DIY: May Day Baskets

Have you ever heard of May Baskets? I hadn’t. But Amy of This Heart of Mine told me about the sweet May Basket tradition she experienced as a child and I thought it sounded so lovely! Amy came up with a bunch of little May Basket ideas, and I asked her to share a tutorial for 3 of the baskets here. Enjoy! And please do chime in if you have your own May Basket memories. I’d love to hear them! — Gabrielle

May Day is coming! And May Day means May baskets. I remember as a child feeling so excited about the pretty little baskets of treats left on our doorstep by kind friends. The treats were nice but the baskets were my favorite part. Even now, many years later, I have two of the very best saved in my keepsake box.

I don’t think we really celebrate May Day for its official purpose but it does give us reason to make beautiful, colorful baskets filled with treats for our friends. Maybe you’d like to make some too?

#1 – Red Petals

To begin, you will need a small plastic cup and some birthday streamers (crepe paper). For all three baskets, I used cleaned out yogurt cups.

Layer the crepe paper on itself in your hand. Cut petals from the folded paper.

Then one by one, layer upon layer, stagger the petals until the little cup is covered. Ruffle it up a bit when you’ve finished layering.

To finish off the cup, twist the crepe paper to make a rope-like string. Then hot glue the rope in place.

Looking good.

For the handle, I braided three pieces of rope together. Make a cut through the side of the cup and threaded the braid through. Tie off as you wish and the basket is finished.

#2 – White Pouf

For this basket, gather a strip of felt, white tissue paper, loose confetti (or glitter) and a small plastic cup.

Attach the handle first by threading the piece of felt through small slits in the side of the cup and hot glue in place.

Cut the tissue paper into fourths, the long way. Loosely gather one tissue paper strip in your hand.

Lay down a line of hot glue at the top of the cup and stick the tissue paper to it. One gathered strip should reach from one handle to the other. Attach the three other tissue pieces, forming two layers.

To give the basket the puff, lay down another line of hot glue on the bottom of the basket, near the edge, and press the bottom edge of the tissue paper to it. Continue until all the tissue paper is attached.

Now, it’s a bit bland, the white on white. This is where the confetti comes into play. Add some glue on the handle and around the top of the basket and shake on the shiny stuff.

#3 – Green Scallops

For the final basket, you will need another plastic cup and a small bit of fabric. Jersey, knit, fleece or felt are best because they won’t unravel but really, whatever works. I used some dyed jersey material from an old project. The dye variations give the cup a really cute look.

Begin with cutting a scalloped edge on strips of the material and cut enough strips to cover the cup.

Though not necessary, I covered the base and bottom of the cup first with little bits of fabric. Starting at the bottom, layer the scalloped strips.

To finish the edge, hot glue a strip of jersey at the top. Another strip of jersey acts as the handle, again threaded through a slit and tied to secure. This one is my favorite.

Of course three baskets might not do it. So make more. And more. And a few more! Make sure to fill them with treats and share them with friends. Happy May Day!

37 thoughts on “DIY: May Day Baskets”

  1. I remember making May Day baskets when I was little in Washington State. We just used pieces of paper and rolled them into cones and decorated them as we wanted. I’m not sure, but I want to say we just made enough as a family for the houses on our block. I was so jealous as a 5 year old that my older sisters’ baskets (11 and 13 they were) were so much cooler and inspired than mine.

  2. Oh, yeah, and we had a flowering bush (crepe myrtle maybe?) that we took flowers from to fill the baskets. That was the best part!

  3. we received may day baskets when i was little, too. one of my most favorite memories…so much so that we are making some for our closest friends. we are filling them with fresh herbs, pansies, and fresh bread. happy may day!!

  4. Yep–we celebrated May Day as well in western Nebraska. I remember being really disappointed when I moved to Denver in 4th grade that no one knew what May Day was… However I don’t remember out baskets being so ornate…we usually just did a paper or plastic cup, used pipe cleaners for the handles and filled them with little goodies. Although I can’t remember for the life of me what “goodies” we filled them with. And yes, we usually only made 5-6 baskets. So fun.

  5. I do May Baskets for my co-workers when May 1 is a workday. I pick up mini Easter baskets + grass on sale after the holiday and put candy and little treats in them. Everyone likes a treat!

  6. We made May Day baskets growing up, too! But I always thought the main focus were the flowers to go inside. We’d make a bouquets of construction paper flowers and hand them to all of the neighbors and little church ladies.

  7. i never made them as a kid, but i’ve actually been planning to do them with the kids this year. i’m planning to just buy some simple party hats from target, turning them upside down and replacing the elastic string with a bit of ribbon. i haven’t decided what to put in them — probably some flowers or candy or baked good. we’ll hang them on our neighbors doorknobs on May 1st! can’t wait! i love little traditions and i hope our family ends up adopting this one.

  8. We made them as kids out of cones of construction paper and filled them with flowers from my mother’s garden. We would hang them on neighbor’s doors and run back to the car (our neighbors all generally lived a 1/2 a mile or much further away as this was very rural Oklahoma). I never have received one or really seen the faces of the recipients. They were fun to make and the drop and dash with my siblings was cool too. I vaguely remember reading a book with my mom about it before we did them. Maybe something by Tasha Tudor?

  9. When I was a kid we had a May Day celebration at our small school every year. We would make May Day baskets using plastic berry baskets and decorated with ribbon, crepe paper and pipe cleaners. We would fill them with goodies and take them to other classrooms for our “neighbors.” Such lovely memories, thanks for sharing.

  10. I do May Day baskets with my kids every year. It is such a lovely tradition. Ours are generally some variation of a paper cone, with either fresh or homemade flowers and candy. They are designed to hang on a door handle. These baskets are beautiful! I am inspired
    Here are some of ours over the years…one of my favourite family traditions :)

  11. Hmm. I grew up with the May Day basket tradition, but part of the deal was to deliver them secretly. You had to hang the basket on the doorknob, ring the doorbell (or knock), and then run and hide, so the recipient couldn’t find you. If you didn’t get away before they opened the door, they were supposed to give you a kiss. I remember catching the neighbor boy next door and being totally mortified. After that, I wasn’t in quite such a hurry to answer the door on the 1st of May. :)

    I do think it’s a fun way to teach kids about giving without expecting anything in return. Thanks for the reminder. The kids will enjoy doing it this year.

    1. I remember doing the same as Jennifer. we used strofoam cups,and put in popcorn and candy then we went to our friends houses and set the cup on the porch, rang door bell and ran so we went get caught. why isn’t this tradition celebrated anymore? it is a fun way to teach kids about giving.

  12. Totally adorable. I see so many applications at the party table as a place card for these in addition to May Day. Easter, Cinco de Mayo, Mother’s Day brunch, just change the color to meet the holiday.

  13. We have gotten May baskets my whole life – in our house they are more a replacement of Easter baskets than anything else, and my Mom gives them to us rather than it being something shared among neighbors.
    My siblings and I are grown and still look forward to the fun treats she will send our way on May 1 – usually books she knows we’ll love and something summery to kick off the season. We joke that we will probably all be really fertile! haha
    It is a fun tradition, and I’m so glad she keeps it up

  14. I, too, loved the May day tradition at our house in Minnesota. My sisters and I would decorate little construction baskets and fill them with beautiful things we found in the woods, flowers, berries, leaves, and hang them on our neighbors’ door handles and run away. I never got to see the responses, but the best part was the secrecy!

  15. As a child May Day and the baskets were just as important as Valentine’s Day and all the neighborhood kids participated. We never did fancy baskets, usually paper cups and pipe cleaners, and filled them with candy and popcorn. The whole idea behind giving the baskets was to not get caught leaving them on doorsteps. Getting caught meant getting kissed…..YUCK! However it was a completely different story if you caught the person leaving the basket. The chase was on!!

    My kids never new the fun involved with this game. The tradition seems to be fading fast. Although I have come across quite a few adults who know about the fun day, they don’t have the time or energy to carry on this with their kids. We tried to do it in our neighborhood when my oldest was little, but it wasn’t received well so now we just make baskets for our youngest child’s class for her to pass out.

  16. As a child we made our May baskets out of any thing we could find. We delivered the basket and ran so as to remain anonymous. I have passed this on down to my children and now my grandchildren.

  17. I am so happy to see that others celebrated May Day as I did when I was a kid growing up in Iowa. The baskets could be as simple as a napkin and tied together at the top. We usually put in candies or sometimes popcorn etc. Then my Mom would drive me to my friends houses who lived on farms nearby and I would hang it on the doorknob, ring the bell, and run. It is a very special memory to me!!

  18. This is such an adorable idea. Great to have kids to be involved :) and its good to know other people are just as thrilled as i am now that it is may! Great post and DIY!

  19. yes I sure do remember May day,we would make little baskets and put little wild flowere and candy,put them on the portch ring doorbell or knock.yes if we got cought the would give you a kiss.I always put mine at pretty girls and I did’nt run very fast.

  20. My birthday is on May 1st. As a child my mother would bring May baskets to school for all of my classmates filled with flowers and little baggies of treats, as well as cupcakes that were decorated like May baskets – with coconut that was sprinkled on top and colored green for grass, some jelly beans hidden in the grass and basket handles made out of soft bendable rods.
    Today, I carry on the same tradition with my own students that I teach in my first grade classroom each year. They love learning about May Day and celebrating my birthday as well.

  21. When I was a kid we had may pole dances at our school…Did May Baskets…It was also my birthday so it was very special…That sure was a long time ago in the mid 40’s….I wish that the kids today would do some of these thing…Maybe if the old traditions were still around we wouldn’t be in such a sad state of hate and disrespect

  22. My sisters and I made them. We used the green baskets that strawberries came in. Filled them with flowers from our yard. The fun part was leaving them by the front door and ringing the doorbell then running!

  23. I am so happy to find that May baskets are still a tradition in some places. I grew up in Fitchburg MA and we handed out May baskets filled with candy to our friends in school on May 1. I always made my own, but you could buy them at Kresge’s.

    I think I will make some and give them to my kids and grandkids. It has such fond memories for me.

    Thanks for the directions. It makes it easier.

  24. As a child in the 1980s in St. Louis, I made May baskets. Usually paper cones filled with violets or buttercups from the yard that I delivered by tricycle to the doorsteps of older ladies on our block. I don’t know anyone else who did this and I think it was just a sweet something my mother remembered from her youth and wanted to revive for me.

  25. Yes, we made May Baskets, in a rural community in Nebraska. We put pop corn in ours. If a boy brought you a May Basket, you were supposed to chase him & kiss him or pinch him! I never ran fast enough to catch them, that was by choice! My Mom liked May Day & making & filling the baskets & delivering them…… for me, not so much!! I was a shy girl & it wasn’t my “thing”!

  26. Lisa Leaper-Shuck

    I first heard of this tradition from my daughter when she was in elementary school (now 27 yrs. old). One of her teacher’s had them make May Day baskets. I have carried on the tradition since.. This year my great niece is giving out May Day baskets along with my daughter. My niece is excited about knocking and running away from the door. I didn’t realize until I found this website, that many May Day baskets are hung on the doorknobs. We have just made the baskets and leave them on the doorstep. I do look forward to May Day each year and hope many generations after me will celebrate the day by delivering baskets to family members and friends.

  27. I grew up in the Chicago Suburbs and no one here had ever heard of May Day baskets when my children were young. I was a teacher here since 1977 and no other teacher ever discussed it. I was so disappointed. I grew up in Nebraska and they are still delivering treat filled baskets to family and friends on May Day. I may start this tradition with my grandchildren in our neighborhood.

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