In modern-day America, Easter is often celebrated with chocolate rabbits and Easter egg hunts. While these spring activities make for fun memories, they don’t align with the real meaning of the holiday. Easter is a celebration of the historical event of Christ’s resurrection and the fulfillment of God’s promises in Scripture.
Many Christians have started calling this holiday “Resurrection Sunday” to avoid associating it with the Easter bunny. However, changes don’t have to stop there. This year, why not combine the cultural tradition of gift-giving on Easter with a more focused celebration of the resurrection? Here’s a list of five ideas to get you started.
1. Resurrection Treats
Instead of filling your kids’ baskets with chocolate eggs, jelly beans and marshmallow Peeps, try shifting to resurrection-themed treats. This can be as simple or as complicated as you want – there are so many recipes out there that incorporate parts of the Biblical narrative into specialty goodies. Some families order specialty chocolate each year for Easter.
On Good Friday, bake cookies and decorate each rim with a light spread of nut butter and broken pretzel sticks to symbolize Jesus’ crown of thorns. For Easter, try baking resurrection rolls or cookies with a hollow interior to represent the empty tomb. You can also repackage traditional goodies with Scripture for a teachable moment.
2. Books and Devotionals
A book is something your child can return to and enjoy all day long on Easter. There are many children’s books that can help kids understand the resurrection. A few stories include “One Spring Lamb” by Anne Kennedy, “God Gave Us Easter” by Bergren and Bryant and “The Legend of the Easter Egg” by Lori Walburg.
These stories touch on elements like the Easter bunny and egg hunts, but they also explain the real meaning of Easter with stories and illustrations kids will enjoy. If you’re interested in books with more theology, try “The Garden, the Curtain and the Cross” by Carl Laferton and “The Biggest Story” by Kevin DeYoung.
3. Personalized Items
Not everything in your kids’ baskets has to be resurrection-themed. You can mix in some practical or personal items for variety and a fun surprise. For example, does your kid like Hotwheels, slot cars or similar toys? Get them themed gifts that align with their interests. You can also include practical items in your kids’ gift baskets. Consider adding flip-flops and other supplies for summer, like sunblock and new swimsuits.
Other personalized items can connect back to the Biblical narrative. For example, you can include a flower-growing kit or paper seed starters to celebrate new life. These can offer you a chance to discuss Jesus’ statement in John 12:24: “Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.”
4. Christian Media
Another way to fill your kids’ gift baskets is with new Christian media. For example, many families love listening to Christian audio dramas like Adventures in Odyssey, Jonathan Park Radio Dramas and the Brinkman Adventures. You’ll need to screen these dramas to ensure they’re appropriate for your specific kids’ ages and maturity levels.
For little kids, consider buying Veggie Tales DVDs that focus on Bible stories. Teenagers may enjoy films like the 2006 “One Night With the King,” which tells the story of Queen Esther, or the 2016 “Risen,” which documents Jesus’ resurrection. You can also purchase new music for your kids from the iTunes store or gift them a Spotify subscription, ad-free, for a year.
5. Resurrection Crafts
If your kids love to create, you can also fill their gift baskets with coloring books, stickers and activity packs. Order these online or create your own. For example, one easy craft requires you to trace your child’s handprint and then glue cotton balls to the paper to create a sheep. You can put the craft supplies in a little bag and tell your child about the lamb of God.
As your kids get older, you can transition from finger painting and popsicle sticks to more mature projects like baking, watercolor painting and constructing wood crafts. Older children will love getting new craft supplies that suit their interests. Creating together on Easter Sunday can become a family tradition that everyone enjoys.
The Greatest Surprise
You don’t have to eliminate Easter baskets to ensure your kids are celebrating the resurrection. Instead, combine this cultural tradition with items that put Jesus’ life in the forefront of their minds. Fill your kids’ Easter gift baskets with themed treats, Christian media and intentional craft materials that remind them of the historical events behind this holiday.
Instead of attributing these gifts to the Easter bunny, you can use these items to discuss Jesus and his resurrection. Read the Biblical story together and discuss how good surprises can feel. Then, remind your kids that Jesus’ resurrection was the ultimate surprise – a gift of God’s love that brings hope to a broken world.