Easter Activities and Traditions to Do With your Kids (That Aren't Just Buying Something)

by - Saturday, March 23, 2019

Easter is coming! This is my favorite holiday of the year, so I could not be more excited. I love the meaning of it, I love Spring, and I really love a good egg hunt.

Though I love the holiday itself, this is a season that breaks my heart a little more each year. It has become as commodified and commercialized as everything else, and I really hate it. I am a Christian, this is my most deeply felt and beloved holiday, and I really don't get how the resurrection of Jesus is supposed to help people sell Paw Patrol goods or a kiddie pool. But people buy it.

With a broader cultural lens, I can see that Easter's roots in pagan traditions of Spring beginning can open the door to more secular celebrations of rebirth and spring. Even if that is the tradition you are really connecting with, does it really justify a purchasing spree?

Has the Easter bunny just become another Santa Claus? Schlepping all the stuff your kids want? How is this poor rabbit supposed carry all this junk? All this stuff is making us miserable, steals our money and sanity (not to mention time), and it isn't even good for our kids. What are we doing?

This is especially tragic when you think about how much damage our current way of living is causing the Earth and our bodies. If you believe that God made these things, why would you want to pollute them with wasteful plastic junk? Even if you don't, it's a tough thing to be ok with. Our planet is drowning in plastic, and we are failing at being stewards of everything around us. We have bought into the sick capitalist lie that what we want is more important than anything else. If our kids want toys, we oblige them, who cares if the worker who made it was mistreated or the plastic it is packaged in destroys the environment.

So I have a bold proposition for you. Stop treating Easter as a shopping holiday.

It doesn't have to be austere or boring, but you can celebrate Easter without spending tons of money or giving a bunch of unnecessary gifts. Really. You can have the best celebration you have ever had without one cartoon character getting involved.

In other words, I am giving you a free pass to skip all this stuff. You aren't required to buy up the Easter aisle. Your kid does not need a stuffed bunny or Paw Patrol brand Easter eggs or any of that junk. That's not what they will remember anyway.

Be free! Save your money and do some things you actually enjoy instead.

 Here are some ideas of traditions to try if you aren't sure where to start.

Switch Up the Easter Basket

You don't have to do an Easter basket at all, but if you are into it (I know I am) it can still be simple and focused on the experience. The Easter Basket is now associated with all sorts of things- beach toys! Characters! 6 tons of candy! Keeping it simple can be really satisfying, save all sorts of time, and you will be surprised how psyched your kids still are.

If you want a bunch of ideas on ways to simplify your Easter baskets, check out this post. I have tons of them.

We fill our (thrifted) Easter baskets with a few things:

- Candy. We try to only buy things wrapped in foil, not plastic. Bulk sections in grocery stores can be particularly helpful in doing this.
- Fruit. A few mandarin oranges are perfect filler, and if you are feeling ambitious, you can decorate it.
- Seeds. Why not go plant some things!? Springy and fun. We will talk more about this later.
- Paper Grass. Skip the plastic. Shred some paper you already have! It's so easy! Fold paper (used construction or printer) like an accordion and snip.

It's up to you how much to involve your kids in the making of the baskets (it is fun to make the grass with them), but no matter what, you can do a basket hunt with them! You can do it with clues, like a treasure hunt. You can make little bunny prints for them to chase.

Dying Eggs

Dying eggs is a classic holiday tradition (though it may not appeal if you are a vegan family). Last year, we got the eggs from the chickens in my mom's backyard, so it couldn't have been more local. And those chickens could not be more free-range- they are the tyrant kings and queens of her house.

It doesn't take a lot to make this a fun activity- just some mugs and some eggs to color! When I was a kid, we did those box kits. Now, I can see that is a racket. Food coloring and white vinegar works exactly as well (and you can use white crayons to add designs if you want to get fancy).

Even better? Experiment with using natural food coloring from things like beets and blueberries. You can read all about how to do it on this blog from Country Living. It makes for a fun experiment, and you cut way down on waste. This is my goal for this year.

from A Little Pinch of Perfect

Get Creative

There are so many Raster crafts out there, and some of them use materials you certainly have at home. I especially love egg decorating crafts for kids who don't or can't eat eggs. Rather than buying a craft kit, you can use what you have at home.

My favorite are these salt dough ornaments from The Best Ideas for Kids; you can make the salt dough yourself, and everyone could decorate one each year to start a collection.

I am also obsessed with these doily eggs from A Little Pinch of Perfect. Don't these just look gorgeous? It's just markers and craft paper! And lots of us have random doilies sitting about (I know I have a handful, and I don't even know where they came from). If you want something simpler, these crayon and watercolor eggs from Rhythms of Play look like as easy collaboration if you have really little kids.

I also think these tin foil eggs from I Heart Crafty Things, because you may have some tin foil around already. They really look pretty cool!

Also, this is totally random, but these No Sew Sock Bunnies from Home and Gardening Ideas are the cutest thing I have ever seen. I am trying to guess how many more years we have to go before my kids can do this one!

Hunt for Eggs

Hunting for eggs is so much fun, and you can do twists on it for basically any age. I grew up hunting for empty plastic eggs full of candy, but last year my toddler just hunted for the actual eggs we had colored, and it was so sweet. You can color the eggs, hunt for them, and eat them, so there is nearly no waste involved.

Neighborhood egg hunts can be really fun too, depending on your child's feelings about crowds. They also tend to be over in about 4 minutes, so not great if you aren't timely. The eggs in these hunts are usually reused year after year.

Lastly, if you want to do a plastic egg hunt (maybe because you are vegan), you still shouldn't buy the eggs new. They have them at consignment stores sometimes, you can definitely ask your neighbors for them on Buy Nothing, or you can even borrow them from others. If you really need to buy some, get these plant-based eggs that can be reused and then composted.

Start Growing

Easter is a perfect time to appreciate things that grow! You can start some flowers or herbs in pots, or you can plant some flowers right into the ground (depending on the climate you are working with). I love planting with my kids. A few bucks in seeds can bring you joy (and food and pollinator support etc) for months. You could also ask around for starters from friends and neighbors in your Buy Nothing Group.

from Crafty Morning

Make Easter Treats

It doesn't matter what you make, but making treats for Easter can be a great tradition to spend time together. Your own family may already have food traditions for this holiday, share making them with your kiddos! And if not, set your own traditions!

My favorite are these rice krispy chicks from Crafty Morning, which are so cute and a little bit silly. I like her nests as well. Another simple option is to make Easter egg sugar cookies to decorate like these ones from Oh So Busy Mum.

I have also read a lot about doing Easter bread, and you could make your own loaves. I also had no idea, but Polish tradition has a lamb cake, where you make a cake shaped like a lamb (how sweet... and also weird?). There are so many choices out there, and I find if I turn music on and let them do the pouring and mixing, my kids are so happy with time baking together.

Go Fly a Kite

Such a spring activity, and so much fun! I am terrible at kites, and tend to get whacked in the face a lot, but I still have a great time. If you don't have a kite, maybe ask around to neighbors before buying one. Someone in your Buy Nothing group would probably be happy to lend you theirs for a day or two. J

Make a Bird Feeder

If you have older kids, making a bird feeder or bird house could be a fun way to welcome the spring (and the feathered friends that come with it). Simple cookie cutter ones are my favorite, but this post also has some really cool ideas if you want to try something more complicated!

Just Go Outside

Now that the air is getting warmer and there are so many things coming alive, an Easter Walk sounds like the perfect tradition. Just being outside can feel spiritual and reflective in the Spring, and that time together really counters the busy-ness that can take over our lives and holidays. Have a picnic. Do more egg hunts. Plant flowers. Play Hide and Seek.

It doesn't really matter what you do, just leave the stuff behind and spend some time together. Amazing things will happen.

Participate in Holy Week

Even if you are a light attender, this is a great week to plug back into your church. Often churches have fun events going on after church on Easter Sunday as well, so maybe plan your Easter dinner a little later.

Easter can be a perfect moment to refocus on your family's spiritual connections, and step away from our addiction to consumption. We blame all sorts of other things, but our constant purchases pull us further away from our stated values daily, without us even noticing. We mistreat the poor by ignoring the people who make our stuff in slave labor and sweatshops, we mistreat animals by continuing to buy meat and eggs farmed in horrific conditions, and we mistreat the Earth by flooding it with our pointless plastic garbage. We go directly against the Word of God by how we spend our money.

This is no example to set for our kids. But give yourself grace, that mainstream force is hard to push against, and all of these truths are so hard to face.

You can give your kids a gift by helping them break this cycle early, and to stop connecting celebrating and shopping.

If you want to celebrate Jesus this Easter, you can start by breaking up with this endless cycle of shopping and desire. Simplest way to do this? Just be with other Christians and don't buy anything. Use your church library to find cool Lent or Easter books (my favorite is the Jesus Storybook Bible). Do a cool craft like these resurrection gardens or cross paintings or palm leaf crosses, but do it together with your church!

We can't control how the capitalist machine commodifies religious holidays, but we can choose to not participate. If they don't make all that much money off of it, they will stop doing it.

Easter Activities and Traditions to Do With your Kids (That Aren't Just Buying Something) Eco-Friendly Easter

Ok, that got a bit heavy at the end, but this is a holiday about joy! What are the traditions your family shares at this time of year?

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  1. Wow, I find it so interesting how different traditions are in different countries! Where I come from we don't gift each other easter baskets etc, we only exchange eggs (sounds funny haha). And making some special food plus dying eggs - that's pretty much easter for me. But I can totally imagine how it's turning into spring-Christmas. Thanks for suggestions - flying kite sounds fun!

  2. I don't have kids but would love an easter basket with seeds to start a garden. Beautiful ideas <3

  3. Woah, Easter here in Sweden is really different than what you are describing. Or maybe it's just my family. We mostly just paint eggs and eat candy ��

  4. We always made coloured boiled eggs with natural colours (spinach, beets..) and then had fun eating them ;)

  5. These are some wonderful ideas. I love the idea of planting a garden and creating items such as a bird feeder to place in the yard. It keeps the kids outside and active.

  6. My kids loved hunting for Easter eggs outside and inside for weeks after Easter. It kept them busy for hours! Thanks for reminding me of that. :)

  7. I LOVE LOVE LOVE these ideas!!! Our church has a new "Green Team" and I am sharing this post with them - we have lots of Earth-friendly activities planned throughout April in honor of Earth Day, but not in conjunction with Easter per se. Great tips - thanks! :)

  8. I love all of these ideas. We're definitely going to try these this year! So much better than the usual candy-overload!

  9. Thank you for all the great ideas!



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