Kids love to dress-up – it’s arguably one of the single best childhood activities, offering near-endless opportunities for imaginative play and creativity.
And it doesn’t stop there, as the benefits of dressing up are vast, bringing with it a whole host of child developmental benefits, from social and language skills to emotional intelligence and fine motor skills. Pound-for-pound, dress-up play is probably the single most impactful activity for young children in early child development.
For a dress-up box to be considered well-stocked, it needs all sorts of quirky clothing and accessories, giving your little one everything they’ll need to create and act out stories as the characters they want, no matter how weird and wonderful they might be.
It doesn’t have to cost you a fortune either – a good dress-up box will be packed full of inexpensive items found at dollar stores or around the home. You’ll be surprised by how many great things you have around the house that you’re not using, which would make great dress-up box additions.
In this article, we’ve created a list of our top picks of the most essential, must-have items for any good kid’s dress-up box, giving you an easy-to-follow shortlist to help get your box loaded up with loads of great, quality dress-up items.
7 kids dress-up box essentials
We won’t speak much to the vast benefits of dress-up play – instead, we’ll assume you’re already aware of these, and will proceed to give our round-up of the very best items that we believe are a must-have for any decent dress-up box.
So, without further ado, here are our picks of seven kid’s dress-up box essentials.
1. You’ll first need something to keep all your dress-up items in
It may go without saying – but we’ll mention it anyway – if you don’t already have somewhere to store all your dress-up items, you’re going to need to pick something up.
This could be as simple as a standard storage box, a dinosaur toy box – or pretty much any other type of box, big enough to keep all the clothing items, accessories, props, and other dress-up essentials in when they’re not being used.
Whatever you decide to keep your little one’s costume items in, make sure it’s both big enough for all their items, while small enough to pack away, in a closet or similar place, keeping it tidy and out of the way when not being used.
2. Store-bought costumes and accessories
While it might seem a little obvious – we’ll start with costumes, particularly those that are ready-made, bought from stores. You’ll no doubt have built up a collection of these already, from Halloween to themed kid’s dress-up parties throughout the year.
There are all sorts of great kid’s dinosaur costumes and other characters to choose from, as well as accessories like dinosaur tails and dinosaur masks. These can be mixed and matched with other costume items, letting your little ones use their imagination to its fullest extent.
If you’re somewhat budget-conscious, you might want to consider alternatives like kid’s dinosaur onesies and dinosaur rompers. These offer much more utility than costumes, being just as fun as costumes while being useful as more general loungewear for use around the house. Another good tip is to stock up on costume items after Halloween; once retails stores mark down these items as they look to clear them from their shelves.
3. Old tablecloths, blankets, and other fabrics
The start of any good costume is, of course, the costume itself – and you can’t have much of a costume without fabric; it’s a key component of any outfit. This makes having plenty of fabric and other materials must-have additions to any good kid’s dress-up box in all sorts of shapes, sizes, colors, and patterns.
And it’s not just the costumes themselves that fabric is great for – it’s also pretty useful when it comes to props. An old tablecloth could make a great pair of sails or a backdrop, a blanket could transform into a magic carpet or a tent – there are plenty of imaginative, creative things fabric and materials of all shapes, sizes, and patterns can be used for during dress-up play.
Before you go out and spend money on all-new fabric for your dress-up box, have a look at what you might already have around the house that you no longer use. Think old dinosaur blankets, dinosaur baby swaddles, a tablecloth, or clothing – there are plenty of great options that you probably have, so go searching before parting with your hard-earned cash.
4. Accessories, accessories, and more accessories
Accessories are a great way to really mix it up when it comes to dress-up play – and you’ll be surprised just how much a simple accessory can help to change or make a character.
Think hats, wigs, gloves, glasses, and many, many more – there are plenty of great, inexpensive accessories that you can add to your kid’s dress-up box. And the more of these you have, the more variety your dress-up box will have, increasing the possibilities when it comes to what your child can pretend to be.
You might not even need to spend any money, as you’ll likely have a few of these accessories that you no longer use just lying around at home. And always be on the lookout at dollar and thrift stores, as you’ll be able to pick up plenty of suitable accessories in bargain bins and discount shelves, letting you load up on dress-up items for no more than a couple of bucks.
5. Props, props, and more props
Once your kids are all dressed up, starting to look the part with all the clothing, costumes, and accessories they’ve put together, they need a few props to complete the look.
There are plenty of characters that need props. Career-based costumes, like a doctor or chef, require a stethoscope or a spatula. Pirates, medieval knights, or Jedis require various swords, shields, and lightsabers to finish off their costumes, truly bringing the character to life.
Whatever character your little one’s designed to dress up as, they’ll all need some sort of prop – be in a sword, an eye patch, or a wand. This means that in many cases, the props make the costume, making having plenty in your little one’s dress-up box and an absolute must, as failure to do so will significantly reduce their creativity and play, limiting what and who they can pretend to be.
6. Face paint and other make-up
Make-up and face paint can be a great component of any costume – really bringing to life dress-up play, making some costumes, in particular anything scary, much more life-like than they would otherwise be. You’ll, of course, want to make sure that you only pick out options that are non-toxic, kid-safe, and less likely to leave hard-to-remove stains.
Whether or not you include face paint and other make-up in your kid’s dress-up box will mostly come down to age. If you’re got very young children who lack the motor skills and dexterity to apply it themselves without making a huge mess. For older kid’s though, who should be more than able to use it without too many problems, it can be worth including.
This doesn’t mean you should skip the face paint altogether for younger kids – it just means that you’ll want proper adult supervision when using it to avoid any unfortunate mishaps or accidents that are likely to occur to furniture and walls. Another top tip is to keep face paint and make-up outside, in the backyard, and not inside the home – which should keep any potential damage to an absolute minimum.
7. Kitchen and other recyclables
If you’ve ever bought a large, expensive, and impressive toy for a young child, you’ve probably noticed that a lot of the time, the empties box gets more attention than its contents! This is because boxes – along with other recyclables – are a great canvas for little kid’s to project their creativity and imagination onto, letting them explore, discover, and play out their own stories through play.
And it’s not just boxes! Plastic bottles, toilet rolls, cereal boxes – whatever it is, with a bit of imagination, these sorts of items can be repurposed into literally anything – from castles and forts to pirate and rocket ships.
They’re also great for adding an additional dimension to dress-up play, giving it an element of arts and crafts, which won’t just up the fun but also maximize many child development benefits. For instance, social and language skills will be heightened, thanks to needing to cooperate with other kids to create and build, along with fine motor skills and dexterity.
Well, there you have it – our picks of seven of the best, must-have items for any kid’s dress-up box.
Dressing-up is hands-down one of the best activities for kid’s to explore their imagination and creativity, putting a world of possibility at their fingertips, letting them play out different stories, scenarios, and characters.
It’s also incredibly important for child development, in particular social skills, language skills, and emotional intelligence, giving children a safe space to cooperate and explore different social situations safely, without the consequences found in the real world.
The benefits of dressing up for young children are diverse and vast, making an investment in a good kid’s dress-up box a worthwhile thing for any parent, as the rewards of doing so for your little one’s development are so vast, you’ll struggle to find any other activity that comes close.
But most of all, dress-up play is all about having fun! It gives your kids and their friends a safe place to explore the bounds of their imagination and creativity, making for some of the best playtime fun of any activity.