Back to school sanity saver #5


Don’t throw out all those old toys — fairy wands, swords, guns, capes, fireman helmets and fairy wings; or mum’s unfashionable bling belts, hats or dresses, or dad’s airforce sunglasses or fishing hat. And that souvenir grass hat and kikoi from that long forgotten trip to some exotic island, and drips and drabs of leftover make and fake jewellery — these will all come in very handy as part of the family Prop Box or Dress-up Box.

Whether your kids love dressing up for fantasy playtime at home or need dress -up item or props for dress-up days at school (which continue from grade 00 right through to matric) you will need a Dress-up Box and props. Rather than spending a fortune on ready made outfits, kids have much more fun throwing things together to make up their own outfits (often with some help and inspiration from a parent).

In all the years of creating dress-up outfits with my kids from Hairy Hatman for Letterland Day, to pirates, cowboys and Indians and the most recent, a native chief, I have never bought a thing, but rather used what was on hand in the Prop/Dress-up Box, and we borrowed the rest or made items ourselves by printing something out on the home printer and sticking it on a piece of cardboard (one such example was to make a shield for a knight, if I recall).

Kids also have enormous fun painting their own and each other’s faces with left-over make up and face paint. This is also useful when you have to morph your child into some or other character, or for school plays etc. And they really love watching their parents dip into the Prop Box from time to time too, when theme parties arise. The last few we attended saw my husband and I dressed as cowboys, and another as Flower Power hippies. 


What I know for sure is that a good family Prop Box saves you time and energy as you can recycle and upcycle outfits over and over again. Ours is now in its 16th year and still going strong!

In the picture below not a single outfit was bought for the school dress up day at which every child had to appear as a character from a book:

The five year old Captain Hook on the left was wearing a black jacket and an old bling belt of mine, a pirate hat, patch, sword and hook from some kit his older brother was given years before as a gift. The 12 year Snow White was wearing her flower girl dress from a wedding together with an old wand, a head band with feelers and a stripey cape. Ten year old Captain Underpants was wearing his own boxers, a towel as a cape and his own underpants on his head, and 10 year old Tom Sawyer was wearing his own clothes with props including his fishing satchel, fishing rod and my big grass hat brought all the way home from the Comoros many years ago.  And what fun they all had at no cost!



Click here for Sanity Saver #1
Click here for Sanity Saver #2
Click here for Sanity Saver #3
Click here for Sanity Saver #4


Click here to watch my back-to-school television interview on SABCTV3’s Expresso on 14 January 2015.