How To Tackle Dressing Up Day

There is one letter sure to bring dread to the heart of even the most organised mum: the one informing them of a school dressing up day.

Now I am somewhat of a crafty mum and in the early years, the weight of expectation on my shoulders to come up with something suitable that looked like my child’s favourite book character was horrendous. Coupled with the fact that my eldest child hated dressing up, it all meant that I came to loath what should be a wonderful and exciting day, celebrating all that is good and great about books.

Luckily, I was blessed with a younger child who wanted to go to school every day dressed up as Spiderman, Harry Potter or even Wally.


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Even luckier, I can get really well-priced fancy dress outfits that he delights in wearing all year round. Take the Harry Potter outfit – it has been washed three times in less than two months!

Dress-Up Without Dressing Up

But do not despair if you have a dressing up-phobic child, I have learned some tricks over the years.

My main tip is to look at what you already have and work from there.

Last year my eldest went as George from George’s Marvellous Medicine for dressing up day. The outfit didn’t require anything we didn’t already have in the house: a red t-shirt, green hoodie and a pair of jeans.

I am also a big fan of a great character t-shirt. Get them wearing it before the day and it is just another item of clothing. A character t-shirt, a balaclava and lightsabre, and voila: you have Darth Vader.


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How about a pair of Converse, black jeans, a white t-shirt and a black coat? Then you have Alex Rider.

A great character for younger children is Harry and His Bucketful of Dinosaurs. All you need are normal clothes and a small bucket full of toy dinosaurs.

If you have a witch’s hat, then you have the witch from Room on the Broom; just make sure to plait your child’s hair. Do you have a pair of tights, a white t-shirt and ballerina skirt in the house? Then you have a readymade Angelina Ballerina.

All out of dressing up outfits? Well then, accessorise a pair of pyjamas and you have any of the Darling children from Peter Pan or Sophie from The BFG.

Go With the Costume Flow

One year the whole school dressed up as Wally from Where’s Wally. Again, relatively easy to put together the outfit without buying fancy dress. It was actually great fun for all of the kids, and instead of spotting Wally, the aim was to spot the non-Wallys.


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But I have learned there is nothing wrong with sending your child to school in a wonderful fancy dress outfit. Embrace the fact that your children want to dress up as Elsa or Anna in a shop-bought costume, and when the school gate mafia moan that they are not ‘book’ characters, you can relish the fact that they were inspired by Hans Christian Anderson’s The Ice Queen. And the knowledge that these outfits may well be the most-worn items of clothing for the next year.

If you see a mum on the school run dressed as Harry Potter with kids dressed as Darth Vader and Wally then it might just be me!

Jen Walshaw

Jen Walshaw is passionate about crafting and cooking, and can often be found in the kitchen teaching her boys (aged 9 and 10) to make pizza dough, or making homemade gifts for family and friends. When not up to her eyes in flour or paint, she can be found writing about living a creative family life in her blog Catch up with her at The Mad House Facebook page or follow her on Instagram for a glimpse in to family life in The Mad House.