Helpful Tips for Creating Your Child’s Theatrical Costumes!

Written By: PAW Team | February 28, 2020

From initial concept to opening night, 

learn how to make awesome costumes for your child’s plays!

An actor’s costume is incredibly important for a play—they help actors get into character, and they can quickly convey elements of the story to the audience. Many parents worry about how to properly costume their children for a performance. However, you don’t necessarily have to buy fancy gowns or suits or stay up all night sewing for your child to successfully embody their role.

Here’s a few tips for finding the right costume for your budget and time constraints:

Option #1: Raiding Your Own Closets

If you have a whole family of entertainers, then finding a costume is as easy as passing it down from one child to the next. If your oldest was a shark in Westside Story, then that costume can be easily upcycled for your youngest to be Danny Zuko in Grease. Call on your circle of friends and PAW carpool parents for tips about finding or making the best costumes or ask if they have any extra props or materials lying around that would make for a great addition to your child’s latest costume. Otherwise, you or your children may have old clothing that could be repurposed for a costume. A jersey, basketball shorts, and athletic shoes are items that your son might already have that could be used to play Troy Bolton in “High School Musical.” With a bit of resourcefulness, you’ll be able to find a costume with a quick sweep of your closet.



For parents with a love for Pinterest and an artist’s touch, making the costume can be an exciting challenge and a great way to bond with your child. There are a few different directions you could go in depending on how you’d like to approach it. If you already have some clothing at home, you could pick up some accessories at the dollar store to maximize savings. Thrift stores are another great option for simple shirts or dresses that serve as the base of the costume. If you have the urge to get in touch with your inner costume designer, head over to a local craft store and let your imagination run free. A few sequins, some glue, and a simple second-hand dress can become a high-society ballgown with a little bit of determination and ingenuity. Still, as exciting as making something brand new can be, there’s no need to go overboard or work outside of your time or budget limits. If your child feels confident and inspired when they wear it, nothing else matters.


Option #3: The Store-Bought Route

If you need to budget your time and a D.I.Y. crafting project sounds more overwhelming than fun, then go ahead and grab a readymade costume. Big Box stores like Walmart or Target have endless and affordable options for costume clothing or clothing that can be fashioned as a
costume. Brick-and-mortar party and costume stores will have lots of accessories and may also have lots of complete costume choices, depending on the season. The internet contains a wide variety of online stores that provide outfits and accessories. One great option is online Halloween costume stores. You’ll likely get a huge discount for buying during the off-season, and if your child is in a play based on a popular Disney movie, you’ll be able to buy exactly what you need to dress like Elsa or Aladdin.
The most important thing to keep an eye on when purchasing costumes online is time. You’ll need to ensure the costume arrives at least a few days before the show so your child has time to practice with and feel comfortable in it. Having enough time will also ensure that you can still return it if needed or get an appropriate fit adjustment if necessary.


Once you know whether you’re going to find or make a costume, keep these general tips in mind:

  • If your child is playing a well-known character, look online to find pictures of the character on the stage or screen. Especially look at local children’s theater productions to give you a good overview of how other productions interpret the character. These images will provide you with a great starting point to brainstorm your own costume ideas.Always talk to the director to get a solid understanding of the director’s vision for the show and for your child’s character. The director often has a specific concept in mind and checking in with them will ensure that your child stays on theme with the rest of the cast.
  • Do not use family heirlooms or any other items that carry a lot of sentimental or financial value for your child’s costumes. Kids are constantly moving around backstage, quickly changing hats, scarfs, or jackets for the next scene, and it’s easy for items to get lost in the shuffle. It might be a bummer to lose costume jewelry from the dollar store, but it would be heartbreaking to lose grandma’s 60-year-old necklace. If it’s irreplaceable, it’s best to leave it at home.
  • If your daughter is wearing a skirt or a dress, always remember to add some leggings or biker shorts underneath for ease of movement.
  • When it comes to quick changes, make sure the costume has a base of leggings/pants/shorts and a t-shirt. Because your child likely won’t have a private dressing room backstage, simply adding or removing outerwear and accessories versus an entire outfit will make the transitions in the show much smoother.
  • One more quick pointer for comfortable costumes: if you have a little one, make sure their costume isn’t so elaborate that they cannot use the bathroom without assistance. Many potential crises are averted when children have toilet access as soon as they need it.


The most important tip of all with costuming is to be creative with what you have! Whether you’re a sewing savant or an astute Amazon buyer, what matters is that your child loves what they’re wearing, and they feel confident when the curtain rises.


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