Jesus Baskets

I have a confession to make.

Hi. I’m Whitney. And I prefer Easter over Christmas.

I certainly adore Christmas- the lights, the food, the gifts, the traditions. And I feel the spirit very strongly during the season. But OH MY HECK is it a ton of work. If you know me, you know that I’m a minimalist, I’m a homebody, and I’m cheap. Christmas stretches me.

But then there’s Easter (happy sigh).

I feel the spirit of Christ SO strongly during Easter time, and I don’t have to do HALF the work or spend HALF the money or leave my house HALF as often as I do at Christmas. I absolutely love it.

I love walking with the Savior through the last week of His life. I love the excitement of Palm Sunday. I ache for Him in Thursday’s garden. I feel sick to my stomach all day on Good Friday. And then, when Sunday morning FINALLY comes,  I walk into my chapel and cry. I feel SUCH relief that His suffering is over and I want to throw my hands in the air and yell, “Hallelujah! HE IS RISEN!!”

Oh, I love Easter.

 I want my kids to love it too, for the same reasons I do.  And because of that, I want everything we do on Easter to connect to Christ. I’ve heard of some families who do their Easter eggs hunts and Easter baskets on Saturday, so Sunday morning can be focused on Christ. I considered that, but decided that might make me a little sad. I really want my kids to look forward to Easter SUNDAY more than the Saturday-before-Easter-Sunday. I want Easter SUNDAY to be the big deal– but not because of Blu-ray discs or bubbles or candy. I want my kids to go to bed Saturday night with butterflies in their tummies because they’re excited to celebrate the resurrection.

But how? How do we keep the excitement of Easter, PLUS the spirit of Christ, MINUS the commercialism?

It’s a tricky equation, and the answer is surely different for every family. But I’d love to share with you one of the things we do in OUR family:

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Jesus Baskets look a lot like Easter baskets. They are full of color and candy and eggs. But everything in a Jesus Basket is either a symbol OF, or brings us closer TO Christ (did I not just sound like Elder Bednar there??) The idea is to replace the trinkets, toys, bubbles, jump ropes, money, plane tickets (or whatever it is kids are getting in their baskets these days) with items that have a connection to the Savior.

Here are some examples of items you could include in a Jesus Basket:
-scripture bookmark
-CTR ring, wristband, or necklace
-hand written testimony of Christ from each parent
-small picture of Christ to hang on their mirror or locker
-new journal
-talk on cd (John Hilton III and Hank Smith are my kids’ favorites)
-tithing bank
-scripture marking pencils
-Christ centered/uplifting music or movie
-picture book of Christ
-new tie/tie tack/hair bow for church
-quiet book for church
-package of thank you notes
-new scripture case
-picture of the temple for their bedroom
-Christ or scripture themed puzzle or game
-mini-copy of Preach My Gospel (have you seen these? 4 bucks. And adorable.)
-mission prep, priesthood prep, or baptism prep materials
-pocket sized hymn book
-pack of pass along cards
-mom-and-me journal
-gospel centered book (there are SO MANY fun gospel books for teens and kids. See?)
-magnets to hang primary/nursery coloring pages on the fridge
-white handkerchief for temple dedications
-blank family pedigree chart and a fun pen
-collection of family history stories
-stationary to write letter to Grandma or missionaries
-scripture hero action figures
-scripture activity books (dot to dots, crossword puzzles, etc)
-Jesus/temple/scripture stickers
-prayer rock or rug

And of course, you add lots of candy, eggs, and the annoying Easter grass that ends up all over the house. I always have so much fun daydreaming about what to put in our Jesus Baskets.

Obviously this can be as elaborate or as simple as you like. I can already see Crafty Mom working on her scripture cases made from Capri Sun pouches. And Coupon Mom is going to think of lots of things she can do for free or cheap. The possibilities are endless! Before we began doing Jesus Baskets, I discovered how easy it was to spend a ridiculous amount on candy and cheap little toys and trinkets. I would much rather spend my money and time on meaningful items that point to Christ.

One last confession: My kids love this tradition so much that my husband and I decided we didn’t really need the Easter Bunny anymore. I have ZERO problem with the bunny, but honestly, one less pretend-holiday character makes my life easier (I’m not Holiday Mom, remember?) If the EB is a cherished member of YOUR family, you could just have HIM deliver the Jesus Baskets. Easy peasy.

In a nutshell (eggshell?), Jesus Baskets help our family celebrate Christ. His life, His teachings, His love, His atonement, and His resurrection. My kids look forward to their baskets on Sunday morning, and I love having our thoughts and hearts turned to Him long before we arrive at church. Are you doing a happy sigh right now? Ahhhhh. I can almost taste the peeps.

Have a beautiful Easter.

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  • Wendy - I LOVE this idea. I always try to incorporate Christ in Easter Baskets, but this is SO. MUCH. BETTER. I love it!ReplyCancel

  • rachelle - I’m Rachelle. I’m an Easter over Christmas gal too. (Whew! What a relief to have that in the open!) We do a treasure hunt (hide clues in plastic eggs) and the treasure is similar to your Jesus basket. Very exciting! 🙂ReplyCancel

  • Becky Swick - We’ve always tried to emphasize the death, burial, resurrection of Jesus on Easter with Christ centered gifts in the Easter basket- you’ve got a great list to help out! Another idea that we plan on using again this year is a set of the Resurrection Eggs. They’re a really interesting and clever way to tell the story of Christ- the kids love them! You can buy a set already made on get ideas to make them on your own.ReplyCancel

  • beth - Brilliant! I love that you are deliberate about each item in the basket. Being “last minute mom” I am thankful for the early reminder to get Easter planned already, making it more meaningful. And I like the idea of looking forward to Easter Sunday (for so many reasons). This goes so well with the YM/YW theme for the year. I see lots of Christ-coloring pages and fun crayons and pens for my little ones in their baskets (thank heaven for printables since we live overseas).ReplyCancel

  • Destinee - I love this idea so much and especially for all the great ideas of what to include!! Thanks!ReplyCancel

  • Natali - I love that you shared this! I always get each of my kids a new church book and other items from Deseret Book to include in their Easter baskets. They love this and it helps them remember what Easter is really all about. Thanks for sharing your great ideas and beautiful thoughts. My 4 year old daughter and I love listening to your uplifting music!ReplyCancel

  • Jesse - Love this so much. I cut out the Easter bunny last year and my kids are still really young. EB is pointless to me and I love the Christ centered gifts instead of crap toys. These are all great ideas! Thank you!ReplyCancel

  • kourtney - Great idea! We are a no bunny no Santa family (we occasionally do eggs and trees. Sometimes.) This is a great way to keep the holiday focused in Christ and help my kiddos not feel left out when their friends get fun baskets.ReplyCancel

  • Debs - hi
    thanks for sharing this, i’ve just seen it via a share from sugar doodle on fb and knew it was just what i was looking for for my 9 yr old son!
    debsReplyCancel

  • emily - Another great place to get basket fillers is LDSGreats.com! They have primary & youth wristbands, Articles of Faith cards, youth 2014 theme cards, priesthood cards, pencils, Families Are Forever vinyl, bookmarks, & YW value cards. Great idea!ReplyCancel

  • Jenn - Thanks for all the great ideas to put in the baskets. Going to use some of these! We use this book as a family and the kids (ages 0-10) so look forward to Easter week!! So many great ideas you can adapt to your family:

    http://deseretbook.com/Christ-Centered-Easter-Day-by-Day-Activities-Celebrate-Week-Joe-Janet-Hales/i/4253892ReplyCancel

  • Brittany - Whitney you are adorable! I love your ideas! We celebrate Easter Family Traditions on Saturday and our Sunday is filled with the Savior and just us as a family. We love to read through our “Easter Egg Scriptures” Each egg has a scripture and a small token to remind us about the scripture we are talking about. We do not and have not ever had the EB in our lives and it’s been a gentle sweet tradition that has helped us to stay focused on the Savior. I love your enthusiasm and love for the holidays and his special spirit that comes. Testifying of his Divinity and Truth. I hope that your family has a GLORIOUS Easter full of wonderful Family Traditions!ReplyCancel

  • Katié - I have no children, not for lack wanting, nor nieces or nephews, because of cancer, but I do have the most INCREDIBLE husband (he’s a big kid at heart). Each holiday we love to surprise each other with things of that season. Sometimes holidays are really hard because of no kids. Yet this is the best idea EVER. I can not wait to surprise him with a Jesus basket. Thank you so much for posting it. It is already making it easier to get through this holiday without having special little ones running all around. My heart is touched, thank you.ReplyCancel

  • Laura - Your Jesus baskets are beautiful! Last year I also made some Christ-centered Easter baskets for my kids. I used my usual type of gifts in the baskets and paired them with scriptures about Jesus to be read as the basket is opened. You can find the ideas along with Free Printables of all my scriptures here:http://fhelessons.wordpress.com/2013/03/21/christ-centered-easter-baskets/ReplyCancel

  • Amy - I do the same thing!!! I tell my kids that the Easter Bunny knows the true meaning of Easter. And I always get my kids some new church clothes… Costs a bit more but by this time they need some fresh stuff.ReplyCancel

  • Cynthia - We have done these for 12 years now. My kids love them every year!! 🙂ReplyCancel

  • “Jesus Baskets” instead of “Bunny Baskets” | Carmen's Voice - […] More than Christmas, which is probably completely opposite of most people, like my good friend Whitney from “Mercy River.” But I get stressed because I never know what to put in those darn […]ReplyCancel

  • Candice - You put my thoughts into words perfectly! Thank you for sharing this idea!ReplyCancel

  • Celebrating the Savior: 25 Easter Traditions to Start This Year - […] 25. Give “Jesus-baskets” on Easter morning–I know many families that like to give Easter baskets on Easter morning. Please don’t say they are from some fictional bunny. Pretty please. Turn your bunny-themed baskets into Christ-centered baskets. You could still give the jelly beans and Peeps, but you could also add some thoughtful gifts that focus on Easter and Jesus. For a great explanation of this tradition and possible gift ideas see here. […]ReplyCancel

  • How to Celebrate Easter HOLY WEEK » Mercy River - […] mentioned before that Easter is my favorite holiday.  For years, our family celebrated Easter the same old way- an […]ReplyCancel

  • Kinlee Brittany - So fun! Our family does a variation on this, we do ‘Prophet Baskets’, where we fill the baskets with quotes, photos and books written by the prophets, from Joseph to Thomas. The kids really don’t like it much, but it makes us feel more worthy somehow.ReplyCancel

  • Susie - Love the fact that your crafts are centered around Christ.ReplyCancel

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