Charlotte is at that magical age where she understands what a holiday is and gets wonderfully (or terribly) wound up with anticipation. Fortunately, her idea of a celebration is pretty simple. A few decorations, some special food, and a few surprises are really all it takes to make a holiday memorable and magical for her. As a first time mom I scoured Pinterest looking for adorable and exciting ways to celebrate holidays, but it turns out Charlotte gets just as worked up over store-bought decorations as hand-crafted pinwheels and flowers. So I thought I’d list a few tips I’ve figured out (or learned the hard way) for how to make your family Easter celebration simple but still special. Disclaimer: This is really just an excuse for me to write down and remember how we celebrated this year, but if you’re interested please read on. 😉
1. Take photos ahead of time (better yet, hire a professional!)
If you’re anything like me you feel a lot of pressure to capture special days in photos so that your kiddos will remember them. However, that pressure can make “day of” photo shoots super stressful. I’ve ruined at least one holiday (and strained my marriage) by trying to get that perfect family picture rather than just enjoying the celebration. Talk about an joy-stealer. This year I took advantage of my dear friend and talented photographer’s spring mini-sessions to get pictures in our Easter outfits. The photos turned out amazing, and it was such a relief to know that we already had great pictures, so I was not at all worried about getting formal shots on Easter.
2. Keep the decorations simple
In years past I’ve taken a lot of time to decorate for each season. In fact I think sometimes I went a bit overboard, and it ended up looking like spring had exploded all over our house. This year I filled some of my empty pitchers and vases with (fake) blooms, strung some bunny silhouettes I bought at the Target dollar spot into a garland for the mantel, and clipped some chalkboard eggs and bunnies (also Target) to my branch tree. That was it. I did most of the decorating the night before Easter, so C woke up to new pretties. She found this little surprise absolutely wonderful, and it really set the tone for the day.
3. Put a twist on a familiar recipe rather than making something complicated
We have a little tradition of making pancakes or waffles on the weekends for breakfast. I wanted to make our Easter breakfast special, but I wasn’t about to cook a big fancy brunch. Instead, I found some cookie cutters in spring shapes (flowers, butterflies, bunnies, eggs). Chris made pancakes as usual, and I cut them out into the different shapes. Charlotte was delighted. For dinner, since it was just us, we had a non-traditional meal of hot dogs and green beans. I did make a new recipe…deviled eggs with bacon (super yummy). Delicious, easy, and food that I knew Charlotte would actually eat. 😉
4. Start a simple but fun tradition
Since we attend church on Saturday nights, Easter Sunday was wonderfully relaxed. We started with breakfast, then I had the girls (Charlotte) hunt for their Easter baskets. For Valentine’s Day I made a little treasure hunt with clues for C to find her present, and she had so much fun I decided to do the same thing for her Easter basket. We gave her the first clue, then she hunted for a few more until she found her basket. We made the clues easy for her to figure out, and she was absolutely thrilled with the whole experience. I really didn’t want to fill the baskets with candy (really this was for me…I could eat jelly beans by the bag, and don’t even get me started on those Reese’s peanut butter eggs). Instead I found a few stickers/craft activities and a movie for Charlotte, and some board books for Tessa. Both girls got new (matching) pjs and sippy cups.
5. Plan a few activities, but leave plenty of open-ended playtime too
After finding the baskets we sent C to her room and hid a couple dozen eggs (indoors, since the weather was yucky). We filled half with chocolates for Charlotte (I’m not going to turn into the candy Nazi, no worries) and half with puffs and yogurt melts for Tessa. T didn’t quite understand what we wanted to her to do, but Charlotte happily found her eggs for her. Charlotte spent the rest of the day playing egg hunt, making sticker pictures, and just plain playing. We FaceTimed with my parents who are out of state right now, and Chris took Charlotte over to his parents in the afternoon for a bit (T had a runny nose and cough so I stayed home with her). We finished the day with dinner and watched C’s new movie.
Bonus tip: Be prepared for the post-holiday meltdown
We all fall into a bit of a slump after a celebration is over, and preschoolers feel this “it’s over” sadness very strongly. At least mine does. I knew she would lose it at some point, and sure enough it happened right at bedtime. Lots of tears, sobs, and drama. I’m not sure if there was a way to prevent the meltdown, but at least I was mentally prepared for it. I think it helps just to hold them and acknowledge that yes, it’s hard when the day is over, and yes, it’s ok to be sad. Then put them to bed with the usual routine and help yourself to a large glass of wine and some dessert. 😉