Just a few shopping days until Easter, the Christian holiday that has become a big commercial event. Americans are anticipated to spend $117 each or $12.7 billion overall on Easter food, gifts and apparel (although fewer people are buying new outfits this year).
We have a few photos in our family albums of us girls outfitted in our new Easter dresses, bows in our hair, clutching new stuffed bunnies. I also remember many Easter Sundays when we were shivering in new spring clothes under our winter coat, in the snow. What I remember best from Easter is the excitement of Palm Sunday at church, the fun of hunting for Easter eggs (often in our living room, because it was snowy outside), letters from the Easter Bunny, and one year when I got a big stuffed bunny that I just loved.
The other day, I was in a big box store watching parents wheel out shopping carts loaded with Easter baskets like this one:
This Disney Princess version can be yours for just $155. Many commercially filled baskets cost closer to $30. Most of them have a few things in common: They come with a cheap basket, lots of shredded plastic “grass,” plenty of plastic wrap around the whole thing, plastic eggs and plastic-encased candy inside, and often a bunch of plastic toys that aren’t even that fun, along with a few treats a child will enjoy.
What’s the alternative?
There are plenty of alternatives to keep the spring holidays fun, festive and frugal. Here are 9 suggestions:
- Organize to re-use. When I was cleaning out a closet last month, I came across several nice, heavy, cute and reusable Easter baskets my mom has gotten Mlle. Cheap over the years, along with a stash of Easter eggs and grass. I returned a couple of the baskets to Grandma along with some grass and eggs so she could re-use them this year. Knowing where you keep your holiday goods can prevent you from needing to buy more each year. After all, kids only want the eggs for the hunt and what’s inside.
- Go heirloom. At our house, we have long used a large basket that was my husband’s when he was a baby. His mother gave it to us when Mlle. Cheap was born, and the baby could fit in it.
- Make a basket. Craftzine this week posted a tutorial on how to weave a paper Easter basket. Very cute and recyclable. (If you aren’t crafty most of the time, note that you can find the 12″ by 12″ paper the pattern calls for at craft stores in the scrapbooking section.)
- Choose paper over plastic. Crinkled shredded paper (as pictured in the baskets above) makes a great Easter basket filler, and you can save it and reuse it, or compost it when it gets worn out. You can even purchase it with recycled content. Or, use a strip-type shredder to make your own shreds.
- Go live. It’s too late for this year, but Green Baby Guide shows how to make an Easter basket lined with living grass (thx Retro Housewife!).
- Dye your eggs with natural color. A couple of weeks ago, The District Domestic blogged about how to get luscious egg colors using blueberries, cabbage, turmeric and red onions. The rationale for dyeing naturally is to avoid artificial colors that can cause health problems, potentially including cancer. Most of us probably don’t worry too much if we just dye a few eggs once a year. If you eat or work with artificial colors more often, think twice. Find more tips here or here. Caution: Remember that some natural dyes are toxic! Use care and do your research before eating.
- Use your leftover dye. Have any boring old plain-colored stuff sitting around the house? Fiber, a T-shirt you keep meaning to spiral into yarn, a stained skirt you’d like to liven up? Don’t just toss that Easter-egg dye down the drain — reuse it. Here’s how I dyed some wool with my dye last year (still holding its color, though we haven’t finished the project yet!).
- Make good use of the shells. After you’ve eaten up your hard-boiled eggs, you might have a lot of shells around. Sure, you can throw them in the compost. But Repurposeful has a few other ideas, too.
- Give lasting goodies. Traditionally, my daughter’s Easter basket has some bright new (or new-to-her) spring clothes or maybe a toy or book that she can use again and again — as well as some chocolate yumminess. We hide the eggs over and over, and usually she keeps them out for weeks, making up games to play with them.
Whether you observe the religious holiday or not, Easter is the symbol of renewal and rebirth. That makes it the perfect time to choose well for the environment and the ones you love.
How will you celebrate?