DIY Christmas // The Dress-Up Box

>> Wednesday, December 6, 2017

This is a re-post of a blog entry I wrote when Ada was two! I am thinking of making something similar for Eloise for Christmas. And if you need more gift ideas for kids, check out my 2017 gift guide. I share exactly what we're getting the girls this year, not just random stuff.

The highlight of Ada's birthday party was her gift, the dress-up box. Now, this isn't really a tutorial so much as it's an inexpensive gift idea for toddlers and little kids. I thought of making this box for Ada when I noticed she liked going around the upstairs + rummaging through drawers. She'd put on socks and shoes and tights and mittens and scarves. Anything and everything she could get her hands on.

The beauty of this "project" is that it can be completely free if you have things around your house to use. It can be low-cost if you want to use thrifted items or even use (or sew!) your own. And if can also be all sorts of fancy if you have the budget to make it that way.

The choice is yours.

STEP #1: Find a nice box.

You can use one you already own or buy new. I had this zippered hat box I received a gift in years ago that had been sitting in our attic. I was at the crossroads of either getting rid of it or finding a new use. And actually that's how this whole gift idea started to take shape. I like having a box that closes well -- Ada knows how to use the zipper, but I can hear her before everything gets thrown about the entire house.  

I also think it'd be cool to somehow place a mirror or reflective surface inside the box. So, keep that in mind. Ada loves dressing up, but seeing herself in her fun outfits gets even more smile points.

(Bonus points if kid can fit inside the box.)

STEP #2: Find stuff to put in the box.

You can buy brand new clothing or actual dress-up clothing + costumes at a store, if you want. I opted to hit up thrift stores for some cheaper finds. It means the clothes don't really coordinate and are of various sizes and styles -- but it's perfect for a toddler.

I ended up getting . . .
  • 5 poofy skirts
  • 2 long scarves
  • 2 bandanas
  • 2 fisherman hats
  • 1 fuzzy "leopard" poncho
  • 1 reversible vest
  • 1 pair of sunglasses
  • 1 extremely ridiculous clown sweater
 = $12.50 total 

STEP #3: Maintain the box.

Though this step is one I have yet to follow myself, I've decided that I'm going to wash the clothing in the box once a month -- unless something gets really dirty, which I'm sure is bound to happen. I sort of thought everything would just stay clean, but painting + markers and then snacks + milk happened. It's just like regular clothing.

As well, I might add different items as I find things and cull through my own scarves and such. Or if I see something fun at a thrift store or online and the price is right.

  • Buy clothing at least one size larger than your child wears. They wear this stuff over their regular clothing, so it makes sense. Sizes for Ada (who is just starting to get into the 2T size) range between 3T to 6. It all goes back to thrift store tips -- sometimes clothing shrinks or just fits different needs.
  • Wash absolutely everything before putting it in the box. I've heard some thrift stores spray clothing with a chemical (could be urban legend -- but I believe it), so it's just not worth risking.
  • Pick crazy things versus just normal everyday clothing. You can this stuff to look ridiculous, but also appeal to the insane style choices of a toddler. The weirder, the better, at least in my opinion.
  • Think beyond play. This whole dress-up thing is also a chance to teach kids how to dress and undress themselves, which is a real life skill. Try to choose clothing that facilitates that development -- bigger neck openings on shirts, for example, make it easier for little hands to navigate these learning waters.
Does your toddler like playing dress-up?

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