Easter Baskets Are Out Of Control––Why Is Everything A Competition Now?

by Rachel Garlinghouse
Originally Published: 

Are you seeing what I’m seeing on social media this week? Easter baskets are out of control. Like level two-thousand. Post after post of influencers are sharing their kids’ mega baskets, spilling over with expensive gifts, including athletic shoes, jewelry, gift cards, gaming systems, and gourmet candy. No doubt, these baskets are beautifully arranged. However, I want to know when Easter became Christmas’ competition.

I grew up in the eighties. Our Easter baskets contained a book, plastic eggs full of jelly beans, and a boxed, chocolate rabbit. That was it. The entire thing cost my parents maybe $10, and we were, every year, completely thrilled with our Easter haul. I know, it’s like forty years later, but I still don’t understand why Easter has become a holiday that rivals Christmas morning.

Some of us head to church, wearing cute outfits, making sure to snap a few family photos. We have an Easter dinner and a visit from the bunny. Throw in an egg hunt or visiting someone wearing a creepy Easter bunny costume. Oh, and there’s the infamous dyeing of Easter eggs where the whole house smells like vinegar and, well, egg.

Newsflash and sigh of relief. You aren’t obligated to get your child a gaming system, or even a game. Your child doesn’t need that designer belt or bag, nor do you have to purchase gift cards, a new pair of earrings, or even cold hard cash. You also don’t owe them the nicest chocolates you can find in the store.

This year I also spotted lots of Valentine baskets and St. Patrick’s Day baskets online, each spilling over with red, pink, and later, green goodies. Let me tell you, my kids each get a book and a marshmallow chocolate for Valentine’s Day. For St. Patrick’s Day, nothing. Well, I did make Irish soda bread. Does that count?

I love holidays, and I always have. I will go all out for Christmas. Cookies, music, decorations, and the four-gift rule for presents. What I won’t do is color-coordinate my children’s gifts, snap photos of them, and then post those on social media for applause from strangers. I find it so strange that these photos get any likes at all. They are hardly the norm for families, and they are just a shameless brag post. No, thanks.

I want my children to love holidays for the experience they offer, not solely focusing on the gifts they receive (if any). Furthermore, I’m well-aware that many people cannot go “all out” on holidays. Being able to create a magical, perfectly flawless gift spread for children is privileged.

I wish we could bring back the standard 1980s Easter. Let’s make a ham and potato dinner (or whatever your family’s vibe is), wear something pastel, and have an Easter egg hunt in the yard after church. Those eggs can contain coins, stickers, and candy. Then each kiddo can dump their grabs into a pile and trade, post trick-or-treating style. (Oh the thrill of the candy trade!)

Easter doesn’t have to be Christmas-on-steroids or even come close to competing with Christmas. Let that guilt go.


Getty Images/iStockphoto

Even if you can afford to create an elaborate basket of goodies for your kiddo, why do it? Why allow kids to believe that their holiday joy hangs in the balance unless they receive a basket heavy enough to weight lift with? Maybe take that extra dough and support a worthy cause, put together baskets for those in need, or host a socially-distanced celebratory meal for others?

I am truly thankful for this spring holiday, especially this year as we continue to weather the pandemic. However, my kids aren’t getting loaded down baskets spilling over with toys, apparel, gift cards, or anything else. In fact, I follow in my parents’ tradition and get my kiddos a book, a small toy, and of course, something sugary. We can’t wait to have an egg hunt—which will no doubt include some of the Easter candy my husband and I like. Bring on the Cadbury eggs!

The reality is, money can’t and never has been able to buy happiness. If your kiddos’ Easter baskets look like mine, pat yourself on the back. You’re doing a good job. There’s no reason to think that you are failing your children if they don’t receive a paycheck’s worth of goodies brought to them, supposedly, by a rabbit. You can make this holiday special without breaking the bank.

There’s no doubt in my mind that now, more than ever, we have to be mindful that the pandemic has changed a lot of our financial situations. Therefore, it’s given us the opportunity to prioritize and to find joy in simple activities rather than in stuff. I know, that sounds cheesy and cliche–but it’s true.

If you, like me, have found your newsfeed flooded with too many over-the-top Easter basket images, do yourself a favor and unfollow. You don’t need that kind of privileged toxicity in your life. Get your kiddos a few things and let them be happy with the fact that EB stopped by. While you’re at it, get yourself something yummy and relish in the joy of Easter rather than in jealousy of what someone else did. You don’t need that kind of negativity in your life—and neither do I.

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