Easter egg hunts were my absolute favorite as a child.
So imagine my disappointment when I took my peanut-allergic son to his first hunt and all of the eggs were stuffed with peanut-filled candies.
The Mini Recees Cups are in that flimsy foil, MnMs are free flowing and the generic candy from the big bins aren’t safe because of cross contamination.
We were only a couple months into J.C.’s allergy so at the time I didn’t realize how dangerous it was to just have him out there rubbing elbows with a whole bunch of 1 year olds with peanut-laced chocolate smeared over their hands, faces and in their buckets.
I started considering our options.
There’s a local hunt with only eggs. Well that happens to be one of the Top 8 most common allergens. What about those kids?
Then I started thinking about making a peanut-safe egg hunt. Goldfish-filled eggs? Well there goes inviting friends with milk allergies.
That’s when I realized the 1 in 9 children with food allergies need something a little safer.
That’s when I threw my first candy-free Easter egg hunt! I’m in year three this year and have more kids coming than ever.
Here’s the best part. It is SO not hard.
Here are the hacks I’ve learned to throw your own backyard Easter egg hunt.
1. Valentine’s Day Sales
On February 15th I scope out the shrinking Valentine’s Day sales at Target and Walmart. Depending on what’s left I’ll do one of two things. I’ll either start buying goodies right then. If there’s a lot of a certain item, I’ll try to wait it out for another deep discount.
This year, I scored ring erasers, bendable heart bracelets, Valentine’s Day tattoos and boxes full of stickers at 60% off. I got stuff for about 200 eggs for less than $20.
Yes, everything has a heart on it. But hey, love is year round. I am careful not to get things that say “Happy Valentine’s Day,” but even if I did – not a single tiny person coming to the hunt can read.
If you’re reading this too late for this year, consider cashing in on similar deals after Easter.
2. Stick to Stickers
I like to have a good amount of fun items like bouncy balls, bendable bunnies and the works, but stickers are a lifesaver. At the dollar store you can buy full booklets of stickers for – well, a dollar.
I usually cut these up into strips (or strange shapes around stickers) of about three stickers for each egg.
Bonus if the stickers you find are either Easter-themed, Disney-themed or BOTH! Last year the kids were loving Mater with Easter eggs.
I always have friends who are more than willing to help! So take your friends on up their offers. Tell them what you need – a couple packs of plastic eggs, some stickers or even the pricier items. Anytime you can save a few dollars – well, you can save a few dollars – I don’t need to elaborate here – haha.
4. The Magic Number
I really like to make sure all of the kids have a great time! I want them to leave with baskets full of eggs and huge smiles to match.
The magic number I’ve found to fill the average bucket – 20. I try to get around 20 eggs per kid. We’ve never had to count them or keep kids from getting too many.
5. Consider Different Ages
As my toddler has turned into preschooler the hunt has changed a bit. The biggest difference is the little siblings who have joined all of our preschooler friends.
Because of this, it’s a good idea to consider a “head start” or sectioned off area for the littles.
6. Get a Few Special Egg-Fillers
After filling the majority of the eggs with stickers and Valentine’s Day items – I add a few nicer giveaways. Okay, I’m saying “nicer,” but what I really mean is gift bag-type goodies. I’m talking bendable bunnies, spinning tops, bubbles and stampers. Those are always a big hit.
My favorite places to look – Walmart and Oriental Trading.
7. Keep It Safe
I told you I started this to give my son a safe alternative to your run-of-the-mill Easter egg hunt so I must mention this one. Once you have your guest list ready, make sure to call parents and ask if there are any allergies. Keep that allergy out of the picture.
If there are no allergies, then go for it… Mini Reece’s Cups and all.