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?