11 Must-Haves in Your Child’s Dress Up Box

No matter how many cute little boy clothes you buy for your kids, your child is going to want to dress up in costumes or even your adult clothes some days. Indeed, having a dress up box is an essential part of childhood and playacting encourages creative thinking and mental development in young kids. If you are just getting started, here are 11 essentials for your child’s dress up box:

  1. Fabric

Large pieces of fabric present many opportunities for open-ended play, from making impromptu togs to creating a fake snowdrift. You can certainly buy fabric at your local fabric store, but old tablecloths, bed sheets, curtains and other linens are also a fantastic option (not to mention cheaper as well). If you don’t already have old linens that you donate to the dress up box, check your local thrift store to see if they have any. There’s no need to buy brand new fabric.

  1. Costumes

Leftover Halloween costumes should definitely go into the dress up box. Even if all your children have outgrown them and they can no longer be handed down, they may still be able to repurpose them in other ways. For instance, a tiny tutu skirt can become a ruffled collar or a hat, while wings from a fairy costume can often be worn for years — no matter how much your child has grown — due to the elastic straps. Just put all these costumes into the dress up box and let your children’s imagination take flight.

  1. Costume Jewelry

Jewelry is so much more than just a necklace or earrings to kids, and cheap costume jewelry offers a wealth of possibilities to the young imaginations. Kids do tend to be hard on their dress up props, so don’t give them any jewelry that you don’t mind getting tangled or broken. FYI: Costume jewelry is best used by slightly older kids due to the risk of choking and strangulation, so keep that in mind.

  1. Scarves

We wanted to call out scarves specifically because they offer so many possibilities for dressing up. Scarves are usually more manageable due to their smaller size vs. a whole tablecloth to bed sheet, especially for smaller children. Scarves can be turned into cute dresses for little girls, togas, turbans, shirts, shawls and many other outfits and accessories, making them an absolute must for your dress up box.

  1. Shoes

Kids love to walk in mom’s and dad’s shoes — literally. Adult shoes are a perennial favorite in the dress up box, so if you have any shoes that you no longer like or that no longer fit, put them in the dress up box instead of taking them to the donation center. Just make sure to give them a good cleaning before they go into the box. You never know where those shoes have been.

  1. Other Accessories

There are so many other accessories that you should absolutely add to the dress up box if you have them. Some ideas include masks, sunglasses, regular glasses, gloves, hats, bags, backpacks, purses and more. Pretty much any accessory that you are ready to retire from your own closet can go into the dress up box for endless hours of pretend.

  1. Props

Kid-sized props of various kinds are an excellent addition to the dress up box. Play money, doctor’s kits, fake kitchens and other props in their vein will encourage their imaginations to soar. These props are usually made of plastic and other kid-safe materials specifically designed for toddlers to play with, so you can rest easy whenever your kids are playacting.

  1. Cardboard Boxes

Save those shipping boxes because they are essential for playing pretend! With the help of scissors, markers and tape, cardboard boxes can be turned into anything from a throne to a spaceship to a train car. They are truly only limited by your kids’ imagination. Keep a stockpile of old boxes so there are always some on hand whenever your kids are ready to play dress up.

  1. Household Items

While these items may not permanently live in the dress up box, they are absolutely essential to playacting. Pretty much any real world object from a stock pot to a pillow can and will be repurposed for dress up time. Using real world items not only makes playtime feel more realistic, but it also means that you don’t have to buy props and spend all that extra money. Just make sure to periodically go through the treasure box and reclaim any items that were commandeered by the kids for dress up time.

  1. Mirror

No dress up box is complete without a mirror so kids can admire their awesome costumes! Get an inexpensive floor-length mirror and put it at floor level so your kids can see it. Remember that their eyes are much closer to the ground than yours are, so they need the mirror mounted lower in order to be able to see themselves. Make sure to anchor it to the wall so they can’t accidentally tip it over in case they get carried away with their playacting.

  1. Treasure Box

Obviously, you need a container to hold all the dress up materials! Any box or tub will do, but it can be really fun to decorate it together to get your kids excited about the dress up box and feel like it’s completely theirs. Cardboard is easier to decorate, but it won’t hold up to hard use. Plastic is a bit trickier to decorate, but a plastic tub will hold up for longer, so it’s really up to you. Once you’ve chosen your container, assemble your supplies and get crafting.

Follow these steps to build the ultimate dress up box for your kids. With these dress up essentials, they will be ready to go on any adventure their imaginations can cook up.


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