we crafted out of felt. Sometimes, we also hung painted eggs outside. (Though, we were never quite as dedicated as this German family and their 10,000 egg Easter tree.)
It was so simple. Yet, so enjoyable.
When I moved to the US, I was introduced to a different version of an Easter egg hunt. A mad dash for eggs that lasted about 2 minutes. I never quite saw the joy in that and cherished my German tradition.
BUT sure enough, I thought it would be a good idea to participate in our local Easter egg hunt at a nearby park when our daughter was 3. Why wouldn’t we? Everybody else was doing it.
We have participated a total of 3 times now. And every time it was a disappointment. I’m still not sure why I expected it to be different. I knew exactly what I was getting myself into. And I know that some families love them. It’s just not for us.
This year, we are going back to celebrating Easter in a way that is meaningful to us. Low-key in our own backyard. The kids searching for their Easter eggs. And all of us enjoying the coming of spring. Talking about gardening and hiking and camping.
And we are only going to do 3 activities in preparation of the festivities.
3 Simple Easter Traditions
1. Dying Eggs. I have experimented with various natural dyes in the past and while it was fun, the results weren’t always great and it ended up being quite a bit of work that distracted from enjoying this time of year. So, back to basics it is. One batch of eggs will soak in onion skins and another batch in red cabbage leaves. Simple. I know it works. And the kids are having just as much fun.
2. Painting Eggs. We have painted blown-out and cleaned out egg shells twice before but now that the kids are getting older, this will definitely become a yearly tradition. We will either hang them from forsythia branches in a vase or on our peach tree in the garden. Or both. After Easter, the eggs will be carefully packed away until next year. And as our tree grows our Easter egg collection will grow as well.
3. Easter Egg Hunt. This is my favorite part. I love hiding the eggs, chocolate bunnies and small gifts all over our yard and then watching our kids cheer and jump for joy every time they find something. They use their Easter baskets to gather their gifts instead of waking up to filled Easter baskets.
The Challenge of Small Gifts
I have to admit that making sure they only receive small gifts is not always easy. Once I start looking for ideas, I can quickly get carried away and I have to remind myself that this holiday is not about gifts.
It’s about celebrating new life…whether that’s in a religious sense or a focus on nature or both. And it’s about enjoying time together as a family. As I look back on my own childhood I vividly remember the things we did together at Easter and less so the small gifts we received.
So, I do my best to stick to small gifts that are either gardening related, something they can play with outdoors or basic art materials.
If you still need some ideas for Easter, here is what our children have enjoyed in the past (and still use and play with today).
- Books: How Groundhog’s Garden Grew, The Fairy Houses Series
- Seeds: Sunflowers, Marigolds or any vegetables seeds you might want to grow this year.
- Gardening Tools – A small trowel from your local hardware store or garden center often works better than the ‘Kids Gardening Tools’. If you want to add rakes and spades, I recommend this set. Some local stores carry individual tools or the set could be one gift for siblings.
- Magnifying Glass – These are very sturdy and will last for many years.
- ‘How to Draw’ books – I have used them for the children in my classes and camps for a long time and now my kids love them as well.
- Schleich Animal Figures or Fairies – Perfect for indoors and outdoors.
- Colored Pencils – for 2-4 year olds, for children 4 and up
- Sandbox Toys
- Sidewalk Chalk
Share your Easter traditions in the comments below? We never had a special food or dessert for Easter but for a few years now I have eyed the braided Easter breads. If you have a recipe you love, I would love to hear about it.