World Book Day Costume Hell

Anyone who has a school age child will almost certainly empathise with my feelings of misery when I realised that World Book Day was here again and it was time to get busy with the costume creation.

children dressed as superheroes for World Book Day
Superhero Day-Buzz, power ranger and a Winx fairy
For those of you who have yet to experience the regular creative challenges presented by primary schools nowadays let me fill you in. When I went to school we never dressed up, not ourselves and certainly not potatoes. Yes, you heard, potatoes. For reasons which escape me now we had to dress up a potato as our favourite character from a book. Cue a whole table flu of Harry Potter-tatoes wearing pipe cleaner glasses.

In the olden days when I were a lass we raised money with a tombola at Christmas and maybe did a sponsored walk, or silence or sheep shear or something. Our parents happily sent us off to school every day without having first spent an hour or more making hats, hunting for something red with white spots or spraying our hair wacky colours.

But times change and charities need everyone's help so with tedious regularity a letter comes home from school outlining the latest jolly jape to raise money for pigmy goats in the Lebanon or orphan snails in Glasgow or whatever. and skiing us to dress our children up or make yet more cakes, or fill jam jars or design cards which will be sold back to us at eye-watering prices.

children wearing red noses for Comic Relief
Pjs and red noses for comic
relief last year
I get that it's good for the children to learn about people or causes which need their help. And I get that they are trying to make it fun with all the different themes but wish they'd spare a thought for busy tired mums and dads who have to come up with a creative yet wearable outfit out of thin air. Or hit Amazon or Ebay if you are quick enough before the supply vs demand thing sends the prices of "Tudor costume (girls)" or  "Tin Man outfit (age 5-6)" sky high.

I've been in charity shops more than once and witnessed flushed stressed middle aged women sidling up to the volunteer shop assistants and asking if they can look "out the back" for a mop cap and/or white apron.

And yesterday my friend was far too excited, nay triumphant just because she discovered that the one last pair of red shoes tucked behind all the black ones in Tesco was in her daughter's size. Yes, The Wizard of Oz is our theme for this year so out came the foil and the rabbit's bedding in households all over the UK.

I have three children at Primary school so triple the fun for me on dressing up days. This year I was lucky - I found a silver space man's suit last week in a charity shop and snapped it up for £2.50. Covered a funnel in foil and the spaceman logo with a red cardboard heart- Bingo!
children dressed as characters from The Wizard of Oz

A monkey Onesie was accessorised with an old felt Christmas sack snipped quickly into a waistcoat, and a Christmas cowboy hat which has lingered in my hallway for months was butchered to make a Fez. Ta-da - flying monkey soldier thing.

DD delved into the depths of her sister's wardrobe and whilst in Narnia found an old blue gingham school dress left over from when our school swapped suddenly to red gingham. We strapped a toy dog into one of those baskets you put crisps in at parties and made a ribbon handle- Toto and Dorothy were ready for the day.

I made a special effort this year as we found out yesterday that Oftsed were visiting. Can you imagine - a school filled with overexcited costumed children whose day involved an Ash Wednesday service in our church followed by a trip to another bigger school to watch the drama students perform "The Whizz". No wonder our head looked a bit green in the face this morning even before she did her face paint - although she was looking incredibly stylish in her glam wicked witch costume.

So I'm feeling quite smug, even though Grumpy's funnel hat keeps falling off and I'm fairly sure DS#4 will have heatstroke by the end of the day in his furry onesie and waistcoat while DD will probably have hyperthemia wearing a summer dress and t-shirt. Well, one has to suffer for one's art doesn't one.

My top tip to parents with children coming up to school age - start collecting costumes and props now.  I'd particularly advise grabbing flat caps and mop caps if you see them going cheap
- if nothing else you'll make a killing on the auction sites come Victorian week.

I've had to find everything from Egyptian Princess up to Red spotted pyjamas over the years so trust me, the more stuff you have in stock the easier your life will be. You're Welcome!