Putting Together Dress up Box/Bin

Updated on July 02, 2012
A.R. asks from Houston, TX
13 answers

I was going to put a dress up box together for my niece's birthday. I wanted to include a range of things - dresses, shoes, purses, etc. She will be turning three over the weekend and her mom loves the idea. So I am okay as far as support goes. My question do I buy gently used women's items or should I find more child sized things? My grandmother always hit up the local thrift stores for women's things (dresses, shoes, purses, etc.) which I loved even though they were way too big. I thought maybe the times had changed, though, and I should stay away from oversized items. Thoughts and suggestions are much appreciated. Thanks in advance.

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So What Happened?

Thank you all for the great suggestions! So many terrific ideas which is why I asked. I have put the gift off for Christmas to give myself time to put to use all of the ideas. I think this will be a fun gift box to work on for a few weeks and I plan on putting one together for my house. Thanks again so much.

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answers from Victoria on

for a birthday gift I would not buy the used. Oversized is ok but gently worn isnt as fun for a little girl as new and sparkly. Speaking of which if you are getting the used look on pintrest on how to re vamp the old. I look in the party favors for rings, boas, crowns and other girly stuff. You can also mix a few not so girly things like a silver pistol so she can be Clamity Jane or a cow girl, girl pirate. My super girly girl sometimes digs out my sons dress up stuff.

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answers from Tyler on

My daughters favorite dress up outfits were always old recital costumes. We were very fortunate to have a friend who would hand down her costumes, and she was in a competitive dance group...so LOTS of costumes! We had Annie, Pinnochio, a gypsy, Belle and lots of other costumes with sequins and tulle galore. If you know anyone who is in dance, ask them. Most likely, unless it was a very memorable costume, you can buy it for a fraction of the cost. That reminds me, time to clean out the closets! :)

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answers from Oklahoma City on

You should do both. I have found lots of gently used Halloween costumes or dance/recital costumes at thrift stores. There are also the cheap worthless ones too.

As for accessories i would say if it goes on the hair to buy as new as possible.

Think head lice...I know, you just cringed. It happens. Sometimes when a person wears a hat or crown and shares that the next person may or may not pass on an uninvited guest.

In my opinion, after 13 years + in child care, that these areas are the best and most important areas of children's playtime. They use total imagination, they can find things to do for hours with a well fitted out pretend play area.

So, I would buy a few items that are ladies size small or things that would be totally fun. Like huge hats, high heels, beads, clip on earrings, brooches, bangles, necklaces, glasses without lenses (you can pop them out), etc...then I would buy some quality dress up clothes in the thrift store that would fit. Long dresses, crowns, wands, tea set, dishes, fake food, shopping cart, stove and kitchen area stuff, so many areas.

I think you sound like a fun friend for this little on to have. You are thinking of something that will be the best thing ever. She will still be playing with these items the day of her next birthday too.

Here are some links to help with ideas:

This is a link that talks about what pretend play does for a child.


This link is a mecca of ideas, it may help broaden your scope or even fine tune your idea. The links on the left give different areas of pretend play and each one will have dozens of ideas in it.


This one is Little Tykes. I added it because you can narrow down the ideas by age. Their categories are more fine tuned and can give you even a better idea of things specifically for her age group and how it will lead to the next stage of development.


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answers from Dallas on

I don't have any answers, but I wonder if you could start the dress up bin, and then maybe take your niece on a shopping trip to fill it? Then she could pick stuff out? Don't know if that would be more work than it's worth, but it could be hilarious :)

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answers from College Station on

My personal opinion is that most of the things produced for kids dress up are cheap an not worth the money.

That being said, some of the Halloween costumes are good quality and worth it. Hit the thrift stores up for those. You can also hit up after Halloween clearance sales.

Since she is only turning 3, she will need a lot of growing room. I like your idea of oversized clothing. Most kids still like that. She is only 3 and probably doesn't know any better, yet, anyway.

It's a great idea, and I think you should go for whatever you want.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Albuquerque on

My five year olds prefer clothes that actually fit them, but steer clear of the dress up items sold specifically as that - fake plastic high heels, cheap tiaras, polyester princess dresses. Instead, I'd hit up Goodwill and get tacky costume jewelry, and slightly larger kids stuff. Old first communion dresses are great, as are adult things like floppy hats, feather boas, smaller purses.

What a good aunt you are!

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answers from Reno on

I think yard sales and thrift stores are a great idea! You can even find frilly little girls dresses there too.

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answers from Austin on

I agree that child-size is best.... but you can find some "fancy" things in smaller sizes. (What I mean is to try to find real clothes... you can frequently find very small sizes that are closer to a child's size...)

My M. and sister put together a dress-up box for my kids long ago.. they shopped mostly at their church rummage sale for smaller "dressy/old-fashioned" things, and put in some jewelry, purses, dress gloves, smaller dressy shoes, fancy shawls, fancy hats and scarves, things like that.... it provided many hours of imaginative play!

I would skip the "store bought" things you see in the toy section.. they are often very cheaply made, and don't hold up to use. Real clothes are much more fun!

You can always start the box with a few things, and keep adding to it... garage sales are GREAT places to find things for this....

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Houston on

You've gotten lots of ideas, so I just have a couple of things to add: Store-bought dress up clothes are super cheaply made, but the leotards aren't and they make a great backbone for all those fun things (you can sometimes also find old dance, drill team, cheer outfits from friends and sales). Don't forget Mardi Gras beads, giant sunglasses and crazy hats for photo ops. We used a foot locker ($20-25) as the storage box, you can keep it clean and fit a lot in there. Also, don't think they'll quit playing with it at 8 or 10...my daughter is almost 15 and still likes to dress up for pictures sometimes.

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answers from Austin on

At 3, child sizes are best.

Dresses, cape (capes can be worn around the waist to be made into a train!), wraps, hats, shoes (I put grippers on the bottoms, those things are slippery)

Crown, wand, purse

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answers from Los Angeles on

use kids items for clothing but maybe go up a size or 2 and accessories can be womens.

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answers from Dallas on

I would skip the thrift stores because you don't know how clean they are. We had a relative develop shingles after buying a costume at a thrift store. Maybe there is no relation between the 2 but my response is yuck.

I agree with keeping things child sized and not the Disney store items. Try the children's re-sale shops, Lilliam Vernon has some cute things.

Hobby Lobby has boas, etc.

You have a great idea, good luck with it.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Columbia on

I say both adult sizes and kid sizes.

Hit up garage sales and thrift stores. Don't forget the gaudy jewelry, hats, sunglasses...

1 mom found this helpful
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