Now that my nieces are getting a little older, the holiday is that much more chaotic and fun - our family's present opening tradition which normally takes several hours and includes at least one dessert break, sped along this year with the 3 year old Ella "helping" everyone open their gifts. Seeing her enjoy her gifts was a delight - I'd like to share one of the ideas I put together for her that I hope she'll get use of this coming year and perhaps beyond!
She is getting to that age where fairies and princesses are pretty much the best things on the planet. Yes, the phase of pretend time and dress up has begun! I started looking online at some dress up trunk options, and - while cute - the "trunk" was usually a cardboard box and some of the choices seemed to get so-so reviews for quality.
We used a vintage suitcase in our wedding as the card box. When its original owner did not want it back I considered what we would do with it. With the idea of building a dress up trunk growing in my mind over the last couple months, the solution was right in front of me. I always remembered my sister opening an old doll-sized suitcase filled with mini clothes and a note asking her to take care of her new doll that was placed under the Christmas tree. There is something sweet about a little girl with a vintage suitcase, and - will you look at that - I happened to have one collecting dust!
I started by going to a thrift store up the street and perusing the aisles for anything that caught my eye. I left with a gold coin purse, a small pink handbag, a sparkly ruffle skirt, a white fringy top and the most adorable furry white shoulder wrap that attaches under the neck with velcro.
Stopping at Target on the way home added a few more items: 2 pairs of footless tights, in white and hot pink, a sequin-covered purple scarf, a trio of glittered belts in case some of my sizing was off and a Tinkerbell costume from the toy aisle.
As I started putting the outfits together, three personas started to stand out: Rock Star, Fairy Princess and Movie Star. One of my friends had to name "Movie Star" for me - the only thing i could think in my head was "Sophisticated Lady" which somehow did not seem quite right.
I bought a pack of colorful headbands and added some flair with a hot glue gun, feathers and fabric flowers from the craft store. I also threw in a long strand of pearls - perfect for a Movie Star - and then had to stop myself before I went too crazy with accessories (sunglasses, hats, bracelets, oh my!).
A late in the game trip to Marshall's found another fairy costume in my cart and the Perfect "little black dress" for the Movie Star outfit. I had a little bit of room in the suitcase yet...adding a tiara from Michaels seemed only fitting. I stacked the three outfits side by side and hung the decorated headbands with a little help from mini clothespins. Bob helped me make three note cards specifying the outfits.
When she got around to opening this gift, we helped Ella unlatch the suitcase and her face went from confusion to sheer happiness as she pulled out the top fairy costume.
It was on in a matter of seconds, along with the string of pearls, hot pink tights and the blue flowery headband.
Next up was the movie star dress. I bought 4T or bigger of everything so that they aren't grown out of right away. Everything is just a little bit stretchy, perfect for playing dress up with friends.
Try as I might to put it on her, she wasn't into the shoulder wrap just then, so my photo op for the moment was lost. I stole a chance the next morning at dressing up 1 year old Amelia instead. Humiliating Aunt in progress.
By that time, Ella had switched to the Tinkerbell and Tiara costume. We established the rock star skirt was a little too big, so I'm glad to have picked up the belts!
I have to admit, I almost ordered little doctor and chef costumes and a couple other Melissa & Doug outfits from Amazon, but wanted to create a more personalized trunk by finding clothes on my own. Candidly, the store bought fairy costumes were my fail safe in case none of the other clothes fit her or tickled her fancy!
What else might one add to a dress up trunk? Maybe Ella will get an "expansion pack" for her birthday next year.