Amber is a K–12 art teacher who enjoys making May baskets every spring with her elementary students. Make your neighbors smile this May 1st!
What Are May Baskets?
May baskets have been around since the 19th century. In the past, there were large May Day celebrations all over the world. Children danced around maypoles at the celebrations, which ushered in spring, the planting of crops, and new beginnings. On a side note, my mother informed me that my aunt danced around a maypole in the 1950s when she was young, and that makes me so happy.
May baskets were typically hung on neighbors' doorknobs early in the day on May 1st. Children would hang them up in secret, knock or ring the doorbell, then run off home. They were also sometimes given away romantically to those their young makers had "crushes" on.
Usually, May baskets contain flowers (either real or handmade) and small treats. Their popularity started to fizzle out in the late 20th century. They are a great reminder of the renewal of spring and of simpler times gone by. Making May baskets and hanging them on the doorknobs of your neighbors is a great way to keep a fun tradition alive while spreading joy in the neighborhood.
Supplies and Materials
It only takes a few items to make a colorful and pretty May basket to share with a friend or neighbor.
- Paper or plastic cups or construction paper (to make the basket)
- Yarn (to hang it on a door)
- Tissue paper
- Twist ties
- Markers (to decorate)
- Hole punch (or you can make holes with scissors or a pen/pencil)
Note: If you use a plastic cup as a basket, you will need to color it with permanent markers so it does not smear. If you use a paper cup or construction paper, you can use washable markers. This also helps make it easier to clean up little fingers.
- Decorate your cup or sheet of paper with cheerful patterns or flowers.
- Roll the paper into a cone shape and tape securely so it does not unroll, making sure the bottom is closed and will not leak treats.
- Punch two holes in basket and thread your yarn through them.
- Tie and secure the yarn as a hanger in a bow or knot (see pictures below).
- Make your flowers and decide what treats to include. flower petals can be circles of tissue paper or scrunched-up tissue paper. I used a twist tie wrapped in green tissue for my stems and folded over the end to hold the petals in place. Feel free to use construction paper to make the flowers or make them however you'd like.
- Line the basket with tissue paper and fill it with treats.
- Sneak over to your neighbors' houses early on May 1st and hang the baskets on their doorknobs.
Mitara N from South Africa on April 28, 2020:
A great activity for my kids to enjoy.
Thanks for sharing
Take care, keep well and be safe
Amber White (author) from New Glarus, WI on April 28, 2020:
I hope to see lots of these around town! I put it up as a project for my students and told them to post pics when they deliver them, have fun, spread joy!
Chitrangada Sharan from New Delhi, India on April 27, 2020:
These May baskets look pretty, and the purpose of making them is even more thoughtful and beautiful. I love the designs and am thinking of making them.
Thanks for sharing this wonderful and creative idea, through your well written and illustrated article.