I don’t know about you guys, but the more kids we have, the more we seem to want to simplify our lives. At our house, I find that I carry less around in my diaper bag (aka my biggest handbag) with our third than I did with our first, we feel that we've hit our toy quota, and we seem to be in a constant (never ending?) state of purging. I’ve read, seen, and heard a lot from the current generation of parents who seem to be dealing with a similar “simple is better” attitude. Many seem to want to enjoy the quality of life - their children, experiences, and memories - without the physical trappings that come with it. Hence things like tiny houses and Konmari. This urge away from “stuff for stuff’s sake” can make holidays challenging. I’ll admit that I’m still working on handling the frustration when our kids come home from school with a bag of candy or from a visit with Grandma with outfits galore, but I’m learning that it all begins at home. Easter is an interesting place to start because it’s kind of under the radar as far as commercialization goes. I mean, CLEARLY it’s quite commercial...but still has nothin’ on Christmas. There are fewer Easter parties at school, and there’s still a large religious string running through it, allowing us to focus as much (or little) as we want on what fills the Easter baskets.
For anyone who’s looking to reign in their Easter holiday a bit, here are a handful of tips to do just that:
GIVE THE EASTER BUNNY SOME GUIDELINES
This works for other holidays, too. Just decide what you'll get, make a list, and stick with it. As a kid, I used to get a pair of PJs, new “play sneakers”, socks/underwear, the occasional stuffed animal, an outside toy, and some communal candy (no pun intended). It was more than enough. And it’s okay to politely request less from any well-meaning grandparent who wants to buy something, or to ask for only one thing if they won’t let it rest.
KEEP IT PERSONAL
My aforementioned list may not work for everybody. Currently, the Easter bunny is bringing our kids a book, new sneakers (they’re needed - usually it’s new sandals or flip flops), a bathing suit/sunnies, a small stuffed animal, one small toy (Hatchimals for our son, glitter Play-Doh for our daughter), then a separate basket for candy - mostly Annie’s organic bunnies (gummy fruit treats and cheddar treats) and organic jelly beans with a small few “traditional” candies. We change it every year depending on what the kids need or show an interest in. We have tons of bubble solution and sidewalk chalk, so instead of adding to those we stuck with things they’re REALLY into right now. The same goes for crayons (they color several times a day but we’ve restocked already).
MAKE PLANS THAT SUIT YOU AND YOUR FAMILY
The obligations that go with keeping holiday traditions can be just as overwhelming as the stuff your family receives. We’ve come to realize that tradition is a fluid, flexible idea (rather than one that’s set in stone). Heck, the more kids we’ve had, the more we realize that things REALLY can’t always be the same even when we want them to. So, a few years ago we thought to invite my parents-in-law over for a brunch then went to my clan’s afternoon festivities. It works for us now, but who knows? Maybe we’ll start fitting church in more regularly. Maybe we’ll invite everyone over to our place instead someday. Goodness knows, but as long as we’re making memories with our loved ones, it really doesn’t matter whose house we’re descending upon.
SIMPLE BASKETS CAN STILL BE FUN
If you want to keep your baskets fun and low-key, here are some ideas : Just use books! (Admittedly, this’ll fall flat if your kiddo doesn’t like storytime.) Go with candy (or homemade treats) that you are comfortable giving your kids. I throw in a mixed lot but if your family has dietary needs or simply avoids processed foods, don’t feel pressured to include Peeps and chocolate peanut butter eggs. Just remember that it’s a special occasion but stay true to yourself. Give experience gifts. Materials to build a birdhouse or homemade kite. Cooking supplies. Mini potted plants (such as the ones in the Target Dollar Spot) with new gardening gloves. Paint or craft supplies. Or even summertime or spring break “supplies” with a card detailing vacation plans. Small or grandiose, experiences are an awesome gift!
TURN THE EGG HUNT INTO A SCAVENGER HUNT!
If you have a reader, this may be even more exciting, but even not, reading one clue that leads to the next egg which leads to the next and so forth.
REMEMBER WHAT MADE YOUR EASTER SPECIAL AS A CHILD
While I know what we got in our baskets as kids, that’s not what sticks out most in my mind about Easter. Dressing up for church (and the overuse of incense that more than once made me pass out in the pew) and eventually heaving a sigh of relief when I could finally change OUT of the fancy clothes. The fact that, no matter the weather (we generally still have snow for Easter), my sister and I would brave the elements to try out our bubbles or new jump rope. The decorating and finding of the eggs. The inevitable ham - and less predictable but always delicious dessert (generally a pie...or two...or four, as with the year my uncle brought a pecan pie from a bakery over an hour away, the first time any of us had tried it). The year our dog got a hold of my 5 pound chocolate bunny and I thought I’d killed her (nope, just a tummy ache). Whether you want to replicate your old traditions or make new ones, remember that it’s these fun memories that matter the most. Keep it simple or make it as elaborate as you want; just be sure to enjoy it along the way! What are your favorite Easter basket add-ins? So you have new traditions or uphold old ones?