Cheap fancy dress ideas for kids

Low angle view of boy (6-7) in fancy dress costume

We all love fancy dress parties, and nobody loves them more than fancy dress shop owners – but you don't have to fork out big money for a costume. It's cheaper and more fun to put something together yourself, hopefully with the help (or perhaps just design input) of the intended wearer. Here are six easy and affordable ideas to get you started...

Elsa from Frozen
It might have been two years since Frozen hit cinemas, but Disney's smash-hit cartoon musical still holds plenty of kids in its icy grip. Fortunately it's quite easy to make your little princess look just like Elsa, simply by teaming up a turquoise T-shirt with a tutu of the same colour – and applying a bit of silver glitter pen in a decorative pattern around the neck area. Not only will you have fun making it together, but it won't be as sweaty as one of the readymade polyester head-to-toe offerings.

Cat or dog
The beauty of this one is that you might already have a lot of the costume. The basic ingredients are a pair of brown or black leggings and a long-sleeved T-shirt in the same colour. You could go all-white for a Bond villain cat if you wished. Then take an alice band and attach fabric ears cut into triangle shapes for a cat or a floppy rounded pattern for a dog. You can use fabric glue or sew for this job. Then stuff a long sock or half an old pair of tights with fabric or tissue paper to make a tail. It's a nice touch to add patches of a lighter or darker colour to the body and the front of the ears.
And don't forget to draw whiskers on the face!

The Incredible Hulk
Possibly the easiest of the lot. All you need is a tub of green body paint and an old pair of trousers and shirt that you don't mind creatively shredding a bit. A word of warning though, this is probably best kept for outdoor parties – as it might be a bit awkward if little Johnny's body paint rubs off all over the host's cream-coloured sofa.

Another creative one, which is also really simple. The body is taken care of with dark coloured leggings and top, while the cardboard wings are attached with a relatively sturdy ribbon fastened harness style across the chest – both under and over the arms. The fun bit is decorating the wings – which are simply cut from a large cardboard box. We'd recommend paiting the wing patterns on separate bits of paper, which can then be glued in place on the cardboard.

Sometimes the old ones are the best – and there's a good reason that robot costumes made out of cardboard boxes are an ever-popular choice. They just look very cute. Start with a cardboard box big enough to contain your offspring's torso, but not much bigger. Cut armholes and leave the bottom of the box open for the legs to move freely. Then you can either paint the box in a suitable grey/silver colour, or stick on sheets of sturdy tinfoil to give it a bit more pop. A few brightly coloured control "buttons" on the chest area will add to the effect and if you really want to push the boat out you could use sections of silver ducting for the arms and legs. For the head, repeat the process using a smaller box – leaving the face area free for jelly and ice cream to be delivered safely.

Using the same principle as the butterfly costume, wings can be made out of cardboard and decorated – while the rest of the costume is fairly straightforward. Frilly tutu, matching top, sparkly shoes and tiara – and don't forget the wand. If you haven't got one already (which you probably will have), then a stick with a silver star stuck to the end should just be a couple of minutes work.

Have you created a fun fancy dress costume? Leave a comment below...

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