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.


  1. Loved this post:) Funny, practical and relevant social comment. We have always made a point of not getting our kids much for Easter. (One chocolate bummy each) but we would all go on a family outing like a picnic or something over the holiday.

    1. Love the idea of a simple family outing. Thanks.

  2. I have lost my ever loving mind this year! I bought toys, expensive toys... I'm rethinking giving them for Easter though. I generally get each kid the stupid Walmart bunny, but amazingly they continue to get played with year after year (they like to have Easter Bunny tea parties and complained that I had gotten rid of a few of their bunnies). We fill eggs with one or two pieces of candy (none of this year's is wrapped candy, so not sure how well that will work). They will get Peeps and a hollow Cadbury bunny.
    Elijah was just reminiscing about 'the BEST Hanukkah ever'... the one where I totally caved and got them Pillow Pets and Squinkies and ... too much junk. So, at least he appreciates it (and not every year is so great in the gift department).

    1. We got Savannah a pillow pet for Christmas this year and I don't know what it is about those things, but my kids went NUTS. I ended up getting Emma one for her birthday and Mark and Elizabeth ones for Valentine's Day (where I don't usually get such a big gift, but...they were always stealing/fighting over Savannah's). After 6 weeks, Savannah's looked like it was 4 years old.

      We fill the plastic eggs with unwrapped candy all the time and it's usually fine. Sometimes the littlest kids' eggs get all sticky, but littlest kids would have gotten them all sticky regardless, so...

    2. So, Brooke, would you save them for birthdays/ Christmas if you don't give them for Easter?

  3. Amen, Amen, and AMEN! This year we got old 1980s Cabbage Patch kids that an older woman in our acquaintance was giving away. Each kid got a $3 garden watering pot, which I know will get heavy use all summer long and will double duty as a useful tool. Also, a small clay pot and seeds to plant a flower; a new refillable "squeezy fruit" holder, which I've been wanting to get for them anyway so we don't spend a fortune on the disposable ones. And... that's it, baby. NO CANDY. I bought a nice big fancy kite as a family gift and we are going to go fly it this afternoon. We dyed eggs and I plan to make few cute origami bunnies to fill the "basket." They get so much candy at Grandmas house that this year I decided to forgo it altogether. I dont' like candy myself, so why am I bothering to buy it? I know my husband will be scandalized, so I let the kids buy him some special european chocolates as their gift to him. :) They will make sure he shares.

    1. Maybe one year I will go totally rogue like this. When I grow some guts. Because we really do get plenty from other people. And I love that the kids got Michael something sweet so that worked out. Also, do tell--what is a "squeezy fruit" holder?



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