Easter is the first long weekend of the bank holiday season. The nights are lighter, the daffodils are out in force and there may even be the scent of BBQ in the air (...maybe!). It also means two weeks of trying to keep the kids happily occupied, which soon adds up. In fact, the cost of entertaining children can add up to thousands of pounds per year, so if you're looking to limit the financial impact over the Easter break, we've got some ideas to help.

Get crafty

While it may be easier to grab an Easter basket as an afterthought from the shops, they'll often end up in the bin or cluttering the house. Instead, you can save your money and the planet by having a crafty morning making Easter baskets with the children. Buy some coloured card, and Easter-inspired stickers, and get creative - it's also perfect if the weather isn't playing ball. 

It's not all about chocolate

Like a Christmas selection box, the price of Easter eggs is overinflated compared with their contents. Instead of spending money on these expensive chocolates, break with tradition and buy a board game all the family can enjoy. If you're a fan of an Easter egg hunt, replace chocolate eggs with the promise of a day out somewhere, or maybe some colouring pencils, or stickers. Think outside the (egg) box.

Pre-plan your days out

If you're looking to manage your finances and keep costs down, but still want to head out and about over the Easter holidays, there are ways you can save money. Many venues offer discounted entry if you buy tickets in advance. Also, look in newspapers and online for discount codes. Take advantage of any memberships you have, such as National Trust or English Heritage, and look to see what special events are happening over Easter - a venue you've visited many times can suddenly become a whole lot more exciting if there's a jousting event on, for example. Why not travel with friends and family and split the fuel and parking costs too? 

Take a picnic

Is there anything more quintessentially British than a picnic on a bank holiday weekend, whether it's spent basking in the sun, or eating soggy sandwiches in the boot of a car. Instead of buying lunch, make your own picnic food, it's relatively simple and low cost to make, you could end up saving hundreds over the course of the two weeks. 

Arrange play dates

The Easter holidays are all about spending time with friends and family, so arrange play dates. Having your children's friends round means they have someone other than you to play with, leaving you more time to prepare the Easter Sunday dinner! Whether you set them in the front room with a fun film to watch, as well as some toys to play with, or make a den in the garden, play dates are a fun and cost-effective way to keep the kids entertained.