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delivering may day paper cones

May Day Basket Ideas

What is May Day? It is a historical gift-giving holiday where children generally leave a collection of items on the front porch of their neighbors. May Day is barely celebrated anymore, but perhaps it’s time to bring back this beautiful tradition. Leaving gifts, flowers, and treats for friends and neighbors is an inexpensive way to spread joy and goodwill.

What is a May Day basket? It is a basket – often homemade – filled with May Day gifts and goodies. Do you remember making or leaving one for neighbors? Read on for a few tips & ideas for May Basket inspiration. Happy May Day!


May Basket Day is always May 1. It dates back to the days of the Roman empire. First celebrated as a rite of spring, ancient civilizations marked the day with ceremonies, dances, and feasting. By the 19th and 20th centuries, May Day traditions changed to leaving a gift basket filled with flowers on a front door.

Most often, children were the May Day culprits. They’d fill small baskets with fresh flowers or candies, hang on a front door, ring the doorbell, and run. Sometimes baskets were ways of courting and expressing love.

Today, May Day is all but forgotten. But why? Leaving a May Day basket is just what the world needs. A random act of kindness celebrating spring, friendship, and giving.


paper cones in galvanized caddy

Paper cones date back more than 100 years. They were easy and affordable decorations to make out of old newspapers, crepe paper, and scrap paper. Often decorated with bits of lace, ribbon, and buttons, these charming containers were one-of-a-kind. It’s still a great way to use up fabric, paper, and trim scraps!

Another idea is to search for printable May Day cones online. The holiday designs are endless. Print on colored construction paper for very attractive cones.

PAY IT FORWARD: Try making a bunch of these and leave them on doors in a nursing home or hospital. Be sure to ask permission first. This is a fun service project for church groups, 4-H, or scout troops.

rolling paper cone
adding ribbon handle to paper cone
gluing paper cone
finishing paper cone basket


  • Scrapbook Paper (or any 12 x 12 or larger square piece of paper)
  • Paper Doily
  • Ribbon
  • Buttons, lace, stickers (whatever you find)
  • Twine
  • Flowers a/o candy


Place the paper in the corner down in front of you. Roll a cone starting at one corner. Trim if desired and secure with hot glue. Wrap doily around the outside and glue. Decorate with trims and twine. Punch a hole on each side of the top of the cone and attach ribbon for a hanger.

Fill with candy, treats, tea bags, or flowers!

Note: if leaving real flowers, line the cone with a plastic bag.


scrapbook paper basket

A fun alternative to a traditional basket, this paper basket is quick to make and budget-friendly. Holiday crafts shouldn’t break the bank

PAY IT FORWARD: This basket is not designed to hang on a door. Make it for co-workers, teachers or emergency services personnel like EMS and police. Leave on desks or tables.

punch hole to make scrap paper basket
finishing paper basket


  • Heavy paper (12″ x 12″ sq. or larger)
  • Ribbon, string or rope
  • Candy, treats or flowers


Fold paper into a triangle. Punch one hole in the top corner (through both sides). Open the paper with outside pattern down. Punch one hole in the middle of each corner without a hole. Pull opposite corners to center and secure with a ribbon through the holes. Add glue for extra reinforcement. Repeat for the other two corners. Adjust paper as desired. Fill with candy, treats and paper flowers.

Note: To reinforce the basket, cut a square piece of cardboard to fit inside the bottom. Glue to the middle of the paper before tying up. Use hole reinforcements to keep from tearing.

More paper basket ideas HERE and HERE


teacher appreciation may day basket

Who says you have to leave a basket at a front door? Leave a treat for co-workers, teachers or children anywhere they’ll find it.

PAY IT FORWARD: Do you have a homeless coalition in your town? Make baskets to give out with essentials like bath products, non-perishable snacks, and office supplies. But add some treats as well to brighten their day. Everyone loves getting flowers and a piece of candy.

attaching crayons to basket
teacher may day basket


  • Crayons
  • Ribbon
  • Bucket or container
  • Markers, pens, pencils, art supplies


You can leave the bucket plain but it’s more fun to cover it to match your theme. Glue crayons in layers around the bucket. You could also use pencils, measuring tape or anything to match your theme. Tie a ribbon around the outside. Secure with hot glue. Now it’s time to fill! Arts and craft supplies from the dollar store are a fun alternative to candy or flowers. Presentation is key. Arrange the supplies with the biggest and tallest items in the back.


Traditional May Day baskets held fresh spring flowers or candy. But don’t limit yourself. Use imagination and creativity to celebrate May Day. Fill baskets with art supplies, gardening tools, and seeds, bath and body products, hair accessories, hand-crafted gifts, cooking supplies, tools, and more. Finally, accent the basket with decorative tissue paper.

Now all you have to do is ring the doorbell and run!

robin leaving a may day basket

Do you want to learn more about Holiday Front Door Decorating?

Meet Robin!

woman with white scarf smiling and opening front door

Robin grew up on a farm in the rolling hills of southern Wisconsin. After years living “in town,” she recently moved back to the country where she is renovating an old farmhouse. She’s an expert on window blinds and drape installations, color consultation and blind repair. Her flagship store, “House to Home Designs” is located on the historic Square, downtown Monroe, Wisconsin. Read More

Comments (2)

I was so excited when I saw this article on May Day baskets: 2 styles no less! I remember as a child of age 4-7 making May Day baskets, fill them with flowers, hang them on a neighbors door, then knock & run! Great memories!! Such fun! It’s May Day today so I’m a little late in doing it this year but will intentionally plan for next year! Won’t my neighbors be surprised!

I spent my childhood in a Nebraska town close to the South Dakota/Iowa borders. In that town we celebrated May Day exactly as described in your article. My mom would make May Baskets out of construction paper with us the night before. We would use doilies, flowers and especially wrapped candy. The next day after school she would drive us around and stop at each recipients house, I would run the basket up to the front porch and set it there then run back to the car and hop in in a hurry cause I didn’t want the basketee to catch me and kiss me. The second town I moved to in later childhood had no such tradition. I was sorry.

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