Thursday, March 21, 2013
How to Cheapen Easter
So apparently Easter is the new Christmas. I guess that's good news if you're under 18. For the rest of us (although, frankly, we've no one to blame but ourselves; or maybe that overzealous Pinterest-crazed no-good-goody-goody next door), it means more stress and more money than the holiday to celebrate the resurrection of Christ used to entail. Truly, I think my parents should have thought it was a stretch when I was a kid and Peeps and weird pink grass were seen as an essential symbol of the good Lord's rebirth. But now? Now--to walk through the aisles of Walmart--in all its pink, yellow, and green glory is to wonder if Peeps and pink grass and .99 dyed eggs mightn't be touted as full-on abuse by your kids and perhaps whispered about as pure laziness by that Pinteresty neighbor we discussed.
What's a self-respecting cheapskate to do? Especially if she doesn't want those overly-entitled children to come back and sue her when they're diagnosed with diabetes, right?
Below you'll find a few ideas that will make Easter special without making it ulcer-inducing. I must warn you, though: it requires a little bucking of trends. But you're a cheapskate, so you knew that, right?
1. Dye a bunch of eggs. This will fill up the baskets nicely while providing a non-sweet snack later on in the day/week and a bonding activity for you and your kids to do together.
2. If the above suggestion sounds like as much fun as having all your teeth pulled, dyed purple, and reset, then try this. Buy some cheap plastic eggs (no need to go for the fancy ones, though they are tempting), and put one piece of candy in each one. Full basket, not so much candy.
3. Make some of your own sweets. My mom used to make chocolates for us in molds. It's a sweet memory. And for a $2.50 bag of chocolate chips (or the even cheaper melting chocolate) you can have a several trays of molded chocolates.
4. If the above suggestion sounds like as much fun as having your child stick his new light saber up your nose and into your brain, then do this: Buy less candy. Say what? Okay, okay, hear me out. You could just do this straight up. You could just buy less candy. But some people. Some people who will remain nameless (whatever--it's totally Kip), but are members of this candy-loving family really really love Easter candy. Easter is my husband's favorite candy holiday. He loves all of that Easter candy (you know, the stuff they're now starting to market for different holidays in different colors). He loves the little milk chocolate Cadbury eggs and the big ones with the filling. He loves the Reese's eggs, which he claims taste better than normal Reese's. He loves the Robin's eggs. Everything--pretty much--except the jelly beans and Peeps. Yup. He would rather just skip out on life than miss out on those classic Eastery candies. So this year, I decided to do something radical. It won't help his health, but it should soften the blow on our budget (and, if well hidden, help the health of our children). I bought only a couple kinds of candy for Easter morning baskets instead of each and every kind that has become a "staple" for us. And I promised him I would go out on Monday and buy more of his favorites for half off. Fair enough. You can do this too.
5. Skip the toys (or skip the candy and give one toy). I mean, you didn't get toys when you were a kid, did you?
6. If the above suggestion sounds as winsome as filling your child's basket with fresh dog poo, then try this. Make sure that whatever you buy them is not junk. Yes, this is a purely radical suggestion, especially when each and every Easter aisle at your local superstore is filled to the ceiling with all sorts of Easter-themed kitsch. If you must buy them something, buy them something thoughtful or useful or both. Here's a story to illustrate: Last week, after having my daughter swear that she absolutely needed one of the little stuffed bunnies in order for her life as she knew it to be complete, I thought, "What the heck--I'll get each kid a $3 stuffed animal. They like stuffed animals." And then standing in the check-out line, I realized in that brilliant way of mine that I was now buying $12 of crap--of things I will find on my kids floor for the next several months, or--worse--things that will end up buried at the bottom of a toy box by the end of the next day. I put the toys back (except the one for this particular daughter because I am, at the end of the day, a pushover; and she swore I could give her the bunny with Easter eggs stitched to its bum to her for her August birthday). Instead, I decided to buy them each a water bottle for summer. Which is something they will actually need and which I have been meaning to buy anyway. (I also bought toothbrushes--yup, you heard me). But is still kind of fun because they're pink, purple, flowery, and cool. (Note: I'm still not sure this is the greatest ever suggestion. It does, after all, set up expectations for next year, and the idea behind being a cheapskate holiday parent is to keep the bar so exceedingly low that anything will be great. But if you want to fill the basket, and if you want to fill it with things that are not all--please oh please--candy, then this is a decent method.) As an alternative, you could do suggestion #4, only with toys--buy the Easter stuffed bunnies the day after, but I'm guessing if you get to that point, you may have already decided that you really didn't want/need them all that much anyway.
7. Keep the bar low, eh. The more you give this year, the more you'll be expected to give next year.
8. If this sounds as much fun as cleaning your shower drain with your nose, then you are clearly not a cheapskate at all (we love keeping the bar nice and low). You are probably that Pinterest-pinning neighbor and you are surely gossiping about me right now as you hot glue tiny little Easter eggs to the ornaments you plan to hang from the Easter trees in your living and dining rooms.