Easy and budget-friendly book costumes

Book event costumes can make some parents quake in their boots, and if it’s your little one’s first dress up then it might be hard to know where to start. Well don’t fret, we’re here to help them dress the part. Read on for our handy tips and easy ideas for costumes on a budget this March.

Published 28/02/24 by Amy Blanchard

Easy and budget-friendly book costumes
  • Start with what you have in the house: You’ll be surprised at what you’ve got floating around. Put together some bits and bobs like DIY crafts and plain clothes and then choose a book from what you find.

  • Grab a bargain at the charity shops or on Vinted: You can find some real gems here. It’s handy to have an idea of who they want to be before you begin the search. 

  • Look through everyone’s wardrobe: Dad’s tie, grandma’s cardi or an old apron can be transformed into all sorts of costumes.  

  • Adapt a PE or sports kit: Those plain sweat shorts and white t-shirts can be customised into sooooo many different costumes. 

  • Get creative with cardboard: There’s almost nothing you can’t make with some cardboard, scissors and a good idea.

  • Make a simple mask: Paper plates are great for making simple masks. You can turn your child into pretty much any book character with a little crafting.

  • Make the most of accessories: Start with accessories which you either have or can find easily from charity shops, Vinted or borrow from a friend. 

  • Swap with friends: Instead of making another costume or spending money on a new one, get your child to swap costumes with a friend. That way, two children have a new book costume to go in, win, win!

So with this in mind, let’s take a look at some of our favourite DIY costumes to match their favourite Tonies and books.

Matilda

A simple dress along with a pile of books and hair ribbon, and hey presto, they’re transformed into Roald Dahl’s Matilda.

What you’ll need: 

  • Matilda Tonie and book

  • A blue dress

  • Red hair ribbon

  • White socks

  • Black shoes

  • Small pile of books

@0urlovelylot
@0urlovelylot

Paddington

This one is beary easy to recreate and can be even easier to find in their wardrobe or charity shops. 

What you’ll need: 

  • Red hat 

  • Bear ears to colour in and stick to the hat

  • Blue coat or blue clothes

  • Red socks

  • Suitcase

@0urlovelylot
@0urlovelylot

The Stick Man

Collect some leaves and twigs on your next walk and simply glue your nature finds over some brown clothing. Easy-peasy.

What you’ll need: 

  • Brown clothes

  • A couple of twigs and leaves 

  • Glue gun

  • You could make a mask out of cardboard and felt tip pen too

@0urlovelylot
@0urlovelylot

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Charlie Bucket is your ticket to ease! Find some old, slightly-scruffy clothes (a sure thing with kids) and make a golden ticket or Wonka bar to carry.

What you’ll need: 

  • Scruffy clothes or an old jumper 

  • A golden ticket - use some yellow or gold card and write ‘Golden Ticket’ on the reverse

  • Or a Wonka bar - you can print the label off and stick it to an ordinary chocolate bar

@0urlovelylot
@0urlovelylot

101 Dalmatians

Did you know 101 Dalmatians is based on a book by Dodi Smith? Customise their outfit with plenty of spots, add a mask and ears, and look! You’ve got your very own pup. Just watch out for Cruella! 

What you’ll need: 

  • White t-shirt 

  • Black marker pen or paint for spots

  • White and black face paint

  • Black and white fabric for ears on a headband

@0urlovelylot
@0urlovelylot

Peter Rabbit

A rummage in the wardrobe or charity shop and you’ve got a super-quick Peter Rabbit. This could also double up for Easter just around the corner, savvy, hey! 

What you’ll need: 

  • Blue jacket

  • Brown trousers

  • Face paint or eyebrow pencil to draw on bunny whiskers 

  • Bunny ears

  • Cotton wool for a tail

  • Bag of carrots

@0urlovelylot
@0urlovelylot

Tom Gates

Liz Pinchon’s Tom Gates books and Tonie are a huuuuge hit with older kids. And the good news is, they make for a really easy costume. 

What you’ll need: 

  • White t-shirt to doodle on

  • Black trousers

  • White card with Tom’s face drawn and cut out. Add elastic to wear round their head, or attach a lolly stick to hold it up.

@0urlovelylot
@0urlovelylot

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About Amy Blanchard

Amy Blanchard
...
Amy’s favourite Tonie is Matilda. From a very young age, she was utterly obsessed with Matilda. She watched and read it so many times that she practically had the whole script memorised. As she grew older, she remained just like Matilda, a bookworm, a trickster, and a dreamer!