Like many holidays, Easter has become big business for retailers. In 2014, Americans spent roughly $16 billion on chocolate bunnies, marshmallow Peeps, multicolored plastic eggs and other holiday items, according to figures gathered by U.S. News. Additionally, online shoppers spent an average of $140 buying Easter-related goods the same year.
While it may be easy to run to the nearest store and buy items outright, a little planning and creativity can stretch each dollar a bit more this Easter holiday. In fact, there are many Easter gifts and Easter basket ideas that can help children feel special, and not break mom and dad’s budget.
From saving on the baskets themselves, to spending less on the treats and contents that go inside the baskets, there are many ways to save on a cheap Easter basket for a child, adolescents or even a teen. Here are some ideas on how to save money on Easter baskets for kids.
1. Skip the Chocolate Bunnies and Raid the Pantry
Instead of purchasing the traditional costly Easter treats — from chocolate bunnies to marshmallow Peeps — open up your pantry and use what you already have to make homemade treats. Chocolate chips can easily double for bunny bunny eyes, and if you do not have a cookie cutter in the shape you want, make your own using computer paper. Find the shape you want, print it and cut it out then use it as a stencil on your cookie dough. This will be free if you use what you have, just the cost you already paid for the baking items.
2. Avoid Paying Full Price for Candy and Treats
Don’t pay full price for those Easter basket fillers like Cadbury Creme Eggs, look for anything on clearance, said Ben Glaser, features editor for DealNews.com. Candy may still remain on the shelves from Valentine’s Day, he said. Or, wait until the night before Easter and you might find the candy already marked down. You could save 50 to 90 percent by buying marked down candy.
3. Use Newspaper Instead of Easter Basket Grass
Instead of purchasing brightly-color green Easter grass for baskets, repurpose what is already in your recycling pile. Newspapers or other scrap paper can easily be cut into small strips and crunched up by hand to create grass for an Easter Basket. This can cost you next to nothing — about $1.50 to purchase one newspaper to make grass for multiple baskets.
4. Fill Baskets With Non-Food Items
Consider filling Easter baskets with item’s that will not risk running up a dental bill, instead of filling them with traditional Easter candy, Right now, clothing and any remaining winter apparel is priced to move. Spring apparel will start to see modest discounts in April, Glaser added. “Don’t forget to size up so your little ones can grow into them.” he said. Lots of spring clothing purchased before Memorial Day can be up to 50 percent off.
5. Forgo the Basket for a Bag
Instead of focusing on having to have a basket for treats to go in, consider a bag. Traditional brown lunch bags may already be in the cupboard for the kids’ packed lunches. Pull out a few of these bags and encourage children to decorate them with markers and crayons — creating their own personal Easter bag. Have them date the bag and sign their names for a keepsake. If these aren’t already in your cupboard, they’ll cost just $2 per 100 bags.
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6. Repurpose Floral Arrangement Baskets
From an anniversary, to a birthday celebration — almost everyone has received a flower arrangement in a basket. Instead of tossing these baskets some people save them thinking they will use them again, but instead they end up in a closet or basement collecting dust. If the baskets are not the right color, take them outside and give them a coat of white paint for DIY Easter baskets. Besides the cost of paint if needed, these Easter baskets will cost you nothing.
7. Pack Baskets With Savory Food Items
Instead of focusing on the sweets, consider stocking cheap Easter baskets with non-sweet items such as gold fish — or bunny — crackers or pretzels. These items can often be purchased in bulk at a reduced price. Add a few packs to the Easter baskets and use the rest for snack on the go or for packed lunches. You can pay as little as 70-cents per bag if you buy these snacks bulk.
8. Look for Savings on Personalized Easter Baskets and Reuse Them
Dead set on purchasing a custom or pre-made basket for your children? Some parents want to give children a basket with their name embroidered on the outside as a keepsake. Always look for coupons and discounts, Glaser says. “Right now through the end of the month, we’re seeing sales on Easter gifts and gift baskets from Personalization Mall, GourmetGiftBaskets.com, and Williams & Sonoma,” he said. Baskets are already 15 to 25 percent off. And you can save even more if you reuse these special baskets every year.
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9. Get Thrifty With Secondhand Basket Fillers
Brightly colored eggs are traditional fillers for baskets and Easter gift ideas. They can hold small candies and trinkets and can easily be reused. Instead of paying full price for these items, check out local consignment and thrift shops. Many stores will gather Easter items and place them together on display in preparation for the holiday. These thrifty buys will typically only cost you $1 to $3. Also, thrift shops are another place to shop for actual baskets.
10. Shop at the Dollar Store
Baskets can easily be filled with Easter gifts for kids that they will enjoy, and for only a $1 or less per item. Shop the dollar store or the discount area at the front of Target stores for fun items like crayons, candy, stickers, chalk and more.
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11. Use Coupons for Candy
If purchasing new Easter candy, check the coupon flyers before hitting the stores. Many candy companies issue holiday-specific coupons in the weeks leading up to Easter. Match these coupons with sales by using a shopping app such as Favado, by following coupon blogs or by simply comparing ads. This way, you can save anywhere from $0.25 to $2 off, depending on the coupon.
12. Swap Coloring Books for Free Printable Pages
For children that love to color, instead of buying them coloring books for Easter, print color pages found online, said Kendal Perez, a spokeswoman for CouponSherpa.com. Search for “free Easter printables” on Google or Pinterest to find coloring pages, she said. “You can get creative and print a custom cover for the printable sheets featuring your child’s name.” This will save you the cost of a $5 or $10 coloring book.
13. Skip the Basket and Repurpose Containers
While Easter baskets are traditional gift-giving fare for Easter, parents can save by repurposing items they already have for “baskets,” Perez said. “There’s no rule that requires these wicker containers to be your chosen vessel. Instead of buying yet another cheap basket, repurpose a container you already own.” Some examples of items that can easily be used include shoe boxes wrapped in paper or plastic desktop pencil holders — allowing you to save $5 to $20 per basket.
This article originally appeared on GoBankingRates.