I have a friend who always puts me to shame on occasions like Christmas and Easter. While I'm making an emergency dash on Easter Saturday to Sainsbury's for mini-eggs, she is carefully distributing foil wrapped Lindt treats around her beautiful garden, ready to be collected in hand decorated flower pots. Without spending a fortune, she manages to create the kind of Easter you imagine only happens in Homes and Antiques magazine. I find it hard to get into the spirit of things like Easter. I don't have any religious convictions, so there's no symbolism for me, and without that I struggle to see the point. Sure I like chocolate, and that's an aspect of it to embrace, but then you have to live with the knowledge that you're not even getting chocolatey value for money. £3.99 for a hollow egg and a couple of Mar Bars? Give me a slab of fruit and nut any day.
Part of me wishes I'd made my life simple from the start and taken the same approach as Cindy-Lou Dale. "My kids, although grown up now," explains Cindy-Lou, "were taught from a young age that there is no Easter bunny, tooth fairy or Father Christmas and that is was all ways of getting me to spend money we didn't have." Too hard line you think? Possibly, but the idea of never having to spend another Christmas Eve panic wrapping bags full of cheap tat is appealing.
Of course it's too late now for me to go down the honesty road. Being only 17 when my first daughter was born, I wasn't really ready to let go of the likes of the tooth fairy, and was still waking up to find a stocking of presents at the end of my bed on Christmas morning. I don't think I'd have been able to take such a brutally honest approach.
As I've got older though, and the excitement of eating slightly dusty eggs that I've found on shelves has worn off, I've become particularly slack when it comes to all things Easter. Worried that I was on my own, being a terrible mummy, I asked some friends for reassurance, and it turns out we're all just as bad.
So, to help with your Easter preparations, I've put together some top tips for what not to do this Easter:
• Rule number one, do not drink and hide eggs at the same time.
If you want to enjoy a glass of Chardonnay or two before bed, fine, just hide the eggs first. I'm speaking from experience here. In this situation, one of two things will happen – either you will hide them drunkenly expertly before bed, completely forget where or how many you hid, and have to explain to the children in the morning why they can't find any, or you will wake in a cold sweat at 4am, having forgotten about Easter completely, and stumble downstairs in the dark, scattering eggs randomly on the floor as you go. Neither makes for an idyllic Easter morning.
• Better to give a slightly stale egg than nothing at all.
Barely are the Christmas decorations out of the shops than the shelves fill up with Easter goodies. For weeks we have eggs shoved under our noses every time we innocently pop into the supermarket. You begin to imagine they'll always be there. This is a trick – do not fall for it. When you go to Tesco for your eggs on the evening before the big day they will all be gone. Top tip – buy a job lot of Malteser eggs in January, then forget about it.
• You can buy your own eggs.
"Remember when we had that Easter egg hunt at my house," said my friend Lucy, "and we were all fighting the children for the sun-warmed truffle eggs? Mmmmm." Yes, I do remember, and no, shoving a small child to the ground so you can get to the chocolate before them is not something to be proud of.
So there you go, everything you need to know to enjoy a stress free Easter. Time now for a nice sit down with a cup of tea, if I could just remember where I left that hot cross bun...