Fun-for-all instead of Free-for-all

egghuntBy now you’ve probably heard of the Easter egg hunt gone bad in Orange, Conn. that was sponsored by the Pez Candy Co. Can you relate? Have you ever attempted a public Easter egg hunt? I have. And they generally aren’t much fun. Too many kids, too few prizes, too much frustration.

In my limited experience with such events, some kids always got loads of eggs while others got none. They were mostly a frenzy of confusion for the younger kids – parents screaming or dragging them along. Or no parental supervision of bully-types with no self restraint. There were always kids at different ages, some bigger, some faster, some pushing other kids out of their way. Sadly, such hunts expose an ugly side of humanity in what is supposed to be a fun event in celebration of a Christian holiday.

After attending a few of these events when my daughter was young, I swore off of them. And started my own. My goal was to create a nicer, gentler, more civilized affair. I did it by taking out the competitive component, and eliminating the free-for-all battleground, which, in turn, added the fun!

For about ten years, I hosted an Easter Egg hunt/party for friends and neighborhood kids. I had rules – rules designed to make the event FUN and FAIR for the KIDS! Simple: Younger kids got a head start, and every kid got the same number of eggs.

Of course, on a much smaller scale, it was much easier to orchestrate. And with friends. By invitation only. (I believe there was only one kid who got booted off the invitation list for obnoxious behavior such as greedily grabbing too many eggs or opening an egg then tossing it back if he didn’t like what was inside. Seriously.)

My husband and I would fill and hide 700 to 1,000 plastic eggs. We have a large yard, and a vacant lot behind our property, which is owned by a neighbor gracious enough to allow us to use it.

When everyone gathered, I counted the number of children and divided the number of eggs by that number (maybe minus one or two just in case someone showed up late or all the eggs couldn’t be found). Most years this gave each child 20-25 eggs. The kids were told that once they got to that number of eggs they were done. They could have a cookie and something to drink, then pick a spot and sit down and open their eggs.

The eggs were filled with candy and small prizes such as bouncy balls, coins, nail polish, etc. I went to great lengths to find fun, age-appropriate prizes. And gender-specific ones, too. Blue eggs had boy prizes, and pink eggs had girl prizes. All the others were gender neutral.

It was great fun. For kids and parents. It became a tradition that friends looked forward to. And I’m pretty sure everyone went home happy.  🙂

What holiday traditions have you started? Or ended?!

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