Growing up on a tight budget, one of my favorite holidays was Easter because we got beautiful new Easter dresses. My mom went all out for the holiday with new purses, shoes, hair bows, and even lacy gloves. My sister and I wore matching dresses to church and we got the royal treatment…complete with rolling our hair into perfect ringlets. Our Easter baskets brimmed over with sweet treats and a special supper was served at my grandmother’s house. Life was good.
Now I have my own children and I want the holiday to be just as special for them. Our budget is still tight but I want them to have all the great memories that I had as a child.
Here are a few pointers for helping to keep the costs low:
- Try shopping for your Easter clothing after the holiday is over. In late spring, these items are usually marked way down and you can get them for 75% off or more.
- If you have to buy for the year, don’t overlook great discount merchants like TJ Maxx, Marshalls, or Burlington Coat Factory for Easter frocks that won’t weigh down your budget.
- Consignment shops and thrift stores can be an excellent place to shop for new Easter clothes. Chances are, the children have only worn the outfit once, so you won’t have to check as much for wear and tear on these items. Best of all, no one will ever know that the item was second-hand except you!
- If money is too tight to buy new outfits, focus on the accessories rather than the new clothes themselves. A fresh new pair of lacey socks or tights, a new tie, a new white cardigan, freshly shined shoes, a simple piece of ribbon from the craft store…these little elements can add to the look you are going for without buying a new outfit.
- Little boys can have a fresh new outfit by just adding a zip up sweater or a vest in a pastel hue. When you head to the store, take a few basic collared shirts, from their wardrobe, with you and try to match them up to these new pullovers. With the addition of a freshly pressed pair of khakis, you will have that new look with only a small investment.
- Save your Easter baskets and Easter basket fillers and reuse them each year. This will cut down on a lot of the cost of making the baskets for the children. If you do need to buy a basket, check the yard sales and thrift stores for baskets. With a bottle of spray paint in a pretty Easter color, you can freshen up dingy baskets and give them a new spring look.
- Remember, the more filler you have on the bottom of the basket, the fuller the basket will look. Fill your basket up with candies and trinkets from the dollar store, rather than from other more expensive stores. For little ones, a new set of crayons, a coloring book, fruit snacks and graham cracker snacks can be a great substitute for candy or junk food. Try to think of things that they can use over and over again or things that your child really needs (art supplies, beach toys for the summer, fun indoor activities that they can do during rainy days, gardening supplies). Baskets like these will go a lot farther than chocolate bunnies and marshmallow treats.
- If you do want to fill your child’s basket with candy, freeze your leftover Halloween candy or buy the marked down bags after the Christmas season and tuck them away in your freezer. The candy will still taste great and your children will never know the difference.
- Instead of doing Easter baskets, let the children engage in an egg hunt. With one bag of jelly beans, you can create enjoyment and keep the children occupied while they hunt for their treasures. Throw in a dollar or even a handful of change, and kids will have a little money to add to their piggy banks, as a special Easter treat. Be sure to save the plastic eggs each year so you only have to buy these once.
- Don’t let your eggs go to waste and be sure to eat them up after all the decorating fun is done. You can make deviled eggs, egg salad sandwiches, or serve the hard boiled eggs for a side with your child’s lunch. Even the egg shells can be put to good use in a compost pile or thrown out in your garden.
Egg Dye Made from Food Coloring
1/2 to 1 Tablespoon of food coloring (or half a packet of brightly colored drink mix)
2 tsp. vinegar
Put two ingredients into a cup that is deep enough for the eggs. Add boiling water to about the half way point. Gently place the eggs into the cups, using a small spoon. The longer they are left in the dye, the darker the color shade. Experiment with different combinations of colors. When you remove the egg from the dye, pat dry with a paper towel and place in a holder.