8 Ways to be Frugal on Easter

NEW YORK (MainStreet) — If you’re looking to buy an Easter bonnet with all of the frills upon it this year, you’re not alone.

A study last year by the American Bible Society and Barna Group found that a whopping 86% of American adults celebrate Easter in some way.

The National Retail Federation expected last year that spending on the holiday, which included decorations, clothes and meals, would be about $16.8 billion, or an average of $145.28 per person.

But with gasoline prices and other living expenses up, some people may not be able to put as many excesses into the holiday.

We went to savings experts and came up with eight ways to put the frills back into your family’s holiday:

1. The suits, dresses and Easter bonnets: Getting dressed up for Easter is a tradition. Many people like to dress in their best Easter dress, which can cost a wad of cash. It doesn’t have to, writes Toni Anderson, savings expert for the Happy Housewife. Anderson says you can find fine clothing that someone else couldn’t wear at consignment shops, thrift stores and even yard sales.

2. Make it a potluck: Next to clothing, families typically spend big on a large meal. Meg Favreau, senior editor at Wise Bread, says the family meal doesn’t have to break the bank for any one family member if you do a potluck dinner. “Whether you're inviting family, friends or neighbors, you'll get to share the work and cost of cooking while celebrating the holiday with others,” Favreau says. To add extra fun, ask your guests to print out the recipe to share with everyone, or you can get the recipes in advance and make a homemade Easter potluck booklet for everyone.

3. Buy your dinner: If a potluck isn’t your style, Sommer Harkins, who writes at Mom Enthusiastically, says instead of making a meal from scratch, you can save your money (and your sanity) by checking major grocery chains for their prices on prepared meals. “You can purchase a complete holiday meals for as little as $60 for a family of four,” Harkins says. “Add in a light desert such as sorbet with fresh berries.”

4. White will do: Harkins says your tableware doesn’t have to be expensive fine china if you don’t already own a set. “White dishes with crisp white linens will do,” Harkins says. “Add in a splash of color with colored napkins.” If you don’t own a white set of dishes, many times you can also find these in thrift and antique shops.

5. Go au natural: The great thing about Easter is that it is in the spring, when some early flowers are in bloom. If you cannot pick a simple, colorful bouquet for your Easter table, you can make a natural decoration. “Elegant, rustic Easter decorations are some of the simplest decorations to make," Favreau says. "All you need to do is look outside for your materials. Consider putting a bunch of pussy willows in a glass vase from the thrift store or creating a wreath out of red dogwood or wild grapevines.” Giving it an Easter feel is easy; just add pastel ribbon, she says.

6. One basket for all: You don’t have to make everyone an individual Easter basket, especially if your guests know that the Easter bunny isn’t real (shhh!). “My centerpiece is a lovely crystal tray with 'grass,' jelly beans, hollow rabbits, peeps and chocolate Easter eggs,” says Holly Wolf, chief marketing officer at Conestoga Bank. “It becomes the sweets after dinner, and I give each guest a sandwich bag to fill with his or her favorites from the basket to take home as their favor.”

7. Bring your own egg: If you have children participating in an egg hunt during the festivities, ask everyone bring something to contribute. Marie Phillips, a blogger at Family Money Values, says that at her family’s combination Easter/spring reunion, each family brings its own baskets for the children under 11 with eggs and candy to hide.

8. Shop for in-season food: Spring is also a great time for some great early season vegetables such as broccoli, asparagus and Brussels sprouts. “It's cheaper, healthier and yummier," says Vincent Turner, CEO and Founder of Planwise. "It's easy to find produce that is in season at your local farmers market, which are often cheaper than grocery stores.”

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