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how to decorate easter eggs the mess free way

At this time of year every store will have an Easter egg decorating kit, but these kits don’t always make it easier.

In fact, egg decorating can be a messy ordeal that makes moms wonder why they bothered when floor tiles, counters, kids clothes and tables are covered with dye and paint. Here’s how to keep it simple so it’s actually a fun time together because let’s face it – if momma don’t like it, ain’t nobody going to do it again.

How to Hard Boil the Eggs

boiling eggsThis may seem to be easy but I know from experience that if you don’t boil the eggs properly they crack and you can’t decorate them, or if they’re too soft they breaks – and again you can’t decorate them.

One year we went thru all our eggs and had to call my husband to bring home more after work, which didn’t go over well with the kids when they were all geared up in their artist aprons and everything!

Here’s how to hard boil the perfect egg for decorating.

  1. Place the eggs in one layer in a saucepan. Do not pile them on top of one another – either use a larger saucepan or do two lots.
  2. Pour cold water into the saucepan until it is about an inch over the eggs.
  3. Put the pan on the stove at medium until it comes to a boil. Immediately turn the heat down to low because movement of the eggs in the pan will cause them to bump against each other and crack.
  4. Simmer on low for 12 minutes. Keep an eye on your eggs: if they boil too long they will crack open.
  5. When done, scoop out with a slotted spoon.
  6. The eggs must be completely cooled before decorating. It’s not a good idea to hold them under cold water to cool them – if they cool too fast they crack. The best idea is to move on to the next step of preparing the dye while waiting for the eggs cool.

Prepare Stands to Dry the Eggs

Never EVER put the colored eggs inside the egg carton to dry. They will stick to the sides and you’ll never get them out again! (If this does happen, leave them inside, paint the egg carton and make a nice table centerpiece with basket straw around them and cute little chenille chicks.)

If you’re using an Easter egg decorating kit they usually come with stands that you’ll have to put together or perferated holes that you punch out of the back of the box – or you can cut 1″ tall rings from paper towel rolls.

Prepare the Kids & Craft Area

twins decorating eggsIf your kids have plastic artist aprons, wonderful! If not, cut arm holes and a head hole in a kitchen garbage bag to protect their clothing.

If you have an old plastic table cloth that you can dispose of when you’re done, use this in the craft area. If not, cut open green garbage bags as table cloths.

If at all possible, decorate your Easter eggs outdoors. Spills on the lawn just decorate the grass for the Easter Bunny!

The "princesses" 5 year old twins Elizabeth and Victoria and 2 year old sister Georgia painting Easter Eggs.

The "princesses" 5 year old twins Elizabeth and Victoria and 2 year old sister Georgia painting Easter Eggs.

Prepare the Dye

Decide on how many colors you’d like to use, and set out an 8 oz plastic disposible cup for each color. If you set the cups inside a muffin tin they are less apt to spill when the children use them.

Fill each cup about 2/3 full of warm water (keep in mind that the eggs will displace some water when put in the cup). Stir in a few drops of food coloring until you get the shade that you prefer. Add 1 teaspoon of vinegar to each cup.

Color the Eggs

Give each child a metal spoon and an egg. They dunk the egg into the color that they like and to leave it in the cup for 3 minutes.

If you have an egg timer that you can set to ring after 3 minutes it helps them to be patient and not to ask “now?” every 15 seconds A ticking timer is a better idea than the sand timer – kids want pick it up to look at it which makes a sand timer take longer. . .

Take the egg out of the dye with the metal spoon and set it on a stand to dry while you dye another egg.

Decorate the Colored Eggs

easter egg markerOnce the dyed eggs are dry, you’re ready to add a more personal touch.

Depending on the age of your children, they can

  • paint with brushes
  • put stickers on
  • use markers
  • glitter glue pen adds a festive sparkle without finding glitter in the cracks for months

I don’t recommend using crayons. Kids tend to push harder to make a mark and can crack the egg.

Spit-spot Clean Up

When all your eggs are decorated and put in their baskets, pour out the dye that’s left, rescue your muffin tin and put the cups in the middle of the craft area. Pull the plastic bags off the kids and throw them in the middle too, and then fold up the garbage bag tablecloth with all the refuse on top and toss it in the trash.

If you had to decorate indoors and find some stains on your counter or non-wood table, have no fear – just make a paste by adding drops of water to a tablespoon or two of baking soda and set it on the stain. In a few minutes you’ll see that it has magically disappeared when you wipe it off.


I hope these tips save you the trial-and-error process that I went through with my kids. It’s so disappointing to them when they’re geared up for fun and the eggs don’t turn out or any of the other 241 things that can go wrong – and its exasperating to mom to have half the house dyed Easter colors for months.


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What Now?
  • What Easter egg decorating secrets make it easier for you? Tell us in the comments.
  • Feel like cooking up some Easter treats? Need some ideas for food for your Easter party? See our Easter Recipes.
  • Looking for Easter printable games or party decorations? Check out our Easter Printables.
  • Looking for something special to wear to celebrate Easter? See our picks for Easter & spring apparel and costumes.
  • Want more ideas for your Easter? Check out our Pinterest Inspiration Board.

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