As we pen this piece, Brisbane is in another swift and strict lockdown. Here in Melbourne, we’re still getting used to naked chins. And around the world, Covid continues to do its thing.

We’re all weary. We’re all craving connection. We all deserve a little joy.

So this Easter, instead of elaborate cook ups or recycling how-tos, we wanted to give you simple, joyful ideas for togetherness. Low (or no) cost ways to celebrate with family that are less about screens (and stressful news stories) and more about the wonders of your own backyard.

From painting acorns to planting garlic, get our 10 best ideas for a feelgood ethical Easter in 2021! And hey, we’d love to hear yours, so go ahead and share ‘em with us in the comments.

First things first.

Experiences > things

Did you know that experiences make people happier than gifts?

Yep, giving your little ones (or significant other) something non-material — like a surprise picnic, treasure hunt, art class or family outing — elicits a far stronger emotional response than a toy or gadget. Research backs this up, and your memories probably do too. Was it the wrapped gift, or that time you and your friend baked and decorated an elaborate gingerbread house (complete with burnt bits) on Good Friday that you remember most fondly?

Feel confident in your choice to forego all things material this Easter. We’re cheering for you, and so is science.

1. Paint acorns

Would you just look at these wee acorn people created by the clever Salley Mavor! You can find her miniature stylings @salleymavor and Wee Folks Studio.

It’s acorn season! Around the rivers and parklands of Melbourne right now, the ground is covered in cute little spherical seeds in hats. Collecting them is half the fun, and painting them is an absorbing activity for tiny fingers. Painted acorns can be used as clues in an Easter egg hunt, in a homemade bunny nest, or as a table centerpiece. Just don’t trip on them.

Here’s a how-to Amanda prepared earlier.

2. Hunt for litter

Dusty Rae showing us how a litter hunt is done.

Yeah yeah, you might be thinking. Whose kids want to pick up rubbish when there’s five kilos of chocolate hiding in the undergrowth? Actually, it’s surprising how excited little people get about doing good for the planet. It’s like they just ‘get’ that Mother Earth deserves care and respect (and the added element of hunting really piques their interest). Grab a sack, gloves and claw tool (if you have one) and hit the streets or your nearest creek for an Easter cleanup.

3. Hot cross bake off

Ditch the bagged-up and mass-baked buns and make your own! Better yet, challenge the kids or members of your household to a hot crossed bake off with a blind taste test at the end. The winner gets bragging rights for the rest of the day.

4. Bunny watch

Catie + Dave the greyhound on backyard bunny watch. Dave is particularly invested.

If you’re lucky enough to have a backyard (and have decided to stay home for the Easter break), why not set up a tent so the kids can hang out on bunny watch? Depending on where you live, spotting a rabbit may be a stretch, but there are so many other critters that cameo in even the most urban backyard — especially at dusk. Possums, tawny frogmouths, mice, bugs, bats and geckos are usually out in force. And if you get your timing right, the International Space Station will scoot overhead — much to the delight of wannabe astronauts.

5. Eggs to dye for

@_dimity_ is craft royalty on Instagram, and we’re totally enamoured with her naturally dyed eggs.

Be warned. Once you discover that natural dyes are everywhere — from onion peels to coffee grounds and cabbage leaves — you’ll probably want to change the colour of everything, clothes included. Start with dyeing eggshells, which is a super fun Easter activity for kids (and will provide the kind of whimsical Instagram fodder that dreams are made of. Not that life’s about likes or anything.).

We love this kid-friendly guide from The Kitchn.

6. Plant garlic

You’ll be surprised how fast garlic shoots up after it’s been planted. Instant gratification crop.

What does garlic have to do with Easter?

In the southern states of Australia, Easter weekend is THE time to get yer bulbs in the ground. This low-maintenance, pest-proof crop is a real winner for time poor peeps because once the bulbs are in, there’s not much you have to do until harvest at the end of the year — beyond a little watering and light weeding.

Home grown haul.

Kids love planting garlic because the cloves are big and manageable, not microscopic like some seeds. All you need is a few heads of certified organic garlic from your local farmers’ market, well-drained soil with a good amount of compost or manure worked in, and a small patch of garden space.

Milkwood has an excellent garlic planting how to, so we’ll hand it over to the experts with lashings of encouragement to make this your new Easter tradition.

7. Choose fair chocolate

No one is suggesting you forego chocolate this Easter, but pausing to think about the 800,000 children enslaved on cocoa farms along the Ivory Coast is inspiration enough to seek out fair and ethical alternatives.

We’ve already written a Guide to Good Choc, complete with delectable recipes, to help you find and support chocolate brands doing it right. Most are available in health food shops and speciality food stores, and many do eggs! Go forth and choc.

8. Celebrate natives

The absurdly cute antechinus, Australia’s very own mouse. Image via @pattomkinswildlife

Have your kids met the Easter Antechinus? What about the Holiday Monotreme? Or Chocca the Quokka? You can probably see where we’re going with this.

While the Easter Bunny has done a commendable job of delivering sweet treats around the world for the last few centuries, it’s time for Aussie native marsupials to take up the mantle!

Introduce your chillens to all kinds of native critters over the break by reading books, drawing pictures, crafting hats and taking every opportunity to insert a bit of native love into the Easter equation.

9. Feed your community

For some Australians, holidays are especially challenging. While the rest of us revel in family, friends and abundant food, 4-13% of households experience food insecurity, not entirely sure what their next meal will be or where it will come from.

If you’re in the ‘plenty of grub’ camp, why not share the love by donating to a local food relief organization this Easter? You can choose to physically give fresh, dry or bulk food (depending on the program) or donate cash. Here are some Victorian organisations doing great things:

A quick online search will unearth all those hard-working organisations near you, open for donations.

10. Zero waste egg hunt

Things you need for a zero waste egg hunt:

  • Stuff you already have
  • Creativity
  • Sweet hiding skills

As kids, the Easter Sunday egg hunt was all about Sherlockery — looking for colourful clues in familiar places and following the trail to an edible prize.

That’s why you don’t need anything special to create a very special hunting experience. You can literally use clothes pegs, coloured stones, feathers, leaves or paddle pop sticks to ‘lead’ your children towards a zero waste nest of chocolate, baked treats or their favourite stuffed toy all decked out in Easter garb.

It’s about the journey, not the destination (or just a bit about the destination, seeing as we’re talking chocolate here). And for the adult craftily laying out clues in the wee hours of the morning, it’s pretty darn enjoyable too.

From all the team at ST, have yourselves a love-filled and memorable Easter, brimming with everything money can’t buy.
Have questions? Ask ‘em in the comments. And tell us, what’s your favourite part of Easter weekend?