It’s almost time for the Easter Bunny to make his annual appearance, and once again, you might be thinking about your kids, all hyped up on chocolate bunnies, creme eggs and brightly colored marshmallow chicks and ducks. While some candy in an Easter basket is probably expected by your kids, filling the whole thing to the brim with chocolatey, sugary, gooey confections is an invitation for tummy-aches, toothaches, and headaches (the last on your part, once the sugar kicks into your kids’ bloodstreams)! Here are a few ideas for some no- (or less-) sugar-added basket-stuffers:
Jello Eggs These will be a hit, mostly because they’re such a novelty. Poke a small hole in both the top and the bottom of a raw egg, and gently blow out the contents, saving them for breakfast the next day. Boil the empty, but intact, shell for a minute or so to kill any bacteria inside the eggshell. Dye the shell if desired. Place a piece of tape on the bottom of the egg to cover the hole, and stand it up in a clean styrofoam egg container. Mix up gelatin as directed to make “jigglers,” and pour the liquid into the egg shell. Refrigerate overnight to set. On Easter morning, slip the eggs into your kids’ baskets, and watch their delight as they crack the shells open. (Unless your kids prefer their jello in a liquid state, these eggs do not lend themselves well to egg hunts in a warm room or backyard!)
Glitter Eggs Follow the same directions above in preparing and taping the eggshells. Instead of filling the empty eggs with jello, though, pour in a small amount of glitter. (A tapered cone made from a sheet of paper helps immensely with this step.) Tape up the top of the egg, and feel free to hide these all around the yard. The point is for the kids to crack them open and see the glitter fall out, so this is definitely an outdoor activity!
Toys for Outdoor Fun Since Easter is the start of spring-like weather in many parts of the country, small outdoorsy toys like sidewalk chalk, jump ropes, bubbles, and sandbox toys are often welcomed gifts. As a benefit, these encourage the kids to get outside and burn off some of the sugar that they will inevitably consume.
Toys for Indoor Fun Hit up the dollar store to pick up things like new crayons or markers, spring-themed stickers, playing cards, craft products, play-doh and matchbox cars. These are not only inexpensive, but will give the kids something to do while Easter dinner is baking.
Big Ticket Items Who says that Easter gifts necessarily have to fit in an Easter basket? Toys that your child will use in the spring or throughout the year make great gifts. Some examples include a new bicycle (we recently published a whole series on choosing the best bike for your kids!), a skateboard, roller skates and the safety items to go along with them.
Relatively Healthy Treats Part of the fun of Easter morning is eating candy and other special treats. If you’re going to buy chocolate, spend a little bit more for dark chocolate. It contains less sugar, and is heart-healthy, besides. Another big hit that will be most effective if you normally avoid sugary breakfast cereals, is a couple of individual-sized “junk cereals,” as we call them in our house. Buy a 6- or 8-pack and give each child two. If you don’t have three or four kids, squirrel the rest away for a rainy day. Your kids might be tickled over getting a pomegranate, dragonfruit, starfruit, or some other exotic-but-natural sweet treat that you rarely (or never) buy.
If you use your imagination, you should be able to fill your kids’ Easter baskets with a minimum of sugar-induced craziness. What have you put in your kids’ baskets in an effort to avoid a sugar high later?