Somehow Easter became another holiday synonymous with candy and fake food additives, like artificial chocolate bunnies, Peeps, Cadbury eggs, jellybeans, and eggs dyed with artificially derived colors.
I prefer to celebrate the holiday for what it is, a celebration of the resurrection of Jesus, but I do indulge my children in the more modern traditions of the holiday as well. Instead of buying into the whole candy aspect and the use of artificial colorings, we take a different spin on things. Following are some candy free and artificial dye free ideas with some DYO money saving tips mixed in!
I like to eat eggs, just not eggs tainted with the artificial food colorings that are linked to cancers and issues like hypersensitivity and ADHD. These dyes pass through the shell and onto the white of my egg, and thus into my body when consumed – not something I find desirable. Two years ago I stumbled upon a great alternative – natural dyes derived from vegetable and fruit sources from eco-kids. The colors are amazing. They are not the typical colors that the artificial dyes produce; these are deeper and more rustic. I always use brown eggs, so the colors really turn out neat on top of the brown. You can purchase these at the eco-kids website, on Amazon, at many Williams-Sonoma stores or if you are a fellow Long Islander, at Healthy Alternatives in Babylon! You can also try your hand at making your own food dyes if you are up to the challenge – here are some recipes: Dyeing Easter Eggs Naturally, Easter Eggs: Dye ‘Em Naturally so You Can Eat ‘Em Too and from Mommypotamus, Dyeing with Everyday Ingredients.
Another option is to decorate the eggs without using dye at all! Double sided adhesive tape along with some colorful glitter makes for some beautiful eggs. Stickers, washi tape, ribbons and rickrack also make for some unique decor. See these Pretty No Dye Easter Eggs for some examples!
FOR THE EGG HUNT
If you hide the plastic* eggs and are looking for safe items to stuff them with, here are some ideas. If you are hiding them for a toddler, buy the larger size eggs as they can hold items that take up more space than the candy traditionally hidden in them, and the items that you place in them can be big enough to not pose choking hazards.
* Your egg hunt eggs don’t have to be plastic! Check out these compostable eggs made from cornstarch! ($5.75 for 12 or $11.19 for 28 on Amazon)
1. Coins – my kids love coming into the house after the hunt to put their money in the piggy bank.
2. Stickers work especially well for the younger kids. If you buy sheets that don’t fit into the eggs, you can always cut them down – you can even put one sticker in each egg, making it relatively cheap, while still having something in it that a child will find to be exciting.
3. Plush toys that can squish down. For example, last year we got our daughter something similar to the birds in the photo below and put each of the birds in an egg. We then put the birdhouse in her Easter basket.
4. Finger puppets - Apple Park has some great organic ones, as pictured below.
5. Puzzle pieces – Once the kids find all of the eggs, they’ll have all the pieces to the puzzle. If you are hiding for more than one child, you can color code the eggs.
6. Any toy your child will fancy from pure play kids, an ALL AMERICAN MADE company!
7. If you want to give jellybeans, but don’t want the artificial dyed and flavored ones, try Jelly Belly’s Superfruit Mix! We try not to give the kids much sugar, so we don’t give these ourselves, but it’s what we let the grandparents give as a special treat.
Don’t stuff them at all! Make it a contest with a prize at the end instead of little gifts inside! The prize can even be the Easter basket itself; hide the basket and fill the eggs with puzzle pieces that, once together, give clues as to where the basket is hidden.
THE EASTER BASKET
There are a lot of natural, organic and safe play items that you can fill a basket with. Here are some ideas…
1. eco-kids eco-dough – the natural version of playdough, OR you can make your own playdough and store it in old food containers or jars that you have decorated or covered in fabric or paper. I personally like the eco-dough because it has a nice texture and is free of toxins like artificial colorings.
3. Any type of organic, and/or eco friendly toys. My favorite ones come from Apple Park, Green Toys and North Star Toys (no, I am not being paid by these companies, I just love them!). Here are some examples…
5. Cozy pajamas! (or any type of clothing that your children need anyway!)
IDEAS FOR INFANTS or YOUNG TODDLERS
Quercetti (a great Italian company) – Interlocking Bunnies
Apple Park Organic Pacifier Pal
Apple Park Organic Teething Toy
Cloth Bunny Towel Doll – Pure Play Kids
Similar Links: Eco Aspirations – How We’re Going Green For Easter