These photos were just taken four years ago…and what a difference just a few years make!

My son Ethan is in junior high now, and would be more likely to be inside the bunny costume than to be caught in a photo with the bunny.

You know that time flies with your children, so it’s important to make holidays like Easter memorable for your kids.

There is nothing wrong with jelly beans, Easter bunnies, and chocolate eggs.  But if that’s all there is to Easter, our kids will miss the point entirely.  Here are few ways you can be more intentional about celebrating Easter with faith building in mind:

Invite a friend to Easter service.  Lead your children in a prayer for their friends, asking God to show them who would be a good friend to invite to church.  When you know who you’re going to invite, your small children might draw a picture invitation.  Your teens can text.  Your kids might even invite an adult that’s a friend of yours.  Offer to sit with your visiting friends and maybe bring something special for them to church like a small candy bar with a ribbon.

Write Jesus a thank you letter.  This is something the whole family can do.   Have everyone sit around the dinner table with paper and writing utensils (pencils, pens, crayons, colored pencils, markers).  Write personal letters to Jesus, thanking Him for dying on the cross and for the radical difference His love has made.  After Easter dinner, these thank you notes could be read aloud to one another.

Lights out.  I love this idea from my friend Angie Mosteller at CelebratingHolidays.com.  Starting on the evening of Good Friday, keep the lights off in your home until Easter morning.  What a memorable way to illustrate the darkness of our world before Christ’s resurrection.  Make sure you are prepared with candles, camping lanterns, and/or flashlights so you can move freely around the house after dark.  You may want to tape down the light switches so you don’t forget to keep the lights off.  You can still use electricity like normal, just lose the lights.  We are going to try this!

Outdoor breakfast.  Most of us eat our breakfast indoors, so stepping outside for breakfast would be a memorable change of pace and place.  On the Saturday or Sunday of Easter weekend, you can eat outdoors and talk about what it would have been like to be one of Jesus’ disciples on Easter morning.  How do you think they felt when Mary Magdalene said, “I have seen the Lord!”?

You’ll notice all these options are completely free.  They will not cost you any money.  You don’t have to go to the grocery store or superstore to get supplies.  Simplify Easter by buying less and remembering the love of Christ more.

Arlene Pellicane

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