Just a few more weeks until Easter! If you’ve been checking out our big list of Westchester egg hunts, you know there’s lots of chances to scout for eggs. But for little hunters, those big events can be too fast and furious. I brought my 3 year old to one, and she didn’t get a single egg! She sat down and said dissapointedly, "Mama, I’m not very fast.” It broke my heart! I vowed not to bring her back until she was old enough to fend for herself.
So for the past four years, we’ve hosted an annual backyard egg hunt for all our friends under 6 years old. We’ve found the familiar faces and lack of older kids to snatch everything up have made for a perfect event that leaves everyone happy.
It's our favorite party to throw, as it's easy to prep for, doesn't require a ton of decorating, and since it's outdoors, cleanup is simple. If you make it an annual event, you'll be able to reuse most of your supplies each year too. Read on for tips on how to host your own awesome backyard egg hunt.
But first, we’re giving away free tickets to the 2019 New York Baby Show! This awesome annual event takes place on May 18 & 19 at Pier 94 will once again be the largest show for new and expectant parents in the country. It’s the perfect place to find out about new gear, test drive every stroller on the market, get lots of free swag, and sharpen your skills with guest speakers and seminars. Bring the kids! We are giving away tickets for you and your family to experience the show. Normal ticket price is $30 per family and $20 per individual. We only have 25 tickets to give away, so click here for yours!
How to Host Your Own Backyard Egg Hunt
1. Get the supplies
I go egg shopping on Easter Monday when the Easter supplies hit the clearance rack. If you don't want to prepare that far in advance, Oriental Trading and Party City have great deals on eggs, or try a dollar store. We average 8-10 eggs per hunter, and we make an announcement just prior to hunting that if anyone would like to leave their empty eggshells, we will reuse them next year. That helps us retain 90% or more of our eggs each year. Just make sure to pick up some goody bags to hold the egg hunt prizes.
You can ask kids to bring their own baskets, but I like to provide them with my own small baskets (smaller baskets also means that one kid won't collect 40 eggs before the littlest ones can even cross the lawn). I use these baskets, which hold about 10 eggs. Once kids fill up their basket, they’ll move on to discovering their treasures and leave the rest of the eggs for the other hunters. Which brings us to:
2. Stuff the eggs
Finding suitable egg stuffers for toddlers is tricky. Since everything you give them fits into a plastic egg, you are basically hosting a choking hazards party. I've managed to find toys and food that are fun and will work for all but the most determined of object-swallowers:
It's not really about what's inside, at least not at this age. Kids just love collecting the eggs, so aim your buget towards more eggs and prizes vs. high-priced egg fillers. Oriental Trading has some great deals that will give you a lot of prizes for the money. I got 72 bracelets for $6, and if you buy a giant bag of Malt-O-Meal Berry Crunch for about $4, you can stuff dozens of eggs. (sure, it won't be individually wrapped, but since you're with friends, you don't have to worry about hermetically sealing everything inside the eggs). Once most of the kids are past the everything-in-the-mouth stage, we go completely foodless and just feature nonedible prizes like spinning tops, fluffy baby chicks, and tiny toy cameras. We also really love these dinosaur eggs, which come prestuffed.
I forego the whole "golden egg" element for this age group. They don't really understand the difference or that they should be looking for the special egg first, and the rest of them won't be happy when only one child gets a big prize.
3. Send out the invitations
I invite everyone about three weeks before via email, and I pick a rain date just in case there's a washout. I like to schedule the hunt in the morning, when kids are less cranky and energy is high. I invite every toddler I know, and older sibs can come too. I just make sure the parents know it's geared toward the little ones, so their older sibs shouldn't pick up all the eggs in thirty seconds.
This party is truly "the more the merrier". I just make sure to stock up on those smaller baskets so I have more than enough for everyone. It's helpful to know who is coming so that you don't start the hunt early in case someone runs late (a perk you don't get at those town hunts!). I send out an email the night before asking to text me if they are running late so I can hold the hunt for them.
4. Start the hunt!
I lay out the eggs in the backyard, hiding a few in foliage for the older kids, but keeping most in plain sight. You don't need to clear the area. In fact toys and furniture legs have great hiding spots for eggs. I try not to put eggs anywhere I don't want kids going (like that muddy spot behind the bushes), because if one child finds an egg there they'll all be wedging themselves in.
After all the eggs are in place, we gather where there's no access to the yard (for us it's our deck), and wait for everyone to arrive before we open the gates. I take the opportunity to find any older siblings and explain that their job is to find all the really hidden eggs in the back and let the babies pick up the easy lawn eggs.
We set out bagels, muffins, donut holes and juice, though we've found that a starting time of 10am doesn't require a ton of food (we've all been up since 6, right?). We line the youngest ones up in the front, open up the yard and the kids run to load their baskets. After all the eggs have been found (which takes a while with toddlers), they have a blast in the yard playing with toys or discovering what's inside their eggs.
We even managed to borrow an Easter Bunny costume for a quick visit from Mr. Rabbit himself! Left to themselves in the yard, little ones will play until the naptime tantrums overcome them. We dole out the goody bags to hold the treats and treasures, and gather up the empty eggs and baskets to reuse next year.
It's that simple! The kids have a blast, the parents can relax, and your yard is clean again by the afternoon.
That's it for this week! Don’t forget to check out our 2019 Westchester Egg Hunt Guide for all the hunts near you. For more events and musings, follow us on Facebook and Instagram. And as always, check our website for events and our easy-to-navigate chart of every weekly kids library program in Westchester.
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See you next time!