Thursday, March 16, 2017

Minimalist Easter

Easter is coming, and I am starting to prepare, at least mentally. I have to start early or I don't have time to prepare the way I want to, and feel I am stuck buying things just to meet expectations (mine, or the expectations I think other people will place on me). So here are my early thoughts on planning a minimalist-ing Easter.

All holidays have their share of clutter. Gifts, wrap, decorations all add up to more than you usually have. A lot of it, frankly, is waste. Gift wrap is used once, then discarded. Too many gifts are simply not wanted or needed, and they become clutter or they are discarded -- neither option conveys the love the giver (hopefully) intended to communicate.

Easter is, in many ways, the easiest to simplify. Spring flowers and Christianity are both pretty minimalist in essentials. Plastic eggs and grass are less so. Either you have to store the eggs for 12 months, or you have to make landfill waste every year. Neither option is exactly appealing to me. But no one wants their children to grow up and complain to a therapist that their mom never let them have an Easter Basket because they made clutter. So I need an alternative and not just an elimination.

Likewise, I'm not exactly a ceramic bunny sort of girl. But I do want to decorate the house, and we host our entire extended family (about 20-25 people every year. It grows with weddings and will shrink this year since my sister moved out of town). How to I decorate festively without making clutter?

I've come up with a couple of solutions that seem to work for us. I know there are a lot of other ideas out there, and I would love to hear what other people do, so if I don't say something that really works for you, please let me know!

For our Easter egg hunt, and our Easter baskets, I have in the past simply reused the plastic eggs from previous years. People bring plastic eggs, and we pass along the plastic eggs we don't need. Each kid gets six or seven plastic eggs full of candy and dried fruit. They also may get a movie to share, new summer gear (goggles, swimsuit, towel). I always fill the basket with things they will use, not just filler. Some years I even dispense with the "basket" and just place their gifts on the table under a cloth, if the gifts are too large. No one has ever complained about not having a "basket" if they have a new game or book that won't fit.  Lastly, I fill a real chicken egg with chocolate. When they peel it, instead of a hard boiled egg there's a chocolate egg! (I bake the hollow egg in the oven to sterilize it, just in case.)

The majority of the egg hunt eggs, however, are cascarones, or confetti eggs. The kids then have fun smashing eggs on each others' heads (grandpa's are also excellent victims), there's a lot of running around, and we don't have a basket full of  plastic eggs and candy to horde. This has gotten better over the years; my nephew was diagnosed with Celiac, and casarones are gluten free. The older kids still have fun smashing confetti on each other, and it gives them a chance to act like kids.

Inside, I have a few decorations of the ceramic-bunny school, but I am hoping to reduce that number again this year. Last year I made origami butterflies out of damaged book pages, glued them to a stick, and placed them in mason jars with wildflowers. At the end of the day, the sticks went back into the yard, the mason jars went back into the cupboard, and the paper butterflies can be composted or recycled (I can't remember what I did). By keeping the project simple I was able to decorate and discard everything at the end, without making a huge environmental impact.

I still set the table with real china and glass I only use once a year. I can't think of a good solution for me here: I don't want to keep china for one meal a year, but I don't want to use disposables at Easter dinner, and I don't want to have enough everyday china for thirty people! So I keep my good china, and the Easter table looks sparkly and special, which is my goal. (And food. Lots of food is another goal!)

I use Easter lilies or other potted flowers around the house. If I am organized, I can buy plants I plan to plant in the yard, stick them in decorative pots and spread them around the house for decorations. I've done this several times, and I like how decorative the house looks, without ceramic bunnies.

In conclusion, I don't have more at the end of Easter morning. We don't have toys that will break easily. We don't have much candy, but we do have dried fruit for snacking or breakfast cereal. We have replacements for summer necessities that have become lost or damaged the previous summer. We have a lot of confetti on the lawn (but it decomposes because it is paper). The table decorations are recycled or composted, the table settings are washed and put away. Easter has been celebrated, but not with an increase in the amount of stuff we need to store.

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