Marye Audet


If you are in the market for green gift ideas, a dress up box is a personalized gift for children. It is inexpensive, eco-friendly, and best of all, very unique.

My youngest daughter probably has an amazing career in theater someday. She not only has imaginary friends...her imaginary friends have imaginary friends. She keeps up with the day to day activities of these non-humans and can tell you birthdays and favorite foods. It will make your mind spin like the electric meter when the air conditioner is on full tilt.

One thing she loves to do is to play dress up. Most children do. It allows them to enter the adult world safely and try it on whenever they want. Dress up is a great way to encourage the imagination and it is certainly low tech.

A Dress-Up Box Encourages Imaginations

Nearly any preschool classroom has a dress up box and with good reason. Small children need to use their imaginations to develop into healthy adults. Dressing up allows them to be anyone or anything. It allows them to practice adult skills and work through their observations of the adult world. Best of all, it is just fun!

Gathering the Contents

You should be able to find everything you need at your local thrift shop. First you will need a dress-up box. A great way to do this, especially if you are giving it as a gift, is to get a suitcase to use as the dress up box. If it is vintage so much the better.

Once you have the suitcase you only need to fill it with clothing of all sorts. Keep in mind that the bigger the variety the more roles your child can try on.

Some of the items that work well are:

- Prom dresses

- Scrubs

- Unique shirts

- Military uniforms

- Suit coats

- Neckties

- Hats

- Purses

- Shoes

- Jewelry

- Shawls

- Scarves

- Briefcases

- Computer bags

- Gloves

- Aprons

- Empty perfume bottles

The possibilities are endless. Be sure to wash everything in an eco-friendly laundry soap before putting the dress up box together.

Organizing the Dress Up Box

Once you have all the items together for the box you will want a way to keep them organized, especially if you have a lot of small items like wallets and jewelry. There are several ways to go about this:

- If you sew you can make drawstring bags to keep the small items in.

- You can keep the smaller items in purses.

- If you can find a small overnight bag it can be kept with the dress up box.

Don't get so many items that they won't fit in the suitcase easily. Remember that children will not be folding the clothing when they are ready to put the box away. Make sure that all of the clothes can be stuffed in the suitcase without being folded. Keep it easy.

Final Touches

The last thing to do is to personalize it. There are a variety of ways to do that. You can stencil the child/s name on the suitcase and decorate it however you want to. I like to make larger than normal luggage tags. Just write the name on it and tie to the suitcase with a ribbon.

This is a creative project so there really is no right or wrong way to do it. Make it however you like and then step back and watch the fun.

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