In no particular order, here are the top five things children love about Easter: chocolate, chocolate, chocolate, chocolate and chocolate. The message of renewal and rebirth is lost on them, you could try explaining it but they’ll just be thinking about an egg the size of their head filled with Smarties.
For the sake of their teeth this needs to change – after all, how many does one kid need? Eight (a record in my house) seems excessive. But what are the alternatives? Here are a few ideas.
1. Behold the Lego Easter bunny
Nobody is entirely sure what rabbits have to do with the (alleged) resurrection of Christ, but don’t let that stop you milking that bunny for all it’s worth. Most children love the universally popular building blocks, and here they get a seasonal twist. Job done. Lego Easter Bunny
2. Build your own soft toy
If your child is more into crafting than construction, a stuffed toy kit could be just what they need to distract them from their sugar craving. And you get to spend quality time together making it. Build-A-Bear also has a fine range of rabbits if you’d rather your kid spent quality time with a shop assistant while you have a sit down.
3. Get an actual rabbit
What excites a small child more than eating his or her own body weight in chocolate? That’s right, a pet! If you’re already thinking about getting one, now could be the moment to hop in. But remember a rabbit’s for life, not just for Easter.
4. Jump on the slime train
Let’s face it, children are weird. What other explanation is there for the slime zeitgeist sweeping the nation’s six to 10-year-olds? A useless substance that does nothing but make fart noises when pushed into a pot (ok there’s your explanation). Luckily where there’s an irrational obsession there’s a present-buying opportunity and, even better, you can buy slime packaged inside an egg.
5. Grow an egg plant
This has everything you could want from a sugar-free Easter gift. It comes in egg form, it chimes with apt themes of new beginnings and it’ll teach your little one about the importance of carefully nurturing fragile young life. And then eating it (unless you choose the cactus option). Eggling
6. Egg hunt reloaded
The traditional chocolate egg hunt can blow all your good intentions out of the water. You’ve strived to limit your children’s intake, then they’re invited to an Easter party where, unleashed, they fill an entire basket full of them and scoff a load along the way. Not to mention the caramel they inject into their eyeballs as soon as you’re out of sight.
So organise your own hunt and get creative with the treasures. For instance, hide pieces of a puzzle in various plastic eggs – the kid who completes the puzzle first wins a healthy omelet (other prizes are available).
7. Get your bake on
Youngsters love baking. It combines the holy trinity of childhood pleasures: making a mess, not tidying up and eating food with no nutritional value. But this way you get to control what goes in the treats while simultaneously entertaining your kids, taking another chunk of time out of the long, long school holidays. Grab yourself some Easter cookie cutters and knock out a few seasonally-relevant biscuits – a batch of shortbread chicks or an oaty crucifixion scene, say.
8. Turn over a new page
There’s nothing more nourishing than a good book. Your child will probably disagree with this, but in the long run they’ll thank you for encouraging a reading, rather than chocolate, habit. It might be worth reminding them that developing a sweet-tooth at an early age is a one-way ticket to dental calamity and, possibly, crack addiction. Anything tenuously linked to this time of year will do, think Pip and Posy rather than a hardback version of the Easter story.
9. Endure Peter Rabbit
It may not have wowed the critics and James Corden may not be your cup of Tizer, but in my experience the less reviewers like a film the more my kids love it. Also, by going to the cinema you’re buying yourself two hours of blissful peace in the dark. Read the full film review here
10. Take a trip
Theme parks, country houses, museums… they all know you’ve got kids to entertain and are falling over themselves to help. National Trust properties come alive during school holidays in a sedate, hiking boots and fleeces kind of way. Admittedly this normally involves an Easter egg hunt but they also put on crafts and nature trails that’ll keep your little ‘uns more wholesomely amused.
Or complete the Lego circle by taking your child and their new Lego bunny (see above) to LegoLand, which has a bonanza of Easter activities on offer.
Chris Windle is a journalist, writer and editor who’s contributed to The Times, The Telegraph, The Guardian, Mother and Baby and more. He’s also written two books and is father to three children, including twin boys. He is always tired.