When I give a gift I want there to be thought behind it.
When it comes to holidays and figuring out gifts for our boys, I usually will ask advice from my other friends (especially my special needs moms), the boys’ therapist, and even Charlie’s teachers. Whether the gift is for pure enjoyment or to be a meaningful keepsake, I want the recipient to know that I cared enough to think of what they would like.
Easter baskets are no exception, and the goal is fun.
Charlie is hard to buy for because he doesn’t consistently show an interest in any one thing for long. So I asked my friends on Facebook to give me ideas of what might go well into a basket that a six year old on the autism spectrum might enjoy, hoping one of them would hit on something I hadn’t thought of. Jennifer Dodrill gave me the idea to use this for a post (you can read more from her here), and my brain went to rolling with ideas. I couldn’t be the only one having this issue, and it doesn’t just apply to kids with autism either. There are so many different types of special needs that have to be taken into account when buying things for our kids.
So again I hit up my Facebook friends on what they spend on their kids’ baskets and if they have special needs kids, what they like to put into those baskets.
Lowdown on the costs
I got a range of answers from we don’t do baskets all the way to probably $100 or more per kid. The majority of the answers were in the $20-$30 per kid range. People responded that they got their basket goodies from Dollar Tree all the way to shopping for outdoor toys, summer bathing suits, summer sandals, video games, Crocs, and headphones. The basket can be as small or large as you want it (whispering “there’s no wrong way, I promise“).
Candy in the baskets can be an issue
While some families are able to shower their kids’ baskets with candy nostalgia from their childhood’s (Cadbury’s, Peeps, and jellybeans), a lot of special needs families have to be mindful of falling down that rabbit hole. We have kids with food sensitivities/allergies; trachs and feeding tubes; picky eaters who don’t need more reasons to want to avoid eating their meals; and kids who just don’t need the extra sugar to bounce off the walls. Charlie literally does this for fun to his teacher’s horror.
They did have some ideas for getting around the candy in the basket. You can get their favorite healthy snacks, a new water bottle with cute characters, ARK Chewelry, and I LOVE the Inchbug Original Orbit Labels that I put on the boys’ water bottles for school.
All around town
After getting the idea to do this article, I hit the town to see where I could find unexpected basket fillers. Even though it’s named Dollar Tree, you can still find brand names throughout the store. I found some goodies perfect for baskets there:
- egg shaped sidewalk chalks
- Nickelodeon Slime
- character coloring books and puzzles
- Hot Wheels cars
- spiky sensory balls
- adorable hair bows
- dress up jewelry
I went through Mardel’s, Hobby Lobby, Michaels, United SuperMarket, Walmart, and of course Target. I was pleasantly surprised when I stayed away from the Easter specific aisles and looked with fresh eyes thinking in terms of sensory input, which is something we usually hear about regularly from our therapists and children’s teachers.
P.S.- Don’t be afraid to go down the baby aisle even if you have an older child! Think Taggie blankets, teethers for kids who chew, sensory play balls, and sippy cups.
Give baskets that make therapists AND kids happy
A lot of times, we can give our kids a sensory or therapy experience at home without electronics.
No electronics for gifts? I know! Who knew?
But I’m going to give you a list of basket filler ideas that have absolutely NO ELECTRONIC TOYS IN IT! OK, I lied – there’s one thing that runs on batteries, but it’s still sensory!
- Kinetic Sand
- ARK Chewelry
- Inchbug Original Orbits Labels
- Slime (gross yes, I know)
- Taggies blanket
- Shaped crayons
- Chuckle and Roar Pop It Game
- Coloring book
- Poke A Dot Books
- Sidewalk chalk
- Water Paint Books
- Bubble machine
- Touch and Feel Books
About those Easter egg hunts
Still wanting to stay away from candy? Make your egg hunt a little different. Put mini glow sticks inside the eggs and do a night time hunt. Daytime hunting more your thing? Look on Pinterest for recipes to dye rice and pasta noodles, how to make moon dough, or get bags of colored dry beans from the grocery store. Fill those plastic eggs with the item of your choice, tape it shut, and ABRACADABRA!
When they’re done collecting eggs, open into a container, and you’ve just made your own sensory bin. Add toys from around the house to find or have Barbie go swimming through a sea of blue twisty noodles while Hot Wheels go driving through the bumpy terrain of dry beans.