Whether you hide jelly beans in your living room, plastic eggs in your backyard, or dyed hard-boiled eggs in your local park, an Easter egg hunt is a fun way to celebrate both the Easter holiday and the arrival of spring. Even the White House gets into the act with a free online ticket lottery, allowing families across the country to participate in the annual event.

But how did the Easter egg hunt become a holiday tradition? We’ve taken a crack at opening the history of this colorful event and offering some ideas for hosting your own hunt.

How did Easter egg hunts get started?

Although Easter is a religious holiday celebrating the resurrection of Jesus Christ, many of its customs have pagan roots.

“When people convert to a religion, their past goes with them,” explains Ace Collins, author of Stories Behind the Traditions and Songs of Easter. “The egg has been a symbol of life since the beginning of time, and egg hunts were part of life long before they were wrapped into the Easter holiday.”

Eggs are an important food source. Throughout the centuries parents have sent their children out to hunt for eggs, Collins further explains.

The egg has been a symbol of life since the beginning of time, and egg hunts were part of life long before they were wrapped into the Easter holiday.

Ace Collins

Author of Stories Behind the Traditions and Songs of Easter

ace collins headshot

One theory for the Easter tie-in is that early Christians often gave up eating eggs for Lent, the 40-day period leading up to Easter. Many people would decorate their eggs to mark their fast and then bring them to church to be blessed by the priest as part of the Easter celebration. Over time, this tradition of decorating eggs became intertwined with the Easter holiday.

We can thank German immigrants for bringing the Easter egg hunt to America in the late 18th century. Germans who settled in Pennsylvania brought their tradition of the egg-laying hare (called the “Osterhase” or “Oschter Haws”), and their children made nests and carried grass-lined baskets for their Easter eggs.

And where does the Easter Bunny fit in? Collins says that children often scared rabbits away from the meadows when hunting for eggs. As a result, some little ones believed the rabbits had left behind the eggs. “We would not have the Easter Bunny tradition without the Easter egg hunt,” Collins notes.

Today, although Easter remains a religious holiday, the Easter egg hunt has become a way for children to have some wholesome fun together. “Although we may now have plastic eggs and new ways to color and decorate eggs, the hunt itself has not changed through the years,” Collins says. “It still involves children trying to find as many eggs as they can.”

Tips for hosting an Easter egg hunt

The basics for staging an Easter egg hunt are easy. All you need are some willing participants equipped with baskets or other containers, some eggs (hard-boiled, candy, or plastic), and an open space.

If you’re planning an outdoor event, have a backup location in mind in case the weather turns cold or soggy. Also, consider the ages and abilities of the children involved. You want to place eggs in places that are easy for young participants to find and more challenging for older ones.

The rest is up to you. You can make things as creative and as competitive as you wish. Here are some ideas to get your creative juices flowing.

1. Include words of encouragement

Instead of filling all the plastic eggs with candy or money, switch it up by placing some secret messages inside. You can explore the true meaning of the holiday with Bible verses or include expressions of love and kindness. Or what about including a voucher for a movie night or lunch “date”?

easter egg hunt with girl picking up easter eggs

2. Use personalized baskets

Surprise your kids on Easter morning with personalized baskets. These attractive willow baskets come with folding handles, and you can have your child’s name embroidered on the removable liner.

3. Delight them with treats

You are sure to see smiles when your kids or grandkids find yummy buttercream frosted cookies on their hunt. And it’s even better when the goodies are decorated in pastel-colored frosting!

4. Don’t forget the chocolate

Who says you can’t hide a few chocolate bunnies along with the eggs? No-bunny, that’s who! Your kids will love the look and taste of not one but two copies of the famous Mr. Ears!

5. Try a scavenger hunt

You can tuck clues inside each child’s basket that take them from one location to another and ultimately lead them to a prize. Or give each kid a checklist of the different colored eggs they need to find. Make sure there’s no confusion during the thrill of the hunt by affixing these personalized wooden tags to each basket.

easter egg hunt with girl playing with easter eggs

6. Plan a pre- or post-hunt activity

In case the hunt itself isn’t enough to keep everyone entertained, break out the Easter cut-out cookie decorating kit. With all the cookies, frosting, icing, and sprinkles you’ll need for the whole party, it’ll provide hours of fun for kids and adults alike.

7. Keep the hunt going at mealtime

Are you hosting an Easter brunch? Hide a few eggs among the place settings and centerpiece. The pastel blooms and colorful plastic eggs in this Easter Egg Basket add a festive touch.

8. Tally the count and offer prizes

As the event host, you’ll need to count the eggs you hide so you’ll know when they’ve all been found. Of course, the child with the most eggs should be rewarded, but you can also offer prizes for things like diligence and patience. These Easter Gift Tin Ornaments are the perfect prizes. Each one includes a selection of cookies and snacks, and comes with a hang tag that allows you to personalize them.


Tricia Drevets has over 15 years of experience as a freelance writer, specializing in topics of interest to small business owners. She also frequently writes about parenting, senior care, and healthy living. When she’s not at her keyboard, you might find her digging in her garden or hiking the trails of Southern Oregon with her golden retriever.

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