Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The Quest for a Healthy, Green & Frugal Easter

Easter is here, and again I am facing that persistent old dilemma - how do I remain healthy, green and frugal without depriving my children of simple holiday pleasures?  Here are a few ideas I've gathered over the past few years. I'd love to hear your ideas - please share!

  • Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. I rarely buy any holiday materials. Rather than buy new baskets each year, I just pull from my mother's extensive basket collection. I use the same paper grass and plastic eggs year after year. If I don't have it already, I probably don't need it anyway.
  • Candy: Quality versus Quantity. Rather than getting loads of "value" candy, I take the same amount of money and buy just a few pieces of high quality candy. When shopping for candy and treats, I avoid high-fructose corn syrup and hydrogenated oils. Organic is always a plus. When shopping for chocolate, I look for high cocoa content (or at least make sure sugar is not the first ingredient). Some of my favorite brands are Yummy Earth organic candy, Green & Black Organic Chocolate, Lindt chocolate, Newman's, Own chocolate, and Annie's bunny cookies and crackers (these are great for putting inside the plastic eggs). 
  • Fresh Food Treats. Why not? There are plenty of healthy delicacies that might be just as exciting to receive as candy and sweets, if presented the right way.  
    • Carrots. I have a vision of a beautiful Easter basket full of fresh carrots with the green cascading from the tops, as if they had just been picked from the garden by the Easter bunny.
    • Fruit. My children love raspberries and mangoes, but we don't get them too often because they are expensive. What a lovely (and nutritious) treat for them!
    • Hard-Boiled Eggs. Rather than candy eggs or plastic eggs filled with candy, why not the real thing!
  • A Basket Full of Junky Toys? Although it's tempting to fill the Easter basket with all those cute little trinkets from the dollar isle, it might be more economical (and green) in the end to actually buy a select few higher-quality toys. When I'm feeling especially tempted by shiny trinkets, I just imagine the flimsy piece of plastic in a landfill a month after Easter is over. That usually does the trick.
Here are some of my favorite Easter basket toys:
  • Seed Packets. Planting flowers or vegetables with your children - what a fun spring project!
  • Matchbox Cars. You can get pastel colors to keep with the Easter theme.
  • Sidewalk Chalk. Get the best value by shopping in the non-holiday isle.
  • Books. There are tons of great Easter-themed kid's books.
  • Audubon Plush Birds. They offer a full line of stuffed animals modeled after specific species of birds. The birds even make the correct call when you squeeze them! We got the Pileated Woodpecker for our son's first Easter because we have them in our backyard. It's a great way to engage children in birdwatching. It's certainly more educational than the run-of-the mill stuffed bunny. 
  • Schleich Animals. We have quite a collection of these toy animals, and our children love them. It's a great non-electronic, durable toy that inspires imagination. The animals are very realistic, which makes them great learning tools for students of all ages.
 Of course, the best gift we can give our children is time. If you are looking for ideas for Easter-related crafts, activities, songs, and literature, visit Earth's Kids. One of the more interesting projects on the site is the live grass Easter Basket shown above.

Have a Happy Easter!
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