Easter. I simply LOVE Easter. Flowers are blooming and the weather has shifted from winter to spring…
I shared this last year and got such a great response, I thought I’d share it this year too. A little earlier than 3 days before Easter so you have a little more time to P.L.A.N.
Easter is a great time to get the family together for a nice meal, some Easter egg hunting and going to church to celebrate our Risen King, Jesus. And who doesn’t love a good excuse to go buy a pretty spring dress?
As fun as it is to get everyone together for a big Easter celebration, it’s easy for things to get pretty stressful if you’re the one hosting. There’s a meal to plan, the house to clean, decorations to be put up, in addition to fining cute Easter outfits for the kids to wear.
And of course there are plenty of Easter activities leading up to the holiday weekend like Easter Egg Hunts, Meeting the Easter Bunny, Church Services on Good Friday, and of course decorating Easter Eggs.
It’s easy to get overwhelmed with everything that’s going on. That’s why I’ve put together this short report for you. My wish is that you are able to host Easter and enjoy a fun and relaxed holiday with family and friends. The key is to prepare, plan and do as much as you can ahead of time. Then relax and enjoy this special time with your loved ones. We’ll cover how-to, inspiration and the spiritual side of Easter today. Let’s dive right in and get to work.
Planning Easter Activities And Decorations Ahead Of Time
There is nothing worse than having Easter sneak up on you and realizing there’s no time to do the fun Easter egg decorating or making a pretty wreath for the front door before you guests arrive for Easter dinner. Or how about the disappointment of reading in the paper how much fun the Easter egg hunt at the local park was that you meant to take the kids to.
I get it… we’re all busy and it’s easy to have high hopes and big ideas for the weeks leading up to Easter only to find everyday live taking over and before you know it Good Friday is here. Let’s talk about a solution to this little dilemma that can take the fun out of your Easter celebrations.
Leave some time in your schedule for house cleaning and decorating for the holiday and keep any planned activities light the days right before Easter. It will take some time to shop, prepare and cook the holiday meal.
The scheduling will help ensure you have time to do everything you want to get done this holiday season, but don’t feel like you’re tied to the plan you made. There’s always room for some spontaneous fun as well. If you don’t feel like dyeing Easter eggs on Friday night, do work on your spring wreath instead, boil the eggs and decorate them with our kids on Saturday morning instead. In other words, don’t feel like you’re tied to the schedule you’re making. Use it as a tool and make it work for you and your family. Above all, make sure you’re having fun doing the decorating and activities. Having fun and making memories with your little ones is what’s important.
Hosting Easter Without The Stress
There are three keys to hosting an Easter get-together without stress. They are to plan, prepare and keep it simple. If you follow these three simple rules, you’ll be able to enjoy a fun and relaxing celebration. Don’t let “keeping it simple” freak you out. You can still have a great meal and celebration that will impress your family and friends. Most of all there will be plenty of time for you to enjoy your loved ones and make memories with your family. And really, that’s what these family celebrations are all about.
The first key is to sit down and plan the festivities before you do anything else. It helps if you can get a rough headcount about a month or so before Easter. This will help you plan your meals, but also figure out how and where guest will be seated, if you need to rearrange furniture, or if you’re better off serving the food buffet style.
Once you have a pretty good idea of who’s coming over, you can plan what type of meal you’ll prepare and what food you want to offer. Think about what you need to do to the house, decorations you want to have up, when you’ll set up tables and chairs if needed, and what you need to cook when and in what order. The more you plan ahead of time, the easier it will be to pull everything off without going into full panic mode.
The next key is to prepare as much as you can. As you plan the meal, think about dishes you can make ahead of time. You’ll enjoy yourself more if you’re not spending all day in the kitchen. It’s much more fun to be able to spend time with your guests. Pick side dishes you can prepare the day before and store in the fridge. Get a ham that’s fully cooked and sliced, so all you need to do is warm it up in the oven or slow cooker and it’s ready to serve.
All you should need to do on Easter Saturday is a little spot cleaning. Then spend the rest of the day with meal prep as needed, setting tables and making sure the Easter outfits are laid out and ready for Sunday morning.
Keep It Simple
As you plan and prepare, remind yourself to keep things simple. There’s no reason to have 5 different side dishes and 3 desserts. Pick something most of your guests will like and prepare that. Believe me, your family and friends aren’t coming over because of your impressive five course meal. They are coming over to enjoy each other’s company and share some good food. A smaller number of dishes will be just as appreciated. And less dishes means a quicker trip to the store, less mess in the kitchen and an easier time getting everything ready to eat on time. Pick a few tasty dishes, and don’t feel bad about picking up a frozen pie or casserole to round out the meal. Keep it simple and focus on enjoying your loved ones.
Breakfast, Brunch, Lunch Or Dinner?
One of the fun things about hosting Easter (as opposed to Thanksgiving or Christmas for example), is that you can entertain for any meal. In other words, you’re not just limited to a big dinner. Instead, consider inviting everyone over for breakfast after a sunrise service at church. Or how about brunch or lunch a little later in the day. And of course dinner is also always an option. Here are some quick and simple ideas for Breakfast or Brunch.
Easter Breakfast or Brunch
One of our favorite family Easter traditions is to have everyone over after the Sunrise service for a hardy breakfast. I have a big bowl of fresh cut-up fruit and orange juice waiting in the fridge and the coffee pot ready to brew. A French toast casserole (recipe below!) cooks in the slow cooker overnight and I warm a spiral sliced ham in another crockpot or oven. Voila! EASY Easter celebration.
Breakfast is quick and easy to fix and there are plenty of dishes you can make ahead of time. Look up some recipes for overnight breakfast casseroles and slow cooker breakfast dishes to make serving Easter breakfast quick and easy.
French toast in the slow cooker is a perfect breakfast treat. It allows you to enjoy the rich, sweet taste of French toast, but it is healthier and much easier to prepare than traditional French toast. Our Slow Cooker French Toast Casserole is one of our most popular recipes and can be counted on as a big hit at your next brunch gathering. Whether you are hosting several people or preparing a romantic breakfast in bed for two, this meal is sure to please.
Slow Cooker French Toast Casserole
Yields: 9 Servings | 1 Serving: 2 Triangles | Calories: 227 | Total Fat: 7 g | Saturated Fat: 1 g | Trans Fat: 0 g | Cholesterol: 9 mg | Sodium: 187 mg | Total Carbohydrate: 34 g | Dietary Fiber: 4 g | Sugars: 19 g | Protein: 9 g | SmartPoints: 9 |
- 2 whole eggs
- 2 egg whites
- 1 1/2 cups 1% milk, (almond or soy will also work)
- 2 tablespoon honey
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 9 Slices whole grain bread
- 3 cups finely diced uncooked apple pieces (Honey Crisp or Gala are both great in this recipe)
- 3 tablespoon honey
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- 1/3 cup diced raw pecans
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
Add the first 6 ingredients to a medium mixing bowl, whisk to combine. Lightly spray the inside of the slow cooker with nonstick cooking spray.
Add all the filling ingredients in a small mixing bowl and stir to coat apple pieces, set aside.
Cut bread slices into triangles (that’s in half, just triangle shaped). Place one layer of bread (6 triangles) on the bottom of the slow cooker, add ¼ of the filling and repeat until there are 3 layers of bread. Add the remaining filling to the top.
Pour egg mixture over bread. Cover and cook on high 2 to 2-1/2 or low 4 hours, or until bread has soaked up the liquid.
3 Bananas (diced) can be substituted for apples.
Note: Drizzle with 100% pure maple syrup if desired.
One of the reasons I love brunch is because you can serve just about anything and it’s easy to make this a buffet style meal. Just line up the bowls, platters, pans and casserole dishes and let everyone serve themselves. Enjoy the company. What a great way to spend a large part of Easter Sunday together in a relaxed way.
When everyone’s done eating and socializing, set up an Easter egg hunt in the yard for the little ones to round out the day.
Share The Joy – You Don’t Have To Do Everything Yourself
One of the beautiful things about family gatherings is that you don’t have to do everything yourself. We may feel like we do, but we really don’t. Think about the last time you were asked to bring your famous apple pie or that German potato salad everyone loves. Did you mind making it, or did you appreciate being asked and like the fact that your mother, aunt or sister-in-law likes it enough to ask you to bring the dish to share?
Chances are that you felt proud and were happy to prepare the dish. And guess what… your loved ones feel the same way. Share the joy of the Easter celebration and ask the cooks in your family to bring a dish to share. But it doesn’t stop there. Let’s take a closer look at how you can share the joy and the workload by not doing everything yourself.
Share The Cooking With Your Guests
Instead of doing all the cooking yourself, think about who makes great side dishes and desserts in your extended family if you are hosting brunch, lunch or dinner. Ask them to bring a certain dish to share. That leaves you with the ham and maybe a side dish or two to prepare along with some biscuits or rolls. That’s a lot more manageable than fixing everything on your own.
As mentioned earlier, I’m sure your guests won’t mind bringing a dish to share. If you’re not sure what someone could bring, just ask. And don’t feel bad about picking up a frozen broccoli casserole or a store-bought cake to round out the meal.
Dish Out Leftovers
A big bulk of the clean-up after a big holiday meal is taking care of all the leftovers. Instead of putting it all up and freezing if needed yourself, pick up a packed of sturdy paper plates and some plastic wrap. Invite your guests to fix a plate of leftovers for lunch the next day before they head out the door. You’ll end up with a lot less food to deal with and if you’ve asked people to bring a dish to share, there won’t be a whole lot of dishes left to do either.
Many Hands Make For Quick Clean-up
Since your guests will likely be family and close friends, don’t be afraid to ask for help cleaning up before everyone leaves. Mother taught us you will always be welcome anywhere as long as you help clean up before you leave. There is so much truth in her wisdom, so ask folks to pitch in. And make a game of it for the kiddos!
Ask everyone to bring their plate to the kitchen after dinner or lunch, rinse it and stick it in the dishwasher. Set the rest of the dishes to soak as needed and get the guys to help put away any extra tables and shares you set up. Or use those fancy dishes that are my FAVORITE…CHINET!
With that done, it won’t take you more than half an hour to finish clean-up after your guests leave. It’ll be nice to have the house back in order and a little time to put up your feet before heading to bed. Best of all, you don’t have to worry about coming home to a messy house after work on Monday.
It’s Not Just About The Easter Bunny – A Short History
One of the beautiful things about planning a stress free Easter celebration is that you have plenty of time for the spiritual side of this holiday. Easter is about so much more than colored eggs and the Easter bunny. It is the single most important holiday in the Christian faith, marking the day Christ rose from the dead to give us eternal life.
The Easter celebration starts at Mardi Gras, literally translated as Fat Tuesday, as Lent begins the next day. Palm Sunday marks the beginning of Holy Week. Maundy Thursday may find you at church as you are marked with ashes in remembrance of the price Jesus Christ paid for you.
Good Friday marks the day Jesus died on the cross. It’s an important date in the Christian calendar because of what Jesus died for. He came to earth, lived the life we should have lived and died the death we should have died to forgive our sins so we might live forever with Him in Heaven.
His innocence and his willingness to be crucified are the reason he is sometimes referred to as the lamb of God (and a reason why we now often see little stuffed animal lambs in Easter baskets). For many Christians, Good Friday marks the end of Lent and is a day often spent fasting and praying.
Easter Sunday marks the day Jesus rose from his grave and conquered death. His Father called him back to His right hand side in heaven and that’s what we are celebrating on Easter. He is RISEN – Indeed!
Jesus Has Risen
28 After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb.
2 There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. 3 His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. 4 The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men.
5 The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. 6 He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. 7 Then go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.’ Now I have told you.”
8 So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples. 9 Suddenly Jesus met them. “Greetings,” he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him. 10 Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.”
Why then, if this is a deeply spiritual and sometimes emotional holiday, do we celebrate with colored eggs, spring chicks and Easter bunnies? For this we have to go back in time to the early days of Christianity.
As the Christian faith was starting to spread across much of Europe, early church leaders were looking for ways to grow their reach and make Christian holidays more approachable to pagans. Thus Christmas, the day of Jesus’s birth was celebrated in December around the time of the Winter Solstice and the ancient Roman celebration of Saturnalia. Easter on the other hand is celebrated in spring, a time of new life and fertility.
Many pagan symbols of fertility including eggs, chicks and rabbits were incorporated into the Easter holiday traditions. They made the idea of Easter more approachable and eventually more popular. This morphing of existing pagan holidays and traditions with the Christian faith is a big reason why Christianity spread so quickly throughout a large part of the world.
Should we then ignore bunnies and eggs as symbols of Easter since they are rooted in Paganism? Probably not, but we do need to make sure we don’t make Easter only about chocolate bunnies and Cadbury eggs. Let’s remember to teach our kids what this Holiday is really about: Jesus Christ died so our sins may be forgiven and we may live eternally with Him in Heaven.
Dealing With Leftovers – Without Getting Sick Of Ham and Eggs
The main leftovers you usually have around Easter are ham and eggs. And a good portion of the eggs will likely be hard boiled. If you’ve been dyeing Easter eggs with the kids, you’ll have plenty of hard boiled eggs. Let’s take a look at what you can make with hard boiled eggs and ham without getting sick and tired of either over the coming days and weeks.
Let’s start with the eggs. If you bought plenty of eggs and didn’t get around to boiling all of them yet, use them to make scrambled eggs or French toast for breakfast. French toast is also a great way to use leftover Easter bread. Stratas, frittatas and omelettes are great dishes to enjoy for lunch and dinner. Best of all you can use various other bits and piece of leftovers in all three of these dishes. Use what you have and start cleaning out the fridge.
If the eggs are already boiled, you have a couple of simple options. Peel them and turn them into deviled eggs or egg salad. You may end up with a little extra color on your eggs from the dye, but provided you used food safe coloring, they will still be fine to eat.
Another option is to slice the peeled eggs and use them on sandwiches. Last but not least, you can make scotch eggs for a hearty and portable breakfast treat. These are hard boiled eggs that are covered in pork sausage and rolled in breadcrumbs. They are either baked or deep fried and eaten cold or at room temperature.
Now that the leftover eggs are taken care of, let’s talk about ham. One of my favorite things about Easter and Christmas when it comes to food is the fact that I end up with plenty of ham leftovers. Set aside any slices and either fry them up in the morning and serve with eggs, make sandwiches for lunch, or freeze the ham slices to fry up later. They will keep in the freezer for up to a year.
All leftover random pieces of ham are chopped and used in soups, stews, omelettes and casseroles throughout the coming weeks and months. Keep what you know you will use in the next day or two in the fridge and freeze the rest in 1 cup servings. Toss a bag of these into your Mac and Cheese for a quick weeknight meal.
Let’s not forget about the ham bone. Save it and use the bones to make ham and bean soup or cook up a pot of pinto beans. The bone adds a lot of flavor to anything you’re cooking low and slow.
I hope these ideas are helpful and inspire you to get creative with your Easter leftovers. Take what you’ve got and turn it into delicious meals for the coming days and weeks.
I hope you find this full report inspiring and take the advice to heart. Celebrating Easter with your loved ones should be about celebrating Jesus has risen from the grave and spending time together as a family, not stressing about getting the house cleaned, the table set and a big dinner ready on time.
Take the tips and ideas in this report and see what works for you and what doesn’t. Maybe asking for help with food preparation isn’t an option for you. That’s ok. Just keep it simple, do what you can but don’t wear yourself out. The company in the end is much more important than having a bunch of different dishes on the table. Keep it simple, focus on what really is important to everyone, and make sure there is plenty of time and energy for you to enjoy this special day.
Make memories, but don’t feel like you have to cram every single possible spring and Easter activity in your busy week. Take time to slow down, smell the roses and enjoy a pretty sunny day with your kids. Focus on making memories instead of recreating a Pinterest-perfect holiday. Then and only then will you have a stress free Easter and are able to enjoy a fun and relaxed holiday with family and friends.