If you listen to retailers and commercials, the spring season brings with it yet another reason to spend a lot of money. But having a fun and traditional holiday with your family does not have to break the bank at any time of year. Here are some ways to cut costs for Easter or Passover without cutting any of the meaning.
A More Frugal Celebration
For Spring Clothing
Many families have the tradition of buying adorable new outfits in pastels for their little ones to wear to church on Easter. While these clothes can make for wonderful family photographs, they can also be an expensive investment for something that your child will only wear once. By the time next Easter rolls around they will have outgrown them.
Photo by jbelluch via Flickr
Don’t pay retail! Buy your Easter clothes from Goodwill, a consignment shop, or a yard sale. You could also do clothing swaps with other families in your church or neighborhood for free, so you can see last year’s outfit worn by a new moppet and get new-to-you clothing for your own munchkins.
To go with these new clothes, you’ll need appropriate shoes. For girls, make sure you buy sandals or shoes that she can wear all spring/summer. For boys, remember that black canvas sneakers can hide a number of ills, and will be worn after the last of the jellybeans are a distant memory.
For the Big Meal
Easter dinner with ham, potatoes, and all the trimmings does not have to destroy your grocery budget. Start by planning ahead. By knowing what you need for all of your favorite recipes, you can “cherry-pick” the best deals from the grocery circulars for all of your local stores.
Additionally, giving yourself time to plan will also allow you to shop in your own pantry. You can decide on the glaze for the ham based on what kind of sweet and savory ingredients (think marmalades, maple syrups, honey, mustard, wine, brown sugar, etc.) you already have on hand. (Allrecipes.com is a great resource for this kind of cooking. Enter what ingredients you have, and it will give you a recipe).
Finally, plan on how to incorporate the leftovers into what you eat for the rest of the week. Ham and its bones can be made into soup (split-pea is a favorite), casseroles, quiches, and other delicious meals. It will be very easy to use up the leftovers.
The Passover Seder can be a little more difficult to economize depending on where you live. If you are in an area without a large Jewish population, there will be a smaller selection of Kosher for Passover items, and a premium for Kosher meats. Being willing to cook or bake from scratch, rather than relying on convenience food, will help reduce your Pesach grocery bill. Even if you’ve lost Bubbie’s handwritten recipes, the internet is a wonderful resource for any and every traditional dish.
You can also use group purchasing to your advantage, particularly in areas with small Jewish communities. Organize your synagogue to make bulk online purchases of common Passover supplies so that shipping rates shrink and everyone pays less than they would otherwise.
And when in doubt, ask! Your local grocery store may be more than willing to work with your community – they might just not know what you need. (A great resource generally for inexpensive Kosher living is kosheronabudget.com).
For the Treats!
Easter baskets are getting more elaborate each year, and the amount of money you could spend on candy is staggering. There’s no need to spend a fortune to provide your kids with a sugar high.
First of all, don’t purchase a new basket each year. Either re-use your baskets every year, or repurpose other items like sand pails, straw hats, tupperware, or even shoeboxes. Your kids will have a great time decorating them as they prepare for the Easter bunny.
Instead of spending money on Easter candy, buy up Valentine’s candy during the after-holiday markdown. Chocolate tastes good whatever shape it’s in. You can also make your own treats like iced cookies shaped like eggs and bunnies. You could even purchase an inexpensive set of candy molds and make your own chocolate bunnies every year.
Similarly, there’s nothing that says your children have to have brand new pastel colored toys this time of year. You can find gently used stuffed animals at yard sales or resale toy stores or you could sew your own. The possibilities are limitless.
Easter and Passover can sometimes strain your budget, but with a little creativity, frugality, and willingness to try new things, you can keep the spring holidays from hurting your bottom line.
Last but not least, be sure to check out our Easter coupons and promo codes before you start your shopping.
Emily Guy Birken is a freelance writer, recovering English teacher, and stay-at-home-mom. She lives in Lafayette, Indiana, with her mechanical engineer husband and infant son. Her musings on life and parenting can be found at The SAHMnambulist.