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Thursday 9 April 2020

How we Celebrate Easter at Home

Easter is coming up this Sunday. Are you ready for it?

I've been seeing a lot of discussion on social media about how to celebrate this holiday while sheltering in place. Parents wondering if the Easter Bunny should still visit. How can they make the holiday special for their kids while staying home. Maybe, Easter should just be cancelled altogether.

I have to admit that these discussions have left me a little confused. Sure, we can't meet up with other people, but apart from that how is Easter any different this year? As expats with no extended family in the same country (or hemisphere) our Easters are always celebrated at home with just our immediate family. To me, this is our normal, so Easter this year will be no different than any other year. In fact, this is also how I remember my family celebrating Easter growing up - although my Grandma did come and stay with us for Easter each year. Given that "normal" is different for everyone, I did a little digging and discovered that for many people Easter is celebrated with extended family and friends, as well as with community events. Without these events and the ability to visit family a lot of people are stumped on what to do to make Easter special.

Seeing as Easter at home is normal for us, I thought I'd share some of the ways that we make it a special day for the kid. As we're not religious most of what we do revolves around the Easter bunny and chocolate.

Here's a look at what we usually do for Easter Sunday...

Leaving out treats for the Easter Bunny
On Easter Saturday night the kids help me set up the dining table in preparation for the Easter Bunny's visit. We leave out our Easter baskets/bags/boxes along with a plate of carrots as a treat for the Easter Bunny. In the morning we find that along with filling our Easter baskets etc, the Easter Bunny has eaten the carrots. He always seems to leave the ends for some reason.

The Easter Bunny's footprints
When the kids wake up on Easter Sunday morning, the first sign they see that the Easter Bunny visited over night is usually a trail of sparkly bunny footprints. These either led from our apartment door (and often from the nearest fire escape in the hallway) or from a window - however the Easter Bunny entered our home that year. The footprints always lead to the dining table where the kids discover what the Easter Bunny left for them. If you'd like to make your own Easter Bunny footprints you can find my DIY here. They're easy to make and you'll just need a sponge, glitter and baking soda. And if glitter is not your thing (I know a lot of people hate it) you can just use the baking soda.

Easter Treats
Growing up in Australia, the Easter Bunny always brought us chocolate eggs. There were never presents, just the chocolates, and that was enough. Easter wasn't about presents after all, just chocolate eggs. This is what we continued with the kids too, but after a few years of living in the US I discovered that it is customary here to leave gifts for the kids too. Whether these come from the Easter Bunny or parents varies from family to family (much the same way it does with Christmas), but for our family the Easter Bunny leaves chocolates and we give the kids a small present as well as a few chocolates. This present is generally something Easter or Spring related, and never anything very expensive. Egg shaped bath bombs, bunny headbands, bunny pajamas, books, play silks, board games, and hair clips have all been popular gifts in the past. Play silks (which you can see below) are also a great way to wrap gifts. This year the kids will be getting these bunny shaped snack containers filled with chocolates. Shh... don't tell them.

Hot cross buns for breakfast
After all the excitement of opening their Easter goodies (and likely eating more than a few chocolates) we have hot cross buns for breakfast. If I could eat hot cross buns for breakfast every day I would. Actually, I'd probably get sick of them if I did! There's no chance of getting sick of hot cross buns here in the US, as unlike back home in Australia where hot cross buns hot stores right after Christmas, these tasty buns are relatively uncommon. I have been able to find the odd hot cross bun in the past, but they're always sold individually and they have icing crosses on top which makes toasting them a sticky mess. So instead, I make them at home. That's actually today's job - although I'm sure we'll eat them all before Easter and will have to make another batch! This is the recipe that I'm using.

Dying Easter Eggs
Some years we dye Easter eggs in the lead up to Easter Sunday and other years we run out of time and do it on the day. Either way, there are usually eggs that end up crazy colors. This year I felt a little bad buying a dozen eggs just to dye considering that eggs have been one of the items that can be hard to find in supermarkets right now. Also, the kids aren't fans of boiled eggs, and I don't like the taste of the super white eggs that are best for dying, so that leaves Kim with an awful lot of boiled eggs to eat by himself! This year instead of buying real eggs, I bought a pack of white plastic eggs for the kids to dye. These particular eggs are designed to be dyed and can be filled with small treats for an egg hunt. Speaking of egg hunts, you'll never guess what's next on the list of things we do on Easter Sunday...

Easter Egg Hunt
That's right, it's an egg hunt! In the past we've always had an egg hunt in our apartment building's courtyard, but this year we have our backyard to use. We've had many a rainy Easter during which the kids have hunted for eggs in raincoats and boots, but this year we'll have something completely new to us - hunting for eggs in the snow! That's right, we have snow forecast again this weekend (and half of next week). Back home in Australia we always hunted for chocolate eggs, but as chocolate eggs aren't common here in the US, we usually hunt for the real eggs that we've dyed, or those plastic eggs filled with small treats. In the past I have filled the plastic eggs with chocolates, bunny tattoos, rice krispies treats, and one year it was mini potatoes! That was the year that Easter Sunday coincided with April Fool's Day! I usually hide the eggs first for all three of the kids and then they like to take it in turns hiding them. This means that our egg hunt can go on for hours - and there's always one egg that is hidden too well that we never find!

Smashing Cascarones
Cascarones are a new to us Easter tradition, but they've become on of our favorites. If you're not familiar with cascarones, they're brightly colored egg shells filled with paper confetti. They're so much fun to smash. The kids like to smash them on the floor, on each other's head, and do crazy tricks with them. Sure, they make a lot of mess, but they're worth it for the joy that they bring. We usually end up smashing our cascarones inside due to rain (or this year, snow) and the kids quite enjoy sweeping up the confetti and throwing it at each other again. You can make cascarones yourself with cleaned egg shells, confetti and tissue paper for sealing, but we always just buy them.

Watching an Easter Movie
Every holiday that rolls around we find ourselves watching a Peanuts holiday movie. For Easter we watch "It's the Easter Beagle, Charlie Brown". You can download it here. Peanuts movies are such a classic and they became fast favorites with the kids after visiting the Charles M Schulz Museum in Santa Rosa several times. Other great movie ideas for Easter include Hop, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory and Peter Rabbit.

Making Easter Crafts
This is often something that happens before the big day so we can use our crafts as decorations, but some times, just like the egg dying, we find ourselves making Easter crafts on Easter Sunday. One of my favorite things to craft with for Easter is bunny shaped Peeps. Now, we don't normally eat these sickly sweet marshmallow monstrosities, but they are great for crafting with, especially if you let them dry out a little in advance. We've made Easter (and Halloween) bunting with them in the past, and they last a really long time. You can find my DIY here. They're great for making wreaths too. Wooden eggs are great for Easter crafts too. I have a collection of wooden eggs and the kids decorate a new one every year. Paint, markers, tissue paper, glitter, feathers... You can really let your imagination go crazy with these. We also decorated foam eggs when we were in Denmark just before Easter a few years back. 

 And that's pretty much our Easter Sunday every year!

I'd love to hear how your family celebrates and anything different you may be doing this Easter.

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