Sunday, April 17, 2011

The Perfect Easter Basket

Every Easter, our "bunny" would leave us the most perfect Easter basket.  It was never store-bought, it was always full of the things we love and each item was perfectly nestled amidst the straw.  The whole basket was then loving wrapped in cellophane with a giant bow at the top.

I didn't realize it at the time, but I had a very talented "bunny".  Our bunny cooked and cleaned with the best of them.  But her real talent could shine around Easter when those perfect baskets were thoughtfully left for us to find.

While I am not nearly as talented as the original Easter bunny, here are some suggestions on how you can make a basket more perfect than those in the store!

Step 1: Choosing the perfect basket  In our house, we each have our own basket or bucket that is especially selected to be used at Easter.  It is not too big (too hard to fill) nor to small (won't hold larger items) but perfect.  The color of the basket doesn't really matter though our are usually neutral or white.  Those colors just work better with the items that might find their way into the basket.  Also, remember that the basket does not have to be a basket at all.  You may choose to use something different like a beach bucket, helmet, make-up box to make the basket extra special one year.  I have even seen someone roll and tie a beach towel then stuff the goodies in the top.  Step 1 is the beginning of your chance to be creative.

Step 2:  Choosing the items These items should be a variety of shapes and sizes.  You will need a few large items for the back of the basket, some medium sized items as the bulk of the basket and some small eggs or items as fillers for the bottom.  Remember, if the items are too large, they won't fit in the basket.  However, one very large item is ok because you can place it next to the basket and hold it in place with the cellophane wrapping.  Also, too many very small items will be lost in the bottom of the basket and won't be found until the straw is removed.  For very tiny items, it is best to put them in a small bag and tie them with a ribbon.  For some ideas, see my post "Allergy-friendly Easter Treats".

Step 3: The straw  Straw comes in plastic, paper and even authentic varieties.  Which straw you choose is less important than how you place it in the basket.  You will begin by wadding paper bags or tissue paper and placing them in the bottom of the basket until it is just below the top of the basket.  Be careful not to push this paper down but place it gently in the basket.  This paper will help support the filling and give it height.  On top of the paper, you will place the straw.  Place enough straw so that the bottom papers do not show through.

Step 4:  The goodies  It is now time to fill your basket.  Decide which side of the basket with be the front.  Begin in the back of the basket by placing your large, tall items across the corners and back.  This backing will give help hold the medium sized items in an upright position.  Next, work your way toward the front of the basket leaning medium sized items in front of the taller, larger items.  Finally, place your fillers, eggs and other small objects in front.  If there are any small spaces behind the larger items, you may fill it with these items as well.

Step 5:  The cellophane  Cut a very large piece of cellophane from the roll.  Lay it flat on a large hard surface.  Place your basket in the center of the paper.  If you have extra large items, you may place that behind the basket on the cellophane.  You may also put a few small items like jellybean-sized candies or eggs on the cellophane at one of the front corners for added interest.  Now, grabbing one corner at a time, pull the cellophane to the top of the basket and gather it in your hand.  While gathering, tuck any open sides in so that the pleats come together.  Tie a piece of ribbon at the top to keep the cellophane closed.

Step 6:  The bow  For those of you who know how to make a bow, this would the time to let your talent shine.  Make a large bow and tie it where the cellophane is gathered.  For those who are not so much of a bow specialist, you may purchase a pre-made bow from a florist like that at your grocery or at Michael's.  For a quick and easy bow,  you will need about 1 yard of ribbon (the kind you might use in your hair) or wired ribbon from Michael's or your local sewing store.  Tie that ribbon around the gathered cellophane just as you would tie your shoes.  Pull the loops to make a large floppy bow.

VOILA!  The perfect Easter basket ready to deliver to your favorite angel!

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