The title should not cause anyone to think that removing the candy from the annual Egg Hunt is in any way a priority at our house. No, no. Please. BUT, I have found that the Egg Hunt is more exciting if it involves little toys or other items as well as plastic eggs containing jellybeans and other non-melty candies. (Our first Egg Hunt, when Rob was three years old, we filled the plastic eggs with M&M’s, chocolate eggs, York Peppermint bites, etc. Oh dear the mess, after those tiny little egg-shaped greenhouses had had a chance to bask in even the chilly sunshine of the yard. We had to throw everything out.)
In the past we’ve stocked the non-candy part of our Egg Hunt from dollar sections and party-supply sections, and we still do some of that. But as the kids get older and the years of Egg Hunts stack up, I find that we’ve “used up” most of those things: the bendy rabbits were a big thrill the first year, interesting the year after that, and now it’s sort of “Oh, the bendy rabbits.”
With some items, I gather them up surreptitiously a week or so after Easter when no one’s playing with them anymore, and pack them away with the plastic eggs to be re-used the next year: the bendy rabbits, the Easter-themed Pez dispensers, the spinny-lights thingies, the bunny-ear headbands. Not only does this save money and play-value and landfill feed, it can add sentiment to the items: “Oh, the bendy rabbits!! I remember these!!”
I also have some other ideas to consider. We don’t get all these things every year, or even close to all of them—but it’s a good selection to choose from. I like to buy things I would have bought ANYWAY, and then hide them for the hunt.
Bendy straws are good, because I like to buy them occasionally but I don’t usually think of it. Easter reminds me to buy them once a year, which is just about right. (That’s the point of the holiday, right? reminding me to buy bendy straws on a good schedule?)
I’ve started using the Egg Hunt as an opportunity to replenish our outdoor toy supply. This is the moment to buy new frisbees, new water guns, new sidewalk chalk, new jump rope, new bubble stuff, a new hula hoop to hang from a tree branch. Pinwheels are the best: inexpensive, and they look wonderful stuck into the lawn.
Also to replenish our indoor toy supply: things like Play-Doh, Silly Putty, colored pencils, packs of pipe cleaners or pom poms or beads—all nice for an Egg Hunt. (I used the Play-Doh Eggs picture because it’s cute and themey, but I’d buy the regular containers.)
If you buy any spring books for the kids (Scholastic often has tempting little seasonally-themed sets), those are great for an Egg Hunt. Put each one in a Ziplock bag or something, though, or they can get surprisingly warped even from grass that seemed dry. (I pack Eastery books away with the plastic eggs, too.)
For girls especially, cute/pastel socks can be hidden, one sock in each egg if the socks are small enough or the eggs big enough. Tights don’t usually fit in eggs, but can be put in a baggie. Or headbands and spring hats and baseball hats are fun to hide: on a rock, on a fence, on a branch.
If holiday pencil packs didn’t tend to be so crappy (”Why! won’t! this! sharpen! without breaking/peeling!!??”), I’d recommend those as a fun/cute way to replenish the household supply. Paul and I assume that some day when our house is bulldozed, pencils will come pouring out of the walls: I bought 180 at the beginning of this school year and they are all gone.
If I buy ANYTHING pastel/springy/fun this time of year, I consider it for the Egg Hunt. When the kids were littler, I hid a new toddler spoon/fork set. I’ve hidden CLOTHING. The fun of the hunting and finding seems to be the main thing, and the particular items hunted/found is secondary.
(All photos except the sock one are from Amazon.com. The sock photo is a screenshot from TheChildrensPlace.com.)