9 World Book Day Costumes on a Budget
World Book Day is coming up in the UK on 5th March, one of my kids’ favourite days of the year. They have been planning what to wear for months. However, World Book Day has been known to cause many a parent a bit of a headache – not everyone is inclined to spend hours making hand crafted costumes, or wants to spend cash on buying ready made costumes. But fear not, we are here to help! Last year, we shared some tips for ‘5 Last Minute World Book Day Costumes‘, and we’re back this year with another round of easy-peasy suggestions. We’ll show you how to take three simple wardrobe staples and turn them in to nine different costumes! Absolute minimal crafting involved. You’ll need a few props, but most of these you’ll have around the house, and literally the only thing we bought for these was a pair of Harry Potter glasses which cost us £1 last Hallowe’en, and which we have re-appropriated for two other different costumes. Oh, and a red and white hat, which I bought from a charity shop, also for £1. So a grand total of £2 for nine different costumes – not bad. Watch our one minute long video to see the transformations, then scroll down for further details and some bonus suggestions.
Wardrobe Staple #1: Jeans & T-shirt
This is by far the easiest category. We’ve said jeans & T-shirt, but other trousers or even shorts would also do. Basically just everyday clothes. Then all you have to do is add some props.
Book Character: Charlie Bucket, from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl
Props: Golden Ticket – All you need is gold paper (or yellow, if you can’t find gold) and a black marker.
Book Character: Harry, from Harry and the Bucketful of Dinosaurs by Ian Whybrow & Adrian Reynolds
Props: A small bucket (we used the one we take to the beach in summer) plus a couple of plastic dinosaurs.
Book Character: George, from George’s Marvellous Medicine by Roald Dahl
Props: A large spoon and an empty bottle. Add a label that says ‘medicine’.
Other books featuring characters that wear every day clothes include Horrid Henry by Francesca Simon & Tony Ross; Dirty Bertie by Alan MacDonald; Flying Fergus by Chris Hoy, Joanna Nadin & Clare Elsom (add a cycling helmet); Matilda by Roald Dahl (add a pile of books); Nancy Drew by Carolyn Keene (add a notebook, pen and magnifying glass if you have one); The Boy in the Dress, by David Walliams.
Wardrobe Staple #2: A Stripey Top
For the next round of costumes, you will need a stripey top, e.g. a long sleeved T-shirt or a sweatshirt. Oskar, my older boy, actually borrowed one from me with the sleeves turned up. We didn’t worry too much about the bottom half of the costumes, the boys just wore their school trousers.
Book Character: Wally (or Waldo, for any North American followers), from Where’s Wally? by Martin Handford
Props: Red and white stripey top; round glasses (aka our ‘Harry Potter glasses’); red and white hat. Our hat was a lucky find from a charity shop, but you could also use a white hat and put some red tape round it, or just a red hat, or leave the hat out altogether. The top + glasses already scream Wally.
Book Character: The boy from Lost and Found, by Oliver Jeffers
Props: Red and white stripey top; bobble hat; toy penguin
Book Character: Burglar Bill, from Burglar Bill by Janet & Allan Ahlberg
Props: Black and white stripey top; eye mask made from black paper and wool or string; a ‘swag bag’ – we just turned an old tote bag inside out and pinned a label that says ‘SWAG’ to the outside. If you know someone you can borrow a flat cap from, even better, but the costume works fine without the hat.
Other books featuring characters that wear stripey tops include Wenda (red & white) and Odlaw (yellow & black), both also from ‘Where’s Wally?’; Dennis the Menace (red & black) from the Beano; and Ralfy from ‘Wanted! Ralfy Rabbit, Book Burglar’ by Emily MacKenzie – check out our tutorial for easy-peasy bunny ears to complete the look!
Wardrobe Staple #3: PJs or Nightie
Oskar has been really getting in to The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy recently, and walking around the house as Arthur Dent half of the time, which prompted this category. If your child feels comfortable going to nursery or school in their PJs, this is a super easy one to pull off, because almost everyone has PJs or a Nightie. Also, kudos to Oskar for dressing up as a female character for this post, because that’s what dressing up is all about – transforming yourself in to different characters, and it doesn’t matter if your favourite characters are boys or girls.
Book Character: The boy from The Polar Express, by Chris van Allsburg
Props: PJs with a dressing gown on top. That’s it!
Book Character: Arthur Dent, from The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
Props: As above, plus a towel over your shoulder.
Book Character: Sophie, from the BFG by Roald Dahl
Props: Nightie + a cardigan; then add some round glasses (there’s those ‘Harry Potter glasses’ again!) and a jar filled with scrunched up yellow tissue paper for a jar of dreams.
Other books featuring characters in PJs or a nightie include the boy from Penguin by Polly Dunbar (spotted PJs + toy penguin); I Am Not Going to Get Up Today! by Dr Seuss (PJs); Wendy from Peter Pan by J. M. Barrie (nightie); The Smartest Giant in Town by Julia Donaldson & Axel Sheffler (white nightie + sandals)
Not so much wardrobe staples, but if you have any Hallowe’en costumes stashed away, don’t forget there are plenty of book characters you could used these for. With a school uniform, a cape and a wand you can be any number of characters from the Harry Potter books. Here are a couple of other suggestions:
Witch – Room on the Broom by Julia Donaldson & Axel Scheffler; The Little Witch by Otfried Preußler; The Worst Witch by Jill Murphy; Meg from Meg and Mog by Helen Nicoll and Jan Pienkowski; Winnie the Witch by Valerie Thomas and Korky Paul, and lots more!
Vampire – The Little Vampire by Angela Sommer-Bodenburg; Dracula by Bram Stoker
Skeleton – Funny Bones by Janet & Allan Ahlberg
Ghost – The Little Ghost by Otfried Preußler; Sir Simon Super Scarer by Cale Atkinson; the ghost from The Scariest Book Ever by Bob Shea
Werewolf – A Werewolf Named Oliver James by Nicholas John Frith
Bat – I Am Bat by Morag Hood
Spider – The spider from Charlotte’s Web by E. B. White
Black Cat – Splat the Cat by Rob Scotton; Gobbolino the Witch’s Cat by Ursula Moray Williams; the Kitty books series by Paula Harrison & Jenny Løvlie
Pirate – Captain Hook from Peter Pan by J. M. Barrie; The Pirates Next Door by Jonny Duddle; Molly Rogers Pirate Girl by Cornelia Funke; Mrs Pirate by Nick Sharratt; Long John Silver from Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson, and lots more!
Check out the UK World Book Day website for info on other related activities and events.