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I don’t know about you, but as a mom there are two things I like to avoid at all costs: too much sugar, with its inevitable high and crash, and wasting my money on junk that will end up in the trash bin, or worse, cluttering up my house. Don’t you just dread those flimsy plastic toys from happy meals and Easter egg hunts? Me, too!

So as holidays approach, especially Christmas, Easter and birthdays, I very carefully research what I buy. I’m sure I’m not the only parent out there who has adopted the ‘no candy and no junk’ philosophy, so, since Easter is on the horizon, I thought I’d share with you the list I assembled of fun things that kids will actually use, create read and play with long after the holiday has passed.

Books make the very best gifts, in my opinion. You can snuggle your child on your lap and enjoy them over and over, encouraging your little people to become lifelong readers and learners. In addition to the books, the other gifts listed below will excite and thrill your children and you won’t have to throw them out after stepping on them one too many times. Win-win!

I like to include one book and one toy in each of my kids’ baskets, to keep things simple and inexpensive, plus a few boiled eggs, which my kids enjoy decorating. My older kids appreciate a craft (this year I’m giving my teenage girls cute floral fabric and helping them sew a dress) or high-quality art supplies better than a toy. Experiences are also always appreciated!

Another fun and frugal idea is to use creative receptacles in lieu of wicker Easter baskets. The receptacle can be something you need and would have to buy anyway, but you turn it into part of the gift. For example, this year I’m using homemade storage baskets that my kids need for the shelves in their bedrooms. One year I used large, floppy sun hats. You could use a sand pail, a pair of rain boots, or a baseball cap. It is key to use something you would need to buy anyway, otherwise you are just buying more junk.

My kids are ages 4-20, so I have a wide age range to buy for. The items below are well-priced and fit all of my criteria for being both educational and high quality.




This book is just as magical today as it was when I was a child. Beautiful, Easter egg colored pictures help tell the story of a little bunny who does not let her difficult circumstances keep her from dreaming of being one of the 5 Easter Bunnies who delivers eggs to children.




Join Mouse from If You Give a Mouse a Cookie as he goes on an Easter egg hunt! Who is hiding eggs in Mouse’s house? This adorable board book combines an engaging Easter theme with a story about colors!

This board book with sturdy pages is perfect for toddlers, who will enjoy the simple introduction to colors and counting. Each page has one or two sentences and points out a different color and number of eggs.




Bestselling author Anthony DeStefano begins his creative telling of the beloved Bible story of Christ’s triumphant entry by introducing the young donkey who has yet to realize his important mission. The lowly creature believes he can do nothing noble, but that’s before he meets the Master…





Gather the family around for this beautiful retelling of the Easter story and watch Jesus’ final days on earth come to life.







A precious book about springtime magic and baby animals, with soft, sweet illustrations, perfect for small children. It doesn’t, however, tell the Easter story.




We love growing seeds from scratch. It’s always fun to watch the little seedlings emerge from the dirt and watch them grow as we take care of them. I love that I can plant all of my favorite varieties of tomatoes, and my kids loved all the pumpkin varieties.

This looks like a fun kit, but I am too frugal. I would just go purchase seed packets from the dollar store and plant them in paper cups or egg cartons.

If you are planning a garden anyway, get double bang for your buck, plus excited involvement from the kiddos, by tucking a couple of seed packets in their Easter baskets.



Your little one will be excited to find this Fisher-Price Doodle Pro in his Easter basket, and you can clip it to your diaper bag to entertain him in the doctor’s office waiting room, during church or really anytime you need a life-saving distraction.



These fun markers have great reviews on Amazon. Plus, they are super easy to clean up afterward. No cups, no brush, no mess! They are a chunky size, too, for small hands.





SmartGames Bunny Peek A Boo is actually a math game for little people. Your child will be so busy having fun that he won’t realize he is learning numbers, patterns, shapes and math concepts.





Durable wood puzzles with large, chunky pieces are best for little hands. Puzzles are an important educational learning tool for toddlers and young children as they provide many skills and mental learning benefits and opportunities.



This puzzle is especially fun for toddlers, with its bright colors, delightful animals and enticing textures.




Okay, I know. Play-doh can be messy! But sensory play is so important to child development that the mess is worthwhile. I find it easiest to cover the kitchen table and floor with large, plastic tablecloths, which I can shake out after letting the kids play.




I love open-ended crafting supplies such as this, to encourage maximum creativity in my kids. They can spend hours (during which I am free to work on my own projects!) at the table creating animals for their zoo, or decorations for holidays. I am honestly amazed at what they come up with!



My little girls love to create jewelry, and this set is perfectly sized for little hands!





Spring is the perfect time to renew your child’s supply of sidewalk chalk (hooray for kids playing out of doors again!) and this perfect set is egg-shaped so it will look cute in their Easter baskets.





Aren’t these mini building block sets adorable? They come individually boxed and would be such a fun non-candy contribution to an egg hunt. Or you could just toss a couple into each of your children’s Easter basket.





Teach your toddler sorting and matching skills with these clever puzzle eggs.






7 mentally stimulating and educational brain teasers would be great fun for kids who like to challenge themselves.





Wouldn’t this set of soft, plush finger puppets be fun? They would encourage imaginative play and you could easily stuff them into plastic Easter eggs if you are hosting an egg hunt.






Beach Toys! Because summer is right around the corner!






And finally, one of the most valuable things you can spend your money on is experiences. They won’t clutter up your house or make your kids act like hoodlums! You can find fun, inexpensive experiences on Groupon, print the certificates off and tuck them in the Easter basket, or even just write out a coupon and tuck it inside a plastic egg. The simpler the better!


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  1. Lindsay Zesiger says:

    Great ideas!! I love to give my kids a new swim suit , beach towel, or spring clothes in their basket. When they were younger I often gave them sand toys or a kite. 😀

    1. Amy Saunders says:

      How fun! I just added kites to ours because I was at Walmart and there was a huge display of fun ones for just $2.

  2. Melanie Tanner says:

    I love the book idea. A little hard for me to get books here though. And I LOVE the seed idea, but I don’t have anywhere to garden. Ahhh! But you’ve inspired me to come up with a game or “lego” set or something that we can all do together.

    1. Amy Saunders says:

      Legos are the best! My kids and I just barely finished an awesome 4300 piece set I bought them for Christmas. We absolutely loved assembling it as a family!

    1. Amy Saunders says:

      You are SO right! All of my kids are voracious readers and I attribute it to reading to them so much as babies.

  3. Love the idea of sidewalk chalk! Also, the idea of seeds !!! We are planting a garden this spring, and the seeds would be a perfect starter!

  4. I like the egg shaped chalk! My older niece and nephew get tons of things from people in their family, so my mom and I try and stick to things like crafts and books and avoid candy.


    1. Amy Saunders says:

      I’m sure their mom appreciates that!

  5. So many fun ideas! I have a neighbor that one year she gave each child an Easter basket filled with flowers; pansies, petunias, etc. So pretty and colorful and they had fun having a spot in the garden for their own flowers to take care of and watch bloom all summer.

    1. Amy Saunders says:

      I love that idea! I think I’ll copy it! 🙂

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