I grew up in a pretty religious family. Catholic holidays were a big thing in our home and we’d go all out for every one of the different celebrations. One of my fondest memories is dying eggs on Easter weekend!
The Easter egg meaning was an important concept for us to understand: Representing the resurrection of Christ, the hard shell represents the tomb and cracking the egg represents the resurrection.
The tradition continued on Easter morning when we’d each pick the egg that we thought was the strongest and we’d have “egg wars”. Essentially, we pair up and see whose egg is the strongest by knocking the tips together. The person with the egg that remains intact, wins! As adults, we still have a blast doing this on Easter morning!
Now, whether you follow this tradition for religious reasons or not (appreciating without appropriating), dying Easter eggs with toddlers can be SO MUCH FUN!
You’re probably thinking: this is going to be waaaaay too messy. It’ll be more stressful than anything else.
When I wanted to do this activity with Little J and his cousins last year (age range: 1-3), I was so worried about how stressful it was going to be. I was convinced that there would be water everywhere and that food colouring would find its way on every single piece of furniture.
But with some preparation, the activity was sooooo successful! It can be very simple to setup and there are ways to contain the mess. Of course, this is an activity that requires supervision, but it can be a great family activity.
Here are some tips for dying Easter eggs with food colouring:
SETUP AHEAD OF TIME
The secret to stress-free activities with the kids is to always plan ahead of time. Avoid having the kids already sitting for the activity while you scramble to get the materials and trying to keep them calm.
Here’s how I setup my space:
- Place a plastic tablecloth on your table – if you don’t have a plastic one, any tablecloth will do. The idea is to protect your table.
- Cover your tablecloth with newspaper. It will help absorb any potential spills and will create an extra barrier for your table.
- Place towels, another plastic cloth, or anything else to protect the floor. We are big fans of duty tarps for these types of activities.
If it’s nice enough outside, I would highly recommend this be done outdoors. Unfortunately, it’s never warm enough here in Eastern Canada to be able to do this – or at least it hasn’t been in a veeeeeery long time!
- Fill bowls with warm/hot water, add about a tbsp of white vinegar*, and add your liquid food colouring. Do this with the number of colours you want.
- For the bowls, you can use either glass or plastic. We actually prefer glass because they’re heavier and it’ll be less likely that the kids will knock them over. Having said that, do whatever you’re comfortable with. The idea is to make it less stressful for YOU!
*The white vinegar helps keep the colours vibrant
Make sure you have all the tools at the ready:
- Eggs should be boiled the night before
- Drying areas should be ready ahead of time (we simply like to put them back into the egg carton to dry)
- Have some paper towels on hand for wiping any water spills
- Prepare some paintbrushes and small containers: If your child doesn’t like the feel of dunking their hand in the water, you can simply place the egg in a small plastic container and have them paint the eggs with the same water.
- You could even use a whisk for very tiny hands!
- You could also have crayons for the kids to draw on the eggs before dunking into the water.
The possibilities are endless!
Pinterest has a ton of different ideas for dying Easter eggs!
WHAT TO WEAR
While you would think that food colouring washes off easily, think again. Make sure that your kid is wearing an apron or painting clothes. We ruined one of Little J’s t-shirts painting pumpkins last Fall and it’s now become his “painting shirt”.
PLAN FOR WAIT TIME
Alright! Now that the eggs have been dunked into the water, it’s time to wait. So, you can do 2 things:
- Pack everything up and make this a 1-level painting activity. Meaning, once it’s dunked into 1 colour, the eggs won’t go into a different colour to create patterns.
- If your kid is really excited to make a 2-level pattern, have another activity prepared. Again, to contain the mess, try to keep the waiting activity within the working area. This Easter Egg Potato Stamping activity would be perfect because it doesn’t take time to prep (again, make sure it’s prepped BEFORE you even begin dying your eggs) and it takes just the right amount of time to do while the eggs are drying. Once they’re done with this activity, they can go back to dying their eggs!
Once the kids are done, they’ll have dye all over their hands. Water and soap won’t do the trick unless you give them 5 baths that day. So, here’s what do to:
- Wet the child’s hands
- Sprinkle a good amount of baking soda on their hands
- Rub the baking soda all over the coloured parts of their hands to create a paste
- Wash off
Little J had such a good time doing it last year! He was the last one left at the table still dunking eggs into the water after everyone had moved on to another activity. I’m so ready to be doing it again this year, with Little N in tow!
If you’re still worried about the whole thing, Pinterest has some great mess-free ideas for decorating Easter eggs. But if you’re prepared, then there shouldn’t be anything to worry about!