When I was a child growing up in Maine, my grandparents came to our house each and every May Day with little baskets filled to the brim with candies, animal cookies and popcorn. These vibrant baskets were decorated with frilled papers and tissue flowers and were a delight to look at, even after the contents were emptied and enjoyed.
My mother and grandmother would sometimes purchase these baskets from a small penny candy shop in Bar Harbor for a quarter. Once in a while we would even make them ourselves.
Bought or handmade, giving May baskets on the first day of May has become a tried and true cherished tradition. I love to fill May baskets with flower seed packets, chocolates, and little trinkets or toys. You can also add other items such as miniature soaps; lip balm; baked cookies or homemade candy; nostalgic candies from a penny shop; coupons; photos; stickers; a gift card; hand drawn pictures from your child (if giving baskets to relatives); magnets; treats and snacks; crayons; and petite flower bouquets.
Materials to Make a May Basket:
- Various colored streamers
- Seed pots or recycled and cleaned paper milk cartons
- A recycled cereal box (or other thin cardboard)
- Ribbon (optional)
Instructions to Make a May Basket”
If using milk cartons, trim them down to a square shape. Seed pots need not be trimmed.
To Make Basket Handles:
I often use a ribbon for my May basket handles. If you opt for using ribbon, you can simply punch a hole on opposite sides of your basket and tie your ribbon to each side.
To make a cardboard handle, cut a ½ – ¾” wide strip of thin cardboard, i.e. from a recycled cereal box. The length of your handle will depend on the size of your milk carton or seed pot. You can test the length by holding it in place in your basket. Trim as needed but do not attach the handle yet.
Decorate the basket handle with streamers—one color is easiest. Tightly wrap the handle by turning the handle over and wrapping with streamers as you go. Apply glue as needed. Repeat till the handle is wrapped tightly in streamers.
When handle is wrapped and trimmed, staple the handle in place on the basket.
To Make Baskets:
Choose the color of streamers you want to start with—this will be the top layer of color on your basket.
Measure and cut the streamers into one foot strips (longer if doing the entire basket one color).
Fold the streamer in half lengthwise.
Hold the seamed edge of the streamer in your non-dominant hand. With your other hand trim tiny snips along the entire length of the streamer (like making grass).
Place one end of the streamer at the top of the basket rim so that the frills are up and over the rim of the basket.
Tape the end of the streamer down to hold it in place.
With glue or glue stick, put a small amount of glue in a strip along the rim of the basket.
When you finish trimming the entire rim, pull the streamer gently down (just a hair, so to speak) and continue wrapping around the basket, adding glue as needed.
If you need to stop wrapping at any point (i.e. to start another row of color) simply trim off the streamer and glue or tape it down. If the streamer runs out, then glue or tape that down also.
Repeat the process above using different colored streamers to make layers of color.
When you get to the bottom layer, you will need to glue the streamer down along the bottom rim of the carton. This is the bottom of your May basket.
Wrap the streamer around the rim.
For a fuller look to your basket, gently slide your hand down each side of the basket in the opposite direction of the frills.
Fill the basket with Easter grass, paper grass, or other filling. Then add your May basket goodies!
Deliver your baskets to friends and loved ones!