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May Baskets

Martha Stewart Living, May 1995

May is a heady time of year, with spring flowers scenting the air. Celebrate by reviving an old May Day custom: Surprise a loved one by hanging a basket on his or her doorknob. Here are some suggestions for making your own May baskets.

May baskets can be recycled from tin and glass household containers:

- Hammer holes in the sides of a tin can or antique cocoa tin. Run twine or ribbon through each hole, and knot inside.

- Wrap dark annealed iron wire below the lip of a jelly jar. Loop and twist a second wire around the first for a handle.

Comments (39)

  • marleymae 1 May, 2010

    To reduce the size of your screen use control and - key. Repeat until you have the desired size.

  • marleymae 1 May, 2010

    Using the control tab and the key will enlarge any screen you have on your computer.

  • corduroyroad 29 Apr, 2010

    Please DON'T use antique tins... there are colllectors out there who would rather no holes!!

  • Sherylann55 28 Apr, 2010

    We had May Fate at our elementary school every year. But in fifth grade we got to wrap the May Pole. It was a lot of fun and special because then we went on to Junior High School.

  • Michelle_Toglia 28 Apr, 2010

    Hi rock63roll64,
    Here's an article about the origin of May Day celebrations that might be helpful:

  • Damma 28 Apr, 2010

    We did May Day baskets as children. Had so much fun with it. I did them with my kids when they were small... now carrying on the tradition with my grandchildren. We make the baskets as paper cones with a ribbon hanger.

  • DDiana 28 Apr, 2010

    It's hard to find the origin... but here is something I found regarding May Day.... May Day was also celebrated by some early European settlers of the American continent. In some parts of the United States, May Baskets are made. These baskets are small and usually filled with flowers or treats and left at someone's doorstep. The basket giver would ring the bell and run away. The person receiving the basket would try to catch the fleeing giver. If they caught the person, a kiss was to be exchan

  • rock63roll64 28 Apr, 2010

    BTW Does anyone know where this idea originated from?? It would be interesting to know how and where it got started. Just curious!

  • rock63roll64 28 Apr, 2010


  • Pili 22 Jul, 2008

    This is just great!!! I love flowers, and now I have them hanging on several doors at home! I really enjoy looking at them all the time! This "Good Thing" will stay all year long! Thank you!

  • MrsMamakos 10 May, 2008

    I just found some wonderful mini galvanized wall planters at JoAnn Fabrics for a couple dollars, they work great for this project. They come with a handle but I am tying a large satin bow on them for hanging. I plan on sneaking these out sometime tomorrow for Mothers Day. I think they'll be a really nice and unexpected treat. B-T-W.... I could hear a Martha idea over and over and never get tired of it- plus I'll never forget it and that's always "a good thing". :o)

  • honeynutcareyo 7 May, 2008

    Thank you for this idea! Sometimes we need to be reminded of great ideas!!!

  • mariaconsueruiz 6 May, 2008


  • fishnlady 6 May, 2008

    This is such a nice idea. Right on Martha!!! Some of the comment-ors need to realize that not everyone has seen these ideas before and this site is for everyone not just the perfect crafty people who have done it before. I think there are some really mean spirited people who look for ways to say mean things toward Martha. Please go away and find a site you do like. The rest of us love her and her ideas.

  • joannalaj 5 May, 2008

    I wish we could enlarge the pictures of the crafts to be able to see more detail. My eyes aren't as young as they used to be.

  • PartyPlanningMama 2 May, 2008

    I can't wait to do this for my mom and friends my daughter will LOOOOOVE it!

  • magnusonart 2 May, 2008

    It's great to utilize EVERYTHING in basket concepts. When you think out of the box you always surprise the viewer.

  • rickrackred 2 May, 2008

    I remember making baskets out of wallpaper samples when I was a girl. We filled them with grape hyacinths from the backyard and hung them on the neighbors' doors. What fun is spring.

  • Pansyplaid 2 May, 2008

    Such sweet ideas. I love the old traditions

  • eternity 1 May, 2008

    I really love this idea! It would be especially nice to "surprise" a "Shut-In" with this "simple "Love-Gift".

  • sheilahs 1 May, 2008

    I love May Day and May Baskets. When I was growing up we made beautiful ones. My Mother was very creative. One year she even made purses out of felt for every girl on my list. I always had the most beautiful May Baskets in the town and was so proud to leave them at the door. My brothers and I would ring the doorbell and then run because the person it was for was suppose to catch you and give you a kiss. Thank you, Martha, for bringing up wonderful memories of my beloved Mother.

  • asong 1 May, 2008

    When I was growing up, the children in my neighborhood would do May baskets. We would leave them on the doorstep, ring the bell and run. We generally filled them with some candy and small toys, but it was so much fun going to the door to see what was left for you, and to speculate who gave it. I have thought about trying to start up the same sort of tradition in my neighboorhood for when my child is older.

  • Learner10 1 May, 2008

    Excuse the typo...that should read "people."

  • Learner10 1 May, 2008

    I think it is wonderful to read all the comments that people send in about the projects. It is a real help to hear what other people have done. So many talented pepople!!!!

  • CattzMeow 1 May, 2008

    I agree that this is a great idea that would have been better done a week in advance. I know as a mother I have to plan for most things a week ahead. And I think May Day baskets are supposed to be placed on the door knob in the morning, so when the person is headed out the door for the day, they have a wonderful gift to start them on their way.

  • czlorene 1 May, 2008

    I think this is a wonderful thoughtful custom, but I wish you would have presented it earlier in the week! Today is May 1st ... and I am late!

  • Nonna6 1 May, 2008

    When using recycled tin cans for hanging, I fill them with water first and place them in the freezer. That way when you are using a nail to place holes for hanging, your can doesn't collapse.

  • peggyrichmond 1 May, 2008

    I think it's great to remind us of something you may have shared with readers before. The May Basket idea is timely and many of us have never heard of the custom before. I like the old wall paper book cone with a handle suggestion also. I just happen to have some old wall paper books around to do this. Thanks!

  • ClaudiaMarch 1 May, 2008

    For some of us, this is the first time we've seen's okay to have "reruns"...

  • lois41 1 May, 2008

    I saw this idea in Martha several years ago.In fact, I printed and saved it. Is the idea of this "Craft of the Day" to recycle previously published ideas or to give us fresh ones?

  • poohbear1125 1 May, 2008

    really great idea!"s called recycling..

  • momdig 1 May, 2008

    On the jelly jar basket, if you make the handle first, then put the wire through and then around the jar, it's easier to get a tight fit.

  • MargRobertson 1 May, 2008

    I used recycled cans but instead of leaving them plain I wrapped a piece of left over wallpaper around the tin. Use the label you remove as a guide for the size of paper you will need to cut for the tin. It makes them extra pretty. I also ran the ribbon from the inside out and left a piece hang below the knot like the square tin with the violets in the photo above.

  • TriciaJay 1 May, 2008

    Love this idea!

  • mrsstamperthe10th 1 May, 2008

    I made these for a bridal shower

  • Lynnee 1 May, 2008

    I can remember as a little girl in Missouri making May baskets. I would take pages out of old wallpaper books and making a cone with a handle. I would then hang them on the door knob, knock and then run. I can still smell the lilacs and blue bells we put in the basket. What a fun tradition that has seemed to disappear.

  • maitai326 1 May, 2008

    Very beautiful and quant, and so simple. I will definately be taking this idea.

  • lbuser 1 May, 2008

    I love the idea of recycling cans, however, there is no way I am hammering holes in the side of antique cocoa tins or anything else antique. However, wrapping annealed wire around it would be a great idea. That way I can put water in the tin until my daughter (in my case) gets home. You can also get colored wire which would add a bit of sparkle when it is hanging.

  • dancingchica 19 Mar, 2008

    I used dollar store tall circular wine boxes and put little bells in the bottom of them. Good for safety reasons (when hung on the door) or to let you know that ppl are entering. :) Also used fake flowers so they last year round!