When you have a bunch of kids at home, dying eggs for Easter can feel like a monumental challenge. Sure, it’s a lot of fun…if you like the idea of dying your counters and your floors, fights over who gets to put their egg in the blue dye first, and constantly stressing out over whether or not everyone is going to have a semi-equal number of eggs by the time you fish out all of the broken ones. The idea of a fun, relaxed egg-decorating morning seems like a dream; but in fact, it can be your reality!
Start with a ton of eggs.
Easy rule of thumb: a dozen eggs per kid, plus an extra dozen. If you manage to break more than a dozen (and it can happen!), then at least everyone knows that you tried. Any that break during the boiling process (and if you try to cram several dozen eggs into a pot at the same time, there are going to be casualties) go into the to-be-eaten pile. To minimize cracked eggs at the beginning of the process, you might want to consider baking them in the oven instead.
Divide them out according to the number of kids...and hold some in reserve.
Remember that extra dozen? If you don’t need them right off the bat, then hold on to them. Give each kid a dozen eggs, and hold on to that extra dozen. Those are “Mommy’s eggs.” You can decorate the leftovers if you like (it can be a lot of fun!) or you can distribute them out after all of the other eggs have already been colored. In the meantime, whenever an egg has an accident, it can be quickly and easily replaced.
If your kids are prone to arguments over whose eggs are whose, once the eggs have been divided out, take a couple of minutes to make use of that little white crayon that comes in the egg dye kits and label each egg according to its owner. An initial on the tip of the egg works just fine: it doesn’t obscure any design that your child wants to create, but it clearly labels each egg so that there’s no need for bickering later.
Cover your work surface.
Pick up a drop cloth, cheap table cloth, or newspaper—anything that will cover your working surface. It protects your countertops or table and, as a bonus, makes for easy cleanup!
Have a system.
One easy way is to rotate around the counter, starting with your youngest child. He picks one color, then the next child picks one, then the next. Once each child has been given a turn, you return to the first child and work your way around again until you run out of cups. Then, start checking to see whether or not they’re “done.” If a dye cup is full…it’s okay! You can remind your child that they’re multi-use cups, which will likely get some giggles from the child, and that they can do one in that color as soon as it’s free.
Let them get a little silly.
Do they want to mix colors? Scribble silly designs? Leave their eggs in the dye until you’re pretty sure the things are pickled? Go for it! Egg decorating doesn’t have to be gorgeous, and it’s really all about the fun. Let your kids have theirs. It will be much more fun in the long run than barking out orders. And, as an added bonus, you never know when they'll pull out something really creative...like "using the sonic screwdriver" to dye the eggs.
Keep a close eye on little hands, though.
Egg dye cups are fascinating…but not when they’re overturned. Not only is that often the only dye tablet of that color that you have on hand (after all, most people only buy one Easter egg kit), but it also makes a huge mess, and can be a nightmare to get off of countertops and floors. Boost little ones up where they can see and make sure that they have plenty to do as the decorating commences…preferably things that don’t involve too much interaction with the dye itself. When your little one is ready, keep your hands close by and supervise—but let them have fun, too. After all, it’s just egg dye. It’ll come out.
Take some pictures of the eggs from year to year. Later, you’ll enjoy looking back and see how they chose to decorate their eggs each year. You can also purchase plastic eggs that are intended solely for decorating, and keep them from year to year—but that might add up to a lot of eggs in a hurry!