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It’s that time of year where everyone wants to know what’s in everyone else’s Easter basket. Moms wonder if they are giving enough, or too much, and what items are age appropriate. Some families celebrate with big gifts and some celebrate with just a few chocolate eggs. However you decide to celebrate is totally up to you!
When I was a little kid, my three siblings and I each received our own baskets. They were usually stocked with the same candies year after year. But that’s OK because we knew what to look forward to every year. We could count on each of us getting our own coveted Cadbury egg. By the time we were teenagers my mom focused on one family basket instead of four individual baskets. I think it was easier for her, but I also think she just wanted in on the candy haul without having to bargain with each of us for it. She filled one giant basket with all our favorite candies and no gifts. She also added in real eggs that had been dyed, and individual loaves of Italian Easter bread made from scratch. If you have not had Italian Easter bread Google it now and get to baking! Or find a bakery near you that makes them! So delicious!
For my kids, we have done something different every year. We usually include “gifts” in their baskets simply because kids never stop needing things. We use this as a great excuse to include whatever items they need at the moment, like a new pair of spring pajamas, swim gear, art supplies and rain gear. The kids think it’s the most amazing thing ever that the Easter Bunny knew they were running out of underwear. I didn’t say these were all extravagant gifts, but gifts none-the-less.
This year they have all the swim suits and underwear they need. So what’s next? Well, this Easter season has us smack dab in the middle of a new lifestyle challenge in our house. We are working hard to eliminate as much unnecessary plastic and packaging as we can. And let’s face it, every holiday comes prepackaged these days. I had to really think about this to find something new the girls will find exciting!
Here is what will be in our Easter baskets this year:
Rain boots- my kids are coincidentally in need of new rubber rain boots. These are something we need as we simply cannot pass up a good puddle to jump around in.
Chocolates- I know real original. But, we buy from a local store where we can get individual favorites packaged together in a recyclable paper box, and chocolate bunnies in a paper bag. Due to food allergies we can’t have Cadbury eggs in our house. But that means we get spoiled with some really good chocolate!
Gift Cards- This is my new favorite item to give for every holiday! So much less packaging and nothing left to clutter up my house! It’s also like prepaying for our fun! We are adding gift cards to the local ice cream shop, Target, museum passes, even our favorite salon. Yes, I said salon. Kids need hair cuts and it’s like a fun day out for us girls!
T-shirts- not just any t-shirts! We bought the T-shirts from their favorite bounce place which will give us $4 off every return trip. You bundle that with a gift card to the ice cream shop and you have a really fun day out!
Summer shoes- They have also outgrown their summer shoes. Even though it is practical and it’s something I would have bought them anyway, I am turning it into a gifting opportunity. Also, I got them on a really great clearance sale last year. Ha!
Other fun things we’ve included in the past:
- New umbrella decorated with their favorite character
- Art supplies
- Garden tools with matching apron and gloves
- Bubbles and sidewalk chalk
- Beach towels
- Bikes (only because we got them free with credit card points and they arrived two days before Easter)
- Bike helmets
- Beach toys
- Swim suit and goggles
- Summer pajamas
Now I know, most people eschew actual gift giving at Easter. However, I’ve never been one to really care what other people do with their money or holidays. I just try to stay in my own lane. So, whether throwing some candy in a basket and leaving on the kitchen table is more your thing, or hand stitching bunny costumes for every member of your family, no one here will be judging. Or nosing around your basket sneaking Cadbury eggs.
What’s in your Easter basket?
The Whatever Mom is a full-time wife and twin mama living on coffee and wine. She enjoys the pure rush of cleaning the BIG potty between loads of laundry. It is her dream that moms everywhere accept and embrace the Whatever Mom philosophy which can be found here. You can also find her musings and popular shares on Facebook and Twitter. Stay up to date with her creative ideas and outings on Pinterest.
Easter was never about over the top gifts and decorations when I was a kid. My mom always made it personal and special. From the individual loaves of Italian Easter Bread to the carefully assembled family Easter basket, we all knew she put some time and effort into our holiday. It was very different than the average $146 per person parents spend today!
For us, it is easy to dismiss the grand gifts and excessive candy stash. We do celebrate the religious aspect of the holiday, but we also like to celebrate the coming of spring. Our Easter baskets usually reflect the season and what my kids currently need like raincoats and boots. Little kids tend to grow out of things quickly, so Easter is a good time to buy the things my kids currently need and fill in their Easter baskets.
I saw this posted on Facebook several times in the last month and I am inspired to recreate this with things my kids can actually use! It happens to be perfect timing as my girls have been asking for their OWN umbrellas (at least 3 times a day each time it rains).
Here is what we are adding in our umbrella baskets this year:
Books: You can select any book your child will enjoy. In the past I’ve purchase books at the dollar store. My kids LOVE books on CD! I hosted a Barefoot Books party a few months ago and was able to snag some beautiful books with CD for a steal! Books my kids love at a price I live? Win-win!
Bathing Suits: With summer right around the corner it is the perfect time to buy new ones to have on hand the moment the pool is ready!
Flip Flops: My kids would go barefoot all day every day if I let them. But, they will compromise and wear flip flop sandals. I hit a lucky clearance sale and picked up a new pair for each of them at $2.00 a pair. I’m talking bedazzled and sparkly just the way they like them!
Sunscreen: I’m already going to shell out the money for this. Buying it now means I’m just ready to roll once the bathing suits come out!
Bunny Socks: Kids always need socks! I don’t know what the heck my kids do with their socks, but one day we have a stock pile the next day we have 2 and a half pairs left. Plus, you can find these in most dollar stores, or the Target dollar section.
Bubble Wands: What kid doesn’t love bubbles? They can use them any where at any time. No waiting for the sun to come out, or the weather to warm up! Just open and enjoy!
Leggings: A little something to add into the wardrobe is perfect! Seems like a gift, but it’s really something they are going to wear over and over and over again!
Candy: We really limit the amount of candy we put into our baskets. Not because we are super strict about dyes and sugar, but because we are lucky to have so many generous friends and family who give our kids treats. We also participate in a couple of egg hunts which means we come home with plenty of candy.
Stuffed Lovies: Beanie Boos to be exact. My kids have so many stuffed animals already we could have seriously opened our own stuffed lovey adoption agency. But, they can’t help falling in love with every Beanie Boo they make eye contact with.
Umbrellas: (Obviously) it’s a gift holding the gifts. I don’t even have to go into storage to find baskets!! Everything will be put away in its own place and I won’t have to worry about tons of little tiny plastic things scattered on the floor and ultimately end up in the garbage.
That’s it. That’s all they get this year. I’m not even including decorative grass because I don’t like the mess it makes! No jelly beans. No peanut butter cups. No excessive amounts of candy that I’ll end up eating or that they can beg me for a million times a day. For the record, our grand total this year is $88/$44 for each kid.That’s $100 less per child than the average per person cost!
I love the less is more approach to our Easter baskets. I feel like if we present things the kids already need like clothes and shoes, paired with a few wants like bubbles and chalk in a unique way, they feel like they got enough “stuff” to celebrate the holiday. And, I feel like I gave enough without compromising my wallet or my values.
What kind of fun things do you include in your child’s Easter basket?
The Whatever Mom is a full-time wife and twin mama living on coffee and wine. She enjoys the pure rush of cleaning the BIG potty between loads of laundry. It is her dream that moms everywhere accept and embrace the Whatever Mom philosophy which can be found here.
Spring break is a great time to get out of the house and explore the beauty of the Hudson Valley. Hannah’s Girl Scout Troop recently visited a farm on the Center for Discovery’s Hurleyville campus. Though it was a bit chilly, the kids had a blast.
How Maple Syrup is Made
The kids learned how maple syrup is made by tapping sugar maple trees and how the timing has to be right. They have to wait for freezing temperatures when the sap moves up from the roots of the tree and into the trunk and branches. They enjoyed learning about the entire process from collecting the sap to cooking it and turning into the finished product you see in the store. Of course the best part was tasting a sample.
This was the official Maple Weekend where New York State producers open their doors to the public. You can still get in on the fun by finding an event in your area this weekend, April 2nd and 3rd.
Eggcellent Pre-Easter Hunt
As many of us are preparing to head out to local Easter Egg hunts, it was awesome for the kids to collect eggs directly from the chickens (sorry Easter bunny). My kids thought it was neat that they were still warm. They also got to feed the chickens, which was fun for them.
Now that this weekend is over, I’m feeling at a loss for how to keep my kids entertained for the next week and a half that they’re off from school. I know we can always check out our local library for kids’ events and to check out some new books to keep the kids reading over the break. We’ll probably also visit our local parks to get all their pent up energy out.
Hannah’s Girl Scout troop was invited up to Albany by Assemblywoman Aileen Gunther after her recent visit. She’ll be heading up for a tour of the capital today and the girls will even be introduced on the floor of the legislature. This is a fantastic opportunity for the girls to learn how laws are made and they’ll be earning participation in government badges.
As for the remaining days of spring break, I’m going to have to get creative. I know that I can always visit My Family Trip Planner to find local attractions, restaurants, and play places to keep them busy. My kids also really love all kinds of experiments so we’ll try a few of these simple science experiments using what we already have in the kitchen. I know the key to my sanity is keeping them busy.
What are your spring break plans?
Erin Johnson a.k.a. The No Drama Mama can be found writing on her blog The No Drama Mama and Hudson Valley Parent when she’s not wiping poop or snot off her three adorable kiddos. This “tell it like it is” mama has NO time for drama, so forget your perfect parenting techniques and follow her on Facebook or Twitter for her delightfully imperfect parenting wins and fails. Her work can also be found on Money Saving Mom and Mamapedia.
Even the Discount Diva is not immune to spending binges during the holidays. In fact, it’s probably because I’m frugal by nature that I didn’t see some of the pitfalls of Easter spending coming. I totally discounted that I was not immune to the cuteness factor. If you have small kids, it’s easy to get swept up in the “magic” of the holidays and forget that all that “magic” comes with a price tag. Here are some tips to recover from your holiday spending hangover.
1. Admit You Have A Problem – They say you can’t begin the process of recovery without first admitting that you have a problem. Though I was terrified to check my bank account the entire weekend for fear of seeing those awful red overdraft charges, I knew I couldn’t avoid it forever. Turns out my binge didn’t take us into the red (this time). So after you see the full extent of the damage, it’s time to refocus your budget and get back on track. Take a second to feel the full impact of your binge, but beating yourself up is counterproductive. Instead look for other ways to save money until your next paycheck comes in.
I instituted a No Unnecessary Spending Freeze in my household. That means that for the rest of the week my husband needs to bring his lunch and coffee to work in the morning and other than gas or groceries we don’t spend a dime until Friday. I’ve done these freezes before and although we aren’t always perfect at executing them, it definitely helps to get on the same page with your spouse. This is especially helpful in households like mine where one person tends to hold primary responsibility for paying the bills and tracking the spending.
2. Eat Those Leftovers – The thing that makes leftovers unappealing to almost everyone is the idea of having a rerun of the same meal (no matter how great the original meal was). Instead you need to look at leftovers as ingredients for new dishes that you would otherwise pay for at the store. If you cooked a big meal for Easter like I did you probably have tons of your main meat dish leftover (ham in my case). Meat is expensive at the store so before you throw it out, get creative in making new meals to use it up. Tonight it’ll be cheesy ham and rice casserole with leftover veggies and sour cream purchased for yesterday’s meal. For lunch today I’m thinking crumbled hard boiled egg over leftover salad and egg salad sandwiches for the kids. Even if you didn’t cook for the holiday, I bet you have some pretty colored eggs in your fridge. A quick internet search could yield tons of ideas to keep those leftovers out of the trash and keep more of your grocery money in your pocket.
3. Get A GREEN Easter Bunny – Gather all those plastic eggs, baskets, unused Easter grass, cute bunny ear headbands and the like and tuck them away for next year. At our house the kids know that we leave out our baskets for the Easter Bunny to fill, much like Santa does with stockings, so they don’t expect a new basket every year. This year, I tried to be even more practical since it was the first time I had to buy new baskets since the ones we’ve been using the past three years or so fell apart. The dollar store had great Easter pails we can use this summer or even next winter. Sand and snow are both fun for kids to shovel and scoop. Before you go shopping next year, pull out your Easter stash and assess what you have before you hit the store and you just may prevent a binge spending spree.
4. Get Dress Clothes For Less – I didn’t plan on buying snazzy new duds for the kids this Easter. That left my husband vulnerable to my daughter’s fashionista whining about not having a pretty new Easter dress. So he hit the store and bought my daughter two new dresses and my son a little suit with tie. I had to admit that when I saw how cute they were I couldn’t even be mad he spent $40 on just a few outfits they’re only going to wear a handful of times, if that. Had I planned better (this is my vow for next year) I would have begun scouring the thrift shops earlier to avoid falling prey to the high price of buying cute Easter outfits right before the holiday. While killing time before Good Friday Service we stopped in a thrift store in Pine Bush and found the cutest little suit and tie for my son. Let’s play a game, which suit in the photos below do you think was the one bought new and which was the one bought used.
If you can’t tell, that’s why you should buy used and save money on these special occasion outfits. If you don’t have younger children to pass these clothes down to next year, take them to the consignment shop and get store credit on new duds or get cash depending on what consignment store you use.
I wish you all a speedy recovery and here’s hoping next year’s holidays don’t hit our bank accounts quite so hard.