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.

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


Leslie Salas: When You Need to Break Bread with Voters from the Other Side


Originally published on The Gloria Sirens.

We’re in that weird space between last week’s election and next week’s day of Thanks. And in that middle space, we’ve all had to face some uncomfortable feelings about our nation, our communities, and even our friends and family–especially as we gear up for some potential awkwardness, discomfort, or downright hostility and fear around the turkey and stuffing. Many open letters have been written in the aftermath of this election as a way of dealing with these feelings, and many of them seem to be written toward daughters about their uncertain futures. One of the letters that stands out to me the most is Mira Jacob’s letter to her son.

In her letter, Jacob relates how being brown impacted her life in post-9/11 America and speculates as to how it will continue to impact her life–and the life of her half-brown little boy–in the wake of Trump’s win. In particular, she discusses a conversation she had with her 8-year-old prior to the election:

Your father’s parents are Republicans living in Florida. For years, this had led to the kind of dinner discussions we’ve all tried to avoid, with your father devolving into righteous incoherence as your grandmother cites Fox News references. But even though he falls far from the tree, your grandparents love your father dearly, and he loves them back. With you, they are gentle, funny, loving, and wise, which I think is maybe why you’ve been so confused as national events have played out. In the last few months, your questions have become particularly acute.

“Grandma and Grandpa are really voting for Trump?”

“Last I heard, yes.”

“But aren’t they scared that Trump is racist?”

“I don’t think they think of him that way.”

“So he’s not racist?”

“No, he is, but…I think they don’t really look at that part. They are voting for him for other reasons that make sense to them.”

“But won’t they be scared for us if he wins?”

“Your grandparents love you a lot.”

“But what if—”

“A lot.”

And then in bed that night, just when I thought you’d conked out, “But can’t you just ask Grandma and Grandpa not to vote for Trump? Can’t you say, please, you live in Florida, do it for us?”

I said no quickly and firmly and we had to read a whole other book just to get you to go to sleep. But that night, when you were sleeping, I typed up an email. Dear Mom and Dad, I wrote. I made the best case I could. Please, I wrote, for us. I cried as I wrote it. I read it three times to make sure it was the absolute best letter I was capable of writing. Then I deleted it because the only thing worse than having to beg them to imagine our lives would be hearing them say no.

As a Floridian person of color and new mom to a biracial little boy, I faced the same dilemma as Jacob over and over again.


Read the rest of Leslie’s post here:

When You Need to Break Bread with Voters from the Other Side


Who’s Grabbing Your P*ssy Now?

Gloria Siren Lisa Lanser Rose on Trump, the other Trumps around the world, and what it means to women have a “P***y” on your body 24/7.  She makes some brilliant and insightful points on a subject that is being widely talked about.  I recommend you read this, and it will add to your outlook on the subject.


I was raised to be a nice girl in New Jersey, by which I mean I only have sex with someone I’m in love with, which tends to exclude most of my husbands after the first seven years. It also me…

Source: Who’s Grabbing Your P*ssy Now?

Growing up With a Mentally Ill Mother and the Stigma It Should Not Entail

“As I listen to the commentary and interviews in broadcast media and read op-ed pieces about the recent stabbings and shootings, I struggle to accept the truth: there but for some sort of grace goes my family. We could have been chasing after my mother on a paranoid spree of violence. We could any day be the victims of someone else’s unstable loved one. So could you. How do we face such a threat? How do we diffuse the ill, who are so often victims themselves?”