Two moms who win at them
Stacy Ellington’s Easter baskets are a project 22 years in the making. That’s because 22 years ago, she purchased three white painted baskets at a Michaels in Dallas. She and her financial adviser husband Michael had only two boys then, a baby and a 2 year old, but Stacy knew what she was doing. “I knew we were going to have a third child, so I just bought three,” she says, laughing. “I also found ribbon years ago that was exactly what I wanted, so I overbought and I’m able to change it out every couple of years. This is really OCD stuff, I’m telling you!”
All the prep paid off: The Ellington kids are big fans. When Stacy told her high school senior daughter Adelaide she was talking to us for this story, Adelaide said, “Good, because that interview ensures that we’ll have Easter baskets again this year!” She’s referring to the past two years, the first times the family was away from home for Easter. One year they were in Boston visiting Adelaide’s brother Jack because his school wasn’t on holiday, and the next they were in Colorado planning her other brother Michael’s wedding. Stacy is looking for a basket for her new daughter-in-law that will coordinate with the originals.
While contents change, there are some traditions. Ellington Easter baskets always promise a golden egg, filled with a matchbox car or a Game Boy cartridge when the kids were little. “Now it’s pretty much cash,” Stacy says. There are always Peeps. “The plain old-fashioned, traditional yellow Peeps,” Stacy says. “The kids cannot stand them, but they get them every year because that’s my tradition from when I was a kid. It’s a flashback.” And there’s always a chocolate bunny. “Nobody eats chocolate,” Stacy says. No matter. Tradition is tradition.
Beyond those givens, Stacy is on the hunt for basket filler starting in February. “I have to think about what’s going to look cute, what will fit, and what do they want,” she says. She’s gone from stuffed bunnies, Legos and dolls to more grown-up gifts. “This year, Adelaide is getting a cute game-day bag because she’s going to college,” Stacy says. “Jack is in his first apartment and loves to cook, so his will have something for his kitchen. I know Little Michael and Sara just ran out of coffee cups with their wedding monogram on them, so those will look cute sitting in there.” She thinks for a minute and adds, “Jack is very green and a conscious consumer. We could never do a sleeve of disposable coffee cups in his. Maybe he’ll end up with a new Yeti he can take to class.”
She mentions refrigerated face masks: “They’re in pastel colors, so the color is correct, and the girls can use and enjoy them.” Girls’ baskets might also see monogrammed zippered bags with a lip gloss tucked inside.
Stacy’s partner-in-crime is the super-creative designer Courtnay Elias, who has three boys about the same ages as Stacy’s kids. “We don’t actually shop together,” Stacy says, “but there’s always that panic call: ‘What did you do?’ ‘Where did you find it?’”
“We feed off of each other,” Courtnay says. “Easter happens to be my favorite holiday. I love the spiritual aspect and love that this time of year is so happy.”
When her boys were little, Courtnay gave them each a homemade Easter basket that she had spray-painted and decorated. “Although I don’t think my third child got one until he was 1 or 2.” Even now, Courtnay says, “If we’re at home at Easter, those baskets are out!”
Because she’s got three boys anticipating Easter baskets, Courtnay’s signature fillers are monogrammed boxers (“When you have three boys you have to monogram the underwear!”), swim goggles and swim trunks. “That’s always my big hunt,” she says. “I don’t have daughters, so I’m not buying Easter dresses. And the boys are game for hot pink and orange and fun.” She also gives them new ties to wear to church and Easter lunch.
The only threats to these special Easter traditions have been dogs. “The dogs will find the baskets in point-two seconds,” Stacy says of her two beagles. “We’re on speed dial with dog poison control. But there’s good news about chocolate bunnies. They’re milk chocolate. Once you’re good friends with dog poison control, you know it’s the dark chocolate you need to worry about. Oh, and the Peeps, because they can expand in their stomachs and be very uncomfortable.”
The American Kennel Club says milk chocolate isn’t as toxic for dogs as dark, but still, don’t give it to them on purpose!
Easter Basket Ideas
● Art supplies: pastel markers and crayons, pipe cleaners, Easter-themed stickers
● Boxed art or science kits from places like Michaels
● Beads and string
● Small Lego kits
● Sidewalk chalk in pastel colors (you can find these shaped like Easter eggs)
● Small games and puzzles
● Decks of cards or other card games
● Easter egg stress balls
● Easter egg Playdough
● Beach or pool toys
● For kids leaving for college, necessities and trinkets for their dorm room
● College gear: cups, bumper stickers, Smathers & Branson keychains
● T-shirts rolled up and tied with pastel ribbon
● Pastel-colored water bottles
● Unassuming pastel eggs filled with cash as a surprise trick
● Fun socks
● Flip flops
● Pastel-colored hair ties
● Pastel-colored nail polish with manicure tools
● Bath and skin products
● Whataburger, Starbucks, Amazon gift cards
● Don’t fall for the temptation of chicks or bunnies, a major responsibility. As one reader warns: “We are currently housing two chickens and a bunny from past Easters!”
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