Thursday, October 18, 2012

Secondhand Dress-up Costume Bins

Now's a great time to start planning what you are going to do for all those kids on your Christmas list. It's also a great time to shop for costumes both before and after Halloween.

Last year I decided to do something different for Christmas gifts. I gave my nephew and two nieces dress up bins full of costume pieces. The idea came to me when a neighbor offered me a half dozen, plastic, hanging file totes that she had gotten from work that were no longer wanted. I knew with just a touch of soap and water I could put these bins to work and contain something in them, so I accepted. As I washed them out one at a time in my bath tub, my wheels started to turn as the water rushed down the drain. With Christmas still a couple of months away at the time, the idea to make dress up bins came to mind. I knew I had plenty of time to look around for just the right items to include.

I wanted to keep the project around $20/bin and keep the contents fairly even between the kids. I decided to head to my local dollar and thrift stores to shop. I found great deals and had a lot of fun picking out imaginative play clothing and accessories.

Some things I included:
  • Cowgirl and Cowboy hats, bandannas
  • Plastic Sword and Shield
  • Pom poms and cheer girl outfit
  • Princess skirts, high heels, tiaras, necklaces, and wands
  • Doctor's tools and a white dress shirt
  • An assortment of masks
  • Fireman's hats, 2 yellow, 1 red
  • 2 Purses and Mailman's hat

Other tips: Make sure to wash and dry all items you purchase before you give them as a gift. Use a black sharpie to label the items for each child on the tag or inside to keep them straight. When kids open their bins they'll tend to not know who's things belong to who as they begin to share and try things on.


What you'll need to make a Dress Up Costume Bin:
  •  Costumes & Accessories like I mentioned above.  No need to spend a lot.
Fire Hat and Ax
  • 1 Plastic Hanging File Tote with Lid
Other tips: If and when your child outgrows dress up, this file tote bin can transform into a place to keep favorite school projects, mementos and artwork. Just add more hanging file folders.


  • 1 Hanging File Folder with Plastic Tab labeled with child's name (Great for keeping smaller accessories like Pirate eye patches, Gold Coins, Rings, Pearl Necklaces, Bracelets and Tattoo stickers)
Other tips: Show your child where the smaller items can be put back in the hanging file folder so they are easier to find and not misplace. Teach them how to fit the lid on top of the bin and that all costume pieces go inside the tote when playtime is over.

  • 2 Super Sticky Post-It Labels for Sides of Tote (The super sticky post-it labels are great because unlike traditional post-its that are only sticky on one end, this one is sticky the entire length of the paper)

Other tips:
Choose a bright color label that will contrast the outside of your tote and will stand out. If you have more than one child you are making a bin for, use a different color for each. I like a good ol' black sharpie to write.


The Cheerleader outfit

Have fun with it. Try on a few things yourself at the next tea party you're invited to!

Stores to shop inexpensively or second hand: 

Costumes: Your own House, Dollar TreeSavers, Goodwill, Salvation Army,
Arcs Value Village, Thrift Store and Donation Center

File Tote, Hanging File Folders and Labels: Your own House or office, Office Max, Target

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