I’m kinda lucky.
My son, who is now 10, has never been as voracious a candy-lover as I am. I’m sure this will serve him well as he grows into adulthood, as it will be easier to focus more on the healthy stuff without having to think about it. Don’t get me wrong–he definitely likes candy. But he’ll go for long periods of time without eating any at all. And when he does consume it, he doesn’t eat as much as I recall eating at his age. Not even at Halloween or Easter, when candy is plentiful–and generally sitting en-mass in front of you in a big pile.
Whether my son’s lack of attachment to candy is due to nature or nurture, I decided a long time ago that I (OK, actually the Easter Bunny) would start substituting toys, books, and other similar items in place of some of the candy. This way, less candy would have to be thrown away after sitting around for a couple of months. Plus, there would be a few little gifts to remember the holiday by.
This method seems to have worked out pretty well. The only challenge has been that the Easter Bunny must be careful that Easter morning doesn’t start resembling Christmas morning, in terms of gift volume. Such an easy thing to start slipping, when the Easter Bunny gets into his gift-giving phase. (He’s a very generous sort of rabbit, you know.)
For any Easter Bunnies out there who might be looking for a few new basket ideas, here’s my personal plan of attack and . . .
Easter Basket Shopping Checklist:
1. The Chocolate Easter Bunny
Even though my son has never actually eaten more than the ears off one of his chocolate Easter Bunnies, he’s made it clear that he always wants one included in his basket. It just wouldn’t feel right, he says, without one of the Big Chocolate Guys sitting there waiting for him.
To increase the chances that chocolate Easter Bunny will actually be eaten–and with the understanding that I’ll be eating him, myself, if my son decides not to–this Chocolate Guy has got to be TASTY! I skip the Palmer brand–which, although less expensive, uses lower quality ingredients and doesn’t taste that much like chocolate. Godiva is awesome–but they only ever seem to have plain chocolate, which is not my . . . um, I mean my son’s . . . preference!
This year, I’ve found a nice chocolate bunny filled with caramel that should be really tasty. And if it doesn’t all get eaten, I’m betting it’ll be great added to some homemade cookies! Other options for chocolate Easter Bunnies include those made with dark chocolate or white chocolate, or filled with Butterfinger (candy bar) pieces, peanut butter, or crisped rice.
If you really want to splurge on the chocolate bunny portion of the basket, you can opt for a gourmet bunny from a chocolatier–many of which peddle their wares online now. From these specialty shops, you can sometimes find chocolate Easter Bunnies that aren’t bunnies, at all–at least not the standard variety. Chocolate “Easter bunnies” can be found in a wide variety of interesting and unique shapes.
2. Favorite Hard / Semi-hard Candies
This includes Chupa Chups lollipops (the best lollipops anywhere), Japanese rice candy, and the ever-popular PEZ. Sometimes I throw in a couple “fun” items like a glowing ring pop, fizzing candies, etc.
3. Specialty Treats – like Pocky
In the last few years, my son’s (as well as my own) fondness for the Japanese snack food known as Pocky seems to be growing exponentially! And I’ve discovered it comes in way more varieties that just chocolate and strawberry.
For anyone unfamiliar with the Japanese treat, it’s basically biscuit sticks dipped in a chocolaty material that could be flavored like chocolate, strawberry, coffee, pumpkin, chocolate cookie crush, cookies and cream, almond, almond praline, coffee, chocolate covered coconut, almond crush, bitter chocolate, white chocolate, caramel, wild berry, and a myriad of other awesome flavors.
Ordering Pocky online can be a heck of a lot cheaper than buying it from the grocery store–even cheaper than Target, which was the store with the cheapest Pocky I had ever found before I started ordering it online. (Not to mention, no store I found ever had more than 2 flavors of Pocky–which doesn’t hold a candle to the number of flavors out there that you can order online.)
(I used to include my son’s favorite chewing gums in his Easter basket, but we’ve basically sworn the stuff off after finding out the wear, tear, and damage it does to tooth enamel. And we actually don’t miss it at all.)
4. Cute Stuffed Creature
Stuffed or beanbag animals look so cute peaking out of the Easter basket! For older kids, Webkinz are cool options because kids can get interactive with them online. TY Beanie Babies are great for the little collectors in your life. One year I got my son a stuffed Akamaru doll from the Naruto TV series. Pillow pets, plushies, even Angry Bird dolls . . . the possibilities are plentiful, ever for boys.
Just about everyone loves movies. And DVDs can make great additions to any Easter Basket because they can be 100 percent tailored to each child–and to the theme of the basket, if you have one. The DVDs can be educational, humorous, or compelling–and they can be enjoyed by the whole family, creating some great opportunities for together-time on the holiday.
Here are some that I would consider putting in my son’s Easter basket . . . they probably won’t make a lot of sense, based on what I just said about family together-time–but my son and I love a lot of the same cool boy stuff!
- Bleach anime DVD box sets
- Naruto anime DVD box sets
- Supernatural anime DVD box sets
- Heroes anime DVD box sets
- Star Trek DVD box sets
I think books make a great gift any time. Like DVDs, they can be tailored to any child’s interests and they can be educational. They can encourage the child to use their imagination, help them to become a more fluent reader, and give them something fun to do well after the Easter candy is eaten and bits of Easter grass are still getting caught up in your vacuum cleaner–even when you were SURE you got all the grass up off the floor and in the trash, this time.
7. Action Figures
I love to give “gift packs”–in other words, coordinated groups of gifts with a similar theme. The idea in giving a gift pack is that, if a person likes a particular thing–let’s say it’s the Diary of a Wimpy Kid books–they’ll love being able to play with the figure while they read the book, after they watch the movie, all while they’re wearing the t-shirt….you get the idea, right?
My son and I have always seen a lot of movies together. And I noticed right away that he’d always beg for the figure of the movie characters right after we went to see the film. So I started taking a trip to the toy store before the movie came out and buy a few of the figures to TAKE WITH US to the theater. This habit has expanded into the “gift pack” idea–and it seems to be pretty darn popular.
8. Video Games
What? Another video game?
I feel your pain. But video games are a favorite gift of many children–and as long as the games are not abused (ie–played too often, or at the wrong times), I don’t have a problem with them. They can quicken a child’s reflexes, build their self-esteem, and teach important lessons on how to treat others (when playing with another child or adult or online). Of course, kids need to be monitored while playing games so you can make sure they’re learning the right lessons–and so that you can help them to learn when it’s time to take a break. (Even some adults need help with this one.)
Board games are also a good option and can encourage family togetherness.
Oh, and don’t forget the
9. Easter Basket!
I steered away from the traditional Easter Basket a long time ago. Even though our mother always built our Easter baskets from scratch, the baskets themselves were pretty much got destroyed within a few weeks and had to be thrown out. It’s always seemed a waste of money to me–not to mention, not being great for the environment–to buy something that’s throw-away when you could so easily choose something that can be reused for years–especially when that something looks pretty cool.
We did the “sand pail” thing years ago. But you only need so many sand pails, especially as the kids get older. So now I go for other kinds of storage items–storage cubes, large and colorful ice buckets, and storage baskets that look cool and you won’t mind having around the house for a few years.
You can get pretty creative with what you use for the Easter Basket. And, you can tailor it to your child’s interests, decorating it to go with the overall basket theme, if you’ve chosen one, or the theme of your child’s bedroom.
You may be thinking that all this seems like a bit much for an Easter basket. (Or maybe you’re not.) But gimme a break! I look “excuses” to give gifts I know my son would be so happy to receive. And since I don’t want the buying to go on constantly, I have to come up with occasions for the gifts–and Easter is certainly as good as any. Besides, giving more gifts and less (in volume) candy means kids won’t be as focused on eating junk–and they’ll be more focused on doing cool things, alone or with the rest of the family (in the case of DVDs or board games.)
It’s worked so far, so there must be something to this idea of mine.
Check out Amazon.com for some great stuff for Easter baskets. If you have some other ideas, let me know so I can consider adding them to these suggestions!