I love the idea of “alternative” Easter baskets! Something fun to switch things up from the usual plastic grass and hollow chocolate bunnies. So I was delighted when Elisabeth of My Growing Home suggested a Little Farmer Easter Basket. Isn’t that the cutest idea? And it’s super easy to put together, so you have plenty of time if you want to pull this off by Sunday. Yay! — Gabrielle

Make a Little Farmer Easter Basket this year. It's candy free!  |  Design Mom

As Easter approaches, we always try to talk to our boys about the signs of new life in nature. In the past, I’ve tied this theme into our holiday celebration by including a packet of seeds in their Easter baskets, but this year I decided to go farther by transforming their “baskets” into personal mini gardens to be planted for spring. I used wooden wine boxes to make little raised beds and filled them with veggies, flowers, and kid-sized gardening essentials. And what’s a garden without a sneaky bunny?

Make a Little Farmer Easter Basket this year. It's candy free!  |  Design Mom

Not only are these boxes easy (and inexpensive) to put together, but they provide a project for the little ones that will last all spring and summer. Happy Easter!

Make a Little Farmer Easter Basket this year. It's candy free!  |  Design Mom

Materials

– Wooden wine boxes. I purchased mine for a few dollars from a local liquor store.
– Weatherproof wood stain. I used Behr solid stains in slate and ponderosa green to get a dark, opaque green. A sample sized can (about $2) was more than enough.
– Paintbrush

– A variety of spring plants. I went to our local garden store and purchased two combinations that (according to the gardeners’ advice) would grow well together and be fun for the kids. One of our boxes holds two marigold plants, one chocolate mint, and a Roma tomato. The other holds a flowering strawberry plant and a variety of herbs. Pay attention to the full-grown size of your plants — if there are too many, they’ll crowd each other out as they grow.

– Gardening “essentials.” Of course, this is up to you. I added a kid-sized trowel, shovel, and spade, a pair of gloves, a homemade gardening “tool belt,” garden markers, a package of seeds, and a few paper pots for starting the seeds. I also included garden-themed children’s books (Grandpa Green, by Lane Smith, for my older son, and And Then It’s Spring, by Julie Fogliano, for my youngest).

-Treats to hide among the foliage (I used candy and handmade bunnies).

Make a Little Farmer Easter Basket this year. It's candy free!  |  Design Mom
Make a Little Farmer Easter Basket this year. It's candy free!  |  Design Mom

Use paintbrush and wood stain to paint the sides and entire inside of your wooden box. Stain dries quite quickly, so by the time you’ve finished the inside, the outside will be ready for a second coat.

Make a Little Farmer Easter Basket this year. It's candy free!  |  Design Mom
Make a Little Farmer Easter Basket this year. It's candy free!  |  Design Mom

Cover box with a second coat of paint. If using two colors, as I did, use your top color for this coat. Let dry.

Make a Little Farmer Easter Basket this year. It's candy free!  |  Design Mom

Stuff your box! Start with the plants and then nestle the other goodies among them, so that they appear to peek out from the leaves. Hide little treats inside the plant pots and leave the basket in the sunlight for your little ones to find on Easter morning.

And once the surprise is over, it’s time to prepare the gardens! Place your sprouts in a mixture of potting soil and mushroom compost, being careful to position them according to the specifications for each plant. Leave the boxes in the sun, water regularly, and wait for the magic to begin!

P.S. — Instructions on how to make the adorable stuffed bunny right here.