Looking for a fun family activity with an element of service and surprise? May baskets are a charming way to celebrate the coming of spring while spreading a little joy to friends and neighbors. Plus, kids of all ages can enjoy this activity! The concept is simple: on May 1st, the giver leaves a small basket of flowers or goodies on a friend’s doorstep or front doorknob, then rings the doorbell and runs away and ducks out of sight. The friend opens the door to find the “anonymous” surprise left behind. (In theory, it’s entirely anonymous but realistically, the fun of surprising someone usually results in so much giggling that nobody stays hidden for long.)
May baskets have origins that may date back as far as ancient Rome and were a popular tradition in the United States’ Midwest and East Coast during the early and mid 20th century. Older folks often remember May baskets from their own childhoods and find the surprise twice as sweet. Who wouldn’t love to open the door to find an unexpected bouquet or container of treats?
A May basket can be as simple as an empty yogurt container filled with backyard flowers set on someone’s doorstep, or it can be as grand as your imagination can make it. Decorate berry baskets, small gift bags, little baskets or containers from the craft store, or whatever boxes or containers you have around the house. If you plan on attaching it to a doorknob, make sure you include a handle or cord that will allow you to hang it easily. Fill your basket with flowers or treats (choose something that won’t melt, just in case your recipient isn’t home) and leave your surprise for a friend or neighbor on May 1st. Make sure to hide once you have knocked! Need more ideas, google “May Day Basket Ideas”, the possibilities are endless.[The usual disclaimers apply: only give May baskets to people you know, not to strangers; if you are using home-grown flowers, make sure you get them from your own yard because parks and nature preserves do not allow visitors to take flowers home with them. Ms. Wagner learned this the hard way as a child.]
Guest Writer-Elizabeth Wagner is a special needs educator with over 10 years of experience working with special needs children in the classroom and home setting.