Easter Ideas without Junk Food!

I never noticed until we made our switch to real food that every single holiday seems to revolve around food! And not just any kind of food…“junk food” of course. I think building family traditions around certain meals is priceless, but I often wish holidays weren’t so focused on foods that include white flour, sugar, and worst of all – store-bought candy. Halloween and Christmas certainly “take the cake” when it comes to our consumption of junk food, but in my opinion Easter isn’t that far behind. If our family managed to have a candy-less (and still fun!) Halloween this past year then we can certainly do the same for Easter. And by the way, its not that my kids don’t get any candy for these holidays…its just that they get so much of it from school/friends/parties that I don’t need to also supply it at home!

I’ve compiled a fabulous list of candy alternatives (thanks to my wonderful facebook community – I love chatting with you guys!) for your child’s Easter basket this year. But before we dive right in I must share a super cute alternative to those big chocolate bunnies. Last year we got our daughters big honey whole-wheat bread bunnies (pictured) from Great Harvest, and they absolutely loved them! Right when I thought I couldn’t like Great Harvest any more they come up with this idea. And I know not everyone lives near one of their stores, but if you like to bake use this as inspiration to make something similar.

Without further ado, here’s the list of ideas. The items that are starred will most likely fit inside a plastic egg!

Arts and Crafts

  • Coloring books, notebooks
  • Crayons, markers, colored pencils
  • Ceramic eggs to paint together
  • Craft kits found at Michaels and Target (near the marker/crayon aisle)
  • Stamps

Supplies for Summer

  • Bubbles
  • Sidewalk chalk
  • Bug catcher
  • Sunglasses
  • Flip flops
  • Crocs
  • Bathing suit
  • Beach towel
  • Goggles
  • Snorkel
  • Beach ball
  • Fish net

Gardening (it’s the perfect time of year to plant some seeds!)

  • Shovel and other gardening tools
  • Gloves
  • Seed packets*
  • Pots for planting
  • Watering can
  • Rain boots

Educational

  • Puzzle pieces* (send them on a scavenger hunt to find all the pieces of a puzzle hidden inside plastic eggs…I absolutely LOVE this idea from a reader!!)
  • Books
  • Card or board games
  • Flash cards
  • Activity books

Toys/Other

  • Stuffed animals, pillow pets
  • Stickers*
  • New fun cups, plates, silverware for kids
  • Thomas the train, matchbox cars, other little toys
  • DVDs
  • Coins*, piggy bank
  • Glow in the dark bugs*
  • Dresses for dolls
  • Tag reader
  • Legos*
  • Silly bands*
  • Zoobles
  • Small ipod shuffle*
  • Event tickets*
  • Play doh
  • Gift cards for music or other stores
  • Rocket balloons (available at Target)

Real Food

  • Exotic and unusual fruits like star fruit
  • Bread bunny (pictured above)
  • Mini Lara Bars* (sold in a box at Target near the pharmacy)
  • Popcorn*

Homemade Gifts

  • “Coupons” for special time with mom/dad*
  • Sock bunnies
  • Photo albums/books

Clothing/Accessories

  • Socks with a fun pattern
  • Special piece of jewelry*
  • Hair bows, clips*, hair rubber bands*

Another suggestion is to scope out the dollar bins at Target, Michaels, and the Dollar store. Also, consider creating a theme for the basket to make purchases easier and budget-friendly. If you have any additional ideas that didn’t make the list please feel free to leave them in a comment below!

*items that will most likely fit inside a plastic egg

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110 thoughts on “Easter Ideas without Junk Food!”

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  1. This is a bit of a side note, but as the parent of a child with food allergies, I love this article and the list of ideas for non-food gifts/treats.

    My 5-year-old son has multiple food allergies, so I have become very aware of how often food is used at parties, in class projects and for every holiday. I am so thankful for other parents who give non-food treats like bubbles, stickers, etc. instead of candy that is unsafe for him to eat or that is full of food dyes. I hate having to tell him that the candy that he is so excited about receiving at school isn’t safe for him to eat.

    I told him tonight that for Easter I will buy the candy that he can’t eat or that he doesn’t want. At least this way, I can keep him safe and let him experience some of the joy of receiving a new toy or something else with the money.

  2. Pretty sure I’m the puzzle piece reader. We buy dollar store puzzles and put them into eggs, my son finds the eggs with a few pieces each in them and has to try to put the puzzle together. Some eggs have change or trinkets along with the puzzle pieces. This year we are going to do a small Lego set instead, since he’s always bugging me to buy him Lego sets anyway, good way to get more mileage from the purchase.

  3. With Easter coming up, I am shopping for our kids baskets tonight. I found this when looking for ideas. Thanks for the suggestions! Have you written any post on what to do about junk food your kids are given when away, such as while at church or grandparents. Our church hands out a ton of candy every time the doors open and my husband and I have talked to our parents repeatedly about the junk food issue very poor results.

  4. Bonbon’s nail polish will fit in eggs, as will lip gloss decorated band-aids (Hello Kitty, Lisa Frank, Angry Birds, ect…)stickers, super balls, ‘Slime’ (great recipe for homemade using glitter glue and borax at scatteredthoughtsofacraftymom.com, homemade crayons using silicon ice trays.

  5. Used bunny cookie cutter and made open faced sandwiches with cream cheese and peanut butter. Arranged them on a tray in between stuffed celery and carrot sticks. The trays looked great and my daughter’s kindergarten class ate every bit! The teachers were so glad they weren’t all sugared up with cakes and candies!

  6. I always used Easter and Christmas as time to buy a funky fun new toothbrush and fancy toothpaste. Afteralllll the sweet stuff a new toothbrush was in order! We also did ‘themes; one year everything had some purple, another year yellow, an as the kid got older movies – Gilbert Grape for the purple year. Egg shaped things – grapes, avocado, baby bell cheese, but kept the food items to a minimum. JO

  7. I love all your non-candy ideas. When I do feel the need to have sweets for Easter, it makes me feel better to know that I can have fun with homemade baked goods like those found in your index (muffins, whole wheat cookies etc.). Thanks for being such a great resource!

  8. Growing up our the eggs in our Easter egg hunt always contained my parents’ loose change (and if you were lucky you’d find the few with $1 or $5 bills). Of course with inflation, I’m not sure if kids would be as thrilled with quarters as we used to be. :)

  9. I dread holidays for this reason! My children get absurd amounts of candy from friends and family and it drives me crazy! How do you keep people from doing this without hurting their feelings?

  10. I’m bewildered at this need to give the kids a bunch of candy and toys for Easter. When I was a kid we decorated eggs, had a pretty basket with fake grass in it and on Easter we hunted for EAster eggs, that we then were allowed to Eat. It was awesome. My husband’s favorite additional tradition was to have a chocolate easter bunny, so for our children we have my Easter, plus each person gets a size appropriate dark chocolate bunny. I personally used to like buying peeps as soon as they showed up in stores, slit their packages and stuck them in a drawer until they hardened. But that was just ‘my’ treat, not an Easter thing, per se.

    My father was a militant atheist and our ‘Easter’ was probably pretty token, by popular standards, but I loved the egg hunt and the decorating, I really did. No candy or junk food needed.

  11. Things for the great ideas! We do a (mostly) candy free Easter as well. We do pre-Easter egg hunts: (1) “alphabet” hunts with stuff from our Montessori alphabet box, and (2) “glow in the dark” hunts with LED lights in the eggs. Easter day we do a hunt with toys in the eggs. One of my favorite egg fillers is the little play figurines from a Safari LTD toob package. Perfect fit, generally, and we use them for imaginative play. Also love doing puzzle pieces. This year our eggs are stuffed with: play doh (larger egg), bath fizz egg, encased insects for light table, matchbox cars, bubbles, whistle. For the Easter Baskets, I try to do something with a Christian theme (as my parents did) plus other, nicer toys.

  12. My 4 year old has to bring a dozen plastic eggs filled with something for an egg hunt at preschool next week. He has a peanut allergy and I hate the idea of giving him and all his classmates junk. Instead of candy, I filled the eggs with foam stickers I got at Dollar Tree shaped like bunnies, chicks, eggs, and carrots. They were $1 for about 200 stickers. My son used some to make cards for his best friends and loved them, so I think the kids in his class will enjoy them too. And NO junk food that I’ll end up throwing away!

  13. Great ideas!!! Thanks for sharing! I’m doing candy free baskets this year too! My boys needed new rubber boots so I put those ok with bubbles, garden shovels and some outdoor stuff…pretty sure they won’t know they are missing anything!

  14. Whoa! I so appreciate this list. Back in the day–my day that is–there were some jelly beans, a little chocolate and a sugar egg that was too pretty to eat. And lots of hand colored REAL hard boiled eggs. It all seems so moderate in comparison with the Easter gluttony of today. Great lists of alternatives.

  15. I loved it when the Easter Bunny left summer gear in the baskets. Swim suit, goggles, beach towel and personalized sun screen. All things that were needed anyway and made planning much easier.

  16. I commend you on trying to reason with us about eating real food in lieu of processed food. However, Easter is as commercialized as Christmas. Easter is not about candy, toys, bunny rabbits, etc. It is about the resurrection of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. This is what is missing in our young people’s lives today.

  17. I had mentioned this on Facebook, but a few years ago I asked family members to write out their testimony (how they came to know Christ) for my boys to read. I printed them out, tooled them up, tied with ribbon and added them to the baskets. Later they would be added to the scrapbooks.
    Also, it’s not a basket filler but its a fun alternative to an outdoor egg hunt (since the weather is still so winter like around here). We’ve done a yarn maze several times with the basket at the end. The boys stayed in their rooms while I strung yarn all through the house that they would follow until they got to the end.

  18. While I truly appreciate so many great ideas and recognize this is without junk food-how about without the real junk that supports our WORLD reality?
    When we buy so much “stuff”, particularly the disposable toys we do a world of harm. There is serious evidence that lead and other poisoning from overseas products is completely out of control.Buying products like this continue the cycle of child/female labor and torture-it’s incredibly destructive on so many levels.
    Constantly bombarding our kids with huge quantities of throw away items sets their life expectations far too high. What satisfies everyone is meaningful gifts. I remember and counted on simple, but heartfelt and thoughtful gifts and traditions. Building memories on what you do as a family rather than what you get, is tantamount to a healthy happy life.

  19. Our bunny always brings a basket of fresh veggies (since that’s what rabbits like to eat): carrots with tops, asparagus, and artichokes. In the eggs (which we reuse every year), the bunny leaves small coins, stickers, and a few dark chocolate eggs. The children also usually get a small dark chocolate bunny in their basket (the kind that comes in a pack of three. . .so, super small).

  20. In years past, the Easter has stuffed the eggs he hid in the back yard with tokens for the local carousel. Sadly, it was relocated. Last year, he put loose change in them all. The ants paid no attention to the eggs, and Scout had so much fun counting up her treasure!

  21. We have a tradition of using empty egg shells (you can blow the egg out or just crack it on the small end and use a knife to help remove the goo) stuffed with confetti to have ‘egg wars’ on Easter afternoon as a family. I save egg shells for the month leading up to Easter so each family member has a dozen for themselves and we crack them on each others heads, tummies, etc. We all have a blast and I use tissue paper to make the confetti so it just falls apart the next time it rains and it’s not a big mess to clean up. We do this in place of Easter baskets…it’s cheaper and it gets rid of all the unnecessary sugar.

      1. I just make a funnel from a piece of paper to help get it all in the egg. I works well if you can talk someone else into shoving confetti down the funnel with an unsharpened pencil while you hold the funnel.

  22. I don’t have littles of my own yet, but our favorite easter basket ‘treat’ growing up was a bag of pistachios. Also, instead of a plastic easter egg hunt, we woke up to dyed (un-boiled) eggs in the yard, which became easter breakfast!

  23. I know that this thread is about non-candy ideas for Easter baskets, however, to tuck in a sweet treat I make this fruit and nut confection that is real food. Grind 12 oz.(1 1/2 cups) dried prunes, 12 oz. (1 1 /2 cups) pitted dates, 6 oz.(3/4 cups) dried apricots, 1/2 cup raisins, 1 cup walnuts and 1 whole organic orange cut into wedges with seeds removed
    , collect the juices and stir them in. To this add 1/4 cup honey or to taste. Using oiled hands shape into balls and roll in coconut (about 1 1/3 cups). Keep chilled in the refrigerator. I used to put these into my children’s lunches.

  24. This year I have 3 kids that are getting almost teenage years and are not as into getting stuffed bunnies, bubbles,crayons, etc. so we bought them the State and National Parks Quater map books for their easter baskets and are planning to fill our plastic eggs with quarters so they can hunt for the quarters to start their collector quarter maps! We are pretty excited because it takes away all the eggs filled with candy and will give them some thing to collect that they will enjoy long after they are grown! Plus we found the quarter maps for under 7 dollars a piece on Amazon.com with free shipping :)

  25. That little bread bunny is so cute! Great little neighbor gift too – maybe make it a larger loaf. We have to avoid a lot of candy because of my son’s nut allergies – we always use Easter as a chance to give a nicer gift, usually something he will use during the summer – last year he received his new bike (he outgrew his trike and we would have bought it anyway – much more exciting to get it as a surprise from a bunny!) … Not sure what this year will bring … maybe rollerblades or a certificate for a trip to the waterpark. I pad his basket with small non-junky items (I hate the waste of cheapy toss the next day basket fillers) that we would buy anyway, art supplies, fruit leathers, clothing (yes, even socks or undies with his favorite characters), summer stuff also comes into play, this year he will likely get his new lifejacket for grandpa’s boat and a new bike helmet … turns out, kids don’t really care WHAT they get, so much as the basket it stuffed full.

  26. I noticed a total lack of celebrating the Christian aspect of Easter. After all without Christ there wouldn’t be an Easter. Do you have any ideas that would be Christian? Maybe a bead kit to make a cross necklace, or baking unleavened bread.

    1. I agree, that would be cool. We always made cross shaped cookies or chocolates with my mom. When we were older she used Bible story riddles she made up to send us hunting for bigger prizes. This year I’m going to try home made crackers and gummy crosses made with fruit and gelatin. We hide the resurrection eggs from focus on the family to help tell the kids the Easter story. Hobby lobby carries a lot of great Christian craft kits and little trinkets that even fit in eggs sometimes.
      I hope those ideas help. Maybe others have more. I would love to hear them :)

      1. Thanks for giving me some great ideas. I always take any excuse to go to Hobby Lobby.

    2. We hide pieces for a homemade resurrection egg kit in our eggs along with little treats, coins and pieces to a homemade puzzle to put together or clues for a scavenger hunt that leads to one larger prize or basket with things that don’t fit in eggs. This way they still have a hunt but not all of the little things that we really don’t need in our house. We go over the resurrection kit story before the present gets found or opened:)

    3. Check out the web for ‘Resurrection Eggs”…There are a dozen symbols including a nail, a bit of purple cloth and a stone that can be placed into the plastic eggs with the appropriate scriptures…Hope that helps.

  27. I picked up a kite, an egg plant growing kit (it’s related to an eggplant I guess), and, while I know it’s cheap and probably won’t last, I got a bunny theme triangle peg-board game thing (the one where you jumps the pegs and try to get only one left).

  28. My 2yo daughter loves cute leg warmers, they might fit in larger eggs. Also a healthy trail mix with raisins, nuts, granola etc…

  29. I can’t believe you forgot carrots with the greens on them!!!! Of course Peter Cottontail would leave his favorite food! They are always in my Easter baskets.

  30. Kids get so much candy and junk at Christmas and Valentine’s day from other people that I’ve always done summer toys for Easter baskets. Sidewalk chalk, bubbles, foam shooters, pool toys, etc., along with a new pair of flip flops, sunglasses, swimsuit and beach towel. I just can’t bring myself to load up more candy in the house. And, the summer toys are a great start to the season. I swear they are happier with those than with candy.

    1. Oh, I do put some of the little easter eggs in and load them up with small erasers and other little trinkets. And, when I run out of ideas, they get loose change. LOL!

  31. BE CAREFUL PUTTING SOAPS INTO EASTER EGGS…. Some children are still looking for candy and my EAT the soaps…

  32. My kids usually get pjs, Annie’s Bunnies, Easter themed books from the dollar bin at Target, and gardening stuff. We have put gardening gloves, seed packets, watering cans, etc. They also usually get an egg with some change for their “pigs.”. Thanks for the great ideas!

  33. I have been a kindergarten teacher for 23 years and I’ve always tried to avoid the candy and junk food, because I felt like they get enough during the holidays at home. I also wanted to use it as a teaching moment. Now I am also a grandmother (Peggy Gramma to be exact) to twin boys with multiple food allergies. Dairy, eggs, wheat, and soy. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate your blog. It’s benefitted my entire family. Keep on keeping on.

  34. I love the ceramic eggs as my oldest is allergic to eggs and can not even be in the same room they are boiled in. Also I bought the jelly beans from trader joes last year and add a small handful to each basket they do not have HFCS or food coloring, I love the bread but do not think I am talented enough to do this.

  35. Does anyone have teenagers? I have a 13 yr old son. The littles are easy. I did get him a Christian biography he’d been wanting, but what else??? We don’t do bunny, but we do give gifts as a Jesus has risen celebration.

  36. I put stickers and temporary tattoos in the eggs for the egg hunt. I hate doing candy and with B’s peanut allergy there wasn’t much of an option anyway.