Easter centerpieces are a great way to make holidays as festive and special as possible. Even if you don’t want to go all out (and there’s nothing wrong with that), you can make a simple centerpiece to jazz up the table. If your house is anything like mine, the table is the center of all the action at the holidays anyway. Discover these Easter centerpieces that I’ve made in no time at all:
Bunnies and Flowers Oh My
To make these Easter centerpieces, I turned to stuff I already had lying around the house. The electronic candles were a gift, and I had purchased the bunnies and plastic glittered eggs at the dollar store long ago. I picked up some silk and paper flowers, Spanish moss, and some malted chocolate eggs and created the scene in dollar-store-purchased baking pans. If I could have found one longer rectangular container, I would have combined the two Easter centerpieces to make one dramatic scene setter for the tabletop.
Jazz Up Supermarket Flowers
Egg-cellent Easter Centerpieces
The landscaper’s daughter, I’m a big fan of live flowers and plants. Designing floral bouquets is one of my favorite pastimes. But I don’t like spending a lot of money on the flowers and fillers. So, I often head to the supermarket. Carnations are a true bargain because they come in an array of colors and last a long time as long as you keep changing the water. Their full flower also packs a punch. I could not pass up the is bunch in soft and hot pink with a muted beige carnation and silver-painted baby’s breath. All I did was put cool water in the butterfly-covered vase, trimmed the ends of the carnations, and plopped them into place. Then, I added the egg picks that I had long ago bought at Michael’s in a post-Easter shopping spree.
Pull out your best crystal bowl (or even a transparent plastic one from the dollar store). Then, insert a smaller glass or vase in the center of the bowl. I actually used a cleaned out jar of salsa, and I added double sided tape to keep the jar in place. I added water to the smaller jar. Then, i filled the area between the bowl and the jar with colorful plastic Easter eggs. Finally, I created the look I wanted with the bouquet (again with flowers from the supermarket). I kept the flowers in place with a rubber band. And I placed the bouquet into the jar of water. Of all my centerpieces, this is one probably received the most compliments.
Nothing says Easter quite like bunny ears. And floral bunny ears are whimsical and lovely. They add a certain air of femininity and sophistication that is lacking in those furry dollar store ones. The good news is that this floral version provides a rich look at a cheap price point. Learn how to make your own floral bunny ears for Easter or a bunny- or woodland creatures-themed party.
Headband – You can choose a thicker band if you’d like. I was making this for my 7-year-old niece’s birthday party, and she’s small, so I wanted something more demure. I owned a thin, gold headband. It had a bow on it, but I simply removed it.
Silk or fabric flowers and greens – Many of the floral bunny ears you’ll find on Pinterest use giant flowers. Again, I was making this for a small child, so I chose smaller flowers. It’s up to you to choose the look you prefer. And I picked pink and white because of the color scheme of the rest of her outfit. But any colors would work. Make sure you have a couple of green leaves or buds to include, too.
Pipe cleaners – You can use pipe cleaners in any color. I thought the gold went well with pink and white and matched the headband.
Hot glue gun and glue sticks – To make this headband, you must have a hot glue gun and plenty of glue sticks.
Design Your Floral Bunny Ears
First, take two pipe cleaners and bend them into bunny ears. Then, wrap each around the headband to attach them. Be careful not to make them too bulky when attaching them. Test how they feel on your heard before adhering hot glue to keep them in place. Before using the hot glue gun on the flowers, test different looks to see what you like. I decided I liked each side to mirror the other with the larger flower in the middle. Finally, hot glue those babies as though your life depends on them staying put. I let my headband dry overnight and added second and third dabs of hot glue to ensure durability.
Non-school vacations, when parents take their children out of school to go on holiday, are stirring up controversy. The British Supreme Court recently ruled in favor of the school that fined a father in the United Kingdom for taking his then 6-year-old daughter out of school for a trip to Disney World in Orlando, Fla. This case had people online, including the popular podcast Dis Unplugged, buzzing about whether it is all right for parents to take their kids out of school for a vacation.
Non-School Vacations Ruling Speaks to Bigger Problems
Even though the fine was small (about $180), the U.K. father wanted to make a point about the rights he has to parent his kid the way he wants. And ultimately he failed. Find out why you should side with dad in this case:
Parents Know Their Own Kids
This dad clearly felt his daughter could handle a week off from school. Some parents know their kid can’t miss the work and still keep up, so they do not take off unless the school is closed. While schools have good intentions and teachers can get to know their students fairly well, most parents know their own kids better. Ideally, the teachers and the parents are regularly communicating about what’s happening in school and at home, so that everyone can make more informed, customized decisions about each child’s education.
Grown-Ups Can Be Responsible
Unless they are abusing or neglecting their kids or acting immaturely or irresponsibly themselves, parents are adults capable of making responsible decisions. This father had not come up on charges of abuse or neglect. In fact, according to reports, his daughter had a 90+ attendance rate at school before and after the trip. Clearly, she and her parents were showing up, which demonstrates some responsibility.
Micro-Managing Parents Is Uncool
We joke about how in the 1970s our parents let us walk to the park by ourselves when we were in elementary school or how seat belts were optional, and we miraculously survived. Nowadays, we’ve gone to the complete opposite extreme. Now, we reprimand, fine, or even jail parents for allowing their kids an Oreo cookie at lunch, to walk anywhere by themselves until they are well into their teens, or take a vacation when school is open. Some of these changes are positive; seat belts and child safety seats are a great thing. But we’ve gone from one extreme to another. We need to find the sweet spot in the center. Let parents take that stick out of you know where and do their thing. An Oreo now and then won’t kill the kid and a modicum of independence might help us all.
Kids Should Be Kids
A teen who misses a week during junior year of high school, when the pressure is on to prepare for college admissions is one thing. A child in elementary school, especially in kindergarten or first grade, is another. Sure, school is always important. But soon enough kids will be growing up and getting jobs full of responsibility. Let them be kids while they’re kids. Life is too short to be a grown up from the start. Missing first grade should not be a life sentence to mediocrity. It should mean having to catch up on playing house and sounding out words. Of course, the amount of time one is absent should make a difference, too. A week is not three weeks, which is different and could require some sort of repercussions. Still, youth should be on the side of the dad and his daughter in this case.
The Vacation Might Be Better for Development Than School
This idea might be the most controversial opinion I’m sharing here. But I have found that when I can focus my attention solely on my child, he pays more attention, behaves better, and seems to feel more secure. Work and school get in the way of all that. On vacation, I can really place my energy on talking and bonding with my son. We’re both more relaxed than usual. Any chance we get to do that is fine by me. I’m not sure if he’s ever going to remember the algebra he will eventually learn, but I know he’ll remember our times at Disney World and in Italy forever. He is going to be this small for a short time, and it’s already flying by me. Kids who spend real quality time with their parents – eating at the dinner table, going on vacation – are less prone to peer pressure and, I would bet, do better in life.
My Child, My Choice
The bottom line is that this father should have had the right to make decisions about his daughter without interference from the government. While education is of the utmost importance, and I value teachers and all they do for us, in the end, my son is mine. He’s my responsibility. The same is true for this father and his daughter. As a result, we should all be able to make decisions we think are right for our children. Period.
My biggest challenge as a mother is to teach my son to be a good person. I look around me, and I see cheaters and liars running the world, bullies running the Internet, and soul-sucking institutions paying lip service to good behavior but demonstrating something else entirely. The hypocrisy is maddening. And it weighs on my heart. I don’t know how to save this sweet boy’s kindness for posterity.
But does it really have to be this complicated? Being a good person is simple when you think about it. You just have to do the right thing and black out the badness in the outer world. Etch what you believe on your kids’ hearts before you set them out into the world to face the wolves. The journey begins with you and the behavior you model. Discover how to be a good person in practice, not just in name:
Follow the Golden Rule
The Golden Rule has people treating others the way they would like to be treated. I think of it as the simplest explanation of how to show respect for those around you. If you don’t want someone calling you names, you don’t call him names. This rule expresses the very thing I am seeking to do – model the right kind of behavior.
Help Those in Need
My son had delayed speech as many of you know. He goes to school with other children, who have all sorts of delays and abilities. Some of them have a harder time than others at school. So, once my son started speaking and seemed to be understanding me, we talked about what to do if one of his friends is crying or does not want to participate. Lo and behold, his speech therapist introduced similar discussion in some of her lessons, too. My son got the message because when a boy, who didn’t yet speak, cried hysterically on his first day of school, I watched my son hand him a pinecone he found on the ground and give him a hug. The boy stopped crying. Now, my son says you have to give someone a pinecone when he’s crying. Sounds good to me.
To Be a Good Person, Have a Good Heart
This tip is a bit more opaque than the others. Sometimes, we let anger fester, and it can bring us down. It colors how we see the world until all we see is gray. We lose optimism and experience paranoia. We become grouches. And we treat others poorly – or ignore them all together – with the excuse that the world is a miserable place. Becoming an angry bird in the face of opposition is not the answer. You have to make the effort to seek out the good among the bad, so that your heart remains. This is a much harder lesson to teach. The good news is that kids bounce back from hardship more easily than grown ups, and they have an unmatched innocence. So, it’s easier to keep their heart in check.
Love Your Neighbor
I hate to borrow from the 10 Commandments because being a good person should not have to be a religious pursuit. But this one is important. Many of us don’t even know our neighbors anymore. It’s amazing really. Much of today’s technology was meant to help people connect with those near and far with ease, and yet it has driven us further apart. You don’t have to be best friends with your neighbors but say, “Hi,” to them when you see them. Learn their names. Ask them how they are doing. Of course, respect their property. Talking to people promotes understanding and creates a sense of community. When you’re part of a community, you want to contribute to it.
Suffer A Little
You’re probably thinking this sounds out of sorts on this list. But many parents rush to solve every little problem their child faces. They never allow them to cry or experience a challenge. Believe me, I know how tough it is to watch your child suffer; my first instinct is always to run to his aid. But it does more harm than good. It’s a shot in the arm for the moment at hand. But later on, what will he do in the face of real adversity? When children grow up unable to cope with the hard times, they come to feel entitled to perfection, which of course does not exist. They may come to be arrogant or have unreal expectations about the relationships they have with real people. When you suffer a little, you become more empathetic to those around you, and you have a grasp on how to deal with those sour lemons that come your way.
Tell people the truth. Be transparent and open. When you have nothing to hide, you are more relaxed and more receptive to those around you. Honesty also helps your kids know where you stand, and they might be more likely to shun lying to you. If you’re never caught in a lie and show up when you say you will, you also will build trust, which is a great foundation for any relationship.
Work hard at whatever you do. Persevere. Pay your taxes. Volunteer for causes about which you care. Do right by your family. Spread the love. Be a responsible adult in your community, and your child will see what it means to give back and help the whole village grow. Granted, these lessons won’t be understood overnight. But being a good person takes a lifetime of effort, so you have plenty of time.
We stop hugging our children, especially our sons, after they grow up just a little bit. But we should hug them well into adulthood. Hugs are soothing, they bring everyone a little peace, and they have the power to make time stand still even if it’s just for a few seconds. Hugs are a way to demonstrate love. And love breeds love.
Essex County Turtle Back Zoo in West Orange, N.J. is a quaint day trip for New Jerseyans or visitors to the area. The kids had a blast running through fountains that were turned on to help people cool off, gawking at the sea lions (see above), and feeding the birds. Discover what you’ll experience should you make the journey to TBZ:
In the above sign, you’ll notice Family Fun Nights in the summer and ads for the Zoological Society of New Jersey. Encouraging guests to “have a wild day” was perfect for me and mine.The Turtle Back Zoo offers locals many opportunities to connect with nature. We were braving the zoo with three kids 5 and under. Indeed, it was wild. Frankly, the kids might have been wilder than the animals they were seeing.
The Charm of Turtle Back Zoo
Appropriately, the first animals we saw upon our visit to the Turtle Back Zoo were turtles. Actually, they were tortoises, but close enough. What fascinated the kids? The baby pooping right before their eyes. They found it downright hilarious. And we adults had the chance to sing, “Everybodyyyyy poopssss,” ala Dinosaur Train. My son was really looking forward to seeing the stars of Happy Feet, but there was a long penguin in the habitat, which had my sister the professional zookeeper concerned. Still, despite that disappointment, we charged on.
One of the unique aspects of the zoo is the interactive aviary. Guests are not allowed to touch the birds, which include parakeets (see photo below), but they can feed them. You can purchase sticks with birdseed on them and hold them out for the birds to come to you. The kids went wild. The birds were chirping directly in their ears and munching the food off the sticks that they held in their hands. My son and niece had grins as wide as the Hudson. My mom was another story. She had birds sitting on her feet and trying to fly up her leg because much of the bird seed lands on the ground. My sister-in-law and I had to maneuver the strollers with bird seeds on the wheels without rolling over an unsuspecting parakeet.
Sea lions and monkeys are always entertaining. A small petting zoo with all the usual suspects, including goats, rounded out the highlights. As we walked out of the gift shop on our way out of the zoo, a lovely peacock walked up to us and displayed his plumage despite the rain storm. The promise of giraffes existed when we went to the zoo, but they had not arrived yet. As of 2016, you can find them in the African Adventure.
What’s lovely about these little zoos is that they are not so overwhelming. The three kids actually amused themselves by observing the animals and taking in the details of the zoo. There was an elephant statue that they all climbed on to take a picture. Running through the fountains (see below) was not just for cooling off. It was also a memory in the making. They were dancing around without a care in the world, and it brought us all back to our own childhood. Isn’t that, in part, what a day at the zoo is all about?
A photo bouquet centerpiece is a bit of eye candy that guests greatly appreciate at any celebration. I made the one in the photo above for my nephew’s birthday, and the best part was everyone could take home pictures of themselves as favors. I purposely included all the family members who were coming. And I dressed up the photos, to boot. My mom made chocolate lollipops, which added to the decorative element.
What You Need to Make a Photo Bouquet Centerpiece
Loaf pan or rectangular box (I picked up this one at the dollar store)
Edited, printed photos
Popsicle sticks, craft sticks, or wooden skewers (which I also found at the dollar store)
Pick Your Pictures
Try to find your favorite pictures. Start with the guest of honor. In our case, the party was for my nephew, but a few other people had birthdays around the same time. So, we included photos of all the younger people expected at the celebration. If possible, having at least one photo of each guest or a photo of the guest of honor with the friends and family at the party are all nice touches. You can also set up a photo shoot to capture images of the guest of honor befitting the theme. For example, my nephew’s party was Paw Patrol, so we had him wear fireman’s gear.
Pictures alone are fine and well. But you can have fun with this. It’s a party, after all. So, why not add emojis or mustaches? Or masks and crowns? Pic Monkey is my first stop when I want to add fun details to photos. I have added a chef’s hat and mustache to my then 2 year old son’s photo for cupcake toppers at his pizza-themed birthday party. For the photo bouquet centerpiece in the image above, I added all sorts of graphics, stickers, and accessories. Of course, you can also change the tint and color. You can crop the photo. You are really only limited by your imagination.
Print the Photos
Once you have put the finishing touches on the photos and you’re pleased with the results, you have to print copies of them. Even though I only displayed one of each photo, I made doubles and triples of some of them, so I could give them away to the people in the photo. To save money, you can stick to one each for the photo bouquet centerpiece. If you don’t have a printer capable of making all these copies, you can use a photo printing service. I often use Shutterfly or my local CVS or Walgreens. I find Shutterfly images are high quality, but Walgreens are nearly as good and usually much cheaper. CVS isn’t expensive but the quality is inconsistent.
Build the Photo Bouquet Centerpiece
After you have gathered all the materials, including the printed photos, you must build the photo bouquet centerpiece. The first step is attaching the sticks to the photos. I use a piece of adhesive tape. Next, make sure the styrofoam fits snugly into the loaf pan. If not, cut it down to size. Then, you must cover the styrofoam in tissue paper. I wrap it as I would a gift box and place it into the loaf pan. Finally, I stick the photos into the styrofoam as desired. I tried to stagger the depth of each stick, so you could see all the photos. The last step, however, is to add those shorter lollipops. Doesn’t it make for one sweet centerpiece?
St. Joseph’s Day, which is known as the festa di San Giuseppe, is actually Father’s Day in Italy. In a country where the overwhelming majority of the population is Catholic (and the Pope is your neighbor), saints are a big deal. This is, of course, especially true in southern Italy. San Giuseppe is celebrated March 19. Like all other feast days honoring saints, this one recognizes everyone named Giuseppe (Joseph) and Giuseppina (Josephine).
How St. Joseph’s Day Is Celebrated in Italy
But some feast days include other celebrations. They sometimes associate the day as a way to honor whatever the saint is said to oversee. Saint Peter is the patron saint of fishermen, so on that feast day (June 29) in Ischia, a small island off the coast of Naples in Italy, the fisherman fry up fresh fish at the porto and give it away for free. Since Joseph served as Jesus’ dad on Earth, he is associated with fathers. So, Italians consider March 19 the festa dei papa (feast of fathers), too. And June doesn’t even register for them.
Indeed, today Italians are offering up handmade cards, recited poems, little gifts, and good food to their fathers. Many are shouting, “Auguri” to the fathers they see in the piazza or at the pranzo (lunch) table. I’m about to make homemade gnocchi and a promise for a dinner out to my husband, the father of our son. The meal would be incomplete without dolci, some sweets. On this day the cream adorned zeppoles that either fried or baked are the traditional dessert.
The Takeaway for Italians Abroad
The message here is to be kind to your fathers on this feast day, which happens to fall on Sunday Funday this year. You don’t need fresh pasta or even a gift. A hug and a kiss will likely suffice. And a St. Joseph’s Day zeppole like the ones in the photo above wouldn’t hurt. C’mon, who could resist?