Dyeing Easter Eggs on a Budget
Easter is an explosion of my favorite colors: pastels. Baby blue seersucker dresses, mint green tablescapes, lavender sun hats—even the pink plastic grass in my Easter basket. I know it’s a choking hazard for my dog, but I love it.
It wouldn’t be a true pastel day without dyeing Easter eggs.
Now, as a pastel fiend, you’d think I’d be drawn to the egg-dyeing kits at the end of every aisle in the grocery store. The yellow box with blues and pinks calling my name...
But those kits are expensive. You can substitute the selling points with items you already have:
- Color tablets? Please. All you need is some drops of food coloring or a packet of Kool-Aid. I used leftover food coloring from Christmas.
- Plastic drying tray? Let’s be sustainable. Save the carton your eggs came in and use that as a drying tray.
- Egg dispenser? It’s just a wire in the shape of a circle. You can use a spoon to easily lift eggs out of dye instead.
- Vinegar? Have you ever taken a good whiff of vinegar? Nasty. I’m sure the kids won’t be too excited about that either. You can get a good color coating without it.
So, back away from the kit and head to your pantry. Here’s what you’ll need to dye eggs:
- 1 large pot
- Carton of white eggs
- 1 large bowl
- Paper towels or rag
- Food coloring or packets of Kool-Aid
- 16 oz. plastic cups
- 1 white, wax crayon
First, hard cook your eggs and then place in a large bowl of ice water to chill. This stops the cooking process. When the eggs are completely cold, place on a towel to dry.
While the eggs are boiling and chilling, you can prepare the color stations. It seems like a good idea to make a big bowl of one color and dye tons of eggs at a time, but the more water you use, the more food coloring you’ll need to use. Instead of wasting entire bottles, designate a 16 oz. plastic cup for each color you want to make. Dye one egg at a time. You’ll need more time and patience, but you’ll use less food coloring and water.
Start with no more than half a cup of water for each color because you may need to add water later to change a color. To test a color before dyeing, dip a paper towel in the water. Let the colored water spread up the towel and set for a few seconds. What you see is a good indicator of the color you’ll get on an egg.
The longer you leave an egg in a cup, the more saturated it will become. Most primary food coloring sets come with a chart for mixing colors, but as a general rule, start with less. You can always add more, but it’s hard to subtract. If a color does get too dark, add water. A common mistake is to add a lighter color to “balance it out,” but that does not tackle the saturation. Instead, it will likely change the hue.
Trust me. I went to art school.
Dyeing with Kool-Aid
If you’re using Kool-Aid, empty each packet per color cup. In my experience, the light-colored flavors of Kool-Aid don’t work as well. Lemonade needed a little help with food coloring whereas Cherry was great. Go with the darker, fake fruit flavors such as Blue Raspberry for the best results.
Something to keep in mind about dyeing with Kool-Aid: the texture of the egg will be grainy. I think the effect looks cool, but if you want a smoother finish, stick with food coloring.
Once the eggs are dyed, you could use leftover items like stickers or sequins from previous crafts to embellish your eggs. I never turn down an opportunity to bedazzle something, but the cheapest way to decorate eggs only requires one white, wax crayon.
Before placing an egg in a color cup, draw designs on the egg with the crayon. Be firm, but don’t bare down too hard or you’ll crack the egg. When you place the egg in a cup, the marks you’ve made with the crayon won’t dye. It’s OK to let your kids think you have super powers.
How do you dye Easter eggs? Comment below with your tips and tricks.
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