While I was growing up, my parents always took us kids to an epic Easter egg hunt every spring. It was nothing like what my son experiences where “everyone wins” with plastic Easter eggs stuffed with crappy candy, tops, tattoos, and erasers from China. It was an all-out competitive event with a couple thousand real eggs that had been hand-dyed and hidden in muddy fields and wooded areas. From what I remember, there were well over 100 competitors armed with their new pastel-colored spring jackets and Easter baskets. Amongst all of those hidden eggs there were a couple dozen or so prize eggs. The prizes consisted of silver dollars, oversized coconut cream eggs, and a chocolate bunny that was 3 feet tall. Each year us kids would wait at the starting line for the gun to sound so that we could all begin our frenzied battle for one of those precious prize eggs. When all was said and done, the lucky kids would retrieve and proudly show off their prizes. The not-so-lucky kids had the prize of a basketful of hard boiled eggs that, by this point in the event, were wet and sweating off their colors all over our eggy-smelling hands… I remember winning a silver dollar on a couple of occasions and a coconut cream egg and a small chocolate bunny one year. Now my sister – I’ll never forget that one year she won the 3-foot chocolate bunny. The crazy thing is, she never ate a bite of it, and she was completely unwilling to share a smidgen. It sat on top of our refrigerator until the 4th of July – a symbol of her Easter egg hunting prowess.
With the advent of plastic Easter eggs, I have been hard pressed to find a REAL Easter egg hunt for my son to attend. The modern day version is tamed to the point where I feel that the kids are missing out on something wonderful that I got to experience – the competition and the fact that not everyone wins every year, the messiness, the risk of food poisoning and the “real-ness” of it all.
The other problem I have with plastic Easter eggs is all of the waste. The real eggs would easily biodegrade and add nutrients back into the earth (because let’s get real, no one is eating all of those hardboiled eggs from the field). When it comes to the plastic eggs, I looked for literature on how long they take to biodegrade without success, but I do know that the average plastic water bottle takes about 450 years, so I’m guessing that it’s not good!
The important question, then, is what do we do with all these plastic Easter eggs? I’m not quite willing to say to my son, “sorry honey, no Easter egg hunt for you this year.” First, I think it’s good to reuse plastic eggs from year-to-year. The church that my son does his Easter egg hunt at will actually take the eggs back for reuse. Another thing you can do is try to find fun and creative uses for your plastic eggs. What I came up with this year was Upcycled No-Sew Toy Felt Eggs as part of my Playing with Food Series. My 5-year-old had a lot of fun with this project. He took it to his preschool for show-and-tell and apparently it was a huge hit amongst preschoolers and teachers alike, so I think the little ones in your life will have fun with this, too!
- printable egg pattern – Download the Pattern (PDF file)
- straight pins
- 2 pieces of 9″ x 12″ white craft felt
- 1 piece of 9″ x 12″ yellow craft felt
- 3 regular-sized cotton balls
- hot glue
- 1 upcycled small egg carton
- 6 leftover plastic Easter eggs of your choice
- Print and cut out the egg pattern.
- Pin the egg white pattern to the white felt and the egg yellow pattern to the yellow felt and cut out. Repeat this 5 more times.
- Cut 3 regular-sized cotton balls in half, and then glue 1 piece of cotton to the egg yellow with a dab of hot glue. Add a string of glue around the egg yellow and then glue it to the egg white. Repeat 5 times.
- Once the glue has cooled, place the six felt eggs into the plastic eggs and then arrange in a small egg carton.*
* Note: Be sure to use a clean egg carton.