How to make a perfect May Basket

Mayday! Mayday!

Okay, really, this year I actually anticipated May Day. I knew that April was nearing an end. I remembered that May came next (I’m smart like that). I  wrote on my To-Do list: Buy stuff for May baskets. I had even planned to troll Pinterest to see what cool ideas I could steal.

Yet here it is, May 1 . . . and I’ve got nothin’.

Why break tradition, huh?

I mean, it’s not like I think we’re the most popular family in town or anything. It’s not like I expect to be showered with May Day gifts from our admiring fans. But every year, just when I think we’ve got to be on the bottom of people’s lists and that my boys are old enough now that no one’s going to think of them . . . I find five beautifully crafted baskets with just the right popcorn-to-candy ratio sitting on our doorstep.

Dang those do-gooders.

This year I thought it might be nice to make May Baskets for some older people, since two-thirds of my boys are past the age where it’s cool to give them out to their friends. There are some older couples who live by us now, the kids’ great-grandma lives in town, and we are just across the street from a group home for mentally disabled adults. I thought it would be a nice surprise for them, and I thought it would be good for the boys to do something kind for people who are different from them.

As always, I am awesome at good intentions. Actual implementation and follow-through? Notsomuch.

So this year after once again scrounging around to see what I can scrape together for this holiday that I’m fairly certain only exists to make mothers like me feel inadequate, I have included my instructions for putting together a May Basket with things you already have around your house. I hope this helps you make it a memorable May Day for you and your family. (You’re welcome.)

How to Make a Perfectly awful Redneck May Basket

1. Your car, minivan or monster truck is a treasure trove for finding that perfect “basket” part of the May Basket. Collect all of the 32-oz Big Gulp fountain drink cups you can find lying on the floor or in the backseat. Styrofoam is kind of nice because you can have your kids scratch the recipient’s name into the cup with their fingernail, but if you can only find plastic, a Sharpie marker will do the trick. Rinse the cup. Punch two holes at the top of the cup so they are across from each other. Don’t have a hole punch? Just poke a pencil through. It’s all good. For the handle, you can either use some leftover Christmas ribbon you’ve stashed in the basement or dental floss. Voila! You’ve got yourself a basket!

2. Now you need “filler.” Popcorn is kind of the go-to filler. But if you didn’t get talked into buying 47 bags of Boy Scouts popcorn like some of us, look in the back of your cereal cupboard. This is where you’ll find that cereal you bought six months ago that’s still 3/4 full because no one really liked it. But you had the insight not to throw it out for just such an occasion as this. Dump some in each May Basket. Chances are, it’s one of those “healthy” cereals, so you’re not only providing filler, but you’re providing 34 grams of fiber to boot. Promoting colon health is always important when crafting a May Basket…

3. Grab those Easter baskets from on top of the fridge and see what’s still left. Hard peeps, stale marshmallow bunnies and even partially eaten chocolate eggs will work (just cut off the part your kids ate). Throw them in the May Basket.

4. Open your baking cupboard (it’s that one you haven’t opened in about 9 months) and find the containers of sprinkles, silver balls and those hard red hot candies you’ve kept in there for five years because every Christmas you are definitely going to participate in the Christmas cookie exchange at church. Dump some of each in the Basket.

5. Individually wrapped chicken or beef bouillon cubes look festive and are practical as well. Next time your recipient is making Beef & Noodles and runs out of beef broth, she’ll think of you!

6. You undoubtedly have several packets of different types of sauce mix for a meal that you thought you’d make but never have. Au jus, alfredo, pesto, enchilada sauce, even a meatloaf spice mix — any of these will do. Just tuck it in the Basket.

7. Condiment packets. Ketchup, hot sauce, mustard, mayo. Surely you have some in the fridge from your last few fast food takeout meals. Add those, too.

8. Check the cupboard where you keep your medication and find all of those sample packages of Tylenol, Advil Sinus, Dulcolax or Tums that you collected when they were handing them out at Wal-Mart. (The Tums will probably come in handy after they’ve finished eating the contents of the May Basket. This shows you’re thinking ahead and putting a lot of thought into their basket.)

9. For a little added flavor and color, grab a couple of those individually wrapped prunes you bought that time you were really constipated and throw them on top.

10. Now, so they know it’s from you (After all, you’ll want to make sure you get credit for this!) grab either your sticky notes that say “McCain-Palin 2008” or “Al’s Septic Service” and write “Happy May Day!” and sign yours and your kid’s name. Then just stick it to the side of the cup.

I guarantee, you’ll be the talk of the town.

Image by Will Merydith

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