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Creative Play Easter Basket - a great candy-free alternative

Anatomy of a “Creative Play Easter Basket”

I hinted about this post last week, so here it is – C’s “Creative Play Easter Basket”.  I had 3 goals for this basket:


  1. No candy allowed
  2. Absolutely every part of the basket has to be usable for play
  3. Inexpensive to make (and by that I mean CHEAP!)

Thanks to a lot of clever bloggers and the dollar section at Target, I was able to meet all three of my goals.  I’m really happy with how it turned out and I think C will be thrilled.  Click through and I’ll share all my resources so you can make one of your own.

First up is the basket itself and the “grass” for filling.  These are the two parts of an Easter basket that I find to be the most wasteful.  They’re good for exactly one Easter egg hunt and after that they’re done. So instead of going the traditional route, I picked up this sand pail at target for a little over two bucks (I’ve since seen them for $1 at Michaels – doh!).

For “grass” filling inside my basket I passed on that plastic stuff you end up finding between your couch cushions weeks after Easter and used this method for making yarn pom poms instead.  I made dark green, light green, and a mixture of the two in various sizes.  I’m envisioning lots of sorting and tossing games with these but I have a feeling C will come up with his own uses for them.

You can’t have an Easter basket without some eggs and I was planning on using this clever DIY to make sidewalk chalk eggs for C.  But I scored these babies in the dollar section at Target instead.



I also got two sizes of the plastic eggs in Target’s dollar section, perfect for nesting and building activities.  And I couldn’t leave them empty (how sad would that be when C opened them up?) so I filled them with some extra foam letter and number stickers I had.


Next up are the paper goodies.  First is this adorable bunny puppet.  You can get the free printable for this guy (plus his friend) at small for big.  Just print to card stock and use the extra small hole punch you bought to make the paint chip Easter garland.  Secure the pieces with yarn, glue it to a popsicle stick, and you’re done.



Second is the DIY Easter memory game (with a free printable) I made for you last week.

Last are two items for silly, messy fun.  I know this sponge ball doesn’t exactly scream Easter but as soon as I saw the DIY here, I knew C would love it.  (He got a sneak peek the other day as an incentive for taking a bath and I was totally right, he was enthralled.)


And finally, there’s this “silly” carrot – bet you can guess what’s inside.  I’ll have the full DIY for this one up on momtastic tomorrow (update: link here).




So there you go, a candy-free and inexpensive Easter basket that encourages creativity and play.  Hit up your local Target’s dollar section and make yours today!


For more candy-free Easter ideas, check out:

Easter basket ideas

  1. DIY Wooden Watercolor Eggs
  2. Free Printable: Easter Memory Game
  3. Anatomy of a Creative Play Easter Basket
  4. Silly Putty Easter Carrot
  5. Water Bead Easter Eggs
  6. Books Perfect for the Easter Basket
  7. A Simple Handmade Toy for Baby’s Easter Basket


  1. DIY Paint Chip Easter Garland
  2. Less-Mess, More Fun Watercolor Easter Eggs


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{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

freshaircrafting April 18, 2011 at 11:04 am

Those sponge balls are awesome! I’ll definitely be making some of those.


The Little List April 18, 2011 at 12:14 pm

Oh, I love these ideas…especially the easter grass alternative. I despise that stuff! Thank you! Thank you!


Anonymous April 18, 2011 at 1:44 pm

Wow!! Amazing. So clever. I will be doing this for my little girl next Easter… she’s just a bit young this year. Egg hunt is more than enough for her now. Thanks for the inspiration. I love your blog!

Chelle Y


taci z April 18, 2011 at 2:11 pm

SO SO SO cute!! I bet your LO loved this!!
Going to vote for you <3


AshLee Winterrose April 18, 2011 at 8:27 pm

I just voted for you! This is such a great site!
I just did a candy free basket for my one year old and for a little edible I added in Annie’s organic bunny shaped snacks in her eggs but your basket beats all. I used to be a kindergarten teacher and this stuff just makes me feel at home–love it!


mari, small for big April 18, 2011 at 11:25 pm

Thanks for the shout out Stephanie, Teensie looks GREAT with all of the other goodies you’ve gathered. Brilliant idea.


childishfundraising April 19, 2011 at 1:34 am

Thanks for sharing these ideas. You’ve inspired me to think of some new ideas for our Easter baskets this year…


Brittany April 19, 2011 at 3:11 pm

Wow, I would even have fu8n playing with the things in this Easter basket!! Such great ideas!! I’m featuring this on my blog this week. Thanks so much for sharing!!!


Marie {Make and Takes} April 19, 2011 at 4:44 pm

Such a great idea! I too am trying to steer clear of all the candy, so this bucket is perfect!


Multi-Testing Mommy March 21, 2012 at 10:40 am

Oh my goodness, what a terrific idea! I love it!


Trisha @ Inspiration Laboratories March 22, 2012 at 2:43 am

Love this idea!! You’ve put together such a great basket of activities. My favorite part is the grass. I really hate the plastic grass in most Easter baskets. I’ve seen paper grass as a replacement, but the yarn pom poms are perfect.


GrowingPlay.com March 23, 2012 at 6:06 pm

Here is a Spring Coupon book for free to print to toss inside an Easter basket. It includes fun activities like “Play a game of tag” or “trip to the park”. Nice way to get children moving and making memories http://www.growingplay.com/freecoupon.html


Sarah E. White March 27, 2012 at 4:53 pm

Love, love, love! I was already doing a “sensory box” sort of thing with different stuff in the eggs when I saw this (http://www.sarahewhite.com/?p=982) but I love your ideas and will probably add some of them to mine. Thanks for sharing!


More Like June March 27, 2012 at 8:02 pm

WONDERFUL! I’ll make these for all the big cousins and customize some things for the two babies. Love the pom pom filler. I hate that grassy stuff! Thanks for sharing.


Views July 23, 2013 at 8:32 pm

I every time spent my half an hour to read this webpage’s articles all the time along with a cup of coffee.


Rebekah March 16, 2014 at 9:59 am

A motivated mom can create great things! Easter is my favorite holiday so I don’t mind bagging up the plastic grass to reuse each year…little bit of a pain but I wouldn’t celebrate without it. As for Easter baskets- I did buy one small holiday specific one for my son very reasonable at Joann’s and the pictures alone hunting with friends made it worth it. Otherwise I have a wire basket and a straw one that get used all year round. For the first year of my son’s life, I could fit all his toys into the straw basket which made clean-up super easy! Love that you accomplished so many Easter activities to gift without having candy. We have done quarters (for cheap 25 cent rides at our old grocery store or now for air hockey- great cross body movement and hand eye coordination!) and the big easter eggs can fit cars in them. I also get Annie’s bunny crackers and fill carrot bags – a splurge initially, but with one child, we have used them 3 years in a row and have yet to run out. We will have some chocolate, but I’m leaning toward the small Lindt bunnies so we have something a little bit special and easier to portion than the giant chocolate one! Thanks for the great post. It offers lots to think about for sure.


Rebekah March 16, 2014 at 10:03 am

Almost forgot- our favorite Easter egg hunt activity is to “glow hunt”. We had fun practicing for the real hunt, but it has since turned into a great winter activity when it gets dark so early and kids are cooped up with energy to burn. Instead of glow sticks we use battery operated tea lights. Kids always have fun assembling the eggs and they go crazy for the hunt itself!


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