Updated: Feb 8, 2022
Holidays are a time for family, for food, and for fun. They don’t have to be a time for waste and regret. Easter (Spring Equinox, Ostara) is a very ancient celebration of Spring and rebirth, symbolized by eggs, bunnies, and flowers (all symbols of fertility). Easter baskets are a chance for us to give our children a bit of Spring fun at a time when things are often still gray and chilly. I’d love to share my thoughts on low-waste Easter baskets, but first a few words on the food and the fun.
The Feast: You all know what I’m going to say here… follow the seasons (eggs, root vegetables, beans, and breads), go easy on the meat (or, preferably, skip it all together), and aim for unpackaged food. An Easter feast here consists of a big french toast casserole, some deviled eggs, sourdough bread and cheese, a vegetable pot pie, baked beans, roasted root vegetables, and a fruit pie (made with fruit or berries we froze last summer). Plus Easter candy.
The Fun: Easter egg hunts are the best. The kids love them and it keeps them busy while the adults sit around and socialize (read: drink). Kids can search for hardboiled eggs or painted rocks or even those plastic eggs, if you already have them (my mom likes to fill hers with pennies and dimes). Egg and spoon races, three-legged races, potato sack races… any old-fashioned traditional game will keep the kids happy and they are easy to set up and clean up. A family walk is always a good way to walk off the feast.
THE BASKET! Okay, now let’s break down the standard Easter basket and see if we can remake it in a low-waste way…
The Basket: Chances are you already have some baskets lying around. You may even have Easter baskets already. Great! Instead of going out to buy new ones each year, you can leave these baskets out for the Easter bunny the night before (much like stockings left out for Santa). If you don’t already have baskets, I guarantee you that Goodwill does. We bought the basket pictured above from the Department of Corrections Store when our first daughter was a baby.
The “Grass”: OMG! Even as a kid, way before I went low-waste, I hated that nasty plastic grass stuff. Easter baskets look just as pretty without it, I promise! If you still have some, and want to use it, by all means go for it, but phase it out and never buy it again – please! If you’re worried the basket will look dull without it, you can place a beautiful napkin or handkerchief in the bottom. If you want some fresh green for your table, you can also start some wheatgrass seeds now and they should be ready for Easter.
These little satchels, which we use in Easter baskets to contain loose jelly beans from the Concord Coop, are so easy to make. Basically, you cut a big circle out of fabric and pierce holes around the edges with scissors. Then you lace an old ribbon through and tie it in a bow. Yes, you can definitely make prettier ones, but the kids only care about the candy anyway!
The Eggs: Plastic eggs filled with candy have become the norm for Easter baskets because what child really wants a hard-boiled egg in her basket? While I would never recommend buying plastic eggs, if you have already have them, take care of them (see Eco-Don’t #1). You can use them for years for egg hunts and, yes, to put candy in (I would never recommend storing food in plastic, but in this case, it’s only for a few hours).
If you don’t have fillable eggs already, don’t despair! We use homemade fabric satchels to hold candy. Tied with a ribbon, they are just as pretty and just as functional. But eggs are an important symbol of Easter, so don’t forget to include eggs in your celebration somehow. Dying hardboiled eggs (and eating them later as deviled eggs or in egg-salad sandwiches) is a lot of fun. Here is a great resource for fun egg ideas and crafts.
The Candy: Most bulk stores carry jelly beans, which can be used to fill your satchels (or those plastic eggs you already have). You can also look for naked or minimally-packaged chocolate from your local candy store. We bring containers to Granite State Candy Shoppe in Concord so we can get chocolates from under the counter package-free. Not only is the chocolate delicious, but we are supporting a local business and avoiding trash at the same time. Also, I am a firm believer in buying the big chocolate bunny. 🙂
The Toys: You certainly don’t have to give toys in an Easter basket, but it has become tradition to put a bunny or something in there. If that is a tradition in your house, why not set a bunny from an earlier year in the basket on Easter Eve to avoid buying another?
The trick with gifts is finding something they will use and enjoy and that you would have bought anyway (not some random Easter-themed crap that will get thrown out later). If your child needs crayons or chalk or any other art supply, this is a great chance to inspire some creativity.
If your kids don’t already have these, jump ropes, fishing gear, kites, seeds, and garden supplies are all good Spring choices. Remember to buy quality products because you want them to last! A cute little potted plant for their window sill will also add joy to the basket (I’m always amazed at how much my kids love potted plants).
Books that they will actually read are also a good choice (avoid cheap Easter-themed books). We have been slowly gifting our children the Brambly Hedge collection by Jill Barklem at holidays because they are such a lovely illustration of living with the seasons and fit very nicely in stockings and Easter baskets. Another personal favorite is The Country Bunny and the Little Gold Shoes. Yes, it’s about Easter, but it has lots of wonderful messages about perseverance, responsibility, and following your dreams.
Happy Easter/Spring Equinox/Ostara to you and your family!