Last Easter, when my son was about a year and a half old, I’ll admit: I was unprepared. The Easter Bunny and I did not coordinate schedules. There was no great planning session, no Pinterest pinning. In fact, my husband and I did not even discuss the Easter Bunny and whether or not we thought he’d be visiting our house. Let’s just say I realized on Easter Eve that there was no basket and not much to put in one.
Last year, the Easter Bunny delivered an Easter basket that was created (in about five minutes) in the aisles of our local drug store.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m all for supporting the businesses in our town, but there are some things I think the Easter Bunny should do differently this time. In our house, we don’t like to buy things that are single-use-only or only have one restricted purpose. We also don’t like to spend lots of money unnecessarily or spend our money on things that are mass-produced overseas. Last year’s basket did not fit any of these criteria: there were mass-produced toys, nothing was local, and some of the candy and sweets might have already been in our pantry. The basket itself was cheap, and it was not something that would resurface at our home at any other point in the year. In fact, it’s still sitting in the basement, right where we left it last April. On the bright side though, one thing the Easter Bunny did do last year that was eco-friendly was skip the plastic grass and opt for some soft multi-colored fabric instead.
This year, I encouraged the Easter Bunny to think more locally and create a basket that’s more in line with our family values. I also encouraged the Easter Bunny to purchase a variety of items so that my son wouldn’t end up with a pile of straight sugar.
Here are some ideas that I’ve come up with to fill my son’s basket with local Vermont treats:
Sweet Treats & Salty Snacks
- Chocolate Carrots from Lake Champlain Chocolates – available in milk or dark
- Cream Eggs from Snowflake Chocolates – the Easter Bunny will probably bring one of these for my husband, too!
- Bunny Tails from Laughing Moon Chocolate – these yummy bites are rolled in sweet coconut.
- A chocolate bar from Nutty Steph’s. I personally love the Love bar, which has white chocolate, peppermint, and freeze-dried raspberries, but there are lots of other flavors to choose from.
- A cupcake from Superb Cupcakes – these were one of my pregnancy/nursing cravings, and they always have lots of delicious flavors to choose from!
- Whoopie Pies from Time Out for Whoopie – I may or may not have tried all of the flavors when I was pregnant with my son. I highly recommend the Chocolate Cherry or Coconut flavors.
- Vermont Maple Cookies
- Applesauce cups from Vermont Village Applesauce
- A selection of meat sticks (or mini meat sticks) from Vermont Smoke & Cure
- Snack-sized slices of Cabot cheddar & a small box of crackers
- Distler’s Maple Pretzels for those who like a sweet and salty mix
- For older kids, Maple Kettle Bliss or Herbaceous Blend popcorn by Karen’s Artisan Popcorn
While we don’t have true food allergies in our family, it’s an everyday reality for many parents. I’ve consulted Abbie from Ollergy, and she recommends checking out these treats. While they are not all sourced from local companies, these products can be found locally at places like Healthy Living (and our local drug store even stocks VT Nut Free products).
- VT Nut Free Chocolates makes a variety of nut-free treats, including cream-filled eggs and chocolate-covered marshmallows with colorful sprinkles. If you can’t decide between something chocolaty and something fruity, try their Beanie Bites, which are fruity jelly bean and chocolate clusters. Vermont Nut Free also recently expanded and now has retail space in their new location on Brentwood Drive in Colchester.
- Enjoy Life makes cookies and Easter Chocolate Minis that are gluten-free, and free from nuts, dairy, and soy.
- Smash Mallow makes gluten-free flavored marshmallows in a variety of flavors
- Yum Earth makes gluten-free, nut-free, and vegan treats like gummy twists, fruity pops, and sour jelly beans.
- Surf Sweets makes gluten-free, nut-free gummy bears, worms, jelly beans, and other treats.
- Pascha Chocolate offers a variety of allergy-friendly items such as rice milk chocolate bars.
As always, when it comes to food allergies, it’s important to do your research, ask questions, and choose what is right for your family.
Toys & Books
- Homemade play dough
- A small soccer ball or other sports item
- Small coloring book and an easily portable mini crayon roll from Kat’s Paws
- Craft kit or toy animals from Turner Toys
- A board book or picture book from Phoenix Books
- Teething ring from Little Green Pear
- Store-bought pacifier with a pacifier clip from Little Green Pear
Things to Wear
- Hair bow from Little Green Pear
- Bow tie from Mae & Jane – perfect for adding to your little one’s Easter Best
- An adorable baby hat from Baby Forever Young
- Triangle Bib-dana from Brystol’s Place
- Baby mittens from Wit & Woven
- A new t-shirt from New Duds
- Joggers or a hoodie from Maple Frosting
- A fun pin from Peddler
In addition to treats and toys, you could try adding an experience gift to your basket this year. For younger kids, include a ticket to a local museum or science center. For older kids, include a summer camp brochure or concert tickets. If you are members of your local library, check to see if you can get a reduced rate at any local attractions; many of our local libraries offer an attraction pass to Echo, Shelburne Museum, Shelburne Farms, and other places.
Lastly, if you’d like to avoid baskets altogether, try one of these other container ideas:
- A storage bin they can use later on to organize toys or books
- A cloth bag that is washable and reusable
- A new lunch bag, lunch box, or backpack
- The bin on a dump truck or other toy vehicle
- A fabric bowl or fabric basket from Kat’s Paws
- An upside-down baseball cap or sun hat
- If your child is going to be starting potty training soon, you could even put their gifts in a new potty!