Let’s face it, your kids are mostly in it for the chocolate. But as a parent you think about bigger things at Eastertime, like the meaning of the holiday, celebrating spring, building a community, and of course getting good pictures—plus chocolate bunnies, baskets of treats, kids in adorable outfits, and all those other Easter essentials.
If you’re up for doing just a pinch of planning, a group Easter egg hunt with your child’s friends, church mates, or neighbors can deliver all those things and more. Don’t worry, we’ve made it easy on you. Read on for a basketful of tips that will get those little bunnies hopping!
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Pick a date around Easter—the nearest weekend, maybe—and consider scheduling your hunt so it won’t conflict with Sunday morning services. Since spring weather is unpredictable, designate a rain date or have an indoor back-up plan.
Depending on the number of people you’re inviting, the backyard can be a perfect location for your Easter Egg Hunt. You might also consider reserving a picnic shelter at a local park.
In your invitation, be sure to let the other parents know:
- The time of the hunt and any specific activities, like age-specific hunts, games or snacks
- Whether guests should bring their own baskets, eggs and/or treats
- Your needs for volunteers to help wrangle kids, read stories, hide eggs, etc.
- The dress code—Easter finest, casual and comfortable, toddler bunny chic or something else?
It’s easy to go down a deep Pinterest rabbit hole as you plan your day. But there’s no shame in keeping things simple and classic.
Real eggs are great for small hunts, but the risk of one going unclaimed and stinking up a corner of the patio is high. The plastic kind are inexpensive and just made for larger Easter egg hunts.
When you’re figuring out numbers, start with a dozen per kid and go up or down. The tiniest hunters may be perfectly well occupied playing with a single empty egg all morning. Older kids may be more quantity driven. (You can solve all sorts of problems by setting limits on how many eggs each hunter can find—see below.)
You can fill plastic eggs with just about any small treats. Pro-tip: Seal them with a tiny bit of clear tape.
- Candy, from classic jelly beans and chocolate eggs to malt balls and gummies. No need to fill eggs to capacity—a few pieces in each egg is plenty.
- Tiny toys and trinkets. Consider hiding little stuffed animals, stickers, jewelry, school or craft items.
- Messages. Write or print jokes and riddles, drawings, Bible verses or cartoons on little slips of paper.
- Money. Make the eggs jingle with a few coins—or raise the stakes with higher value eggs for older kids.
- Special prizes: Make a special prize egg—maybe it’s gold or bigger than the rest—with more valuable treasure or a voucher to exchange for a bigger prize, like an Easter storybook, stuffed animal or a cute set of bunny ears.
If you want to make the hunt easier for kids with allergies, think about color-coding eggs so they know which ones to avoid.
Even if you’ve specified BYOBasket, it’s a good idea to keep a few extra baskets, bags or buckets on hand for those who forget, or for last-minute guests.
Set the scene with a fun banner and some simple Easter table-scapes. Check out our Easter decoration ideas here.
Since the Easter Egg hunt will yield plenty of sugary treats, fruit and veggie trays with dips may be a welcome sight. But we’re not going to tell you not to make these adorable Hallmark Easter snacks. And don’t forget the adults: Who doesn’t love a good deviled egg? Try one of these tasty variations on deviled eggs.
A lesson we’ve learned from experience: If the kids are released into the field before the hunt begins, they will start searching early. So unless you have a separate holding area, consider waiting to hide the eggs until after they’ve arrived.
Waiting for go time
If guests are bringing their own eggs, or if you’re waiting till after they arrive to hide everything, keep the kids busy while a few volunteer bunnies do their work. Potential diversions:
- Read an Easter story. (Like one of these.)
- Sing “Peter Cotton Tail,” “Little Bunny Foo Foo” and other interactive songs.
- Try an Easter craft, like decorating cupcakes or coloring (download some free coloring pages here).
Hiding the eggs
While kids are pleasantly distracted inside, send a few adults outside to hide the eggs. Obviously, different kids have different searching skills. Some tips on placement:
- Babies and toddlers: Make it super-obvious—put the eggs on top of the grass or nestle them up against a tree root, but keep them in plain sight.
- Little kids (3-5 years): Once they hit three, they get good at hunting. Challenge them with eggs hidden just under bushes, under swing sets and in other fun-but-kinda-obvious spots.
- Elementary school age: This is not their first rodeo. Get creative. Make them work for it.
Gather everyone for the main event, and let the kids and parents know how things are going to go down. If a free-for-all seems like a recipe for meltdowns, here are some ideas for keeping everyone happy.
Young children tend to hunt slowly and the bigger kids eagerly snatch up everything they see. To avoid tears, you can divide them into groups and send the hunters out in waves. To speed things up or keep bigger kids entertained, you might ask the older hunters to “help” younger ones.
To make extra sure the tiniest participants don’t leave empty-handed, keep a stash of eggs for parents to drop in front of their little ones to boost their confidence.
If fairness is your goal, set a limit on the number of eggs each hunter can find before they have to stop. After they’ve hit it, they can always use their expertise to help the amateurs. Or color-code the eggs by age to let bigger kids know the easy ones are off limits.
Parents and more grown-up attendees won’t have the spoils of their hunt to feast on. They’ll appreciate their own snacks and candy or a well-earned mimosa. And because we appreciate nothing more than a good photo op, we recommend making it easy for the revelers to commemorate their day. Set up a photo booth with gift-wrap or a pastel sheet as a backdrop—and maybe add some bunny-ear headbands.
No matter the number of eggs found or the amount of chocolate consumed, an Easter egg hunt is a wonderful way to spend time with your favorite people—with the added benefit of creating lifelong memories.