It’s official: The Peeps are out, so it’s time to get a head start on Easter. If you are a regular reader here, you know that curating lists of cool tiny shit is my jam. I take this job seriously and spend far too much time searching high and low for the coolest stuff kids will love that stands out from the regular ‘ol trinkets lining the store aisles. Not that there’s anything wrong with that stuff–Dash is completely infatuated with Chapsticks, so he’s getting a pre-packaged plastic egg full of Bonne Bells, and he’s going to love it. I love filling baskets with treasures that will last and things my kids will really love and play with, so I dig, dig, dig for the good stuff. Also, I have a thing for children’s literature, I love to tuck a new book in my kids’ Easter basket, and this list gives me the excuse to gush about my newest kid book loves. With no further ado, here’s my Top 20 Picks for Easter Basket Goodies:
1. Over and Under the Pond. Published just this week, this book is perfect for spring. A work of art and a magic combination of author and illustrator, this follow-up book to Over and Under the Snow and Up in the Garden and Down in the Dirt disguises a wealth of information as sheer poetry. From “light-dappled leaves on shore” to drowsy turtles and scuttling crayfish, this story paints a picture from sunrise to sunset of all the happenings hidden in pond life and is a joy to read out loud.
2. Love Is. With sweet illustrations and simple but powerful text, this book describes the cycle of love in motherhood through the story of a little girl who finds a tiny duckling, raises it and eventually has to let it go. Try and not cry with your kids snuggled next to you–their feet poking out of footie jammies they’re too quickly outgrowing–while you read this part: “Love is nudging, gently tugging, coaxing baby from the nest. It’s getting to the edge and hoping, letting nature do the rest.”
3. Little People, Big Dreams: Frida Kahlo. If you don’t know this series, you need to. The stories of all the great thinkers and dreamers and doers of the past, presented in kid form, with fun illustrations and the important lessons highlighted: “Frida Kahlo taught the world to wave goodbye to bad things and say ‘Viva la vida…’ ‘Live life.'”
4. The Littlest Family’s Big Day. Emily Winfield Martin is one of my favorite children’s authors and illustrators (Have you seen The Wonderful Things You Will Be? Gah!). Long after you read the text on each page of this story, you’ll still be studying the pictures, pointing out every sweet little detail that brings this story to life. Let’s just say there’s a woodland creature party at the end and tiny gnomes are singing campfire songs, squirrels wearing itty bitty hoodies are roasting marshmallows, and a garland of firefly jars lights the scene. I can’t even.
5. Things to Do. This brand new book from Chronicle (Chronicle ALWAYS delivers. Always.) makes me want to be a teacher again. Its poetry and gorgeous soft illustrations makes it perfect to stand alone simply as a favorite book to read out loud, but there’s more–literacy lessons and word patterns and a buffet of beautiful adjectives and juicy verbs that help kids learn how to recognize and write good sentences. A great take on perspective: “Things to do if you are an acorn. Wear a bumpy, round cap and a starched brown coat. Grow, plump, ripen, snap from your stem… Or “Things to do if you are rain. Polka dot sidewalks. Freckle windowpanes. Whoosh down gutter spouts. Gurgle into drains. Patter ’round the porch in slippers of gray.” COME ON. This is beautiful.
Alright, alright, I’ll stop gushing about kids’ books. Moving on…
6. We Go Together Pop-Up Notecards from Chronicle. Technically, it’s still from Chronicle, so we’re blurring the line of books here. This is definitely one of those gifts you get for your kid but kind of hope they forget about it so you can claim ownership. But, for the sake of Easter baskets, let’s say you’re buying these because you know your kid will love them and be more inclined to write sweet notes to their friends and grandparents. Trust me, they will when they see how cool these are. The outside of every notecard begins the same: “We Go Together Like…”, but the real magic lies inside…a pop-up of the cutest pairs–salt & pepper, milk & cookies, coffee & donuts…Adorable.
7. Unicorn Snot. Lainey found this in a cute boutique in Vail, and I pretended to be all “Oh, you don’t need that…” but really I was all “Put that back, you’re getting it in your Easter basket.” It’s a shimmer glitter gel they can put in their hair or on their face to get all Ariana Grande (wait, does Ariana Grande sparkle? I don’t know, but I’m guessing she does because she’s Ariana Grande.). Cool enough on its own, but then they named it “Unicorn Snot” to be even cooler and get more sales.
8. Dress-Up Bath Tub Stickers. Always on the hunt for cool tub toys that are age appropriate, I love these and know Nella will too.
9. Manhattan Toy Baby Doll in Bunny Sleeper. The doll itself is adorable–simple design, sweet little features, cute stripey pajamas. And then they went and tucked her in a bunny sleeper. You win, Manhattan Toy. YOU WIN. Easter baskets are begging for this baby.
10. Rainbow Clip-In Hair Extensions Set. My girls are going to lose their shit. I’m just sayin’. (I’m giving these to them early because we are going to Weeki Wachee next week, and mermaid theaters call for mermaid hair.) They clip in nice and tight with real wig clips. Let’s just say I may have ordered an extra set for….*cough*me*cough*.
11. Wood Tetris Game. This is my recommendation for the year. In fact, I’ve recommended it to three of my friends after we fell in love with it, and they all bought it and came back to me saying, “Oh my God, I love this, I’m buying it for gifts forever now.” Buy two because we have races to see who can finish theirs first, and that’s what makes it fun (Lainey’s getting GOOD). We keep them on our kitchen barstools, and they get used ALL the time. Neighbors who stop by too.
12. Prismacolor Colored Pencil Set. I always love to tuck an art supply in the Easter basket, and these colored pencils are the best of the best. They come in a cute little tin too. Want a cute bunny coloring book to go with it? The cover design on this one is kind of awful, but the coloring pages inside are really cute.
13. Bunny PJ’s. I got these for the kids for spring jammies and then loved them so much (snug, super soft, cute and inexpensive), I called Heidi to tell her about them because friends tell friends about cute kid jammies. Yesterday she called me after they arrived with, “Holy crap, you weren’t kidding. These are amazing!”
14. Hatchable Pet Chick. You can never go wrong with an egg that hatches a fake rubbery chick. Always a win.
15. Folkmanis Chick Finger Puppet and Bunny Finger Puppet. Folkmanis makes the best puppets, and their finger puppets are my favorite–totally lifelike but tiny and cute. Their chick and bunny has “Easter Basket Approved” stamped all over it.
16. Hatley Bird Umbrella for Kids. Welcome spring with a pretty new umbrella for your kids. This one’s covered in vibrant birds, and everything Hatley makes is meant to last (even through Dash).
17. Masha and Her Sisters Board Book. Okay I lied, another book. And it’s from Chronicle too. This one’s good for the littlest tykes–a board book. But the cutest board book ever–a matryoshka doll.
18. KrazyStraws Personalized Name Straw (THE BOMB!). For $5, you can have your kids’ name stretched into a krazy straw (a little more for names over 6 letters). Not only will your kid love it, it makes for some adorable pictures. And if you have multiple kids, you can ditch the name tags on the baskets and have these straws tucked in each one to identify whose basket is whose.
19. Snake-in-a-Can Prank Jelly Beans. So, this was supposed to go in Dash’s Easter basket but got pulled out early because I’m married to a prankster. My mom is visiting, we offered her some jellybeans, and–oh my God, I died. Never not funny. Unless you give it to someone with congestive heart failure. Don’t do that.
20. Beanboozled Jelly Bean Game. No better way to celebrate “Christ is Risen” than deciding if your jelly bean flavor is booger or juicy pear. This game brings howls of laughter (and possibly gagging) every time we play it. Great for preteen Easter baskets.
*Also, if you’re looking for a book to tuck in the basket of a little bit older kid, we’re reading Flying Lessons right now, a collection of short stories published in partnership with We Need Diverse Books. I couldn’t love this book more. It introduces so many wonderful themes and conversation starters on uniqueness from skin color to social class and celebrates how we are all more alike than different.