The Ultimate (& Mostly Free) Dress Up Checklist

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A superhero squad today, a band of bandits tomorrow, you never know where your kids’ imaginations are going to lead them. In order to help you be fully prepped, we’ve pulled together the ultimate dress-up list. Filled with supplies and props (most of which you probably already have) that will keep their minds engaged and active, keep reading to find out what should be in your dress-up box.

Adult Stuff

Glasses & Sunglasses
Put on the perfect pair for instant rock star status!

Scarves & Ties
Tie one on, add Dad's old vest, and you've got a professor or school teacher.

All those old Mardi Gras beads will look great dangling around their necks.

Sports Jerseys
What's an impromptu game without the proper sports attire?

Formal Wear
When your kids want to host their fancy ball, old bridesmaid dresses (you'll NEVER wear it again), short dresses, suit jackets, white gloves and bowties fit the bill.

Shoes & Boots
There's just something awesome about wearing Mom and Dad's shoes.

Kid's Stuff

Old Halloween Costumes
Get your money's worth from those high-priced outfits.

There are so many options: sun hats, winter hats, cowboy hats and more.

Princess & Dance
crowns, tutus, ballet slippers, leg warmers or old recital costumes, need we say more?

Hand-Me-Down Clothes
Let your tykes sport the stuff that's still too big but too irresistible to put in storage.

Gabby Cullen

Stuff You Can Make

If you’re feeling crafty, try our DIY superhero cape.

Spark their inner animal with an animal mask. Make a few, and you've got a zoo.

For night adventures make a torch out of tissue paper and aluminum foil.

Fairy Wand
Gather sticks and beads and make a magical fairy wand.

DIY Crowns
Make a few crowns from things around the house.

Stuff You Can Buy

If you don't already have them on hand, a doctor or veterinarian kit, a toy microphone, a cash register or any other open-ended play items are best bets.

Hawaiian Leis & Feather Boa
No dress-up box is complete without one (or both) of these. We love these affordable options for leis and these colorful boas

Jump Rope 
They'll use it to harness their horses, turn themselves into a train, or even rope imaginary cattle. Snag one here

Stuff You Have Around the House

Cardboard Boxes
Probably one of the most awesome and free props of all time, a big box transforms into a spaceship, a boat or an eight-wheel truck. See our favorite ideas here

Linens & Tapestry
Sheets, pillowcases and towels make for super-easy capes and ballgowns. Also, you can set the stage by throwing sheets over chairs and furniture to make a fort or cave for little explorers. Or, drape colorful tablecloths and tapestry to make exotic locales.

Play Money
Pull from the Monopoly game for free!

Backpacks, Purses & More
Old wallets, handbags and last year’s school backpack are all perfect for stashing treasures.

Office Equipment
Your CEO-in-training will have her startup business running in no time with old calculators, briefcases, staplers, keys, and computer keypads.

Other Props
Other items, such as phones, baby bottles, kitchen utensils, mixing bowls, yardsticks, stethoscopes, old notepads, office stamps and old passports are great additions to the dress-up bin; you never know who your kids will feel like being today!


—Nikki Walsh

Featured image: iStock 


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