En español | Easter means blooms on trees, green grass and children hunting for eggs. For grandparents, that presents the opportunity to do something special for their grandchildren, no matter their age.
Jill Bowler of Orem, Utah, holds an Easter egg hunt in her backyard for 15 grandchildren, ages 18 months to 15. “You always have to be creative to capture all of the ages,” says Bowler, whose brood calls her Nana.
Bowler and other grandparents say it's important to be creative and flexible in organizing Easter egg hunts. The traditional search in the yard for plastic eggs filled with jelly beans and chocolate is great, but it can get a makeover to add new and fun elements.
1. Get beyond traditional candy
Put puzzle pieces inside the eggs and, once all the eggs are found, assemble pieces as a family. You can add raffle tickets to eggs for special Easter gifts. You can create a scavenger hunt with a series of clues inside that lead to Easter baskets.
2. Take age into account
However you do it, Bowler said it's important to tailor the experience for the interests, ages and needs of the children.
With a wide age range among her grandchildren, Bowler has found new ways to keep the oldest children engaged. Once they outgrow the basic Easter egg hunt, she asks them to hide the eggs. “They like hiding them for the little ones and helping them split them in half once they find them,” she says.
Bowler also creates eggs tailored to specific ages. This year there will be helium balloons attached to a string and tied to eggs intended for the toddlers. The balloons make it easy for them to find, and their eggs include toys and candy appropriate for them inside.
3. Consider dietary needs
Bowler's grandson Jack has food allergies. So Bowler adds special camouflage-colored eggs with specific treats and toys for him. Even in the mad dash to collect eggs, the cousins understand to leave those treasures for Jack to pick up.
4. Create a socially distanced egg hunt
Even though many families will be able to be together on Easter this year, others may be not be ready to meet face-to-face. Even the White House has canceled its traditional Easter egg roll.
If you live near your grandchildren, you can still design a socially distanced Easter egg hunt. Last year, Bowler created a surprise Easter egg hunt for a group of grandchildren at their home. She hid the eggs in their yard and left a note on the door with a poem saying that “the hunt goes on just the same.” She also let them know the number of eggs they would find.
And if you are unable to travel to visit out-of-town grandchildren, Bowler suggests sending a care package filled with Easter grass and eggs for them to find, an idea she outlined on her Adventures in NanaLand blog.
5. Factor in games
Games are a good alternative for tweens and teenagers who have outgrown Easter egg hunts.
For her older grandchildren, Bowler is creating a competition to see who can create the tallest stack of the halves of plastic Easter eggs in one minute. She'll also create two-person teams for a Peeps shaving cream challenge. One team member will wear a shower cap covered with shaving cream. The partner will throw the marshmallow treat and try to get it to stick to the shaving cream.
Go beyond Easter eggs
For calmer activities for all ages, Bowler recommends reading books with an Easter theme, engaging children in cooking the Easter meal, or going for a walk where everyone points out things in nature that start with each letter in the word “E-A-S-T-E-R.”
Here are some additional games and activities from experts to help you have fun with your grandchildren on Easter:
- Use glitter foam and clothespins to make a peekaboo bunny. Find the directions here.
- Plant seeds and transplant the seedlings into a garden after they sprout.
- Make Easter ornaments and decorate an Easter tree.
- Tell “egg-citing” jokes with Easter puns.
David J. Hoff is a contributing writer who covers family life, health and education stories for national publications. A former reporter and editor for Education Week, his work has appeared in The Washington Post, the Washington City Paper and other publications.