Party clothes are a tradition as old as parties themselves. Whether it is a costume or just a special outfit, clothes are part of what makes a party special.
Dressing up for a party is a tradition almost as old as time and one that is enjoyed by children and adults alike. Some children will always embrace the notion of dressing up with enthusiasm, while others will shudder in their shoes at the thought. If your child really doesn’t want to dress up as a fireman or a fairy then it’s probably best (depending upon their age) to either attempt a compromise (“wear your outfit to greet your friends then you can change into your own clothes”) or forget the idea.
However, for those children who can’t wait till the day of the party and the chance to wear their outfit or costume, then the potential for what to dress them as – or in – is practically unlimited.
This will obviously depend on what approach you decide to take. The main options for party clothes are:
Hiring a Costume
Costumes can vary in price from as little as $10 to over $50. Check out your local costume hire shop, but be aware that not every shop will have costumes that will be suitable for small or young children.
Buying Party Clothes
You may decide to take a more “traditional” approach, and buy a pretty party dress for your daughter or a smart set of clothes for your son. Department stores and specialist children’s’ clothing stores have some gorgeous outfits for your child. Depending on where you shop, you could spend anywhere between $30 and $100 for some smart party clothes for the big day.
Making a Costume
A fun option is to make a costume yourself. This can be anything from providing an eye patch and a plastic sword stuck into a belt for your son’s pirate party, to going the extra mile and creating black and white striped pants, a black waistcoat, a parrot to be attached to his shoulder (it has been done!), a bandana with a skull and crossbones stitched onto it and drawing a moustache on his face with Mum’s best eyeliner.
Simply wearing a glittering plastic tiara on her head can be enough to indicate your daughter is enjoying a Princess party and this type of accessory can be relatively cheap. What lengths you are prepared to go to will be influenced most by your budget, your skills, your available time and (sometimes!) the wishes of your child.
To keep costs down you might consider borrowing a costume from a friend who has older children. You may even be able to borrow an outfit from your kindergarten or playcentre if the selection is good and you have permission to do so. Of course, another option is recycling an outfit from an older sibling; a little guy might think it’s neat to get to use his big brother’s old Superman costume!
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At what age can your child start dressing up?
Dressing up for your birthday party can start as soon as the parents are ready for it. However, be aware that the first birthday tends to be a little early for this type of activity and will really only be for the benefit of Mum and Dad’s camera. Children as young as three (and maybe some two year olds) can get a thrill out of being dressed up as a butterfly or even just having their face painted, if that’s what you’ve chosen for your theme.
It’s really up to the parents to make the choices for the first few years. Once children reach the age of reasoning (apparently this does happen!) they can be involved in the brainstorming and planning of their own birthday party. This can also be an easy way to introduce them to the concept of budgeting and balancing needs with wants (albeit in a fun way).
This will depend on whether you have previously found/seen the costumes and want to build the birthday party around this idea. Or, you can pick the theme first, and then start thinking about the costume – although this can get a little tricky if you can’t find what you want! The ideal approach is to think of the theme and the costume at the same time, so you don’t run into difficulties later.
Often the best ideas come from attending other children’s birthday parties or by talking to other parents who have children older than your own, who’ve perhaps ‘been there, done that.’ Your choice may also be influenced by where you live, in terms of the choice of hire stores, department stores or fabric/craft stores in the area.
Whichever option you choose, it is important to take an approach that is not going to add too much stress to your life (remember – parties are supposed to be fun, not stressful!)