Have a More Fun, Less Stuff Easter

by Edna Rienzi

Easter Girl

Easter can be a lovely family-centered holiday simply because of the activities that go along with the religious celebration: dyeing eggs, backyard hunts, time spent in nature, and family meals.

Yet for many of us, Easter seems to have become yet another commercialized, excessive celebration. Visit any supermarket, drug store, or big-box retailer, and you’ll see shelves and shelves of disposable baskets filled with mass-produced trinkets, stuffed animals, plastic eggs, and more. Or, do a search for Easter ideas on Pinterest and prepare to be overwhelmed by both the size and contents of the Easter baskets.

It doesn’t have to be this way. You can still participate in all the fun of Easter and delight your family without all the waste and stress.

Here are our tips for a More Fun, Less Stuff Easter:

1) The All-Important Easter Eggs

Real Eggs. If you celebrate with real eggs, support your local farmer and buy eggs from pasture-raised chickens. You can prevent food waste by hard boiling the eggs before you dye them, then coloring them with natural food dyes. Egg salad sandwich party on Easter Monday!

Alternatives to Plastic. If your family traditionally hides candy in the eggs, then a real egg isn’t going to cut it for you. Luckily, there are lots of options these days. You can buy wooden eggs that you use year after year, and they’re so pretty that you can incorporate them into your decorations as well. If you worry about losing or damaging expensive wooden eggs in your hunt, you can instead use compostable plastic eggs. Or you can do what my family does for our big neighborhood egg hunt: we keep the cheap plastic eggs and reuse them year after year. We haven’t bought plastic eggs in 10 years!

2) Greener Easter Baskets

The Basket. First off, let’s remember that Easter baskets are not required! You can always forgo the basket completely and hide your gifts as part of an egg hunt. But if baskets are a tradition in your family, find a basket that you can reuse year after year. And it doesn’t have to be pastel-colored or rabbit-shaped. Any basket will look Easter-y when filled with Easter items. Secondhand shops often have lots of beautiful baskets for sale.

Avoid the Plastic Grass. Cellophane Easter grass cannot be recycled. If you already have it, be sure to reuse it year after year. If you were going to buy some, here are some alternatives. One option is to not put any grass in your basket. That’s what we do, and my kids don't seem to notice. Or you can use shredded newspaper or tissue paper. You can even use straw, which can be composted or put on your garden. Wheatgrass or ryegrass can also be beautiful alternatives.

No Live Animals. Apparently, some people put live Easter bunnies and chicks in their Easter baskets?! And, even crazier, they dye them! I don’t know if this is just some Internet myth, but it seems to be an actual thing. Simple solution: chocolate bunnies! (And they won’t stick around for 7-10 years like live rabbits.)

Edible Goodies. To avoid all the wasteful packaging, buy candy from the bulk section. Then, do as our advisory council member Bea Johnson of Zero Waste Home does: wrap the candy in cloth napkins! Or fill up your reusable eggs. If you can’t find everything you need in the bulk section (chocolate bunnies, we’re looking at you!), choose one with the least amount of packaging like this.

Gift Items. Give seasonal items that you would have purchased anyway: bathing suits, towels, goggles, seeds, a trowel, and gardening gloves. Books and art supplies are always popular. A bird feeder with birdseed could be popular for younger kids. And older kids always enjoy gift cards (a Kiva gift card would make for a great gift that gives back). Kids of all ages would enjoy our customized coupon book ("extra story at bedtime" coupon, "get out of chores" coupon, "later curfew" coupon…for more coupon ideas, be sure to check out New Dream’s More Fun, Less Stuff Gift Catalog).

3) The Family Gathering

The Meal. If you traditionally host an Easter meal, one idea is to try to make as many of the dishes as you can from local food. Go to Local Harvest for your nearest farmer or farmer’s market. If you are a guest at an Easter meal, you can bring your hosts an Easter plant or a consumable gift (my favorite is homemade scones or muffins for the next day’s breakfast).

Here’s to an Easter filled with More Fun, Less Stuff...More Love, Less Waste...More Joy, Less Stress!

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