10 Ways to Have a Cheaper Easter


Easter has never been a break-the-bank holiday, but you can easily go overboard. Keep your bunny budget in check with these tips to cut costs during this time-honored spring celebration.

1. Shop For Easter Gifts on Presidents' Day or Post-Valentine's Day

Easter baskets are filled with more than sweets, like small trinkets, toys, and clothing. In fact, one of my favorite Easter gifts as a kid was a kite, and when I'm making an Easter basket for my husband, I like to include a swimsuit for summer. To save on this and other items I put in the basket, I shop ahead for holidays like Easter during big sale events throughout the year, like Presidents' Day and after Valentine's Day. The former is a great way to score big savings on clothing items, while the latter yields copious amounts of deeply discounted candy.

2. Make the Easter Egg Hunt a Neighborhood Affair

What's better than an Easter egg hunt with your family? An Easter egg hunt with multiple families! Not only is this a good chance to spend quality time with your neighbors and catch up after a long winter spent hibernating, but it also provides all the neighborhood kids with ample space and goodies to search and find.

To coordinate the effort, send out a free sign-up form from SignUpGenius asking participating families to contribute one dozen eggs for each child, which is made cheaper by buying plastic eggs in bulk. Users can leaves comments on the sign-up form to let everyone know what goodies they'll put in their eggs to ensure a wide variety of treats.

3. Use Multi-Purpose Containers as Easter "Baskets"

If you and your family have traditional Easter baskets that you use from year-to-year, that's awesome — and your kids will cherish it (or at least the memory of it) forever. If you don't, consider using multi-use containers that cost you no money out of pocket, or that you can repurpose after Easter. You can use something lying around the house — perhaps one of your kids' beach pails. Or, do like I did and buy a container that I already needed for the house; a nice basket I picked up for my dogs' toys, which I'll use as my husband's Easter basket this year.

4. Limit the Candy in Festive Packaging

Seasonal items are corralled into one section of the store because it makes all the holiday things easy to find. It also makes it more difficult for you to compare prices with the same items that come in everyday packaging — a stealthy marketing tactic that's silently robbing you blind.

When I recently walked down the Easter aisle at Target, I found lots of fun, pastel-colored goodies. Some of the prices were reasonable, but others were above and beyond a rip-off. The candies in plastic eggs, especially, have a high markup because of the price it costs the manufacturer for such festive packaging. They try to fool you with the $1 price tag — you think you're getting a great deal at just a buck — but don't be a sucker. Some of those packages have a mere handful of tiny candies inside the eggs whereas if you buy the regular-size bag of the same candy, you can get up to five times as much for around $2.50.

That's not to say you shouldn't buy any candy in festive packaging — what's Easter without a few bunnies and chicks in the basket? But limit yourself and fill the rest with treats from the everyday candy aisle. Your kids totally don't care what color the foil wrapping is on their favorite chocolate.

5. Ditch the Plastic "Grass" for Recycled Paper

What happens to all that non-biodegradable plastic "grass" that fills the bottom of Easter baskets to make them look prettier? It ends up in the trash, where it will eventually make its way to its forever home at a landfill (once your kids dig out all the loose jellybeans hidden underneath it). Save the planet and your money by reversing the process. Take colorful paper — like weekly circulars — out of the recycling bin, cut into thin shreds, and fill the baskets with this decorative "grass" instead.

6. Shop the Big-Box Craft Stores for Discounts

Most of you probably head to Walmart or Target for Easter items like plastic eggs and decorations (kudos if they're on sale), while savvier shoppers reduce costs by sticking to dollar stores. I take an altogether different approach and purchase these seasonal items at craft stores that consistently have 40% to 50% off sales and similar coupons on a daily to weekly basis. A.C. Moore and Michaels, in particular, are well known for their deep discounts that you can readily find with a few flicks of the finger. You can only use one coupon per one regular-price item, so you may have to spread out the purchases. My gym is right next to A.C. Moore, so I pop into the store several times a week to get everything I need at a serious savings.

If stopping by these stores multiple times to stock up isn't convenient for you, consider holding out until the last minute to get what you need.

"Typically, Easter egg packages at Hobby Lobby are $.88 or $.97, but during the last week before Easter they're an extra 40% off," says Melea Johnson, founder of Freebie2Deals.com. "Buy enough so it's only a one-time purchase that will last for years."

7. Search for Free Easter Activities in Your Area

If you don't live in a neighbor where an all-hands Easter egg hunt or Easter-themed activity is feasible, your family can still get in on holiday fun at other local events — for free.

"Don't pay to attend a huge Easter egg hunt in your city," Johnson advises. "There are plenty of places in your area that offer free Easter egg hunts throughout the weekend."

Search the Internet or browse your local calendars, like your Chamber of Commerce or nearby churches.

8. Pass on PAAS, Consider Kool-Aid Instead

Paas Easter egg kits are somewhat of an American tradition — at least they were when I was a kid — but with so many other options these days, it's probably not important to your kids with which brand their eggs are dyed. If that's the case, get creative to save cash by swapping out the prepackaged kit for a homemade version made from your kids' favorite flavored drink packets.

"Use Kool-Aid to dye your Easter eggs; it's so much cheaper than purchasing a dye kit — and it smells fruity, not like vinegar," Johnson suggests. "PAAS egg coloring kits start at $1.50ish. And each Kool-Aid packet costs around $.20, and store brands cost around $.12. You can pick and choose which colors you want to do and purchase a handful."

9. Take Advantage of "Free Dinner" Deals at Your Supermarket

I'm not sure if this is common in your neck of the woods, but several of the supermarkets around me offer a free ham for Easter if you meet a certain purchase criteria within a specified window of time, which is usually something like X amount of dollars spent each week for X many weeks.

Mike Collins, owner of the personal finance blog WealthyTurtle, loves to take advantage of this annual promotion.

"My number one tip to have a cheaper Easter is to get your main course for free," he says. "As a family of five we never have any problem reaching the minimum spending requirement, so we always get the meat for free and just have to pay for the sides."

10. Host a Potluck Dinner

While Mike Collins is paying for the sides, you can absolve yourself from all that jazz by hosting an Easter potluck. Pop your free ham into the oven to heat up (it's likely already cooked), and let your friends and family brings all the trimmings.

"One of the best ways to save on Easter is to have a potluck with family and friends. That way, you're not stuck with all of the costs, and usually your guests won't mind contributing by bringing a side dish, appetizer, or paper goods like plates and napkins," says CouponPal's Erin Konrad. "Not having to pay for all of the food and beverages also allows you to spend money on things like decorations, supplies for an Easter egg hunt, or party favors (if kids will be attending)."

Do you know more ways to have a cheaper Easter? Please share in comments!

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