Building A Candy-Free Easter Basket on a Budget


Easter is fast approaching, which means it’s time to think about making that Easter basket.

When I was a kid, my mother made almost all of my Easter baskets. I am Southern, so Easter baskets and frilly dresses were a norm for the holiday. The lovely throwback below is from an Easter sometime in the early 1980s. Notice how tightly I am holding my Easter basket.

Me on Easter, sometime in the 1980s

Me on Easter, sometime in the 1980s

I remember my Easter baskets would have candy, that plastic grass and sometimes other goodies. Now, I am a mommy, and I don’t give my Treasured One (TO) a lot of candy. Instead, I do something different with my baskets. I use themes.

Every Easter, I give TO theme-based Easter baskets. I put together our baskets based on where TO is developmentally and areas of interest. For example, this basket was “Sense it All”, sensory-based Easter basket. In it were water beads (you have to be careful with these), a carrot made of goldfish, homemade pompoms, play dough, and eggs filled with oatmeal. Of course, that year was the year we had oatmeal everywhere. But, it was a cute basket and my budget (including the container) was $20.00.

Easter Baskets Can Be Candy Free and Fun!

Here’s our Sense it All Easter Basket.

Building a sensory easter basket on a budget

Another year, the theme was “The Artist in You”. Everything in the basket was related to art. I included crayons, markers, paints, paper, bubbles and stickers. That year, my budget was $25.00.

Here is The Artist in You Easter Basket

Building a Candy Free Easter Basket on a Budget

As Easter is quickly approaching, take a minute and plan out a basket. Think beyond candy to things the kids will enjoy well past the time it takes them to crash from their sugar high. Add things to their Easter basket that can offer a learning experience through play, reading or other hands-on activities.

Here are a few ideas:

Play dough (always a winner  — if you are not pinched for time, here’s a recipe I use a lot. )


Picture books

Comic books or graphic novels (older kids)


Markers (for little kids, don’t spend a lot of money, because they leave the caps off)

Paints (If you budget is tight, watercolors are often less than $2.00 per set)

Paper (cut into little squares to make booklets, for younger kids)

Small games (like an etch and sketch)

Flash cards

Colored chalk

Alphabet magnets

Journal books

Colored pencils and pens

Cooking making kits (older kids)

Arts and craft kits (older kids)

Here are some places to shop:

The Dollar Store (shop early, like now for the best selection), Michaels, Target and of course, Amazon.

Landing on a theme and budget:

Ask yourself, what are they interested in? Use the Easter basket to encourage that interest. Then, set a budget. I usually put TO’s basket together the night before Easter. Maybe this year, I’ll even add a sweet treat or two.


If you make an Easter Basket this year, tweet a pic to @Mocha_Parents and I’ll share them. 


About Author

I am Dr. Joanna Scott, creator of Mocha Parents, Awesome Kids. I am also a mother, researcher and racial equity consultant. I have worked with numerous organizations across the country who aspire to be more intentional about race in their organizational policies and practices. In this space, I borrow from my work and my parenting experiences living at the intersection of race and gender. I have an extensive background in public policy analysis, family counseling and years of experience as a child advocate. I hope my work mirrors my heart’s song – a deep belief in the brilliance of every Black child.

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