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Money is Tight! What Do I Put In My Kids’ Easter Basket?

Posted Apr 10 2009 11:11pm

Hi Michelle,
Money is tight this year, since my husband lost his job. We are doing fine, but there isn’t any “extra” money if you know what I mean. Can you give me some ideas on what to put in Easter Baskets this year that won’t cost a lot?
Anna, mom of 3.

Hi Anna!
I know exactly what you mean about money being tight. I just lost a fairly large client myself, and while we are not in nearly the same trouble as a lot of folks these days, we don’t have any “just for fun” money! So, here are some ideas I’ve gathered for Easter Baskets this year.

  1. First of all, remember that having fun doesn’t have to cost a lot. Since it’s now just two days before Easter, look at your local “big box” stores for some great sales. For example, I was planning on doing my candy/easter egg shopping at Walmart, but my local Shopko is having 60 percent off all their Easter items. They are usually less crowded too - so I’m heading there this afternoon. Make your holiday more about crafts and the easter egg hunt, then about presents!
  2. I usually buy regular eggs for dying, plastic eggs (we had some from last year, but lost them in the move west), colored dye for the eggs and lots of candy for filling eggs. Then we have a big egg hunt in the backyard easter morning. The biggest bonus on Easter around here? Everyone gets to eat candy for breakfast!
  3. Little items like sidewalk chalk, bubbles, crayons and paints are great easter basket items for a fun, non-candy alternative. Your local dollar store should have these types of items. Seeds and gardening tools are also great Easter gifts!
  4. Hate all the candy? Well, I say candy is cheap and if your kids don’t get it often - it’s a great way to make the holiday special - but that’s just me. If you’re really opposed to a lot of candy, I heard one woman say that she puts her spare change in the plastic eggs. I guess you just have to make sure that no one buys any candy with it!
  5. Avoid extraneous junk. An easter basket does not need plastic grass - or any other grass. I often just wad up tissue paper and put it in the bottom. You also don’t need to buy an easter basket - I found our easter buckets and baskets this year at the thrift store for 50 cents a piece, but any bucket or basket will do - just go through your house and see what you have.
  6. Remember, teens like candy too. Just because you can’t afford that iPod - or gift certificate, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t load your teen down with some candy - and maybe a promise to take him and a friend to a movie some time. Or give him some unfettered computer or video game time on Easter Sunday afternoon!
  7. Go yard saling. Yes, Saturday is the day before Easter - get out your paper and hit the streets! Look for books, little toys and what have you that you can put in an Easter basket - or make the end of a scavenger hunt.
  8. Really broke? I mean really, really broke? If you can’t even hit a yard sale or two (and I’ve been there), you can do this. If you have flour, sugar, eggs, etc., make up some sugar cookies and frost them. Place them in a container - could be a bucket, tin or basket. You can also make up some great fudge and other candies with items you have around the house. I once made a batch of divinity for the kids when all I had was sugar and vanilla! You would be shocked at the fun things you can make with a little sugar - taffy, caramels, chocolate-less fudge - you name it. If you have eggs, or you can hit a food pantry and get some, you can make Easter eggs out of food coloring and vinegar - or you can hard-boil them and color on them with markers!
  9. Make it about the dinner. I love to make a big Easter dinner - but it doesn’t have to expensive. Can’t afford a ham? How about a big roaster chicken? Or even a small chicken, if you don’t have as big a family as me! With some mashed potatoes and a package or two of frozen veggies, you can have a big Easter supper for under $10 or $12.
  10. Make Easter about the crafts. Rather than make Easter about waking up and seeing if the Easter bunny came, make the holiday about waking up and doing some fun things. Do a little egg hunt, sure, but then bake something together, make an Easter craft or get dressed up and go to a church - many have a community Easter “dinner.” You might make some friends and you won’t have spent the day worrying about Easter baskets - but rather about what the holiday really means!

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