For the past few years, in addition to to our children's individual Easter Baskets, I've assembled a basket for the whole family. The first two years the basket included items for some of our Garden of the Good Shepherd Activities and Garden Parties that we were planning on having during the Easter season.
Last year I focused on the various Easter Symbols, in addition to the Easter Symbol Candies I made for each child's individual basket. The basket for the whole family included a Good Shepherd Puzzle for the Easter Season, a Ukrainian Egg Decorating Kit, Egg Shaped Flower Truffles, Lindt Chocolate Lambs, an adorable Peacock, a Butterfly clip, a beautiful small statue of the Good Shepherd (this one, I think), and a Good Shepherd Holy Card. Charlotte also made a beautiful little Easter Symbols Booklet that I included as well!
I'm planning to fill another Family Basket with little gifts representing the Easter Symbols and thought I'd share a few of my ideas for this year, in addition to the Parable Pouch from Jesse Tree Treasures.
Cross: The cross is perhaps the best known of all Christian symbols. In the ancient Church the cross was usually depicted without the figure of Christ. It was adorned and decorated as a symbol of the victory Christ won through His suffering. For the ancient world it was a symbol of humiliation, but for Christians it was a symbol of victory and glory. In Christian art, the figure of the suffering Christ was added to the cross only in medieval times. ~ Immaculate Conception Parish
As you all know, our family loves puzzles. We haven't worked on one since Epiphany and, since we really enjoyed putting the Good Shepherd Puzzle together last Easter, I've been looking for another. At this point I'm trying to decide between the I Am With You Cross Puzzle and this beautiful Easter Morning Jigsaw Puzzle (which, in addition to the cross, has the "IHS" and lilies on it as well).
A few more ideas: Chocolate Crosses, a new Crucifix, really there are so many gifts that can symbolize the "Cross."
Lamb: We refer to Christ as "The Lamb of God," and "The Paschal Lamb," because he was sent as a sacrifice for the sins of the world. We also lovingly refer to Him as "The Good Shepherd," since He is our Shepherd and told Peter to feed His sheep.
Joseph's Studio Good Shepherd Jesus Easter Egg Figure with Pedestal for two year's now. Both times I thought it was on it's way, it never did show up and my orders ended up being cancelled... after Easter. This year I was finally able to purchase it at Amazon! It is even prettier than I thought it would be from the pictures.
A few more ideas: Good Shepherd Puzzle, Good Shepherd Holy Cards (from here or here), Lamb Puppet, this little stuffed lamb is as precious as can be, Lamb Cookie Cutter, Lamb Chocolates, and (if you don't have one yet) a lamb butter mold!
Bread of Life: Bread and Wine/Wheat and Grapes: Because of the bread and wine they produce, the symbols of wheat and grapes are often used to designate the Eucharist. Bread is the basic food of every culture and of every age in human history. Made from the toil of human hands, the many grains of wheat are transformed and become one to nourish and sustain us. A meal, in which bread is broken and shared, becomes a means of bonding human beings together. This is the sign Jesus used to describe Himself as the "Bread of Life." Following His command, in faith we take and eat this Bread, His Body, and become one with Him." From ancient times wine is associated with banquets, joy and celebration, a gift of God to gladden our hearts. The grapes, like the grains of wheat used for bread, are fruits of the earth and give of themselves in order that we might celebrate and be glad. This sign which Jesus used for His Blood, speaks to us of giving and of sacrifice in order that we might enjoy the benefits of His love in the banquet which is the foretaste of heavenly joy. IHS: IHS stands for the first three letters of the name Jesus in Greek.
For this symbol I decided to order one of the beautiful new Pysanky Bread Basket Liners from Catholic Embroidery. I know it isn't embroidered with the IHS, but it does have the Greek letters for Christ: IC XC and Greek verb for triumph: NIKA. (If you order this, or any of the Catholic Aprons, directly from this Catholic Cuisine page I will receive a commission. Thank you!)
A few more suggestions: A Mass Tote embroidered with the IHS symbol would be another great alternative. We love ours! The Chalice Notepad from Saints Galore would be lovely as well!
Lily: The lily represents purity, chastity, innocence, and St. Gabriel's trumpet, and is a symbol of Our Lady and used to depict the purity of the Saints, especially SS. Joseph, Francis, Clare, Anthony of Padua, and Catherine of Siena. In America, it has become, too, a symbol of the Resurrection. Legend says that lilies originated with Eve's tears when the first couple was banished from the Garden of Eden. Other legend says that they sprang up from the ground when drops of blood fell to the foot of the Cross. It is interesting that these two legends exist, because Christ, the New Adam, wipes away the tears of the children of Eve who became the children of Mary when Christ gave her to us, through John, from the Cross. Mary herself is symbolized also by another lily, lilium candidum, or the Madonna Lily. ~ Fisheaters
Every year I try and pick up an Easter Lily for our home right before Easter. I hope to do the same this year.
I also purchased The Parable of the Lily for the children, to include in the basket for this symbol. I haven't read it yet, but it looks like a sweet book and we have enjoyed the others in the series including The Legend of the Candy Cane.
Egg: The egg is like Jesus’ tomb. It is enclosed, it is quiet, and it seems lifeless. Yet within an egg, the promise of new life is waiting to burst forth. Jesus’ tomb was like an egg until early on Easter when Jesus rose up to a new and glorious life. ~ Catechist.com
A few other ideas: Egg Candies, Egg themed Easter Books (including the ones in this post under Easter Eggs), Egg Decorating Supplies, or maybe even some Hand-painted Pysanky Eggs. Oh, and I am intrigued by this Butterfly Easter Egg Puzzleball and this Ravensburger Easter Puzzleball Lamb Jigsaw Puzzle. Do any of you have either of those and what do you think?
Butterfly: Butterflies are an apt symbol of the day's meaning. Beginning life as lowly humble caterpillars, they "entomb" themselves in cocoons only to emerge with jewel-colored wings and the ability to soar. What better symbol of the Resurrection -- except maybe for eggs, which had always been symbols of Spring and were items of wonderment to all -- an inanimate object out of which comes life. For Christians, they became the perfect symbol of the tomb Christ conquered. ~ Fisheaters
Spring Angel Egg as well? She is holding a Butterfly after all! ;) Had I been able to find it at a better price I just might not have been able to resist... Maybe next year!
Anyhow, we ALL love the Folkmanis Puppets! I've already ordered a Chick Finger Puppet for in Snuggles' basket. I thought I'd order a Butterfly Puppet for the whole family. I had a hard time deciding, but ended up just choosing the cute little Mini Monarch Butterfly Finger Puppet.
A few more ideas: (In case you are not addicted to all things made by Joseph's Studio)... A Butterfly Puzzle would be fun, as would a Live Butterfly Garden or this tube of Wild Republic Nature Butterflies.
Peacock: "It was once believed that the flesh of the peacock never corrupts, so peacocks became the classic symbol of immortality. They are an ancient Christian symbol of the Resurrection, and representations of them are found on the tombs of ancient Christians as an expression of their hope to follow Christ in His defeat of death. " ~ Fisheaters
peacock that I ran across on Etsy. I placed it in my cart and meant to go back to place the order once I had a little money in my Paypal account, but someone else beat me to it. Oh well. Instead I found the another little wooden Peacock made by Holztiger.
A few more suggestions: The Plush Peacock that made it's way into our basket last year is just darling. I love the Folkmanis Peacock Puppet, and the Safari: Peacock would also be a cute (smaller) option. And doesn't this Paint By Number with Watercolor EcoPencils Peacock look like fun?
Bells: "In countries like France and Italy the bells are silent from Holy Thursday until Easter Sunday. In Germany and central Europe even the bells on farm buildings are still, though they begin to ring again on Holy Saturday. With the bells silent, the farm people of the Middle Ages felt uneasy. So, to comfort themselves and their children, they would say, "The bells have flown to Rome, but they'll come back on Easter." ~ Lilies, Rabbits, and Painted Eggs: The Story of The Easter Symbols
Musical Hand Bells for awhile now, but they are rather expensive. I've also considered this Bells Of The Holy Land CD. (The chiming of church bells is one of the distinct characteristics of the Holy Land. This original collection of ringing bells, including special feast ringings, continues a Christian tradition begun in the 6th century. Hear the bells, and through them, be transported in sound to the grandeur of the Land of the Bible.) Another fun idea would be a Dinner Bell, we do live in the country after all. I just can't decide. I suppose I can always resort to that bag of Hershey Chocolate bells I picked up on clearance after Christmas...
And once again, here is the link to the Easter Symbols Booklet.
If you are still looking for some additional ideas for your children's baskets, last year I posted some Catholic Easter Basket Ideas and you can also browse through the posts from our past Easter Mornings here (including 2011, 2010, 2009).