As my kids get older, I realize they now expect candy at every single holiday that comes along. Halloween candy was quickly followed by chocolate snowmen and peppermint candy canes. February brought Valentine’s Day and heart-shaped sugary treats. Now Easter is rapidly approaching…here we go again!
This year, I’m vowing to draw the line and just say no to candy. Hoping to do the same but not sure what to fill your child’s Easter basket with instead? Don’t worry–we’ve got plenty of ideas for creative, non-candy goodies your kids will love. See below for some great options, along with the scoop on where to purchase them. Hope you enjoy a wonderful Easter, minus the sugar rush.
Books are always my go-to gift for kids. They are relatively inexpensive, they promote reading, and there is such a wealth of great children’s books available. You can find one suitable for every child and every occasion. Currently, my two-year-old loves any book about construction vehicles and my four-year-old is into Amelia Bedelia. Bonus: you get to spend an hour or two sans kids perusing the aisles of your favorite local bookstore.
Puzzles can be great at entertaining kids for hours. You can find cheap ones for under $5 at the supermarket, any dollar store or your local Target. If you want to spring for something special, NJ-based company The Missing Piece creates personalized puzzles that make awesome gifts. A basket full of brand-new puzzles (with no missing pieces) would definitely be a hit in my house on Easter morning.
Maybe your kid, like most, enjoys snacks. If you want to add a treat but avoid candy, try selecting snacks that are not sugary. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that Pepperidge Farm goldfish don’t contain sugar. (Obviously the dessert flavors like S’mores and Vanilla Cupcake have sugar, but traditional flavors such as Cheddar and Pretzel are safe bets.) Popcorn is another great option. Check out Johnson’s Popcorn in Ocean City, a boardwalk staple that offers many delicious varieties.
Keep your kids busy with a basket full of travel-sized games. Tic Tac Toe, Connect Four, Simon…many classic children’s games are available in smaller sizes, perfect for an Easter basket. There are even desktop basketball and shuffleboard sets. For an older kid, try a Rubik’s cube or ball maze. Tiki Tiki Board Games in Woodbury offers the largest selection of new and pre-owned board games in the tri-state area.
Play-Doh. If you don’t want to shell out for one of the expensive Play-Doh sets, just purchase a bunch of small Play-Doh containers and add in some inexpensive cookie cutters and a mini rolling pin. These kitchen accessories work just as well and offer hours of hands-on fun.
Get their creative juices flowing with an Easter basket containing coloring books, crayons, markers, watercolors or other supplies your child enjoys crafting with. Jerry’s Artist Outlet in West Orange has a great selection of art supplies or try hitting your local Michaels or A.C. Moore store.
Stickers. I was a huge sticker aficionado as a child and would love to put together a collection of stickers for my daughter to enjoy. For a really cute themed basket, add a nice variety of colorful stickers, along with a new sticker book for displaying them. If your child is three or younger, I would suggest puffy stickers as they are easier for little hands to peel off the page.
Is your kid into race cars? Grab a bunch of the $1 Matchbox cars and fill up a basket with them. Or maybe they are into animals. Dollar stores have bags of tiny plastic dinosaurs or jungle animals that you could use to create a whole animal kingdom. If you’re looking to please a doll lover, check out the gorgeous handmade dolls from New Jersey-based Etsy shop Made with Luck.
For an older child with a good sense of humor, fill up an Easter basket with a handful of practical jokes. (Hopefully you’ll be spending the day with relatives they can test out the jokes on.) Visit Martinka’s Magic & More in Midland Park for a wide selection of magic tricks and practical jokes…it’s America’s oldest magic company!
And if you do feel the need to include a tiny bit of sugar in their baskets, why not choose Smarties? Family-owned and operated Smarties Candy Company has been churning out the sweet treats in Union for the past sixty years.