The Easter Egg Hunt: The Early Years
I remember it vividly: me and my nine cousins, trembling with anticipation on the front porch, waiting in our Easter finery for the official start: the yearly Easter Egg hunt. We spent our time on the porch wisely, searching out plastic eggs wherever we could see them: nestled in tree limbs, hidden in bushes, hiding-in-plain site with the lawn decorations… and we did this with the sweet anticipation of knowing one of them held the ultimate prize: an actual $10 bill for whoever was lucky enough to find it.
As all of us stood, revving our engines, one couldn’t help but notice the wide span of ages: my oldest cousin, who, at 14, seemed a bit too old for this yearly event, and then my youngest cousins, coming in at 6 and 7. I was in the middle pack of my cousins, in that 10 to 11 year-old range, so I knew that I would not leave my Easter holiday empty handed. But would I see victory in the form of a $10 bill? That remained to be seen.
Jumping, shuffling and pushing each other, my father would finally yell “GO!” Off we went, jumping over the stairs and onto the grass, shoving each other out of the way, each one of us deployed a new strategy based on what didn’t work last year. As we ran around the yard like lunatics, the youngest cousins getting batted around like beach balls (with the expected annoyance and subsequent crying), we began to collect our eggs: a nickel and a dime – really? Oh wait – two quarters – this is getting better! Hold up! Someone across the yard got a half dollar – holla!
Then on this particular year, I saw it: the proverbial Golden Egg – and the inevitable $10 bill that lay inside. Victory was mine! I made a bee line for the egg, amazed that my other cousins hadn’t yet caught on. But in my mad pursuit, I failed to use my peripheral vision; and in the span of a nanosecond, my great victory would turn to loss: my 14 year-old cousin, a phantom come seemingly from thin air, was suddenly on my left – and with the grace and speed of a professional hockey player, edged me out with a quick elbow. As I tumbled onto the grass, a cacophonous “Nooooooo!” emitting from my lungs, I knew instinctively my momentary victory had become the agony of defeat.
Fast Forward About 30 Years
For as amusing as my gladiator-style childhood Easter egg hunts were, I have since learned there are actually better ways to conduct one, both with what is placed inside the eggs, as well as handling a range of ages.
First, healthy snacks – money is good, but, as evidenced above, it adds a level of competition to the event that may be better left for insider trading. Rather than create an over-the-top competition, aim for some yummy, non-teeth rotting snacks. This provides good motivation for the kids and less headaches for the adults. You can mix your healthy snacks with stickers, rings, etc., to get an eclectic mix that will work for all.
Second, do two races if necessary – separating the little ones from the big ones is actually a good idea. It can mean a little extra work in the way of creating more eggs, but it’s worth it when you consider the repercussions of having several young kids flip out because they a) got nothing and/or b) got run over. Unhappy toddlers are, well, unhappy toddlers. You be the judge.
Third, set some ground rules – if you are going to do one race, set some ground rules so that everyone feels they are getting a fair shake. Things like letting the little ones get a 2 minute lead, or penalties for pushing and shoving can wrangle even the spunkiest of crowds.
Easter egg hunts are traditional, and carry for each family a new set of memories each year. Make yours healthy, fun and memorable by taking a little time to create an event that works for everyone.
Waity Rose comes from a long line of pushy New Jersey kids who survived a multitude of holidays overrun with cousins, aunts, uncles and dogs. Now a mother herself, she hopes someone – anyone – can benefit from her numerous mistakes.