Easter Egg Basket Fillers Kids Will Love– And They’re Not Candy

Why waste money on pre-made Easter baskets sold in stores?  The plastic dump trucks won’t last, and the beach pails are a cute idea, but they won’t last either, and what if you don’t live near a beach?  The cheap, flimsy toys and meager amount of lower-grade candies aren’t worth the money.  Neither are most of the things sold on the holiday aisle meant for you to stuff your Easter baskets with.  Those things are going to end up on the floor or in the garbage can before brunch, and you know it.  The obvious alternative is to stuff the baskets with candy.  You can do better than that.

Consider buying each of your children their own big, sturdy baskets with handles (not sold as Easter baskets) that you can spray-paint in colors they like.

Maybe they’ll look forward to finding out what’s in their very own baskets each year; this could be one more family tradition you make your own.

Stuff your kids’ baskets with the usual fillers: A good quality chocolate bunny or lamb, plastic eggs filled with gourmet jelly beans, speckled malted milk balls, and marshmallow peeps– or not; you either love peeps or you hate ‘em.  Maybe leave out the plastic eggs filled with money; they’re the least-creative thing ever put into an Easter basket, and what message do they send?

Here’s my list of Easter egg basket fillers that are actually worth your money and will give your children lasting pleasure.

  • A potted flower and/or potted herb. Or both!  I prefer Gerbera daisies because the size and colors of the blooms make a big impact, and rosemary because it gives off a strong, pleasant scent when watered.  Let your child tend their very own plant indoors in its pot or outside if they want to plant it.
    • Flower or vegetable seeds are often recommended, but I think they’re better in theory than in practice. It takes patience to wait for them to sprout, never mind how long it takes them to bloom.
  • A CD of children’s sing-along songs. Everybody needs music.  Play it in the car on the way to school to give them a happy start to their day, and you may find yourself singing with them.
  • New socks. No, I’m not crazy.  This was one of my favorite gifts to give—fun socks, maybe in cartoon or quirky prints for sleeping or wearing on cold mornings, and pastel socks, striped socks, argyle socks, or whatever you find that fits the bill.  Roll up each pair of socks in a ball, making sure the good side is out, so that they look a bit like Easter eggs.  You may have a child who insists on wearing the quirky print socks to school.  Ah, well.  When you’re a kid, life is supposed to be fun.
  • Fun undies, depending on your child’s age. Batman, Spiderman, LEGO, and Star Wars are some that are available for boys.  For girls, you can choose Frozen, Disney Princesses, Hello Kitty, Sesame Street, My Little Pony, and Justice League, among others.  Stores are full of choices.  Roll each pair into the best egg shape you can and tie with a ribbon, unless you can find plastic eggs big enough to hold one pair each.
  • PlayDoh.   Again, I’m not crazy.  If you’re worried about the mess, buy an inexpensive vinyl tablecloth with the polyester fabric backing.  Put the vinyl side up and let the kids play on the kitchen or garage floor or on the back patio.  You will not have Play-Doh matted into your carpet.  Also, the fabric backing keeps the tablecloth from slipping, and the vinyl can be wiped clean.  Then roll up the tablecloth and save it for next time.
  • Paint with water books. For little ones who aren’t so great with watercolors or crayons yet, these are perfect.
  • Shrinky Dinks. You may remember these from your childhood.  Because a hot oven is required, adult participation is absolute necessary. Draw or trace an image on the sheets, color them, cut them out, put them into the oven.  It’s fun to watch your creations shrink as they are heated.
  • A package of strawberry or blueberry muffin mix, prepackaged or homemade. All that’s necessary are the wet ingredients (berries, too, if you’re making them from scratch).  They’re easy to make, and your house will smell delicious on Easter morning.  Include some novelty paper muffin liners.
  • Kids love stickers Buy a couple of packages on the greeting card aisle and slip them into the Easter basket.
  • A Dymo labeler. You might have had one of these as a kid, too.  Stay away from the fancy labelers with keyboards.  The manual rotary dial labeler is a classic, and it keeps kids busy for a long time.  Admit it: You had fun with yours long after you ran out of things to label.  Your kids will, too.
  • A plastic egg with a gift ticket good for one game. “This ticket may be exchanged for [whichever game you buy] Candy Land, Operation, Let’s Go Fishin’, Hi Ho Cherry O (great for learning to count or practicing counting), Tiddlywinks, Uno, etc.  (If you choose Uno you can put the card game in the Easter basket, because it fits.) Of course, you will have already bought the game you’ve chosen so you can let your child exchange their ticket for the game right away.
  • A snazzy new toothbrush. Oh, no!  First socks, then underwear, now a toothbrush.  What could I be thinking?  I’m thinking that if you buy the right ones, your kids will love them.
  • Bubble bath or fizzy bath bombs. Mr. Bubble never lets you down.  Fizzy bath bombs are just what they claim to be, exploding fizzy bubbles in the water from the tub bottom up to the surface until they fully dissolve.  These were designed for adults, but that’s because we’re not supposed to outgrow fun.
  • And, finally, for the child who can’t abide a blank page, novelty pencils, magic markers, crayons, coloring books, drawing pads, or even (yes, some kids would be thrilled) a small packet of stationery cards for writing secret messages to pen pals, even thank you notes and notes to grandparents. Some dear little ones will write love notes to their parents.  Add a couple of rubber stamps and inkpads to this, and you have a winner.  Don’t forget the postage stamps!  They’re as important as batteries on Christmas morning.

Good luck, moms and dads, and have fun thinking outside the box—or basket.  Easter is under a week away.

*Note: I’m not an Amazon affiliate, and I receive no compensation if you buy these products through my links.  I included the links for detailed descriptions of the items and for your convenience should you be an Amazon customer.

Confessions of a Christmas Letter Writer

by Suzannah Gilman, first published on The Gloria Sirens


There is the art of writing letters, and then there is the art of writing Christmas letters, which hardly anyone masters.

To write Christmas letters, a person will ideally have a highly-refined sense of how much overstatement, embellishment, and lies by omission others can stand. But if a person has no such sense, it would help for them to have a sense of irony so that when people say, “I love getting your letters,” they won’t get a swollen head.

I was brought up in a family of braggarts, all of whom were strangers to irony.

The other day, I mentioned my disappointment over that to my mother and she said, “Um… well, can you tell me what irony is?”

Those who could master the art of writing Christmas letters, because they know how to avoid horn-blowing and because they are blessed with irony, are the last people on earth who would write them.

When I was a child, my grandmother got long, Xeroxed, pride-filled Christmas letters from a distant relative, the most hyperbolic rundowns of a rather ordinary middle-class family’s year than most people can imagine. Maybe my grandmother and I were the only ones who read those letters with awe, ooh-ing and aah-ing over such grand exploits as her fifth cousin driving a golf cart in a small-town parade. We were much below middle class, and we were darn proud of being related to such accomplished people!

So when I had children and for the first time lived a life that seemed successful to me,  (my husband had a full-time job, we were involved in our children’s education, we weren’t renters, and we had vehicles that were not in danger of breaking down), I started writing Christmas letters.

Read the rest here: Confessions of a Christmas Letter Writer







Transitioning Through the Holidays, a Mother Learns to Let Go

by Suzannah Gilman, first published on The Gloria Sirens

I have four children, all adults in their twenties now, one about to turn thirty, one married, one getting married in January, and the other two in serious relationships with women they adore.  I wanted this.  I wanted four children.  I wanted big family holidays.

This Christmas Eve and Day, I won’t see any of them.

For years, my four have been saying that they wanted out of Florida, and three of them have gone.  Two moved in January of this year, so this season is the transition challenge for me.  I never imagined that the day would come when my children would all live in different places.  I’m glad that I never imagined being without them on Christmas.

If I dwelled on this long enough, I could have a rollicking pity party.

This hardly seems like Christmas.  I didn’t even put up a tree; I decorated the mantel.  I won’t be staying up half the night on Christmas Eve wrapping presents. I won’t be cooking a big meal. My fiancé and I are grilling steaks.  A single friend is coming over after he has dinner with his brother and his family.  I didn’t do any holiday baking.  I bought a huge tin of cookies at Costco.  Now the song “Blue Christmas” means something to me.

So instead of thinking about what I don’t have, I’ll think about what I do have.

Read the rest (286 more words) here: Transitioning Through the Holidays, a Mother Learns to Let Go


Anglophile For Life

I don’t think I’ve ever met a more ardent, dedicated Anglophile than Katie Riegel. She means it. I mean really, really means it. She even married an Englishman! No matter that she had to relocate to Memphis to be with her very own Prince Andrew. They recently spent a month away, mostly in England, but Scotland and France, too. One could enjoy this photo essay for the photos alone, but the commentary adds so much. (Isn’t it fitting that her last name is pronounced “Regal?”)

Katie is a poet, and her prose is poetic. She was previously married, to a wonderful man we all admire and love, and during the end of the marriage, she wrote the book, “Letters to Colin Firth.” In them, she ponders and describes her journey through the end of the marriage (one in which she is still good friends with her ex) and the beginning of her connection with Andrew, her English husband. She writes with Colin Firth in mind as her ideal reader or, perhaps, confidante. (Because don’t we tell strangers things we don’t tell to those close to us?) If you’re interested in “Letters to Colin Firth,” by all means click on this link.

In the meantime, enjoy this photo essay. It is, as Brits say, “Brilliant.”

By Katie Riegel

Yes, my friends, I went to England this summer. I went during July, when the temperatures in Memphis were sweltering in the humid 90s. I went with my husband, who is English, and we visited his fam…

Source: Anglophile For Life

PRIDE: From Our House to Yours

Did you get Christmas letters this year? Do you love them or hate them? Here’s a confession from someone with a long history of sending Christmas letters– me. I try to keep a sense of humor about it.