Double Duty Easter Baskets - Share the holiday with adult friends and family
People always say Christmas is a child's holiday. So what about Easter? Myself, I think children make any holiday special, because sharing traditions with kids helps capture holiday spirit. However, I'm also one of those people that likes to recreate childhood holiday experiences, especially in these crazy times. My favorite Easter tradition has always been the Easter basket. As kids, my sisters and I made our traditional Easter baskets and set them out to be filled by the bunny. So I decided a few years ago to return to this tradition and create Easter baskets for my adult friends and family. My nephews and nieces still receive traditional candy-filled basket, but for adults, I like to create unique and functional Easter "baskets" that have purpose year round.
The key to creating a double-duty basket is to find a practical container that not only holds your Easter surprises, but can exist as its original purpose throughout the rest of the year. Filling your basket can be as simple as standard Easter grass and store-bought candy, but I use the non-traditional approach and line my baskets with unique items such as rosemary or green bath sponges depending on the theme of the basket.
One important aspect to remember is to have fun creating your basket - there aren't any rules to follow, as evidenced by some of my ideas. Keep it simple or get elaborate, but have fun.
Biscotti Cookie Jar with Easter cookies
One of my favorite Easter cookies are the Bunny Tails my sisters and I made as children. They're actually the Mexican Wedding Cake cookie, but perfect for Easter because of their resemblance to a bunny tail. Store bought or homemade pastel colored meringues are also right at place in the cookie jar basket.
Before you begin, decorate the outside of a clear biscotti jar with pastel ribbons or use a paper punch to cut out decorative flowers and other images. Use double sided tape to ensure a secure fit. Line the bottom of the biscotti jar with a variety of Easter candies. Once you've added the candies, place cookies and other treats throughout. Place the cookies in ribbon-tied, clear cellophane bags to give it a professional touch. Top with lid and seal with a ribbon.
Add a bit of whimsy with the easy to make Bunny Tail cookie:
With an electric mixer, beat butter on medium speed until light and fluffy. Slowly add 1/2 cup powdered sugar and vanilla and beat until well blended. Beat in flour, then toasted pecans. Divide dough in half forming each half into a ball. Separately wrap each ball in plastic and chill until cold, around 30 minutes. Place remaining 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar in shallow dish and set aside. While dough is chilling, preheat oven to 350ºF.
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar (1/2 cup for ingredients - reserve remaining 1 cup for coating cookies)
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 1 cup pecans, toasted, coarsely ground
Working with half of the chilled dough, roll 2 teaspoons full of dough between palms into balls. Arrange balls on heavy large baking sheet, spacing 1/2 inch apart. Bake cookies until golden brown on bottom and just pale golden on top, around 18 minutes. Allow cookies to cool for 5 minutes on baking sheet. Gently toss warm cookies in sugar to coat completely. Transfer coated cookies to wire rack and cool completely. Continue to toss cookies in the powdered sugar as they cool. Store cookies in an airtight container at room temperature.
Mixing Bowl with herb grasses or Colander with spinach fettuccine
If you've been invited to an Easter brunch, these baskets make wonderful gifts for the hosts - a decorative mixing bowl or a colander. Not attending a brunch this year? Both of these baskets are perfect for the friend that loves to cook.
Mixing Bowl with herb grasses
A medium-sized mixing bowl lined with rosemary and other herbs is filled with a variety of uncooked eggs along with hand written recipes for egg-based dishes. To add a bit more flair, use double sided tape to attach ribbons and other decorations to the eggs. Recipes for egg salad sandwiches, omelets, quiche and frittata are perfect additions to the bowl. Be sure to include candy for recipients to enjoy while they cook. If you're using rosemary or other herbs from your garden, be sure to clean them first by immersing and rinsing in lightly salted water. To cut down on the amount of herbs you use, fake fill the bowl with crumpled newspaper, cover the paper with the herbs. Add a festive touch with the addition of Gerber daisies kept fresh with floral tubes.
Colander with spinach fettuccine
Any colander will do, but Williams-Sonoma carries a vintage-style colander that's perfect for this project.
First, line the colander with the dried fettuccine. Replace the traditional eggs found in a basket with the tomatoes, mushrooms, small globe-shaped squash and of course carrots. Be sure to include dessert, treats made with the missing eggs such as Italian almond meringues. Include a handwritten recipe for your favorite pasta sauce and instructions on preparing the pasta.
Ornamental Grass basket, a transplantable gift
Last year I grew the grass for my basket several weeks in advance. With Easter just a week away you'll can still give the gift of a naturally lined basket. Purchase and transplant a pot of natural ornamental grass into a pastel painted terra cotta pot.
To create you'll need:
Apply primer to the new pot and allow to dry. Once dry, decoratively paint the pot with pastel paints. Allow to dry and line the bottom of the pot with small rocks to provide better drainage. Add a shallow layer of potting soil to the new pot. Turn over the ornamental grass and gently tap the pot until the root ball slides out. Tap the sides of the original pot to loosen the plant, carefully remove the plant and gently loosen some of the roots from the root ball. Place plant inside new pot and cover with remaining soil, until the soil is level with the base of the grass. Water and allow to drain. Provide handwritten watering instructions and information on transplanting to a larger pot. The grass blades contain moisture, so be sure your treats are securely wrapped.
- Appropriately sized terra cotta pot
- Primer paint
- A variety of pastel paints
- Sponge paint brushes
- Small rocks for pot drainage
- Potting soil
- Ornamental grass
Bath Time Basket with bubble bath filled eggs
My sister-in-law is a bath time fanatic, she loves to soak up the suds to relax. To recreate a bath time basket, purchase a wire shower caddy. Line the basket with loofahs or green bath sponges. Surprise your basket recipient with a special touch - bubble bath filled eggs you create yourself. Add additional items such as egg shaped bath bombs and a rubber ducky. Don't forget tons of chocolate and mini-champagne bottles.what's more decadent than a bubble bath with chocolates and champagne?
To create bubble bath filled eggs you'll need:
Thoroughly clean eggs with hot soapy water. Carefully hold egg in hand or steady in an eggcup and use small knife to make two small holes on both ends of egg. Remove egg white and yolk by blowing egg over the kitchen sink. Rinse eggshell under hot water and soak in hot water for 15 minutes. Dye eggs as you would Easter eggs and allow to thoroughly drain and dry overnight. The next day microwave for 5 - 7 seconds to completely dry eggshell (caution shell will be hot). Using scissors or punch, cut out festive shapes from the adhesive paper and place over one of the holes. Again carefully holding shell or using eggcup to steady use paper funnel to pour bubble bath mix into shell - you might have to enlarge the hole. Close off with another piece of adhesive paper. Embellish eggshell with more stickers, glitter or markers.
- Bath salts or foam bath powders (do not use liquid bubble bath)
- Several uncooked eggs
- Scissors or decorative paper punch
- Adhesive paper
- Easter egg dye
- 4" x 4" piece of paper converted into funnel
Other simple ideas last minute ideas:
My mother-in-law collects egg cups. Each year her basket, while small, is one or two eggcups filled with simple sweet treats. This year I bought two styles of Apilco French porcelain cups from Williams-Sonoma.
Candy Filled Floral Vase
A friend of mine surprised me with this idea. She knows I have a sweet tooth and presented me with a clear vase of flowers filled with jelly beans and other wrapped candies. With the use of floral tubes to keep the flowers fresh, you can replace the water with sweet treats.
Grow a Garden basket
Fill a medium sized pastel painted terra cotta pot with emptied, seed filled eggs. Decoratively write on the egg what seed happens to be inside and include handwritten directions for planting. Basket recipients should be instructed to crush the egg directly into the plant hole, the eggshell provides a welcome nutrient for seedlings, maturing plants and soil.
Written by Steven James of macaroni & glitter
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