Easter initiates us into spring, bringing with it pastel colors, sunshine and bunnies galore. The holiday provides valuable family time that can be celebrated with sweets, gifts, feasting — and without overspending.
This year consumer spending is expected to total $17.2 billion. The average person who celebrates Easter will spend $145.13, according to a survey by the National Retail Federation, which is nearly identical to 2012 spending.
Here’s the good news: You don’t have to pay a high price for holiday fun. Your guide to savvy Easter shopping for eager and excited children is right here.
The Candy Hunt
Before the kids can go rummaging through the yard or house to find the hidden goodies, you have to go out and purchase the candy to put in those eggs. And here’s the crazy part: American consumers will spend billions of dollars on chocolates, marshmallow birds and other treats, according to the NRF. Save your family money by spending a few extra minutes in your hunt for sweets.
Here are some Easter egg filler ideas:
- Shop at superstores, like Sam’s or Costco, and buy candy in bulk. This costs less, and the leftovers can be used for lunch surprises or rewarding good behavior.
- Stay away from name-brand sweets. Cadbury eggs and Starburst jelly beans are not necessities. Most children will agree that generic candy tastes just as sweet.
- Use fun stuff that’s already in the cupboard, like Goldfish crackers or fruit snacks. If it’s bite-size and yummy, kids will jump at the chance to have a stash of it.
Bonus tip: In my opinion, there’s no substitute for sugary, delicious Peeps. If you splurge on one name-brand item, I won’t tell.
Inexpensive Easter Basket Treasures
Yes, all the fluffy bunnies and yellow chicks lining store shelves are adorable, but they don’t have to be Easter basket must-haves. Pre-made baskets aren’t a necessity, either. Instead, do it yourself and think spring colors, fun trinkets (not necessarily Easter themed) and low prices.
Here are some filler ideas for your DIY Basket:
- Hit up $1 bins at the dollar store, Michael’s or Target for cute toys and kid stuff.
- Small boxes of crayons are a great replacement for that broken set of peeled crayons sitting in an old pencil box.
- Sparkly barrettes and hair accessories are treasures girls will love.
- Hot Wheels are always hot with boys.
- Bright socks are practical, and the brighter the color, the more fun they are.
- Stickers. Whether they’re putting the stickers on their hands or in books, kids love stickers.
Bonus tip: Put the treasures in last year’s Easter baskets and add a little flair with ribbons, bows or felt bunny ears. If you don’t have last year’s, just remember to keep the ones you buy this year in storage for next time.
And Finally … It’s Time to Eat!
My grandma always had the best honey-baked ham ready for Easter dinner, so I understand sticking with a main dish that’s become a tradition. There is nothing quite so delicious as golden brown slices of salty ham with a sweet taste around the edges. However, you can save money on other parts of the meal.
Head to the grocery store, and save by choosing less expensive sides and drinks.
- Frozen bread dough. Bake the rolls yourself instead of buying prepackaged dinner rolls that are marked up for holidays. All you have to do is put these on a baking sheet and toss them in the oven.
- Bag of Potatoes. Instead of buying boxes of instant mashed potatoes, save money by purchasing bags of potatoes that can be used for mashed, scalloped or roasted potatoes — whatever is your favorite.
- Cheap wine, frozen juice concentrate, and oranges, for … sangria! This one is just for the grown-ups. Buying good wine for a whole group of people can be costly, so instead mix wine with juice, and add fruit. Use the leftover oranges as snacks for the kids.
Bonus tip: Providing side dishes, drinks, the main dish and dessert can add up, especially if lots of guests are coming over, so divide and conquer: Try a potluck. A potluck divides the financial responsibility and ensures that your table will have a bit of variety.
Alanna Ritchie is a content writer for Debt.org, where she writes about personal finance and little smart ways to spend (and save) money. Alanna has an English degree from Rollins College.