Spring is here, and retailers are offering loads of cheap candy, plastic grass, and junk toys angling for a spot in your kid’s Easter basket. Most of these gifts seem destined for a quick trip to a landfill. If you want to cut the crap but still have a magical holiday, our staff has a lengthy list of recommendations, including space-saving basket alternatives, recyclable grass, durable toys, and popular books. And, of course, some delicious candy.
A timeless Easter basket, in two sizes
Pottery Barn Kids Seagrass Easter Basket ($30 for large at the time of publication)
The Pottery Barn Kids Seagrass Easter Basket gives off big Beatrix Potter energy, and we love that it comes in two roomy sizes so you can fill it with a lot or a little. The bigger basket (15½ inches in diameter) can hold a large stuffie and plenty of treats. The smaller size (12½ inches in diameter) is no slouch, either, if you want something easy for young kids to carry. Pottery Barn Kids also sells several customizable liners in ginghams, plaids, and seersuckers, and it has a white basket and a truly fabulous gold-rope version, too, in slightly different sizes.
A space-saving Easter basket alternative
Hallmark Large Easter Canvas Tote Bag ($7 at the time of publication)
For families who are short on storage space, traveling for Easter, or looking for something low-key and less traditional, Hallmark’s Large Easter Canvas Tote Bag is our favorite alternative basket. What’s easier to store or pack than a tote bag? The design is gender neutral, adorable, and unfussy, and it costs a fraction of the price of the Pottery Barn Kids woven baskets. It’s about 11 by 11 inches and 3 inches deep, so it should be big enough to hold a couple of books, some candy, and a few other Easter goodies. It’s also easy to sling over your shoulder at an egg hunt if you, like me, always end up carrying your child’s winnings.
Recyclable paper grass
Magic Water Supply Crinkle Cut Shredded Paper ($9 for a half-pound bag at the time of publication)
Plastic Easter grass, like Christmas tinsel, is a shredded, environmental mess you can’t recycle or ever truly get rid of. Strands of the stuff seem to live on forever—just the other day I found a wayward string outside my house, a hazard to local birds building their spring nests. Paper grass that you can recycle, such as Magic Water Supply’s Crinkle Cut Shredded Paper, is a better option for the planet and the local wildlife, and it comes in many saturated colors and metallics. You can buy half-pound, 1-pound, or 2-pound bags of this crinkly paper that will also delight the kids.
Festive, easy-to-spot Easter eggs
Joyin 72 Piece Plastic Easter Eggs ($17 at the time of publication)
I bought Joyin’s 72 Piece Plastic Easter Eggs assortment last year, and the prints filled my daughter’s Easter basket with personality. They stood out just enough in the backyard for a family egg hunt, and they stayed sealed and dry inside after a night in the Pacific Northwest damp. With 72 eggs in a box, there are also plenty left over to replace missing or broken pieces for years to come. We fill our eggs with coins and candy, but Wirecutter senior staff writer Lauren Dragan suggests Matchbox cars or clues to bigger gifts, and senior editor Erica Ogg likes filling them with pom-poms for very young children. If you’re not convinced about the prints, Joyin also makes a discotastic shiny gold version.
Real gold coins
One-dollar gold coins ($1 each at your local bank, or $11.50 brand-new from the US Mint)
Chocolate coins are often given at Easter, as well as on several other holidays, but swapping them for a few real gold pieces in an Easter basket adds a little holiday magic. Staff writer Nancy Redd says she picks up one-dollar gold coins from the bank for her kids. This was a new idea to me, so I called a couple of my local banks, who confirmed that they generally have some circulating gold coins available but suggested grabbing them early (lots of like-minded folks clean them out for Easter). If your bank runs out, or if you want to include a mint-condition coin, you can buy them straight from the US Mint in collector’s packaging. I’m picking up this New Jersey coin for my kiddo—it’s where we’re from originally, and it happens to be one of the first coins released in the US Mint’s new state series.
Classic chocolate eggs
Cadbury Mini Eggs ($10 for a 31-ounce bag at the time of publication)
My English husband grew up on Cadbury Mini Eggs at Easter, and they are much more civilized than the gooey Cadbury Creme Eggs I always loved or the Reese’s Peanut Butter Eggs some Wirecutter staffers prefer. The pastel candy coating keeps kids’ hands clean while they scarf down chocolate in their Easter best, and the eggs look classier sprinkled in an Easter basket than any brightly colored candy wrapper. The US version tastes a little different from the original British candies, but these are still delicious, bite-size chocolates.
Really good jelly beans
Jelly Belly Jelly Beans ($10 for a 2-pound bag at the time of publication)
Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor Beans (about $20 for a set of two 4.25-ounce boxes at the time of publication)
If Easter chocolates should be pastel and understated, then Easter jelly beans should be a riot of colors and flavors. Jelly Belly Jelly Beans deliver on both counts. A 2-pound bag offers 49 different flavors (and colors), including toasted marshmallow, chocolate pudding, and A&W root beer. If your kids are Harry Potter fans or just like being grossed out, Jelly Belly also makes Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor Beans, which include flavors like soap, earwax, and earthworm. Reviews say they have more bad flavors than good, but a few smart commenters have bought regular bags of jelly beans and mixed them in.
If you’re tired of toys and candy, give books
The Good Egg by Jory John and Pete Oswald ($11 for hardcover at the time of publication)
The Princess in Black and the Science Fair Scare by Shannon Hale and Dean Hale ($9 for hardcover at the time of publication)
National Geographic Kids Almanac 2020 ($16 for hardcover at the time of publication)
Percy Jackson and the Olympians Paperback Boxed Set by Rick Riordan ($25 at the time of publication)
If you want to avoid giving too much sugar or too many toys, there’s no reason the Easter Bunny can’t bring books. When I was a school librarian, my youngest students loved funny picture books with a seasonal connection, like The Good Egg. My first-, second-, and third-graders wanted action-packed, breezy chapter books like The Princess in Black and the Science Fair Scare, or big books of facts, like National Geographic Kids Almanac 2020. My older students wanted popular series books, like this Percy Jackson and the Olympians Paperback Boxed Set, so they could spend a lot of time with their favorite characters. For middle- and high-schoolers, give a gift card so they can choose their own books.
Eggs you can play with long after the holiday
Tomy Toomies Hide & Squeak Eggs ($15 at the time of publication)
When my daughter was a toddler, she was obsessed with a version of Tomy Toomies Hide & Squeak Eggs (ours didn’t squeak). We bought a lot of Tomy toys between the ages of 1 and 3 because they’re colorful and indestructible, and they remain in great shape when you’re ready to donate them or pass them on to the next kid. The eggs, recommended for kids 6 months and older, were among her favorites, and I love any toy that comes with its own storage case for kids this age—it’s so much easier to keep track of all the pieces!
Colorful chalk for sidewalk art
Crayola 48-Count Washable Sidewalk Chalk ($5 at the time of publication)
Easter brings the perfect season to make art outside (or maybe even inside) with some colored chalk. Wirecutter commerce operations coordinator Sany Begum says, “We don’t celebrate Easter, but my mom used to buy it for us for special occasions (because we used to draw on our walls). I loved it!” Our family always has Crayola sidewalk chalk lying around the house somewhere because the pieces are big and square for small hands, they’re pointed like pencils for more precise drawing, and the colors look great. If your kids make a giant mess on the driveway, it all washes away with a hose or a rainstorm.
A springtime stuffed animal
Pottery Barn Kids Lamb Plush ($25 for small, $35 for medium, $50 for jumbo at the time of publication)
An Easter basket isn’t complete without a stuffed animal perched inside, and I know from experience that Pottery Barn Kids has lovely, extra-soft stuffies that last forever. Bunnies and chicks are common springtime choices, but my daughter was in love with her Pottery Barn Kids Lamb Plush, which is just as appropriate for spring. We’ve had several “Lambies,” in two of the sizes, and for a while they went everywhere she went. I know they hold up to a lot of infant/toddler/preschooler love, and they still sit prominently on her shelves now that she’s in second grade—she still reaches for them now and then in her rotation of bedtime friends.
An easy card game
Uno (Tin Box) ($10 at the time of publication)
A card game everyone in the family can play during Easter downtime is a wonderful distraction between a morning sugar rush and a dinner feast. Several of our staffers love Uno, and we recommend it as a stocking stuffer, too. This tin-box set looks extra special, but there are so many designs available that your kids might love. Target has an exclusive Braille version, and we’ve seen Teen Titans Go!, Minecraft, Harry Potter, Disney’s Frozen II, Jurassic World, and Super Mario Bros. versions, among several others.
Board games for the whole family
First Orchard, ages 2 to 5 ($30 at the time of publication)
The Magic Labyrinth, ages 5 and up ($35 at the time of publication)
Kingdomino, ages 8 and up ($18 at the time of publication)
Board games are a no-brainer for family fun. Many families already have the classic games, but Wirecutter has loads of recommendations for kids board games that even some of the youngest family members can play, too. First Orchard helps teach preschoolers about turn-taking, while The Magic Labyrinth challenges elementary schoolers’ memories while they navigate a maze hidden under the game board. Kingdomino lets tweens, teens, and grown-ups (or game-savvy kids as young as 8) create different kingdoms using the basic concept of dominoes.
A big bottle of bubbles
Gazillion Bubbles Solution ($11 at the time of publication)
I’ve never met a kid who doesn’t love bubbles, and Gazillion Bubbles Solution has a full liter of liquid and a seven-hole wand for a lot of bubble fun. In our stocking stuffers guide, staff writer Ingrid Skjong says this solution won’t stain most clothes, and it produces stable spheres, so kids can watch them float for longer. It fits best in a larger Easter basket.
A Silly Putty egg
Crayola Silly Putty Bigg Egg ($5 at the time of publication)
Crazy Aaron’s Thinking Putty ($3 at the time of publication)
When I asked Wirecutter staffers for Easter basket ideas, senior staff writer Rachel Cericola said, “Silly Putty. Never gets old!” The huge, quarter-pound Crayola Silly Putty Bigg Egg will look impressive in an Easter basket, and it gets strong buyer ratings. Editor Marilyn Ong also recommends Crazy Aaron’s Thinking Putty, which comes in many, many colors—some with glitter.
Art supplies for every age
Do A Dot Art Rainbow Dot Markers, for preschoolers ($18 at the time of publication)
Tulip One-Step Tie-Dye Party Kit, for elementary-schoolers ($15 at the time of publication)
Prismacolor Premier Colored Pencils (24 count), for older kids ($16 at the time of publication)
No basket should be without fresh art supplies, an easy gift for children of almost every age on the Easter Bunny’s list. We recommend Do A Dot Art Rainbow Dot Markers in our gift guide for 3-year-olds because the colors are bright, the sticks are easy for little kid hands to hold, and making dots is fun and different. We recommend Tulip’s One-Step Tie-Dye Party Kit in our gift guide for 6-year-olds; the kit requires a little more parental supervision, but elementary-schoolers can make a lot of projects with the materials here. And Prismacolor’s Premier Colored Pencils (24 count) are our favorite colored pencils, whether you’re a tween, a teen, or a grown-up.
A make-your-own-stuffies kit
Klutz Mini Pom-Pom Pets ($15 at the time of publication)
If you don’t feel like giving your kids yet another stuffed animal, let them make their own instead. We recommend Klutz’s Mini Pom-Pom Pets in our gift guide for 8-year-olds, and the kit includes everything kids need to make 20 adorable, miniature poof balls. Grown-ups might need to help younger kids with a few steps, but they should be able to finish these creations on their own.
New PJs for the whole family
Hanna Andersson Long John Pajamas in Organic Cotton (about $45 at the time of publication)
Hanna Andersson Short John Pajamas In Organic Cotton (about $40 at the time of publication)
Hanna Andersson Sleeper in Organic Cotton (about $40 at the time of publication)
Hanna Andersson Adult Long John Top In Organic Cotton (about $45 at the time of publication)
Hannah Andersson Adult Long John Pant In Organic Cotton (about $45 at the time of publication)
Hanna Andersson’s long john pajamas are some of our favorites for kids and for grown-ups because they’re beautifully made, comfy, and designed to last forever. If you want a matching set for the family for Easter, the Bunnies Love Carrots and Rabbit Rider prints are a particular treat. The company has a few more Easter-appropriate styles available for kids only, but these two prints are just fine for outfitting the whole family. In addition to the sleeper, kids PJs, and adult top and pants, there’s also a shorts version for kids if the weather is warmer.
Soft bunny slippers
Dearfoams Furry Critter Clog (about $20 at the time of publication)
Bunny slippers feel like a natural fit for Easter, and the Dearfoams Furry Critter Clog is cute but understated. These slippers come in the best range of kids sizes I found (and I researched a lot of bunny slippers). They’re also memory foam padded, so they should be squishy and comfortable for kids’ feet, and they have indoor/outdoor soles that should withstand a moderate amount of abuse. They’re machine washable, too. With Kohl’s perpetual sales, you can probably score a pair for under $20—I’ve seen them as low as $15.
Wearable bunny ears
Pottery Barn Kids Bunny Ears ($17 at the time of publication)
Few things are more adorable than kids in animal ears, but you can find loads of cheap, tacky choices out there. The Pottery Barn Kids Bunny Ears rise above the rest, and they’re not too expensive. I’ve bought a lot of toys and holiday decorations from PB Kids because the quality is high, the stuff lasts, and it’s all cute. These ears, which come in taupe, white, and pink and have a fabric-covered band for extra comfort, are on my shopping list for my daughter this year.