Last night we filled a vase with daffodils from our garden before Father Winter could cover them with a thick white blanket in his one last snowy hurrah. The snow is beautiful today and I am happy that my kids get to play outside in the snow a final time (knock on wood). The sleds have barely been used all winter. Today, however, I can't help but to "think spring". Tulips, warm sun, that wonderful smell of rain and dirt, all things fresh and green are on my mind (the artsy right side).
Then there is that practical mom part of my brain (the left side) that thinks about my to-do list this spring. March marks the end of our hibernation (the calm before the crazy). April, May, and June are typically busy months with three birthdays in our family of five, planting our garden, Easter, many year-end school activities, Mothers' and Fathers' Day. Though all of these rites of spring are wonderful events for our family, even at their simplest, they do involve at least a little planning.
Today I am planning Easter baskets. I admit it's a bit early to be talking Easter baskets, with Easter still a month away. However, this year there are two milestone birthday parties (5 and 40!) to throw the same week as Easter. I might find myself a bit busier than usual. Since simplifying our home, our approach to holidays and gift giving has become more mindful. If I want to avoid any impulsive purchases, it is wise to figure them out now. Those last minute buys usually lead to more sugar and clutter than I intend. Baskets are easy to fill and set aside, so this is one way to simplify my life a month from now.
When I was a kid (I must be getting old) the typical contents of my Easter basket were jelly beans, peeps, speckled malted chocolate eggs, a chocolate bunny, and REAL colored eggs complete with plastic grass that clung to the condensation on their shells. I have followed a different basket filling formula for our girls. (Yes, the baskets are from Daddy too, but since the thought of what to give our kids at Easter has probably never crossed his mind, I will write this post using the first person.) The girls' baskets have typically included a book, stuffed bunny, sidewalk chalk, bubbles, art supplies, and of course a chocolate bunny. They also would get a similar basket from their grandparents.
The non-candy gifts were an attempt at not giving my kids so much sugar. (Unfortunately, the effects sugar has on your body turns out to be much worse than the cavities we were warned of as kids.) The month before Easter seems like a nonstop egg hunt, so the candy is already flowing pretty steadily leading up to the holiday. I don't need to add to the stash. Easter marks the end of candy season. It's a long dry spell until October. (Thank goodness!)
I no longer give bunnies of the stuffed variety since they were multiplying as bunnies will do. Our toy library is well stocked, so we aren't looking to add toys, especially with upcoming birthdays. We don't need more kids' books. Our shelves are full and we are trying to use the library. The other basket ingredients are typically bubbles, sidewalk chalk and basic art supplies. Nice ephemeral, non-cluttering gifts, right? Since these things are never in short supply around here, my seven and four-year-old girls' reactions to these things would most likely be only a step up from getting toothpaste. Of course, our one-year-old would be just as happy to play with the basket itself.
This Easter bunny needs to shake things up a bit this year. Clutter-free gifts are ideal and consumable ones are great as long as they aren't in the form of lots of candy. I think I have found some good possibilities.
In a post I recently read about clutter-free Easter baskets, I found the idea to give my girls some seeds. They love gardening! They enjoy planting seeds for their favorite veggies. Watering, weeding, and watching them grow is continuous entertainment all summer long. Picking and eating the produce right out of their garden is the best part. As a bonus, this is something we already needed and ordered. It's done!
We are also trying to give our kids more experiences as gifts. Memories last a lifetime, create no clutter, and never wind up in a landfill! Since Washington D.C. is an easy day trip, we will gift them with trips to the National Zoo and the Air and Space Museum. I will create tickets since both places are free. The zoo tickets will be attached to bags of animal crackers. To go with the Air and Space Museum tickets, I will include straw rocket kits. Just little things to get them excited for trips we will all look forward to in the coming months.
I'm going to give the big girls a blank set of Matryoshka dolls. They were fascinated by these nesting dolls when they saw them in a gift shop before Christmas. I thought it would be fun to decorate them together. They aren't clutter-free or consumable, but at least they're not a junky plastic toy. Decorating them together will be memorable and they will have fun playing with them. At five inches tall, they are worth the real estate in our home. It might be cute to make one for each person in our family since the sets have five dolls. If the girls choose this as their decorating theme, it will be interesting to see whether they pair the family members to the dolls by age or size. Daddy is oldest, but mommy is tallest. (Four inches taller to be exact! We are cool like that.)
There is one part of an Easter basket that does not need any rethinking. My girls will still get a chocolate bunny since no Easter basket is complete without one. It's easily the best part of any basket, especially when filled with peanut butter. The white chocolate variety...not so much. One year my parents splurged and bought custom baskets from an acquaintance to support her business. I received a ginormous white chocolate lavender colored bunny. I only managed to eat the ears before getting pretty grossed out. It was a nice thought at least.