Hosting a full-on Easter party can turn you into a basket case. Instead, opt for this easy-yet-elegant gathering where adults can graze and relax as kids enjoy the fun
My son is an only child—an only cousin, even—so I couldn't let him hunt alone!" says editor-at-large Kimberly Schlegel Whitman, who started hosting an annual Easter egg hunt at her family's Texas ranch, about 45 minutes north of Dallas, in 2009. These days, 4-year-old J.R. is far from flying solo. In fact, 150 friends and family members now make their way to the ranch every Easter afternoon after carving the requisite ham with their immediate families. "We don't want to interrupt the traditional post-church meal, so we always schedule the hunt for midafternoon," Kimberly says. That way, family rituals remain intact and the menu (think sandwiches and handheld sweets) remains manageable. Here, a few recipes and kid-friendly ideas (a petting zoo!) so that you can also rise to the occasion.
Let kids and adults help themselves to festive sodas and homemade lemonade (in Mason jars) over ice in a unique "cooler,"
such as an old horse trough.
Try our Coconut Lemonade: Stir together 2 (12-oz.) cans frozen lemonade concentrate, thawed; ½ cup cream of coconut; and 2 lemons, thinly sliced, in a 3-qt. container. Stir in 6 cups water. Cover and chill 1 hour before serving.
Cover kid-size activity tables with butcher paper and display assorted crayons in colored sand (available at crayola.com). Kimberly even uses the colored sand, which is miraculously stain proof, in sandboxes.
When it comes to kids, a live petting zoo is always a hit. Kimberly's uncle, who lives at the ranch, provides supervised access to chicks and bunnies, but you can search "mobile petting zoo" online to find local hares-for-hire.
After a friend reads the Easter story from an illustrated children's book (and signs and dates the book as a keepsake), it's time for the big event. To ensure that the little ones don't get out-hunted, designate, say, green and yellow eggs for those 3 and under. Kimberly, who is clearly all too familiar with Texas weather, advises against filling those eggs with melt-prone candy.
Hazelnut-Strawberry Sandwiches: Smear hazelnut spread and strawberry jam on white bread. Wrap sandwiches in wax paper to keep them soft. Secure with stickers.
Mix in a few creamy peanut butter-and-honey sandwiches too.
“Rabbit Food” Cups: Spoon hummus or green goddess dip into small plastic cups. Add thin strips of carrots, celery, and zucchini.
Two-Ingredient Chicken Strips: Pump up the flavor of chicken tenders by marinating a few hours in Ranch dressing and grilling. They’re so flavorful you don’t need to serve a dipping sauce, which could mar those Easter outfits.
Make birds' nests with malted milk balls and edible paper (wilton.com).