When did Easter become the new Christmas? The growing tradition of towering Easter baskets jammed with candy and toys is not the emblem of a frugal lifestyle.
And it’s not just the cost of the basket and contents either, it’s the collateral damage done by the oversupply of chocolate, marshmallows, and jelly beans: cavities!
Then there are the toys that kids play with once and never pick up again — such a waste. How can you support frugal living and create a cheaper Easter basket? Check out our guide below.
1. Make some investments.
A lot of this stuff can be re-used. Buy the Easter baskets once, and refill them each year. Same with the Easter grass. Also, get a roll of cellophane at a craft shop, and use this to wrap the bundles each year. You can get clear or a pastel shade like pink or green. One roll will likely take you through several Easters.
Not candy, of course, but stuffed animals and toys. Have you ever been to a secondhand shop or a Goodwill before the holidays? They are positively overflowing with ceramic figurines, decorations, stuffed animals and more. Why buy new when many of these items have hardly been used at all? It’s positively wasteful.
If you are concerned with the cleanliness of plush toys, wash them first in hot water, dry them on high heat and then store them in the freezer for at least 24 hours (make sure it’s in a spot where your kids won’t see them and ask why there are bunnies in the freezer).
3. Shop early — like a year early.
As soon as Easter’s over, all the Easter stuff goes on sale. Your local grocery store, a retail or big-box store will likely be offering napkins, tablecloths, toys, decorations, books, coloring books and more for half price or better. Load up your cart and put them away for next year.
And are the chocolate bunnies really going to go bad if you save some until next year? Canitgobad.net says chocolate can last for years. Jelly beans are probably even hardier. And Peeps? They would be one of only a few items left after a nuclear war.
So be comfortable buying these items and saving them. Another money-saving hint: buy up all those Hershey Kisses and other name-brand candy that’s selling for half price after holidays because of the color of the wrapper, and use them throughout the year as treats or in cookies.
4. Make your own treats.
Be careful with this one if you are looking to save money. You can buy candy molds and sticks pretty cheaply and use them each year, but even the cheapest chocolate is likely to cost as much or more as just buying the ready-made chocolate bunny in a store.
Same with Peeps — you can’t make these for less than they sell for.
But other treats, like flavored popcorn, you can make yourself. This is a particularly good treat to make because it’s so cheap and takes up so much space. Check out the Food Network for 50 flavored popcorn recipes, and get popping! Buy some bread from the grocery store — the kind that comes in a long, clear bag — and reuse the bag for your popcorn. It’s beautiful, tasty and filling!
Making cookies also makes financial sense. Make a double batch of butter cookies. Get a cookie-cutter from the craft store (<50 cents). Do not be tempted by the bunny-shaped cutters. The ears will break off, and you will curse or the kids will cry (or both). Buy egg-shaped only; they’re nice and stable.
The most time-consuming part of making cookies is decorating them, so skip this step and leave it to the kids. The Easter Bunny wants them to have fun making their own Easter cookies, so he gives them plain cookies to decorate themselves, then leaves some decorating supplies out on the counter. (He doesn’t leave the sponge and broom you will need to clean up after; he says that’s your responsibility.)
5. Buy off-brand candy.
Sure, as adults, we probably all want the Russell Stover bunny — solid, too, not hollow. But little kids probably won’t know the difference. Live a frugal lifestyle — buy your candy at the dollar store and save. If you think your child is a chocolate connoisseur, buy them a good bunny, but then stock up on jelly beans at a cheap place.
6. Get items they can really use.
The kind of junk you can get by the gross from Oriental Trading to use for piñatas or birthday party gift bags is fun and amusing, but extremely short-lived. For 99 cents, you can get a coloring book with 100 pictures of bunnies that your kids will spend hours with.
Or buy clothes. Shopping year-round is an old money-saving hint for living frugally, and it’s a good one. When you’re in the thrift shop, keep your eye out for items like T-shirts, socks or shoes with bunnies or chicks on them, buy them, save them and then put these in the kids’ Easter baskets. They’ll wear them all the time and get good use out of them.
7. Put toothbrushes in there. Yes, seriously.
Your kids love getting fun toothbrushes when they get a checkup from the dentist. Tell them the Easter bunny wants them to have healthy, strong teeth, so he brought them a toothbrush to use after they’re done eating candy. If you start shopping early, you might be able to find some with bunnies on them.
All these frugal living tips will help you get through this holiday without breaking the bank. And your kids will be thrilled because they will have custom Easter baskets!