Given a fine, sunshiny spring day, nothing could more delight children than the merry hunt round the flower-beds, under the shrubbery, amongst the nooks and corners of the kitchen garden, and along the banks of any gold-fish pond or tiny ornamenta1 stream, where the realistic-looking Easter fish, whose in-sides are filled with chocolates - "poissons d'avril," as they are called in France - are hidden. Any number of boys and girls, ranging in age from four or five up to ten or eleven, may be invited, and should be asked to arrive at three, clad in their oldest clothes, warm coats and jerseys, and the thickest of boots, with goloshes for the little ones; for much of the fun consists in being able to scramble about on the grass and in and out of bushes, with some stiff tree-climbing for the bigger boys.
Along the banks of the stream are hidden Easter fish, or ' poissons d'avril," filled with chocolates
Dozens of yards of the cheapest narrow coloured ribbons, or balls of coloured twine or lengths of tape, if preferred, will be needed for the Easier Egg and Ribbon Game; also as many small highly coloured cardboard eggs - which open in half, and can be filled with a few bonbons or chocolates, and cost from 4 1/2d. each - as there are to be children present. A few larger eggs, containing a set of three little downy yellow chicks, or some other funny Easter toy, costing from 6d. to 8d. each, should also be hung in easily accessible places for the tiny tots of the party.
A dozen or two of penny or twopenny chocolate eggs, wrapped in silver paper, should be scattered on the ground in the shrubbery or amongst the rhododendrons. Some fluffy Easter rabbits that sit up and hold in their paws a pretty sugar egg can be dotted about in grassy corners to look as though they had just popped out of their burrows to bring up their Easter offerings.
They cost very little, and will delight the smaller children.
Glittering cardboard poissons d'avril, filled with sweets, may be obtained for the bigger boys and girls; and last, but not least, a bundle of hay and moss, and several dozen small speckled sugar eggs, which may be bought cheaply by the pound at any good sweet shop.
The prettiest and most realistic-looking birds' nests imaginable can be contrived in a few minutes from a wisp of hay with a little moss inside it. When from three to eight sugar eggs have been arranged in each nest, they should be perched on any convenient nesting-place amongst the bushes at about the height of a child's head above the ground on the morning of the hunt.
One or two of such nests may be half hidden high up amongst the creepers on the sides of the house, being so arranged that the contents of the nest will show from below. Others may be fixed against the standard rose-trees, or amongst the leaves of any big trees growing in tubs in front of the house.
A small bow-bedecked tree in the middle of the little plantation at one end of the garden is, as a rule, the starting-point for the afternoon's fun. From this tree run lengths of coloured ribbon, twine, or tape in all directions, like the points of a compass, carried in and out between bushes and round trees until they are lost to sight. How to Start the Hunt
When everyone has arrived, the little guests are drawn up in line in front of the house. Each is directed to draw out a coloured bow from one of the two small boxes provided, one being for the boys, the other for the girls. These having been pinned on, the children are at liberty to run to the decorated tree, where each one, having untied the end of whichever ribbon, string, or tape matches his or her bow, is directed to wind it up carefully, and follow it wherever it may lead.
The reason for the boys and girls having drawn bows from different boxes becomes apparent as the game goes on, for while the little girls are, before long, merrily untying gaily decorated Easter eggs from the ends of their ribbons that have been hung up in small bushes and shrubs, or from along the verandah rails, the boys have a very different task allotted to them. Their ribbons lead them a chase over all sorts of difficult climbing places, and are sometimes wound high up round a wide-spreading tree, to end half-way down a thick branch, from which dangles a big red or blue egg full of delicious sweetmeats, but high overhead.
To scale the tree is obviously the one thing to be done, and after much climbing and scrambling - amidst applause or jeers from the little girls, according to the skill of the performers - the coveted trophies are at last secured, and placed in a safe place by their young owners before starting off for the next egg-hunting expedition.
The End of the Chase
. A hint will probably be whispered now by the hostess to the children that something glittering like silver has been seen underneath the rhododendrons. In a moment the whole party; are off at a run, diving underneath the bushes; and much laughter is heard and a wild waving of bushes is seen as the children hunt amongst the roots for the glittering silver eggs which shimmer in the twilight obscurity that reigns beneath the thick canopy of leaves.
V Only take one each, but help the little ones to find theirs, if you will," are the directions of the hostess. And now a very dishevelled party of young folk merrily emerge, each one bringing out in triumph a silver egg.
The end of a little girl's ribbon trail, the egg in sight
When eggs, nests, fish, and rabbits have all been discovered, it will be high time to come in and get ready for tea; and as five o'clock strikes a party of merry, laughing children come trooping downstairs and file into the dining-room. There, besides bread-and-butter, buns, and chocolate cake, a delightful Easter surprise awaits each one in the shape of a poached egg, whose yolk is made from half an apricot, placed cut edge downwards on half a sponge cake, and surrounded with a circle of whipped cream to represent the white.
These, needless to say, are hailed with much delight, and give a finishing Easter-egg touch to the party.
Hen and Chickens Game
A big sitting hen, with outspread wings, should be cut from a sheet of brown paper and pasted on a big sheet of card-board - the lid of a dress-box answers the purpose - and hung up at one end of the room; or it can be drawn with white chalk on the blackboard, if there is one.
To begin the game, each child is given a wee chicken, cut from brown paper, and a drawing-pin, and, after having been blindfolded, is directed to cross the room and pin the chick under the mother hen's wings.
A small prize may be given to the player who succeeds in placing his or her chick in the best and most useful position for enjoying maternal protection.
Hide the Egg is another good Easter game played in exactly the same way as Hide the Thimble.
A small silver or coloured cardboard egg is hidden by one member of the party in a spot where it can be seen without moving anything, while the others remain outside the room. At a signal they all return, and any player catching sight of the egg must at once sit down without revealing its hiding-place to the others. When everyone has seen it, and has sat down, the player who fit covered the egg remains in to hide it again, while the rest go outside to await the hider's signal as before.
The boys' trails lead them a chase over many obstacles and often necessitate a difficult climb before the prize is captured
Should the day for the Easter-egg hunt turn out wet, the eggs may be hidden about the house.
The ribbons - with eggs to be discovered at the farther end of each one - may be wound in and out of the banisters, and up and down stairs, round table-legs, and on to the top of bookcases, or even picture-frames.
Good Hiding-places Indoors
The chocolate silver-covered eggs may be strewn under the dining-room table and behind the hanging curtains. The fish will, of course, be discovered in the bath-room, and the nests must be built in such places as china va«es ornamental teapots, in the letter-box, in the corner of a high bookshelf - in fact, in every unlikely place where their presence only to be discovered by sharp eyes noting a peep of moss and hay.
The Old-fashioned Easter Egg
A pleasant variation from the chocolate and sugar eggs described above will be found in the old-fashioned Easter eggs of the past that still form the delight of village children in remote country districts and in the North of England. These Easter eggs, or Pace eggs, as they are termed, are merely the ordinary hen's eggs, boiled hard, and coloured by being wrapped in coloured material and then boiled, or by adding a harmless vegetable colouring to the water in which they are boiled. Red, yellow, blue, and purple are favourite shades, and if an artistic member of the family decorates them with initials or appropriate mottoes, so much the better. They have the merit of being inexpensive and, in moderation, wholesome, and small children are always pleased with them.
Then, too, if the weather permits, and there is a grassy slope near at hand, the old North Country pastime of egg-rolling may be indulged in, and will cause uproarious amusement. The aim of each roller i to secure the safe transit of his egg from the top to the bottom of the little hill - a feat that is not so easy as it seems, for collisions, intentional and otherwise, are frequent. A prize should reward the winner, and there need be no limit to the number of entries.