Coloring eggs is one of my kids’ all-time favorite activities. And we’ve done it all. From traditional egg-dying kits to DIY color solutions to coloring with whipped cream, we’ve tried everything. Once we even dyed eggs for Christmas, because why not?
I’m here to tell you what works and what doesn’t work to (hopefully) save your sanity.
Tips for Dyeing Easter Eggs
If you haven’t dyed eggs for a while, or haven’t done it with young kids before, grab a big cup o’ joe and dig deep into the patience well because things are about to get messy. No matter what egg dying method you use, cover your table or work surface with a plastic tablecloth. (You can get them for a buck at the dollar store).
You may also want to put down newspapers or paper towels to soak up dribbles, but don’t set them straight on your table or the dye could soak through and stain the surface of your table.
Set up a drying station for the eggs by placing a baking cooling rack over a rimmed cookie sheet (or over a layer of paper towels).
For toddlers and preschoolers, I also recommend having them wear an apron or old t-shirt. This is not a project for your Sunday best!
Finally, boil the eggs ahead of time. I’d plan on at least half a dozen eggs per kid.
If your kids are really into it—like mine—go for a full dozen each! But don’t get the kids involved until it is time to DIVE IN to the fun of coloring. There’s nothing more boring than waiting for water to boil. And there’s nothing more annoying than three kids asking when the boiled eggs will be done. TRUST ME!
Don’t know how to boil an egg? No worries! I add the eggs to room temperature water. Let the water come up to a boil. Then cover the pan, turn off the heat, and let the eggs sit in the hot water for 11 minutes.
Pick an Egg Dyeing Method
If you’ve ever been on Pinterest, you’ll see there are 897 different ways to dye an Easter egg. Don’t worry! Your kids don’t care about Pinterest. So keep it simple and let them have some fun.
1. Buy a Premade Kit
This is a no-fail way to color Easter eggs. Buy a kit (you’ll find boxes of PAAS Easter Egg kits in any grocery or big box store this time of year).
Follow the instructions to dissolve the dye tablets in a teaspoon of vinegar and then add water. Some of the kits even come with plastic cups, a metal egg dipper, and stickers you can add once the eggs are dry. Some kits come in neon colors or have glitter options. (Use glitter at the risk of your own sanity.)
MOM TIP: For young kids, put their egg inside a whisk and let them dunk it in the color. This will reduce the number of eggs dropped on the floor (and the number of tears cried).
2. Use Food Coloring
This is my personal favorite way to dye Easter Eggs (because I usually have everything on hand to dye eggs at any time). You also have more control over the color options and intensity.
Boil ½ cup of water for every color you want to make. Pour half a cup of boiling water into a short cup. Add a teaspoon of white vinegar to each cup. Then add 10-20 drops of food coloring to your desired shade. Lighter colors, like yellow, will need more drops to be bright, while you only need a few drops of blue and red to create pretty lavender eggs.
MOM TIP: I like to use stemless wine glasses to hold the dye so you can see the colors and how saturated the eggs are becoming.
3. Try Whipped Cream
Last year I fell victim to a Pinterest Mom moment, and we dyed eggs in whipped cream. (You can also use shaving cream, but then the eggs are not safe to eat). For this method, you spread whipped cream out in a pan, drizzle food coloring over the whipped cream, and then let the kids roll the eggs around in the colored whipped cream.
The kids wanted ALL the colors. So the colors all ran together in a horrible greenish-brown blob. And their hands were completely covered in sticky whipped cream and food coloring. I’m pretty laid back, but I couldn’t handle six messy hands touching so many things.
And then we had to let the gloppy, messy eggs sit for 15-20 minutes to let the colors set. The kids missed the instant gratification of seeing the eggs change colors. By the time the colors had set everyone lost interest, and I’d already yelled at them 63 times to wash their hands. And now I was alone, finishing the project by myself. #pinterestfail
BUT, when I washed them off they were really beautiful. The colors marbled together for the most stunning eggs we’d ever created!
I’m tempted to try again (with just the big kids!), using limited color combinations, or putting each color in a muffin tin to prevent the green-brown blobs again. We’ll see how adventurous I’m feeling.
4. Get Creative
You’ve probably tried the trick where you draw a word or pattern in white crayon and then dye the egg to reveal your crayon design, but there are lots of ways to create unique patterns on your Easter Eggs.
Rubber bands – Tightly wrap rubber bands around a boiled egg, and put it into a color bath. Remove the egg, and let the dye dry. Remove the rubber bands, and give the egg another dunk in a complementary color.
Tape – Use painter’s tape to create a design on an egg. We like to use a hole punch and place circles of painter’s tape on an egg. Press the tape on firmly and then color the egg. When the dye is dry, remove the painter’s tape to reveal white polka dots. Or dunk it again in a light color to fill in the circles.
MOM TIP: Use shaped scissors to cut the tape into a fun pattern and create zany stripes on the egg.
Brown Eggs – Purchase farm fresh eggs (or duck eggs) to give your Easter eggs a whole new look. You could dye a white chicken egg, a brown chicken egg, and a bluish-green duck egg in the same color dye and compare the difference in color. Using non-traditional eggs for Easter egg dying creates some beautiful looks that will get everyone excited.
5. Don’t Dye Eggs
If the idea of dying Easter Eggs with a three-year-old is triggering your anxiety, don’t do it!!
Find other ways to get creative. Use washable paints, markers, or crayons and let them unleash their creativity without the risk of staining their hands in blue dye. Or have them work on their fine motor skills by filling plastic eggs with stickers, candy, or holiday trinkets.
My biggest fails happened when I WANTED to do creative projects that weren’t age appropriate for my kids. And they didn’t care or remember doing them anyway. Once my kids got to elementary school, we’ve had a lot more success (and a lot more fun!) getting creative with dying Easter eggs.
So if you or your kids aren’t ready to dive into food coloring, that’s ok! Take them to a local Easter egg hunt instead, and introduce the idea of coloring eggs when they are a little older.