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Not only is Easter an important occasion in the Christian calendar, but it is also a great excuse to get together with the entire family and celebrate the arrival of spring.

Usually by the time Easter comes along the days are getting longer, the weather is brightening up, and everyone is feeling a sense of positivity and renewal. The traditional Easter iconography of bunnies, eggs, flowers and chicks perfectly captures this sense of freshness and rebirth – so it's great fun to tap into this happy mood during your Easter feast.

To help inspire you in planning this year's Easter feast, we've put together some delicious Easter menu ideas, as well as tips for decorating and keeping younger family members entertained…

Traditional Easter foods

Food is the centrepiece of many Easter celebrations, and there are plenty of seasonal spring delicacies that are suited for a starring role on your table. For many British families, Easter isn't Easter without roast lamb – served with new potatoes, asparagus and other tasty greens, it's the classic springtime feast.

Other popular options are ham baked with a tangy citrus glaze, or chicken roasted with herbs – think rosemary and thyme to keep the flavour light. While fish is traditionally eaten by Catholics on Good Friday, it's worth considering for a light Easter lunch as well – springtime is best suited to less heavy food, and salmon, trout or any other tasty fish will satisfy hunger while saving room for dessert.

Rather than the usual Easter lunch or dinner, why not consider serving an Easter brunch? This allows you to incorporate Easter favourites such as eggs and hot cross buns, and allows for a more casual, relaxed style of meal. Consider serving up an asparagus omelette, crispy hash browns, and fruit salad to bridge that gap between breakfast and lunch – this can also be a great alternative for vegetarian Easter guests.

For dessert, keep it light – everyone is already likely to have indulged in quite a lot of chocolate. A light lemon cake or cheesecake is a nice touch, or consider the traditional simnel cake (a fruit cake adorned with marzipan balls that represent the 11 apostles). Bunny-shaped sugar biscuits or shortbread are fun and make a good accompaniment for coffee at the end of a meal.

Easter table settings

Giving a spring-like feel to your table is sure to put everyone in an Easter frame of mind. You don't necessarily have to do anything too elaborate – a few simple touches are often all it takes. For instance, a seasonal centrepiece can easily set the scene – consider lilies, daffodils, hyacinths and other spring blooms to brighten the table, or a shallow bowl or basket filled with painted Easter eggs.

A colour scheme of pastels, light neutrals or vibrant greens and yellows (depending on your personal taste and décor) ties into the spring theme – think about coloured napkins, table cloths or placemats to easily brighten up the room, and use delicate-hued crockery if you have it.

For an individual touch, why not add placecards for each of your guests? These can be as simple as coloured squares of cardboard or heavier paper, or consider adding stickers or cut-outs of Easter eggs, bunnies or flowers for an extra festive flourish. You could even decorate each place setting with a tiny basket of jelly beans, chocolates or other Easter sweeties as individual favours – children will love this personalised touch, and even adults will appreciate the Easter Bunny remembering them. Even a couple of chocolate eggs perched atop each plate or napkin contributes to the theme.

If you'd like a focal point for the room and not just the table, consider adopting the Easter tree custom popular in Austria, Germany and Ukraine. In these countries it's common to decorate a tree (or more usually a bare branch, often painted white) with hollowed-out eggs and other Easter symbols. Children in particular will enjoy getting involved, particularly if they have a chance to make their own decorations and add them to the tree.

Fun Easter activities for families

This leads to another important element of a successful Easter gathering, and that is finding some kind of fun activity that families can do together. If the weather is good, try to get everyone outdoors for at least part of the day.

The classic Easter activity is of course the egg hunt – this is also a great way to let kids burn off any excess energy before they have to sit down to a meal. The egg hunt is easy to set up and scale in terms of difficulty and numbers – just hide a selection of small chocolate eggs and other treats (this could also include small toys and coins) around the room, the yard, or any other space you don't mind letting the little ones explore. Some adults may be equally keen to join in, so don't automatically rule out an egg hunt if your gathering doesn't include children.

Egg rolling is another fun traditional Easter activity. If you're near a hill, see who can send their egg tumbling furthest down its banks – many areas even organise official egg rolling events. If you don't have a hill handy, you could always try doing it the American way and have guests push their eggs along the ground with spoons as part of a race.

For a more sedate Easter pastime, there is always classic egg decorating – although many people prefer to do this before Easter Sunday itself so that the eggs can then be used to adorn their homes and tables. Using paint, stickers, glitter and any other materials that spring to mind, let each guest create their own Easter masterpiece. To make the eggs last longer, learn to hollow them out – you can then even use the empty eggs to make pretty egg garlands to hang.

How are you celebrating Easter this year? Do you have any Easter entertaining tips to share?


Comments

Lockhart Catering on 28 March 2014 12:44 AM

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