So last year I went frolicking down the Easter isle excitedly looking at all the fun products (funny things happen to me when the sun starts shining). I was excited about spring, and equally excited about Easter baskets. I took my toddler as my testing sample so that I could observe which things she got most excited about. I thought that would be a good way to gauge which toys she would enjoy in her basket that year.
I don't know why I got so excited about the little chick that winds up and hops all over the floor, but I did.
And I proceeded to buy a bunch of $1-3 Easter basket fillers that I thought would be fun. And you know what? They were fun! For about 5 minutes. Want to know what happened to the happy hopping chick? One of its legs got amputated within 24 hours, and I mercilessly threw him to the garbage (RIP little chickee).
So this year I'm not going there. I was so proud of myself for “frugally” buying a bunch of dollar store items, and yet…if you were to ask me what they were I couldn't recall any of them (except for the chick! haha). I would have done so much better buying one or two nicer toys for her.
Which brings me to this fun little list (scroll to the end for some frugal ways to make Easter Baskets fun).
Easter Basket Fillers That Won't Cause Regret
I have to confess something: I'm addicted to reading product reviews on toys. I don't watch T.V., I don't browse online clothing stores, and I don't (often) pick my nose…but I'm totally guilty when it comes to being a Toy Review Addict. I like good deals, and I like saving money…but if my “bargain” item doesn't get played with and loved, it's a total downer for me. Part of the “little kid within” comes alive in me when I am browsing kid's toys. I'm a total geek that way.
I'm telling you this because I have come to a conclusion when buying toys. They must meet one of the following criteria:
1. Can double as a learning experience. Even if it's sensory play for toddler's, I love it when toys are fun AND educational at the same time. This is a win for me. Also, I enjoy toys that have multiple functions/purposes. For instance, many people like to put stuffed animals in Easter baskets. Why not foster creativity and include hand puppets instead? And if you are going to include a book, why not pick a fun book that also teaches an important life lesson?
2. Sanity-Saver for Moms. I'm obsessed with busy bags and quiet time boxes, as well as anything that can entertain in the car. If a toy fits in these categories, it's winning major points. I realize it's important to play alongside your children, but it's also very important (for me anyway) for children to have toys that they love playing with independently. These are the toys that I hide and pull out in desperate moments (like when I only had 3 hours of sleep the other night and desperately needed a 30-min power nap).
3. Super Ridiculously Fun. The toys that would fall under this category would be fun games, active-play items, and anything spring or summer-related that will get the kids excited about outdoor fun!
That being said, here are some items I have my eye on:
**If you're looking for ideas specific to babies and toddlers, there are some great ideas over at Clarks Condensed.
Learning Resources Helping Hands Fine Motor Tool Set. Perfect for toddlers who are learning and discovering, as well as great for fine motor skills and strengthening hand muscles.
Kidoozie Peek N Peep Eggs. I had to include these for the sake of Easter cuteness, but they are also educational. Each egg has a specific home in the carton according to unique shapes.
FINGER PUPPETS: If you remember, this was my favorite idea for stocking stuffers as well. These things are priced so awesome that you really can't lose with them. I have purchased over 15 packs and have given them away with various gifts. Love them! You can get the animals or the people.
Stomp Rockets. These fall under the category of Ridiculously fun. Between this product, or it's sister-product the Ultra-stomp rocket, you really can't lose. Both of them are highly rated with almost 700 reviews.
Sunny Patch Spark Shark Fish Hunt This one made the list because it's not just a fun summer toy, it's also great for developing gross motor skills and hand-eye coordination, something I'm trying to be better at focusing on with my toddler.
Sand and Water Catch of the Day. This also falls under the category of ridiculously fun as well as a summer toy. If you will be having a lot of pool time, this is your ticket. You place the battery-operated fish in the water and wait for it to swim past your magnetic lure. Haha, I want one of these for me. If you wanting it mostly for the bath tub though, this smaller fishing set might be a better choice.
Live Butterfly Garden. My sister-in-law did this with her kids one spring and all the kids loved it! This one is not only fun and educational, but it also represents what Easter is all about: New life!
A Sturdy Kite. Easter= Spring = kite weather! So many good memories flying kites as a kid!
Fruit and Veggie Cutting Set. Of all toys we have purchased, this is one of our favorites. Without fail, it's the one that all the kids want to play with when they come over. There's just something so exciting about being able to actually cut them! All the boys that come to play even love this one!
Tape it & Make It. I had my nephew for Christmas this last year (we draw names). I was surprised when his mom told me what he wanted for Christmas: Duct Tape. Apparently he loves being creative with it. This book made the list because it fosters creativity, but only get it if you have older children or you will end up being the one making the items (which you don't want to do).
Quiet Books. If you have lots of time (and about $50), you can make a super cute cloth one. If you don't, you can make a printable quiet book like pictured above, or you can buy a cloth version online.
The Jesus Storybook Bible. One of my Christian friend sent this to us one year. So cute, and perfect for Easter.
Some other fun things to consider:
The Easter Story storybook. Perfect version for kids and is good at being non-denominational and sticking to the Bible story.
10 Easter Fun Books. These go against my typical policy of not getting anything “seasonal,” that's specific to the holiday, but if you have multiple kids, the amount of books that you get for the price is really great. However, they are really popular, and as of right now there are only a few left in stock. I will try to remove this once they run out.
Frugal Easter Basket Ideas:
- Find good-quality toys at your local thrift shop.
- Rather than focusing primarily on what's inside the Easter basket, make an activity out of finding the Easter basket. You can find some fun Easter Printables for making a game out of finding the Easter Basket.
- Use scraps of fabric (or even clothing that is no longer used) and make puppets to go in your kid's Easter Baskets. Here's a video for making finger puppets out of an old glove:
- Make Homemade play dough, and print & laminate a bunch of play dough printables. For a dollar or two you could even bind them in to a cute play dough book.
- Include fun gardening supplies in your kid's Easter baskets and get them excited about growing a family garden.
- Include cookie cutters and a coupon for making cookies with mom
- Add googly eyes to everything in the basket. They make everything fun!
What are you putting in your Easter baskets and what toys have your kids REALLY enjoyed?