Even if you have covered your ears in anticipation of Book Week, you’ll be hard pressed to be able to ignore the bulging lines of ready-made wizard and Disney character outfits, ready to be picked up and paid for in your local supermarket.
It may seem like some big corporate commerical cow, milked for profits, but Book Week is so important for our kids.
With tablets and phones fast replacing books – and their attention spans – books are too often left on the shelf, unread and unused.
But there’s nothing like a good book to spark a child’s imagination.
So that is why, however much of a pain it is to source, find and buy a costume, it is such a worthwhile cause.
My daughter is only little so making something from scratch or wrapping her in reams of ribbon or paper mache isn’t entirely plausible.
Instead, I’ve picked Julia Donaldson’s wonderful Room On The Broom – a firm favourite of my daughter’s – as inspiration, because a) I had most of the things at home and b) I can buy some bog-standard witch accessories for future use.
I’m a firm believer in doing things on the cheap, and doing it mainly handmade – I draw the line at complicated crafts though because I can barely sew on a button, and it usually ends in disaster.
Julia’s witch has graciously been designed by illustrator Axel Scheffler in nice primary colours, so no complicated patterns to attempt to squiggle.
Instead, a simple red crew collar top will suffice – £1.50 from the charity shop – while a purple ruffly skirt and bluey-grey tights we already have look the part. Plus, our black cowboy boots are a fair match for our friendly witch.
Don’t forget a wand – if you have a daughter, you will probably have one of these lying at home anyway, like we did – and a ginger cat too.
To ape her long ginger plait, I got a ginger wig I’d previously used to dress as Shrek’s beloved Princess Fiona and bought some cheap yellow ribbon for 80p to tie a bow.
Our heroine has a long black cape, and while a black bin bag could work as a cheap alternative, I spied a kids’ witch costume, complete with plain black witch hat, cape and gown for just £5.96 on Amazon. Ditch the gown, and just use the accessories. Strangely, buying the items separately cost more – and the black gown could be used for other costume ideas, or future fancy dress days.
Add a £2.50 broomstick from Amazon also, and plastic cauldron for £4 and you’re set.
It’s toilet-friendly – an essential with little ones – as it comes off easily, and it is a ready-made costume for All Hallow’s Eve too. Talk about killing two birds with one stone.
But costumes can cost very little at all, if you’re arty and can be bothered.
Plenty of websites have templates to make your own Giant ears a la The BFG or to make a Giant Peach out of paper mache.
One easy way if you have a beard wig lying around from fancy dress would be to fill it with crumbs and wrappers, paired with a dirty, unkempt face – shouldn’t be difficult for any child to muster in five minutes flat in any case.
Running out of time? See what costumes you already have and adjust them accordingly.
I.e have a monkey costume? Be a Muggle Wump from The Twits. Mouse costume? Be the little brown mouse from The Gruffalo. PJ onesies too can often be passed off as a costume. So if you have a Batman or Peppa Pig one at home, save your pennies and use that instead.
Does your daughter or son love dressing up as princesses or super heroes? Give their Belle or Superman costumes a second airing by wearing them to book day.
Firstly, they’ll love wearing them, amd secondly they are based on books and comics, and will have their own subsequent book versions too.
Another tip would be to ask friends, families or ask on local Facebook groups if any parents have any costumes going spare. You never know, they could be hoarding the Book Week costumes of years past in the attic.
Alternatively, scour charity shops and stock up on costumes during seasonal sales. Just after Halloween and Christmas are good times to buy these. Just buy a size bigger and put away until needed.