Remember in Little House on the Prairie when Laura and Mary open their stockings on Christmas morning?
They get a single peppermint and a pair of red mittens. And they are over the moon with joy.
The first time I read that all that I could think was, "If my kids got a peppermint and red mittens for Christmas they would be crushed." Yet the further along in my parenting journey I travel, the more I realize how little it takes to bring joy and magic into my children's lives. No, I'm not talking about single peppermint simplicity, but still reigning it in considerably from what is normal in our society.
When Sage and Lupine were small I made and gave much more than I do today.
But I noticed along the way that few things hold meaning for long, and the less "stuff" I gave them more they appreciated, treasured, and loved what they had.
So for the past few years we've kept our Spring baskets (along with all other celebrations) very simple.
And indeed, my kids have enjoyed our holidays more – not less – than they did before.
What follows are a few ideas I think you will enjoy if you're on a path toward more simplicity as well, yet worry that a simple celebration might fall flat with your children.
Five tips for a joyful, simple spring celebration
1. Less is more
You don't have to go overboard to have a wonderful holiday! Excess is overwhelming to children and adults alike. Cut back a little (or cut back a lot!) and see how it goes.
The photo below was from the first year I simplified spring baskets. The two of them received the items pictured above plus a few treats like dried fruit and organic jelly beans (so half of what is shown this per child).
Since then I've cut back even more. But the first year we simplified a candle, a crystal, a packet of seeds, and a small homemade toy was downright thrilling for my children.
You'll be surprised at how little it takes to bring joy.
2. Choose consumables
Consumables are anything that will be used up in a reasonable amount of time, leaving little or no clutter or waste behind. Some of our favorites include:
- packets of herbal tea
- healthy gum or mints
- seed packets for the garden
- lip balm
- something for bath time
- colored pencils
- a candle
3. Healthy treats are just as fun!
Your baskets need not be stuffed with food coloring and corn syrup! Having a child with food sensitivities helped us find some great alternatives that benefit us all. Here are a few of our favorites.
- Healthier gummy bunnies or jelly beans (we buy them at our coop but more mainstream stores carry some, too, like Annie's brand).
- Dried fruit
- Trail mix
- homemade date balls or purchased Lara Bars
- Nuts or seeds
- Single serving coconut water or almond milk
- Lemon poppyseed paleo cookies
4. Give experiences
And if something non-consumable feels like a must, how about giving a thing that is really an experience in disguise?
- A notebook or journal and pencil or pen
- Garden supplies – trowel, pots, and gloves
- Bird feeder and birdseed and a field guide to local birds
- Seasonal toy with a long useful life (think wooden boat, kite, sidewalk chalk)
- Craft supplies (fabric, embroidery floss and hoop; sketchbook and paints or pencils, etc.)
- Nature exploration kit (compass, bug box, magnifying glass, water bottle)
- Silk dying supplies (white silks and a few packets of Kool-Aid) I share a how-to here.
5. Add a new tradition
If you are worried that less getting might equal less joy, add a new tradition to your spring celebration.
I described our spring traditions in this post years ago, and share with you our egg hunt custom and our beloved Wish Bunny (shown below). Find a tradition that fits your family's beliefs, personalities, and likes. Perhaps you'll add a special kitchen or craft project, a fancy meal, or an outdoor adventure with friends.
Less really is more when it comes to celebrations. Cut back slowly, and then enjoy as you watch simple magic unfold for your family.
More thoughts on simplifying with kids are found below: