When the stores fill with plastic eggs, chocolate bunnies and overpriced baskets emblazoned with the latest Disney characters, I cringe and imagine what a pastel nightmare next month's landfill layer is going to look like. I just can't bring myself to buy single use items like that.
I'm always looking for hands-on crafty stuff to do with the kids, and I compulsively hoard sturdy paper shopping bags with handles. It occurred to me therein lies the two birds / one stone solution to the Easter basket problem. I'm sharing it with y'all, because I can't be the only one who would happily slip a forgotten Easter basket into the recycling bin after hiding in the garage to eat the last of the Jelly Bellies.
Kid Friendly Upcycled Paper Bag Easter Basket Craft
1) Rummage around in the back of your pantry for some paper bags. Hopefully ones that don't smell like old Chinese takeout.
2) Prep the kids to paint. Take autism break to allow plenty of time for crucial paint bottle arranging.
3) Have the kids cut top of the bags off at the crease. Save upper sections for the handle step.
4) Nope, still not quite right...
5) Distract boychild from lack of access to paint with a cookie while explaining that his brother is autistic just like he is, and we will wait for little brother to arrange the paint bottles because it makes him happy, just like we wait for big brother arrange the kitchen stools because it makes him happy.
6) Finally start painting... *sigh* That's ok little Dude, the Easter Bunny doesn't really care if your basket is painted. You do you.
7) Try not to cry as you think about how far your sweet little guy has come and how much hard work and occupational therapy and social coaching it took for him to get to a point where he spontaneously painted a picture of his family next to a house.
8) Let the painted bags dry, preferable overnight. Try not to forget that you sat them on top of the fridge and drop another pile of stuff you needed out of the way on the wet paint.
9) Cut the handle sections so the width is just slightly smaller than the interior width of the painted bag.
10) Cut the height of the handle section so it's just shorter than the depth of the painted bag.
11) Glue time! AKA stealth squeezy sensory break time!
12) Glue the crap out of 'em so they'll hopefully hold the weight of the Easter stuff. I set the glue covered pieces in place for the kids because I'd rather not be scraping dried glue off my counter through Memorial Day. Then I have them press it all over to get good contact. I recommend letting it dry on its side overnight so they don't slide around.
13) Voila! Adorable, guilt free, customized Easter baskets! If you're feeling ambitious and looking for another sensory activity, instead of buying Easter grass you can have the kids make their own. I always have scraps of construction paper in the craft bin and the little one loves to play with scissors. (Fine motor skills!) You could also have them crumple or tear up tissue paper.
The great thing is that this craft can be done with any size paper bag that suits your family's Easter traditions. A standard brown paper lunch bag is the perfect size for a reasonable amount of candy. For bags without built in handles, simply hole punch and use ribbon or yarn to create the handle. They'll still achieve a basket look, though probably won't be sturdy enough to carry it once filled.
I use fairly big bags because our Easter bunny doesn't bring much candy. He doesn't need to - we've still got at least a bag or two still left over from Halloween. What he does bring is a moderate size toy, maybe a DVD, with some token "bunny beans" (adorably dubbed so by Dude last Easter, and not an error we're keen to correct) and a Reese's egg (because I'm only human).
The things is, spring is when work starts going nuts for me after the typically quiet winter. So I go from a near total focus on the kids to spending tons of time in the office. Easter has become an opportunity to assuage some of the Working Mommy Guilt associated with my seasonal disappearance, so until I'm able to level up in my career I'll probably continue using the big bags.
I wasn't kidding about the Working Mommy guilt. Wonderful Husband has requested that I ask the Easter Bunny to take his enthusiasm down a notch next year...
2015 Paper Bag Easter Baskets
We really enjoy this project, and made them again!
2016 Paper Bag Easter Baskets
And again! This year was extra fun, Dude really got into it. He had a whole story about how the Easter eggs he painted were secretly bombs.
I also enjoyed seeing the evolution of Bear's bunny. It's great to compare things like this year to year when your kids are developmentally delayed, it helps me visualize the progress all the hard work and therapy has helped them make.
This paper bag Easter Basket craft is pinned to my crafting board.