A Look Back: 100 Years of Easter at Better Homes and Gardens

Easter ham, decorated eggs, and hot cross buns have been springtime staples for well over a century, and we'll probably still be making them a hundred years from now. In honor of Better Homes & Gardens' 100th anniversary, we're taking a look back at how our favorite holidays have been celebrated throughout the decades. As we flipped back through the archives, we discovered that while most of the Easter crafts and recipes look a little different, the meaning behind the celebration has remained the same.

We found tasty ham glazes from the 1950s, a clever reader-suggested bread technique from the 1960s, and even a sustainable egg-decorating idea our editors came up with in the 1940s—along with many more creative Easter ideas. Whether you're looking to change up your Easter dinner menu or just looking for new decor ideas, we've pulled the best Easter inspiration from the past 100 years to help you get started.

Easter layout from April 1963 issue of Better Homes & Gardens
Courtesy of Better Homes & Gardens

The 1930s: Garden Recipes

While the magazine was first published in 1922, our first mention of Easter wasn't until 1936 when we ran a story about dishes to cook during Lent and for Easter brunch. These spring-inspired dishes included a crisp salmon salad and over-hard eggs. Our Easter coverage in the 1930s was much more about the food our reader was going to serve (often with fresh vegetables grown in their own gardens) rather than the bright decorations or Easter egg hunts we're familiar with today.

Easter layout from April 1943 issue of Better Homes & Gardens
Courtesy of Better Homes & Gardens

The 1940s: No-Waste Crafts

Our first mention of Easter crafts comes in 1943, with a project that focuses on sustainability. This issue was published in the middle of World War 2, so our readers were focused on reusing whatever they could and not spending money on unnecessary items. For these eggshell crafts, we gave instructions on how to empty the egg (which could then be used for Easter dinner recipes) before using construction paper and doilies to turn the shells into festive animal place settings.

layout of Easter ham from April 1952 issue of Better Homes & Gardens
Courtesy of Better Homes & Gardens

The 1950s: Fancy Ham

The April 1952 edition of Better Homes and Gardens was all about making your holiday dinner look as good as it tasted. In addition to our best ham-cooking tips, we instructed the reader on how to score and glaze the meat so the main dish could double as a delicious centerpiece. We also included three glaze recipes, so if you're looking to mix up this year's holiday ham, consider trying one of these throwback recipes.

close up detail of Easter Bread and spring flower rolls from April 1963 issue of Better Homes & Gardens
Better Homes & Gardens

The 1960s: Flower-Shaped Rolls

Easter brunch in 1963 was brought to us by Laura Getschmann of Bremerton, Washington after she submitted her recipe for Spring Flower Rolls. She shared how to make each roll into a springtime flower shape by cutting the dough with a 1 ¼-inch biscuit cutter and arranging the dough balls in a muffin tin before baking. No matter what Easter bread recipe you decide to bake this year, try this technique for an extra festive brunch spread.

Easter layout from 1970s issue of Better Homes & Gardens on Eater crafts
Courtesy of Better Homes & Gardens

The 1970s: Homemade Easter Candy

These days we fill our Easter baskets with store-bought candies that line the grocery store shelves all spring long, but back in the 1970s, we were making it ourselves. We made our own pastel-tinted coconut bonbons and chocolate-covered marshmallow candies, all cut into bunny and chick shapes with miniature cookie cutters. While we don't recommend using these for your modern-day Easter egg hunt, try making them for your next Easter brunch board.

Easter Bread spreads from 1980s issue of Better Homes & Gardens Magazine
Courtesy of Better Homes & Gardens

The 1980s: Braided Bread

The April 1984 issue of Better Homes and Gardens was all about bread! We devoted six pages to Easter bread recipes, and we're seriously considering re-making every single one of them for this year's brunch. Banana sponge coffee cake, crescents with rhubarb and coconut fillings, sprouted herb loaves, and the star of the show: Individual Lambropsomo buns, a braided bread treat that holds a dyed hard-boiled Easter egg in the middle. If you make something similar this year, save time by doing something we could have only dreamed about in the 80s: Cooking and dyeing your Easter eggs in the Instant Pot!

layout of Easter bunny crafts from 1990s issue of Better Homes & Gardens
Courtesy of Better Homes & Gardens

The 1990s: Simple Sewing

Hop to it! The 90s were all about DIY, and in our April 1992 issue, we were sewing all kinds of bunny-themed crafts in preparation for Easter. Rabbit-shaped dolls, a bunny-patterned dress, and even a rabbit-theme doll quilt with floppy bunny ears. And while you probably won't be making quite so many rabbit-inspired projects this year, you can brush up on your sewing skills with these modern projects instead.

bhg easter 2002

The 2000s: Crafts for Kids

Our March 2002 issue was all about making Easter fun and exciting for the kids—something we're still doing today! Back then we suggested a DIY Easter bunny basket and a homemade hopscotch game. If you're looking for fun ideas for little ones ahead of the big brunch this year try one of these 12 fun and free Easter games for kids.

Decorated cake and cupcakes for Easter from April 2018 issue of Better Homes & Gardens
Courtesy of Better Homes & Gardens

The 2010s: Bunny Baking

Cupcakes definitely had a moment in the 2010s, and our April 2018 issue reflected the trend. Our hummingbird cupcakes were decorated with cream cheese frosting and a piping tip that transformed them into woolly little lambs and sweet white bunnies, while our lemon-lavender-poppy seed cake was frosted in coordinating pastel tones that look like pretty spring flowers. And, we've reached the point where all our print recipes are online, so you can easily access the recipes and instructions to make them this season!

layout from April 2020 issue of Better Homes & Gardens on Eater crafts
Courtesy of Better Homes & Gardens

The 2020s: More Is More

The April 2020 issue was filled with elaborate Easter egg crafts, glittery centerpieces, and brightly-decorated cookies. This issue was written and sent to press just before the pandemic began, but this collection of craft projects was perfectly timed for days spent at home social distancing and at-home Easter dinners that needed a bit of extra cheer. Recreate these projects or find more Easter craft inspiration in this collection of pretty no-dye Easter eggs.

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