Yeah, I couldn't help myself. The cheesy, made-up 'egg' word was unavoidable. Anyway...
Today, the grandkids dyed Easter eggs with Grandma as part of her annual Easter party (complete with egg hunts and Easter baskets). Unfortunately, Grandpa and the dads missed out on the fun -- all of them were busy at work. That said, it was a fun day. For the kids, dyeing eggs was pure, messy fun. But now we do one thing differently when it comes to dyeing eggs than we did back when I was a kid: we've ditched the store-bought Easter egg decorating kits. Sure, the kits (complete with dye tablets, egg dippers, and drying trays) are fairly inexpensive, BUT it's still an unnecessary expense. You probably have everything you need in your kitchen cupboard right now.
There are two ways to make your own Easter egg dye. There are natural dyes you can create by using colorful foods and teas. For example, for yellow eggs you can use ground turmeric or chamomile tea; for pink/red you can use beets; for blue, use blueberries. Out of sheer curiosity, my mom and I tried dyeing eggs with foods. It worked, but you definitely don't get the vibrant colors you do with artificial food coloring. But, it does have a fun, earthy element to it - made me feel like a pioneer - so if you're interested, it's a fun experiment. Check out this great post about natural egg dyes from Simple Organic for more in-depth instruction.
I use artificial food coloring for my Easter egg dye. The Simple Organic post advocated using natural dyes as a "safe and healthy" alternative. I try to avoid giving my family food with artificial coloring, but I figure it's not a big deal since we don't eat them. I mean, hard-boiled eggs displayed at room temperature for days probably shouldn't be eaten. For that reason, I have no qualms about using the fake coloring.
To make your Easter egg dye, all you need is vinegar, food coloring, and boiling water. Add 1 tsp. vinegar and 20 drops of the desired color to 1/2 cup of boiling water. Dip your hard-cooked egg as long as you want, to get the color you want. That's it!
Like I said, the egg dyeing kits don't cost that much, but this homemade dye is dirt-cheap and takes hardly any time to make. Plus, the other things in the kit are pretty superfluous. An egg drying tray? Use the empty egg carton. Egg dipper? A spoon works just fine. And the little stickers and egg rings? Let the kids go at the eggs with a white crayon - it's a lot more fun that way.
One other thrifty little tidbit: Once you've boiled your eggs for dyeing, keep the water! Sounds crazy, I know, but it makes great houseplant food. Make sure there aren't any pieces of egg (sometimes they crack) in the water. This water is great for houseplants because it contains lots of minerals from the shells of the eggs. Just thought I'd mention it.