Happy Easter! Kids love the thrill of an egg hunt, but for the 4-and-under set, the local town hunts aren't always the best bet. Toddlers need a little more time to locate and pick up eggs than your typical cutthroat fifth grader, which is why we host an annual toddler-friendly backyard egg hunt for my 2 year old and all her friends. This is a great party to throw as it's easy to prep for and all outdoor for simple cleanup. Here's what you need to host your own backyard egg hunt:
1. Get the supplies
I go egg shopping on Easter Monday when all the unsold eggs 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.
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 older kid won't collect 40 eggs before the little ones can even cross the lawn). I use these baskets, which hold about 10 eggs. Once kids fill them up, they move on to opening them 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 budget your money towards more eggs than towards high-ticket prizes. 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. I forego the whole "golden egg" for this age group. They don't really get the difference, and they won't understand why someone gets a big prize and they don't.
3. Send out the invitations
I invite everyone about three weeks ahead of time via email, and I pick a rain date just in case you get a washout. I like to have 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 toddlers, so their older ones shouldn't pick up all the eggs in thirty seconds, even though they probably could. 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 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 small spot behind the bushes), because if one finds an egg there they'll all be wedging themselves in. Then we gather at a place where there's no access to the yard (for us it was our deck), and wait for everyone to arrive before we open the doors. I take the opportunity to find any older siblings and explain that their job is to find all the really hidden eggs and let the babies pick up the easy lawn eggs.
We set out bagels, muffins, quiche, and juice, though we've found that the party time of 10am doesn't require a ton of food (we've all been up since 6, right?). We open the yard up and the kids go 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. Our last partier left around 12:30, and everyone had so much fun we can't wait to have another hunt next year.
This is a great annual party to have. It doesn't require many decorations, is easy to prep for, and you'll have supplies left over that you can recycle for next year. I put out 200 eggs and even though they were all claimed, at the end of the party I found I had almost a hundred pillaged empty eggs to reuse next year. Some even left the baskets behind, which means I'm already close to stocked up on supplies for next year. The treasures, however, were nowhere to be found (as they should be!)
ROCKIN JUMP MEETUP
Don't forget to join us tomorrow for our Mommy & Me Meetup at Rockin Jump at Ridge Hill from 9am to 11am. Come anytime between 9am and 11am for the Rockin Tots program. Kids under 6 have the run of the place from those hours. They get access to the entire play space. BabyGotChat has negotiated an exclusive discount of $15 for one parent and one child. Any extra children are $3. If you haven't been and need to buy their designated socks, it's $3 a pair. Parking is $3. Purchase tickets at the counter when you arrive and mention BabyGotChat for the discount. We look forward to having fun with you!