What are your favorite Easter memories from your childhood? Hunting for Easter eggs? Chomping down on marshmallow peeps? Biting the ears off your Easter bunnies?
Or maybe the most magical part was the preparation: painting those eggs, and anticipating the candy you’d get. The Easter basket, with green grass and chocolate bunnies…maybe a stuffed chick or even a real duckling!
I’m sure you’d like to recreate some of those fond memories for your family and especially your kids. So here are a few tips to help you make that happen.
For many families, Easter is about their faith, but that won’t stop anyone from enjoying Easter egg hunts and Easter candy as a secular celebration. Easter is a day of joy, and the colorful eggs and accessories of traditional Easter serve to enhance that sense of joy in the essence of Spring and rebirth.
For kids, or course, some of the appeal of Easter lies in the fact that it is yet another holiday where they expect to get lots of chocolates, candies, and other treats. And for the purposes of this report, we’ll focus on the fun aspects of Easter, along with its joyousness. You can have a happy Easter, celebrating Springtime and its beauty and freedom, without focusing entirely on sugary stuff.
Easter is a Family Affair
Families vary in how they like to celebrate Easter. So you get to pick just how you’d like to celebrate. But in spite of the individual differences, there are a lot of themes in common as well. Here are some of the standard ingredients:
Easter is (for many folks) about treats…and key among the treats are Easter eggs. It’s not Easter unless lots of eggs are tucked into the basket, along with a variety of other candy. And about those eggs… there are so many different kinds, from chocolate eggs with and without filling, candy eggs, marshmallow eggs, and yes, even hard-boiled eggs that have been decorated brightly to add to the cheer.
Peeps, preferably in various shapes and colors, are a must as well, as are jelly beans, which really look like miniature eggs.
Some families even have their own special baked goods for Easter, which can range from special breads to cookies to fancy cakes with colorful Easter decorations. My mother used to bake each of us a cake in the shape of either Easter bunnies and Easter lambs! Some years, she let us pick which one we wanted.
If there’s an Easter parade in town or even nearby, be sure to take the kids, and snap plenty of pictures. If you go, you should be sure to get (or create) some special Easter bonnets for everyone, as there are often competitions for the best Easter bonnet at these events.
For example, Richmond, Virginia, has a special Easter parade, fittingly called “Easter on Parade,” that turns Monument Avenue, a gorgeous tree-lined Avenue with beautiful old homes and monuments into a temporary playground for Richmond’s citizens, who wander up and down, showing off their bonnets — and their decorated dogs. There are contests for best bonnets, both for humans and for their canine friends.
Meanwhile, there’s music playing all along the Avenue, and lots of fancy crafts as well as yummy goodies are for sale. There are also games for kids. Parades like this one can make for very special memories.
Children always love Egg Hunts, which many towns, villages or institutions will organize on Easter weekend, so if you have a chance to take the kids to an Egg Hunt near where you live, they’ll have a blast. If not, you can always hide eggs and candies tucked into colorful plastic eggs around the house or outside in the garden, weather-permitting.
Getting ready for Easter: Painting Easter Eggs
One of the most cherished Easter traditions, other than actually getting and eating the candy, involves painting Easter eggs.
You have two options: You could paint hard-boiled eggs and then eat them later, or you could remove the eggs’ contents and paint the shells to use for decorations.
In fact, you may want to do both. You can always make a brunch frittata from the contents of the hollowed-out eggs, and then use them to create pretty center pieces once you’ve painted them.
In order to create those centerpieces, you could simply get Easter baskets and arrange the eggs prettily in the “grass.” Or you could get a few branches, either with or without leaves, and decorate them with your colorfully painted egg shells. Of course there are plenty of additional possibilities, from creating a mobile and hanging it from the ceiling, to decorating a wreath with eggs and displaying it on the front door or in the hallway.
The painted hard-boiled eggs, on the other hand, will be part of the Easter baskets meant for consumption, and they can also be hidden for the Easter egg hunt. Just make sure the kids find them all, or else you’ll have some mighty foul odors coming from their hiding places a few weeks down the road.
So how can you color your eggs? Once you have your “canvas” prepared, the process is easy.
First, you need to decide whether you want to give your eggs a solid color base. If so, you can color them in a bath of food color.
Next, you get some special Easter egg decorating tools, and paint away. It’s entirely up to you whether you want to create a designer work of art, geometric shapes, or little bunny images. You can also incorporate stickers and special Easter egg “tattoos.” If you are coloring eggs with your kids, encourage their creativity, and above all, have fun!
Getting Ready for Easter: Shopping for Candy
It seems that every year there are more options. It’s hard to decide what to get anymore.
A few decades ago, the choices were pretty clear. There were chocolate Easter bunnies, chocolate eggs, candy eggs, basic yellow marshmallow peeps, jelly beans, and those Cadbury cream eggs.
Now, the selection has grown in every direction.
Where there were only yellow chick peeps, peeps now come in a range of colors, including pink, blue, and purple. There are also bunnies in various electric colors. And yes, you can even buy sugar-free peeps for those of us who must avoid eating sugar.
Next, you can select from a huge range of other candy in all sorts of shapes and sizes, from egg-shaped candies with creamy fillings in strawberry, raspberry, and coconut flavor, just for starters.
And then, you can get Easter bunnies and related critters in all sizes, from pocket size all the way to bunnies big enough to dwarf your toddler.
Some of the smaller chocolate bunnies also come with fillings, from marshmallow to peanut butter and more.
How do you select the ones your kids will enjoy most? You can ask them, take them shopping with you, get one of each and take notes for the coming year, or buy a really big Easter basket so you can fit in a huge assortment of the options.
Speaking of baskets — the choice will also depend on whether you’re going to compose the baskets yourself, or whether you’re going to give the kids baskets filled with fake grass that they will fill as they hunt down their goodies all over the house — or garden.
Be sure to hold a few items back in case the outcome of the hunt is too uneven, so you can sneak a few extra eggs into the “loser’s” basket to avoid tears.
It’s Not ALL About Food! What Else Can You Put In An Easter Basket?
Some parents may shudder at the thought of the Halloween-like candy overload that could result from Easter baskets limited to edible treats. So what else could you include?
Just about anything you like, really, as long as the kids will enjoy it.
From CDs to games to books, to cute little notebooks, pens, and erasers, you could really include anything that would make a good stocking stuffer. It’s just that for Easter, it will go inside a basket.
You could even include small clothing items or accessories, from socks to hair decorations, jewelry, and more.
And don’t forget gifts for the parents and friends. Here, you definitely don’t have to restrict yourself to bunnies and candy, though feel free to include them, along with a choice piece of jewelry, a new watch, or a neat new electronic gadget and even new earphones in Easter-egg colors.
And of course, no one has decreed that all the bunnies have to be edible. Some kids will enjoy bunnies that will be their pals for months and even years to come. In fact, a few people take the “pals” literally and give live bunnies and even chicks. That’s not always a good idea, especially to other people’s children. Be sure to check with the parents — they may not appreciate the extra work. If you’d enjoy baby bunnies, remember they grow up and become big rabbits, and even more bunnies, if you don’t watch out!
Preparing an Easter Feast
There are no real rules for what to serve for an Easter feast. Unlike Thanksgiving, Easter doesn’t usually call for Turkey. Instead, many families prepare a big ham, or rack of lamb, or maybe a rib roast. But it’s really up to you what you and your family enjoy – a vegetarian brunch might suit you better.
Instead of including a recipe here, I’d like to encourage you to prepare your family favorites. There is something very comforting in gathering around the traditional feast each year.
When it comes to desserts though, feel free to get creative and include some new elements or decorations. Unless you have a favorite dessert that’s an absolute must-have.
What To Do About All Those Hard-Boiled Eggs After Easter?
It’s actually kind of funny that there are basically three kinds of eggs that make up the Easter repertoire: chocolate eggs, candy eggs, and hard-boiled eggs.
And of course we won’t have to worry about what to do about the first two categories — they’d keep for weeks, if necessary. But it’s not likely that they survive that long.
Instead, it’s the hard-boiled eggs. Once the novelty of the decorations has worn off, there are bound to be left-overs in baskets around the house.
So gather them up and incorporate them into your meals.
Here are a few ideas for what to do with all those eggs:
a) Deviled eggs
Cut them in half, mix up the yolks with your favorite combination of mustard, mayo, relish, and your favorite spices, and fill them back into the egg white halves. Serve chilled.
b) Sliced eggs as sandwich toppings
Just slice your eggs and use them to top sandwiches.
c) Egg salad
Chop up the eggs, mix with mayo, mustard, and onions, or anything else you’d like to include, and serve as a dip or on sandwiches.
d) Other salads
You can also serve them chopped up on chef salads and in potato salads. You can combine egg slices with spinach and make a hot dressing. Just get creative!
There’s no limit to what you can do. Take the ideas I suggested and build on them. Consider your family’s preferences and be sure to get everybody’s favorites, but also add a few potential new favorites to the mix.
Most of all, have fun, and have a very happy Easter!