Every year on May 1st, my children drop off May Day baskets to neighbors. It’s become a fun tradition that involves sneaking around, delivering baskets with speed and stealth while not getting caught, and trying to find neighbors doing the exact same thing.
This year will be no different. Social distancing and pandemic aside, delivering May Day baskets fall within the guidelines of our current restrictions. Even better, if you’re looking for a craft idea to occupy your children, and want to feel the joy of surprising/gifting to others, then May Day is just what you need.
This May, we may expand beyond the neighborhood friends to include a few school friends who are dearly missed. And while the ding-dong-ditch mentality will probably reign within our local ‘hood for tradition’s sake, we’ll linger for a short conversation from the safety of our car for others.
May Day baskets originated centuries ago as a curious custom. Toward the end of April, people would gather flowers, candies, and other treats to wrap in pretty paper and hang on the door of a friend or secret loved one. In some traditions, if the recipient caught the giver, s/he would give chase and reward the giver with a kiss.
Kisses aside, my kids love a good, stealth-and-chase scenario, especially if it involves friends and treats.
Modern May Day
Nowadays, May Day baskets can be as elaborate or as simple as you decide. If you check Pinterest, you’ll find anything from expertly crafted pieces of art to basic and homemade. Besides, where once flowers were the primary filler, food and non-edible treats have become acceptable as well. Lastly, while my children thrive off perfecting the most covert delivery tactic, anonymity is optional.
Traditional paper baskets or cornucopias will hang from a doorknob well. Simply twist a piece of paper into a cone, secure the edge with tape, and use ribbon, a narrow strip of paper, or a pipe cleaner for a handle. Check out the printable below!
However, if you are gifting multiple—say, individual baskets for each household member—hanging several paper cornucopias becomes problematic, and treats tend to spill out. Instead, try using something with a flat surface that can be set on the doorstep. Our go-to is paper or plastic cups. Use a hole punch and a pipe cleaner (or ribbon and tape) to create the basket appearance. Small paper bags or tin cans also work. Don’t forget to decorate it! That’s part of the fun.
Fill your baskets with treats of choice, or in today’s normal, with what you have on hand. Popcorn is a staple in ours. Optional mix-ins include M&M’s, skittles, fruit snacks, or starbursts. For infants and toddlers who can’t have popcorn, try taping pipe cleaners to Go-Go Squeeze pouches or paper petals to suckers. Non-edible standards are pencils, silly straws, bubbles, or chalk.
Stealth is optional for some–a must for my children. First, scope out the perimeter of the target. When the coast is clear, carefully hang baskets on the doorknob of the recipient or place securely on a flat surface to the side of the door. Knock loudly three times and run like mad, hurtling the baskets or landscaping if necessary. Do not run away within direct sight of the door. It’s a dead giveaway.
Or, if stealth is not a priority, place baskets on the stoop, knock, and politely step back. Wish the recipient a “Happy May Day” and go about your day.
Use what you have for baskets and fillers or purchase ahead of time with intention. Make small, individual baskets for each family member or select a larger variety for the family to share. Most of all, have fun!