Easter Egg Hunts: Tips and Tricks for a Great Party
By Kim Schaff
An Easter Egg Hunt is a fun, inexpensive, and stress-free party, enjoyable for kids and adults alike. Neighbors reconnect after being inside all winter. Adults watch kids experience the thrill of discovery. Kids of all ages can participate. And after the eggs are all gathered, you sit around and eat candy. What could be better?
Here is how to make it easy!
All the preparations take place in advance; they can involve the entire family and can span a couple of weeks. An Easter Egg Hunt is a short party, only about 45 minutes total, so the parents stay. And best of all, because the hunt is held outside, there is no need for extra dusting!
Things to consider
We only use candy to fill the eggs. (One year, we tried small bunny erasers, but kids thought they were candy and tried to eat the erasers.) If you have “hunters” who are small, consider the size of the candy. You want something that is not going to be a choking hazard. Pretzels do not work as they get stale; plus, our Jewish friends are often celebrating Passover and cannot eat them. You should try to find out about any special food allergies before you purchase the candy, but if you are inviting only kids you know, this should be easier.
For our parties, we have two special eggs that are redeemable for prizes: “The Gold Egg” and “The Silver Egg.” The prizes don't have to be expensive; popular prizes in past years at our Hunts have been giant bouncing balls, coupons for a free video rental, a large box of art supplies, or a stuffed animal. Because we divide the participants into two age groups and they hunt in different places, we have two sets of special eggs.
If you are having a large party, it is likely that the kids invited will span a large age range. If that is the case, you will want to divide the Hunt into two groups: one for the littler kids and one for the bigger kids. Make sure that the two groups are hunting in different areas, or you will have a lot of little kids with empty baskets.
Everything is available in discount stores and markets.
We plan on one dozen fill-able plastic eggs for each hunter. We also use dots to help seal the egg so that the candy doesn't fall out on its own. (The sheets of the dots are available in the stationery department.)
If you are going to have a gold and silver egg, you need to buy a prize for each special egg. I make the silver egg by covering a plastic egg in aluminum foil. The gold egg is a plastic egg that we have spray-painted.
The Monday after Easter, those plastic eggs are heavily discounted, so stock up for next year!
About three weeks prior to the Hunt, on every grocery trip, I buy some candy that will fit into the eggs--jellybeans, chocolate, and gummy animals. To the kids, quantity is more important than gourmet taste.
Two weeks prior to the party, we send out invitations. The hunt for candy is a universal treat, so there is no need to confine your guest list to those celebrating Easter; our guests are people from various faiths. Our invitation says the Hunt starts promptly--and it must. Once you release kids to find eggs, it goes very quickly. Within 15 minutes, all the eggs are found--so any latecomers are out of luck.
I don’t bother asking for an RSVP; we simply plan on everyone attending, and if they don’t, the eggs will be found by someone else. Extra kids are not a problem, either--there are plenty of eggs. Your invitation should remind folks to bring a basket to hold the eggs. We hunt rain or shine!
Up to one week prior to the hunt, we stuff the eggs. Our preference is to mix up the candy, with a small variety in each egg. Don’t forget to place the dot on the filled egg; it will help keep the egg closed. Stuffing the eggs is a family affair in our house: fathers, teenagers and neighbor kids are especially skilled in this area. We gather all the supplies and then set out small bowls in which we put a sample of each candy. (As we stuff the eggs, we “test” the candy sample. The rule is that when the sample bowls are empty we are done eating!) As we use two lawns, we divide our eggs up into two bags to ensure a proper distribution.
Now is a good time to review the camera situation and make sure you have supplies and the battery is charged!
The Day of the Hunt
About 45 minutes before the start of the hunt, we move our cars to the street and block off our driveway, which is the gathering spot.
One-half hour prior to the arrival of the hunters, we set up the lawns and hide the eggs. The older kids (first grade and up) hunt in the back yard, while the youngest hunters are in the front yard.
For the small kids, the eggs are mostly scattered directly on the lawn. We do add some “obstacles” to the lawn. We bring out the red wagon, the kid-sized golf bag, sand pail, and similar objects, and we hide the eggs in and on them. We set up a lawn chair and place “Big Ted” (a large stuffed teddy bear) in the chair. Ted then gets a set of bunny ears, and we hide eggs in his lap.
For the big kids, our back yard has more built-in hiding spots, so we have no need to add more hiding places. To ensure that every older kid gets an egg or two, at the edge of the lawn we have a row of eggs waiting.
One or more hunters will forget their collection basket, so we have some grocery bags on hand. Once the eggs are found, everyone will sit down in the driveway and empty the eggs, so have a trash can near by to collect the dots and wrappers. Also, set out a large laundry basket or bin, to collect the plastic eggs for use the following year.
Once everyone arrives, I divide the kids into two lines that correspond to the age breakdown and review the rules:
- You may not hunt until the whistle blows.
- There are 2 special eggs hidden on each lawn – a golden egg, and a silver egg. If you find them, put them in your basket and keep hunting.
- When all the eggs have been found, bring me the special egg and I will give you a prize.
- No eggs are hidden in the top of the climber, so don’t go there.
I lead the larger kids to the back yard, and line them up across the width of the lawn in front of the row of eggs. Once the kids are in position, I blow the whistle, and they are off. The parents stay in the driveway and socialize.
I do the same for the youngest kids. These small hunters often require encouragement and parental assistance. And they are fussy about their eggs. They will happily walk over the blue egg, and the green egg because they want that pink egg. It is a riot. My teenagers love to cheer on our littlest guests.
The hunters return to the driveway to show off their baskets, and then everyone sits down to crack open the eggs and eat the candy. We redeem the gold and silver eggs, and take pictures of our winners.
In short, an Easter Egg hunt is a fabulous occasion. It requires only a modest investment in time and money, but gives a tremendous reward in fun. After the long winter, it is great to be outside, catching up with the neighbors. As my kids got older, they were able to help with the preparations, and preparing the Hunt together has become one of our favorite traditions. I hope this article will give you the tips you need so that it can become one of your favorite traditions, too.
© 2007, Kim Schaff