All this talk of simplification had me in a mini-pickle about our spring baskets. What to do? We normally keep it pretty simple, but even "pretty simple" seems a bit obscene to me right now.
Really. How many sweet little knitted/felted/wooden do-dads do my people need these days (or even want)? Very few. Just last night in bed they were discussing how the most precious things from their Christmas stockings were new wool socks for Sage and new undies for Lupine. They had pretty much forgotten about the rest.
How do we normally celebrate spring? In past years the kids have each received a basket containing a couple of simple toys (wooden figurines, knitted animals, small games, modeling wax, etc.), some chocolates, some organic jelly beans, and other accouterments. We also do an egg hunt with both dyed eggs and treat eggs.
That feels so big to me right now with the simplification journey we are on and the realization that they thrive with less stuff – not more. So we're pulling back. I've decided to ease gently into a more simplistic approach beginning this season. This year the gifts and treats will be more modest but we'll still have plenty of magic. The trend of less will continue through our future celebrations.
Simple Spring Basket Ideas
My goal this year for my family is to have baskets without extra "stuff" that we have to figure out what to do with after the holiday. We have more than enough playthings, but maybe something fun/practical will be included. Some suggestions for sweet and simple spring baskets are below. It is a long list and I'm not proposing anyone do it all. But I suspect there is something on that list for everyone. Simple, natural, – often handmade and always magical – celebration ideas.
Easter "Grass" – Follow Lupine's lead in the photo above and use an existing (or gift a new) playsilk. We dip into our silk basket each year and decorate our baskets, adding plenty of ribbons and trims. (This buys us time while the easter bunny places eggs around our yard.)
Homemade Tea Bags – We love tea. It is a part of our everyday and the kids have their own favorites. I decided that some homemade tea bags would be more magical than store-bought and would pack a bigger "wow" punch in their spring baskets.
Making the Teabags: I cut some unbleached cotton muslin into squares, zig-zagged three sides (I used pastel rainbow thread), added a few pinches of loose herbal tea, and stitched the top shut with a piece of ribbon peeking out. I'll add a little felt tab to the ribbon soon.
To keep from having bits of muslin in your tea, do as I say and not as I do: cut with straight shears rather than pinking. As a side bonus, yours will look less like ravioli and more like tea bags. Muslin is compostable, so if your ribbon is wool or cotton the whole thing can end up in the garden after tea time.
Candle – A simple beeswax candle can be so special for a child. Placed in a glass cup it can brighten your dinner table or bedtime and be a good place to share wishes before sleep. Having your own candle feels very grown up.
Play-dough – Make a single batch, divide, and dye several spring-y colors. Scent with essential oils if you are inspired. Package in little wax bags.
Practical Gifts – What do your little ones "need" this season that they would also love? Something you might make or purchase anyway. A kitchen apron? A new sunhat? A fancy headband? A shopping bag for helping out with groceries? Sew something up! That's my plan. I have a boy's hat cut out and ready to sew (below) and a girlie headband in the works.
Seeds – Every year we include seeds. My favorite spring basket addition! (That would explain our garden last summer. Ahem.)
Non-Sugar Treats – Yes, honey is sugar. Yes, fruit is sugar. By non-sugar I mean non refined (white or otherwise) sugar. We are on the GAPS diet so there will be no chocolate bunnies or jelly beans this year. But there will be other special treats and sweets. Some refined sugar-free ideas include: honey sticks, honeyed nuts, un-sugared dried mango, date balls, tiny cut out cookies (gluten-free or otherwise), roasted nuts, and homemade coconut macaroons. Just a bit of sweets, but enough to feel like a very special day.
Book – Each child will be receiving a special spring book this year. Favorite spring books around here include The Story of the Root Children, When the Root Children Wake Up, Children of the Forest, The Tale of Tiptoes Lightly, and Spring (by Gerda Muller).
Nature Table Items: A wool bunny, some felted robin's eggs, a fabric daffodil, a spring pipecleaner fairy, or a little woolen lamb can all be tucked away on the nature table after the holiday.
What about the plastic eggs, you ask? Yesterday I shared our wool felt egg turorial, and next week I will share our method for making fillable/reusable paper mache eggs with you (see below). No more plastic! Woo hoo!
And what to put into said eggs of any description? Here are some suggestions to get thinking beyond the jelly bean bag:
- Sea shells
- tiny treats (dried blueberries, sour cherries, homemade fruit leather cut into flower shapes, and roasted nuts will be in ours this year. But in years past we'd tuck in a single chocolate chip and the kids would go wild. They are easy to please.)
- Poem: Transfer a spring poem (original or borrowed from a book) onto a rainbow watercolor painting. Cut into strips. Roll up the little scrolls and hide in eggs. Then put the poem together as a family later in the morning.
- Wooden peg people
- Magical notes or simple drawings: bunnies, flowers, etc.
- Tiny packets of seeds: open a flower or vegetable seed packet, select out a few, and make a tiny folded paper envelope out of parchment paper. Insert a simple pencil drawing of the plant: a flower, a tomato, etc.
Choose an item (or two… or six) from the list above. Then keep it simple and keep it fun. So much of what we create for a children is about the experience – the joy of the moment and the magic of it all. It is not about the stuff in their basket at the end of the day or the sugar buzz they rode along the way.
Take it easy, and have fun – together. Happy, magical, simple spring to you!