Playing dress-up games is a normal and important part of a child's development, as they allow children to become someone else and explore more of the world around them while staying in a safe environment. Putting together a dress-up trunk does not need to be an expensive exercise; you can find many dress-up items around the house. Think about using plastic bowls as helmets, or old pots and pans as drums for budding rock stars.
Decide what kind of box, and what size, would best fit into your existing decor. A blanket box, ottoman, or wooden or leather travel trunk is ideal. You can also use a large, sturdy cardboard box or a wicker basket with a lid. Any container large enough to hold a variety of items and keep them separate from the child's everyday clothes is suitable.
Decorate plain wooden trunks or boxes by painting them in bright colors, covering them in pictures using decoupage techniques or stickers, or painting designs using stencils. Use spray paint to change the appearance and color of wicker baskets.
Add basic clothing items, such as pants, shirts, skirts and dresses, to the dress-up trunk. Include ready-made costumes if you have them. Choose clothes and costumes that are appropriate for the age group that will be using them. Consider what kind of activities you want the children to act out. For instance, if you don't want little boys to play violent games with guns, avoid costumes that lead them into that kind of play.
Add plenty of accessories to the trunk, such as costume jewelry to wear with evening gowns, toy stethoscopes for use by doctors and nurses, and crowns and cloaks for members of a royal family. Ready-made costumes often come with their own accessories, but children also enjoy grown-up accessories that they normally would not be allowed to play with, such as a sequined evening bag or a real leather wallet. Look among your own cast-offs before buying new items for a dress-up trunk.
Charity or second-hand shops are often good places to search for dress-up items.
Keep special costumes or accessories, such as masks that were bought for seasonal occasions such as Halloween, and add those to the trunk.
Deborah Jones started her freelance writing career in 1990. Her work has appeared in The Writer's Forum, "Reader's Digest" and numerous D.C. Thomson magazines. Jones has a Bachelor of Arts in creative writing and a postgraduate certificate in education, both from the University of Derby.