Springtime is finally here (emphasis on “finally”!), and it’s the perfect time to start planning for Easter. It really is a wonderful holiday, and our desire to make it beautiful is completely understandable, but those gorgeous touches (from clothes to décor to candy) can add up quickly. Thankfully, some easy tips can create a holiday that’s not only lovely, but light on your pocketbook as well.

The Clothes – Easter is one of those holidays where dressing up takes on an art form, the more colorful the better. Come on, it’s the only day of the year where pastel suits are not only fashionable, they’re a given, and it’s time to have some fun here. When it comes to kids’ clothing, hit Craigslist and your local meticulously-run consignment and thrift stores. You’ll be amazed at the selection of Childrens’ boutique-quality Easter dresses and suits awaiting you in perfect condition, often for 90% off the original price. As for the adults, if you’re looking to freshen up your Easter wardrobe this year, go for it! Hit those same Consignment stores and Thrift stores for gorgeous designer suits, new shoes and bags to match. Ladies: don’t you dare forget the hat!

The Easter Baskets – I’m one of those Moms that naively dives head-first into every Easter determined that this is the year I keep the candy baskets small, tasteful and relatively healthy. Come Easter morning, those lofty goals are hip-checked out of the park and replaced with a sugar-induced blur of pastel M&M’s, Coconut Eggs and Peeps in all colors. Anyhoo… heck, it’s just once a year. If you know thyself well enough to realize a well-stocked Easter basket is going to be an expected part of the holiday, head to your local Dollar Store, where a fabulous selection of name brand sweets, treats and beautiful straw Easter Baskets await you, often for a fraction of retail prices.

The Meal – Everybody wants to throw a Spectacular Easter meal for friends and family. Likewise, guests coming to see you are going to want to bring something thoughtful (and helpful) to your home as a hostess gift. Satisfy both of these goals by letting each guest bring their specialties! If you’re baking a ham for dinner, have one guest bring their world-famous sweet potatoes. If another friend just gleefully told you about her garden bursting into Springtime bloom, warmly congratulate and inform her she’s now in charge of the flowers. If one of your guests makes dreamy desserts, guess what they’re encouraged to show up at the door with? Putting a meal around your table that is truly a creation of all the guests not only creates a fantastic atmosphere in which everyone feels they’ve contributed, but it also brings down the costs – and work – substantially for you.

The Decorations – if you have kids, decorating the house for Easter is one of the biggest joys of the holiday. Keep it fun – and inexpensive – by hitting the local dollar store. Toy chicks, bunny cut-outs, wall hangings, cards, games, Easter-themed coloring books, pictures… chances are excellent your local Dollar Store has it all. The décor is adorable, affordable, and often sturdy enough to be carefully put away to be used again next year. You can’t go wrong.

The Flowers – Easter flowers, just starting to bloom, make a charming, lovely gift for family and friends. While some roadside stands en route to Easter dinner may seem like godsends for time-pressed travelers, one look at the price can have you rethinking a gift at all. Do yourself a favor and hit a local warehouse store, as they usually carry a fantastic selection of flowers year round. The potted azalea that would have cost you $40 on the corner of Costly & Costlier should price $15 or less at one of these warehouse goldmines. Use part of the money saved to splurge on some melons, grapes and pineapple, and whip up a gorgeous pastel-inspired fruit salad to ring in the Spring. Bon Appetit, and Happy Easter, everyone!

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