Easter is another day on which I get to have all other mothers think I’m the meanest person alive. (Easter, along with (in no particular order) Halloween, Christmas, Valentine’s Day, Thanksgiving, St. Patrick’s Day, Flag Day, Tuesdays and every other freakin’ day people want to give my kids crap.) (Sorry about that outburst.) I certainly do believe Easter is a day worthy of celebration. But does that require a chocolate hollow bunny or fluorescent-colored Peeps? Does it?!
I think the answer is no. There are many things you can do to make the day special without harming your child – or the earth! Following are some cleaner and greener ideas for a non-toxic Easter.
The first big obstacle is dealing with the Easter candy. In our family, most of what we put in the Easter baskets are non-candy things.
Ideas for the Big Ones: Rolled-up T-shirts, socks & undies, gift cards, personalized photo iPhone case, books (maybe this one?), brain teasers, personalized key chain, glow-in-the-dark ping pong balls or things they may need anyway (such as a new wallet or belt). (Some great Christian-specific book choices for teens can be found here, here, here and here.)
Ideas for the Littles: Clothes, socks & undies, hair accessories, pinwheels, small toys and cars (check out Green Toys), stuffed animals (although we try to limit these!), Webkinz, non-toxic nail polish, books (find Easter-specific books here and here) and activity books, card games, organic seeds, stickers, non-toxic art supplies or non-toxic “play dough”*, small Lego or Lego Friends sets, or DVDs (these are often very cheap when bought second-hand). (If your child is into dollhouses: Tell me this isn’t the cutest thing ever.)
Along with the idea above, though, I actually do like to include a bit of candy (a rare thing for the Voss household).
With one exception (see below), I actually don’t make homemade candy for Easter. This is for a number of reasons, the biggest of which is that I really don’t feel like it. It’s just not something I want to spend a lot of time learning or doing. If you are interested in that, the internet is rife with recipes for candy bar “copycats,” fudge or truffle candies made with coconut oil and other good ingredients, and hard candies made without refined sugar. You can find a few of these on the Dishrag Diaries Pinterest page. (Hopefully you picked up this recipe book I alerted you to last week when it was free for Kindle (it’s currently $3.99). It should have some good ideas.)
Anyway, I buy candy, usually one treat per kid. Two great online sources with large selections (even for all kinds of food allergies) are Natural Candy Store and Indie Candy (some of their offerings are available on Amazon, as well). Yummy Earth is a brand you might even be able to find in your local store, although I can only recommend their lollipops and gummy bears as their newer products have some funky ingredients. Which reminds me: Please remember that you still need to check ingredient lists, even from these sources. You may want to make an exception or two for a rare treat, but you still want to make sure the ingredients are ones you find acceptable. (And it goes without saying that any candy recommendations are for special rare treats.)
What About Candy Received From Others?
Inevitably, your child will receive candy from someone besides you. Maybe from a neighbor kid’s basket, maybe from an Easter egg hunt at church, or maybe from Grandma. The articles here and here about how we handle Halloween candy may give you some good ideas on how to deal with that.
Easter Egg Hunt
Having the kids find Easter eggs is probably one of my favorite parts of Easter morning. Although you could hide your dyed eggs (see below), many people choose to use artificial eggs. If you include this tradition in your Easter celebration, you can green it up by using these compostable eggs, made from corn instead of petroleum-byproduct plastic. (They’re available in 28 count and 12 count, also.)
Eggs can be filled with any of the above suggestions, or small food items like raisins or other dried fruits, nuts or chocolate chips.
For the older kids, finding cash is always appreciated, and for the Littles, coins are fun to find (assuming they are old enough not to swallow them).
One GREAT idea I heard recently is to put an individual puzzle piece (or a few) in each egg, and then when they find them all, they can put the puzzle together!
Another fun option is putting a clue in each egg that leads to the next, with the end of the hunt being their hidden Easter basket. This really helps keep it more about the fun of the hunt than the goodies inside. Who doesn’t love a treasure hunt?
Christian-specific option: Consider these Resurrection Eggs!
Easter Egg Dyeing
(Before you check it out on your own, let me set one thing straight because I’ve done the research: DYEING is the correct spelling. Now that we have an understanding on that, we can move on. )
Before you can color your eggs, you need to select healthy eggs, and then hard-bake or hard-boil them. (Opt for hard-boiling if using white eggs.) As you know, artificial dyes are really something you want to avoid. Not only do these dyes permeate the shells of the eggs, but if you’ve ever dyed eggs with kids you know they get it all over their skin in the process.
Here are two safe options for dyeing eggs:
*Nature’s Magic Egg Dyeing Kit – Ingredients are 95% organic!
Another option is to create your own dyes! This seems like a very fun and educational project to do with the kids… This just may be the year I undertake it. This article from Williams-Sonoma gives some great ideas for creating natural egg dyes, and Mommypotamus’s ideas also work on brown eggs (plus she has pretty pictures).
And finally, you can decorate eggs in other ways besides dyeing. Before you write that idea off, check out these GORGEOUS creations.
The one homemade “candy” I make at Easter is homemade “peeps.” Well, they aren’t actually peeps because I’m not very creative at shaping them… but they’re homemade marshmallows and they’re delicious! Although they are obviously sweeter than our usual fare, they also contain gelatin, which is a great addition to your diet (read a bit about why here).
Previously I’ve made them with granulated sweetener (1 cup filtered water, 3 Tbsp. grass-fed gelatin, 2 scant cups coconut sugar). This year I’ll be trying one of these recipes which use less overall sugar and look amazing: this one sweetened with honey, or this one with maple syrup. (If you are planning to decorate or add color to them, please make sure it is non-toxic!)
So, in what ways are you thinking about cleaning up and greening up your Easter?
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