Easter Traditions: The Egg Roll

How to take a White House tradition and make it your own

Dating back to the early 1800s, the White House Easter Egg Roll is an annual tradition where children and their families with a Presidential invitation would come to play on the White House grounds. In the early years, children would bring their own decorated eggs for rolling and partake in other activities that took place on the grounds of the Capitol. Nowadays, the Egg Roll takes place on the South Lawn on Easter Monday, and families selected via lottery with at least one child under the age of 12 can attend.

This year, the Egg Roll is themed “Get Up and Go!” in support of the First Lady’s initiative against childhood obesity. In addition to the egg roll, children and their families will enjoy a variety of activities including sports, cooking demonstrations, music, and storytelling.

Re-Create an Egg Roll at Home

For those who can’t make it to D.C.this year to partake in the celebration, start a new tradition in by re-creating the egg roll at home. Many families hold egg hunts of all kinds on Easter Sunday, hiding small treats like foil-wrapped eggs around the house, or larger outdoor “Golden Egg Hunts” — but have you hosted a roll? With a little ingenuity, you can create an engaging activity for kids of any age, indoors or out — here's how.

Planning the Egg Roll

Hosting an egg roll is simple if you're armed with some decorated eggs and the right tools. While the White House issues specially-designed wooden eggs for the occasion (which you can buy), hard-boiled eggs are fine to use for those hosting a roll at home. (Just don’t plan on eating them if you’ve got a rambunctious crew that will likely render the shells cracked. Compost them.)

1. You’ll need a large, flat area of lawn for the roll. A backyard works well, as does a park or nearby school field.

2. Have lots of eggs on hand! Depending on the activities planned following the roll, you’ll want to have a couple of eggs per child (more if you're doing an egg toss). Don't have time to dye one hundred eggs? If you have a large group, ask each child to bring their own eggs with them.

3. Every child will need a large spoon or another implement to roll the egg (long-handled wood kitchen spoons work fine, too). Sticks or other paddles will work. Golf clubs? Nice try — that would be cheating.

4. Plan out the course in advance and make a clear finish line. Depending on the age of your rollers, you can make the course as easy or challenging as you see appropriate. For young kids, stick with a simple straight course, marked with spray-painted lines. For those older and more agile (and adept), consider a more winding course. First one who crosses the line wins!

5. A prize for the first one to cross the line is a must, but be prepared to have a smaller prize for every participant, as well. You can also come up with awards to give out, like the Most Determined or Best Rolling Technique.

After the Roll

The roll itself doesn’t take too long to do, so consider planning some other activities, like an egg-in-spoon foot race, Easter cookie decorating, or an egg toss. After the roll, serve up a bright purple berry smoothie in small Dixie cups. Mini strawberry muffins make for a great snack for small hands, while three-bite egg sandwiches will satisfy the larger appetites. Send kids home with a special treat, like a plastic Easter egg stuffed with a special gift or treat. 

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Click here to see Easter Traditions: The Egg Roll Slideshow.