8 Ways to celebrate Easter for under $5


Easter is the new Christmas. Eggsqueezeme? That’s the headline scrambling my brain these days. It seems that some folks, ok, a lot of yolks, are cracking open their wallets to give the gift of Easter, some rivaling Christmas consumerism.

easter basket ideas

The media are onto the trend. From The Globe and Mail:

At Toys “R” Us, spokeswoman Victoria Spada says Easter is the second biggest holiday of the year for gift-giving, next to Christmas. Two of the company’s largest spring flyers revolve around the holiday.

The National Retail Federation 2012 Easter Survey cites actual numbers. The survey says that Americans will spend an average of $145.28 on everything from apparel and candy to food and decorations this year — up 11% from last year. Total spending is expected to reach nearly $17 billion.


Seventeen billion bucks? Seems like a lot of dough to shell out for Easter eggs.

But while the uptick in consumerism is troubling, there’s a far more worrisome trend invading Easter. How about competitive parents pushing their way into their kid’s egg hunt to help them win? Check out TIME‘s hoppy Easter headline: Easter-Egg Hunt Canceled Due to Aggressive ‘Helicopter’ Parents.

Talk about killing the goose that lays the golden egg. Rotten eggs, those parents.

Now, I know my readers are a bunch of good eggs, so I’m thinking it’s time to show retailers how to do Easter without Bucks Bunny, ’cause the last time I checked it doesn’t cost $145 to dye a dozen eggs and hide them. Seriously.

This post is about decorating Easter eggs for under $5. I’ll also suggest a few free (and eggciting) Easter games to play, minus the pushy parents.

5 Ways to Decorate Easter Eggs

Making your own Easter eggs is one of the best ways (I think) to enjoy the Easter holiday. Kids love the brightly colored shells, and there are many games one can play with a well-decorated egg.

easter egg

What you need:

  • Dozen eggs — $1.99
  • Neon food color (Club House or McCormick) — $2.49
  • White or yellow crayons
  • White vinegar
  • Easter stickers — $0.25
  • Googly eggs — 0.10
  • Cookie cooling rack
  • Plastic spoon

Total Cost: I decorated one dozen eggs for under $5. There is plenty of food coloring and craft supplies left over for next year.

1. Dye your Easter eggs.

Here’s how to dye Easter eggs — it’s super simple.

how to boil an egg

STEP ONE: Hard boil ’em. A good Easter egg starts with an uncracked shell. Place 4-6 eggs in a pot, add a teaspoon of salt, cover with around 2 inches of cool water, and slowly bring the eggs to a gently boil for 10 minutes. You don’t want the eggs to rattle around. Let eggs sit covered for 5 minutes. Gently rinse under cool water.

easter egg dye

STEP TWO: Dye ’em. In a non-metallic container — I used a Pyrex measuring cup and a few coffee mugs — add 1 cup just-boiled water, 2 tablespoons white vinegar, drops of dye for desired color (instructions are on the dye package) and add your egg. Let egg sit in dye for 10-15 minutes. Gently turn egg at the half-way mark. Do not agitate egg — color may become splotchy.

easter egg hunts

STEP THREE: Dry ’em. Using a plastic spoon, remove eggs from dye bath and set them on a cookie cooling rack to dry. It’s a good idea to place a few sheets of paper towel under your Easter eggs since drips will drop and dye whatever lies beneath. Wearing dark clothing is also a good idea. 🙂 Eggs may take a few hours to dry completely.

easter eggs

2. Wax on, wax off.

Want dyed Easter eggs with fancy patterns? Give your kids a white or yellow wax crayon and get them to draw gently on an undyed hard boiled egg. The egg won’t pick up the dye where crayon patterns are drawn, and very intricate and beautiful Easter egg patterns can be made using the wax method.

3. Personalize your Easter eggs.

Who says Easter eggs need to look like an egg? Stop having a boring egg by adding a few personal touches, such as a face! This pair looks like a couple of cold Canucks snugging in for a late spring.

easter crafts

Remove the toques (egg cozies) and you’ve got a pair of hair-free fellows. Perhaps one is Grandpa, and the other is Uncle George? Go ahead and turn one into mom, dad, a daughter or son. Grab a glue gun, use some creative brain power, and turn your Easter egg into a fine family fellow.

4. Stick on a few stickers.

This is easy. Add a few Easter stickers to a hard boiled egg and you’ve got a frugal Easter egg ready for the hunt.

easter egg hunt ideas

Be sure to use flat lying stickers though. Mine are a little puffy.

5. Wrap in a sleeve.

Craftier types can use something called an egg wrap, sleeve, or Easter Egg Shrink Wraps.

Here’s how Easter shrink wraps work:

Slip wrap around a large sized egg — undyed white or brown eggs work best.

decorate easter eggs

Place egg onto spoon. Dip egg into boiling water for around three seconds.

how to dye easter eggs

The wrap instantly shrinks around the egg. I think this looks pretty neat.

egg art

The wraps I used are nontoxic and easily removable. Always read the product labels.

3 Easter Games for Kids (and super fun parents)

1. The Easter Egg Hunt

The most popular and best known game is the Easter egg hunt! Hunts are most often held outdoors in grassy areas, but fun can be had by searching for hard boiled and chocolate eggs inside as well. Hopefully the Easter Bunny leaves enough eggs behind so every child has a crack at finding a few. In my house, eggs are divvied up after the hunt so each child gets an equal share of chocolate. Everyone wins. 🙂

2. Easter Egg Rolling

Kids these day may have video games and fancy toys to keep themselves occupied, but sometimes the simplest adventures are what help build childhood memories. Enter egg rolling.

In the United States, egg rolling has been a White House tradition since 1929. The rules are simple: children race their eggs across a lawn by pushing them with a spoon.

In Germany and many northern European countries, the tradition is to race the decorated eggs down a grassy hill. The owner of the furthest rolling egg wins a prize.

3. Egg Tapping

Knock, knock.
Who’s there?
The kid with the strongest shell. 🙂

Easter Games

Carl introduced me to this German egg tapping game. The goal is to try to break your opponent’s hard-boiled egg by tapping the tips together. In turn, players tap each others eggs with the tip of their egg. The person whose egg outlasts all other eggs, wins.

German kids eat their hard boiled eggs for breakfast after the fun.

Your Turn: What’s your favorite Easter tradition? Do you dye eggs, or play Easter games?



  1. Beth H March 28, 2012 at 12:44 pm

    Our brilliant idea last year was to hide 3 different colored eggs, green, blue & pink for my three kids. That way I could hide them at different difficulty levels (my kid’s are 2, 5 & 8) & the oldest doesn’t simply sweep along & find them all. I found little foil chocolate ones in those 3 colors, and also the bigger plastic ones that open in 1/2. Our yard is often wet & snowy still at Easter, so I use the plastic ones outside. We buy little non-candy things for them (stickers, hair elastics, Lego sets which we separate into multiple eggs, etc). It’s pretty sweet to watch my 8 year old help his little sister find hers after he’s done his (even though her pink ones are just laying in the grass & his green ones were tricky!).

  2. Stephanie S March 28, 2012 at 1:23 pm

    This year I’m giving my daughter a kite–which she will find playing our traditional Easter present scavenger hunt! I would rather buy her a $16 toy that we will use together *instead of* anything edible. I don’t want to her encourage her to each crap and, frankly, that cheap Easter chocolate can be really horrible stuff!

    Love the eggs wearing toques, Kerry!

  3. Jen March 28, 2012 at 4:55 pm

    There are some neat experiments you can do with eggs. We made an egg bounce a few weeks ago.


  4. mycanuckbuck March 28, 2012 at 7:15 pm

    We did Easter Egg hunts as “young adults”. Your helicopter parent comment reminded me of what my sister in law used to do – she’d “call” eggs if she spotted them. It drove me nuts.
    Thanks for the egg tips. I’m hosting Easter dinner and this would be fun to do with the kids!

  5. Jules March 29, 2012 at 12:50 am

    Easter tradition is visiting family and decorating eggs. The googly eyes are a great idea and I will probably go get a couple packets for the kids, when we go visit.

  6. A March 29, 2012 at 3:16 am

    Suprise – not everyone celebrates Easter.

  7. T March 29, 2012 at 5:18 am

    I was alone last Easter and found myself interested in going to one of the several concerts. I saw Cantata Singers for the first time. I later went and saw some free Gregorian Chants. This kind of exposure gave me a different taste of Easter. I think I’ll do it again this year.
    If I had children (or when I), of course the painting eggs and egg hunt would be appealing.
    I like the thought of going to see choral singing as a new tradition.

  8. T March 29, 2012 at 7:06 am
  9. K March 29, 2012 at 8:14 am

    This year I am going to try make my own food dyes from the juice of veggies and fruit. Spinach for green, beets for pink, blueberries for maybe a bluish purple, carrots for orange, red or purple grapes for a reddish purple and so on. I will just reserve the juice when we eat these veggies and fruits in the fridge until we get ready to color the eggs.

    At our annual Easter egg hunt, in addition to the hunt and egg rolling, we also have egg relays. That is were you put an egg on a spoon and rush to the finish line without dropping it (and you cannot hold on to it.) Little ones love this one. With older kids you can make it more of a team relay race.

    Even though it doesn’t require an egg, a bunny hop race is fun, too. Or learning the bunny hop dance.

  10. beth March 29, 2012 at 8:48 am

    Easter may be the 2nd biggest holiday for gifts for a Toy Store, but overall, I’m sure it’s Valentine’s Day.

  11. Hannah March 29, 2012 at 5:03 pm

    I was going to mention the cheapest dye method out there: onion skins. But I see that someone beat me to it. The eggs get dyed while they get hard boiled, so you save on energy use too!

    We do the onion skin dye every easter (a tradition in my Austrian-husband’s family), and if you use a never-before-washed red coloured cloth to secure the onion-skin-wrapped egg, then you get quite an array of pretty orange, yellow, red, pink, and purple patterns.

  12. Weekly Common Cents | StupidCents March 30, 2012 at 2:02 am

    […] week Squawkfox shared an article just for parents that lists 8 Ways to Celebrate Easter for Under $5.  There are some great ideas in […]

  13. Doris March 30, 2012 at 7:00 am

    Another alternative: Use natural items such as small leaves, ferns, flowers and secure to eggs. Slip the eggs into pantyhose/nylons and secure with twist-ties. Dye eggs as usual. An elegant look when dying with onion skins and other natural dyes.

  14. ImpulseSave March 30, 2012 at 7:17 am

    This is great – dying Easter eggs is delicious and frugal way to celebrate the holiday. It was always my favorite, anyway! My parents used to put out Easter baskets for us kids in the morning, but know she just does one goodie basket with mostly candy and a few family gifts. It’s still fun but a lot easier to manage!

  15. Rain March 31, 2012 at 8:13 am

    I have a little one with an anaphylaxis peanut allergy. With peanut free labeled chocolate/candy being hard to find we opted for a couple of Whimzy pets or Calico Cat family to fill her eggs over the years. This year I found a lg Teacup pig on sale in Feb for $5 (reg $19.99) and a solid peanut free chocolate bunny for $2.

    I think as long as you live a frugalicious lifestyle, no holiday has to break the bank.

    The plastic shrink wrappers keep your eggs looking “perfect” when your wee on has dropped them numerous times. They also save the heartbreak over a broken egg so you can enjoy the festivities of the day.

    Happy Easter to all!!

  16. KM March 31, 2012 at 6:50 pm

    Teens still like to get goodies for Easter, but the ante is raised! Suggestions? (Hint: they are not into egg hunts anymore!

  17. Gigi April 4, 2012 at 9:27 am

    Thanks for highlighting society’s need to “consumerize” a religious holiday! Growing up, the best part of Easter was the Saturday before where eggs would be dyed and cakes would be baked for Easter. We would also play the egg cracking game like you husband In addition to these traditions, I buy a chocolate bunny for each of my boys out of guilt but my parents and in-laws have different ideas.

  18. JDee April 6, 2012 at 11:20 am

    My husbands family tradition became our family Easter treat.

    Everyone grabs a dyed easter eggs and two “combatants” face off towards each other on the kitchen floor. After the count of three both egg holders roll their egg on the floor towards the moving egg of the other. Usually they smash into each other somewhere (hopefully) in the middle of the floor. The one whose egg has the least damage wins the chance to take on the next combatant.
    Loads of fun. Little kids can take on Dad and Big Brothers get beaten by little sisters egg! The only rule is You have to eat your defeated egg before you can go again !

  19. Darren E April 6, 2012 at 5:53 pm

    Great tips, money’s a little tight and this is a great idea to celebrate the holidays without breaking the bank!

  20. Alice August 15, 2012 at 10:41 am

    I have a easter tip for colouring eggs, which is like used ALL THE TIME at nurserys and pre-schools in sweden.

    Buy red (purple?) and yellow onions.
    Take of the paper-like shells from the onions (and use the onions for some tasty food).
    Tie it around the eggs in any way that you wish.
    Cook the eggs.

    If you want to get rid of the insides of the eggs (for a omelette or something), do a small hole in one end and a another small, but a tiny bit bigger in the other. Blow (hard!) through the smallest hole.

    You can get your pancakes AND your easter time happiness 🙂

    // Awesome swede 🙂

  21. Marcia @Frugal Healthy Simple March 30, 2013 at 7:48 am

    I like dying easter eggs (cost: eggs and the paas dye kit).

    Two years ago we went camping in Joshua Tree with our neighbors over Easter weekend. We weren’t able to get a campsite on Friday night, so we spent it at a private campground nearby (so windy! I ended up sleeping in the back of the Matrix, and my husband and son ended up in the neighbors camping van, which they now can say sleeps 7!) In any event, we had a campsite on Saturday night and Sunday morning my husband hid plastic eggs for the 3 older kids to find.

    That was so much fun. They hid, and found, those eggs at least a dozen times that morning. And we continued to do that for a week or two after we got back. It’s now an annual tradition (hiding the plastic eggs in the house, not the camping trip at Easter).

  22. Joy O'Donnell March 30, 2013 at 10:10 am

    Easter was never big candy time at our house. Treats were outside games like sidewalk chalk, skipping ropes, hula hoops. (pick ONE) Go out and play time.It’s Spring!
    We don’t need any more sugar and we can still have fun. You and your kids don’t have to go along with advertizing hype. Inexpensive, fun alternatives are there.

  23. Rob Lovering Spencer March 30, 2013 at 5:57 pm

    I go with my family to Church to celebrate the risen Jesus. I guess it is only as frugal as the offering we give.

  24. Bernice March 30, 2013 at 6:29 pm

    My daughter married into a Greek family. At Greek easter all eggs are dyed red. They are then hit together small end to
    small end,and then big end to big end. The one that is left with no cracks after hitting each others egg is the winner!

  25. Mommamaida March 30, 2013 at 9:54 pm

    Back in the days… I used to “blow” the contents out of about 3-4 dozen eggs a month or 2 before Easter. Wash and dry. Then the kids had a lot of eggs to experiment with coloring, and we didn’t have to eat much right away. Afterwards, if they didn’t find all the shells, it was no disaster [rotten egg smells are awful] The kids loved playing with them right into Summer. When a shell was broken, it added to the lawn compost. I also looked for the special egg dyes and shrink wraps the day/week after Easter to keep for the next year–much cheaper. If you have the space, many non-nut Easter candies can be bought at 1/2 price, placed in zip-locs and then in Rubbermaid tubs in the cellar. Experiment with it, and you might have a grander Easter on a tight budget. Pastel M&Ms bought after Easter graced my children’s Summer birtday parties, and bridal/baby showers. MommaM

  26. Pam March 31, 2013 at 1:54 pm

    Easter is all about getting some chocolate treats! Live a little! Just don’t go crazy. We enjoyed a nice brunch with family and now we are munching a little chocolate. Yum!

  27. Anita March 31, 2013 at 8:38 pm

    Love the ideas, Kerry! Can’t wait to do them with my nephews next year! Hope you and your fam had a wonderful holiday!

  28. Joan April 2, 2013 at 8:55 am

    Thanks for the post and all the comments. We have the family over for brunch on Good Friday, and I have hard boiled eggs for the grandchildren to dye (think 6 children between the ages of 1 and 10). I use the same dye method you’ve posted — but have some additions. Not only can you use crayon before the egg is dyed, you can also use rubber bands (I save the thick ones off the broccoli packages). And we haven’t done it yet, but apparently you can get tie-dyed eggs by adding a little vegetable oil before you lower the egg into the bath. Wherever the oil droplets touch the egg, the colour won’t stick there.

    We don’t do any hunts with the eggs. It’s mostly for the activity of doing it. By the time they’re done, the 2 little boys take their carefully dyed eggs, crack the shells and eat them. The girls take them home to look at until they need to be thrown out.

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