Our girls love to play with their dress-ups box. It’s a narrow, deep box sitting in their playroom — easy to pack away into, and big enough to hold rackets and other sports gear. I add to it every now and again, hiding new treasures that they’ll find when they look for old favourites.

If you haven’t got a specific collection of dressing-up gear, start one today.

Dress-up costumes don’t need to be branded items. Include sparkly dresses for girls, vests for boys, wigs, scarves, ties, belts, hats, gloves and glasses.

Some children really enjoy sports-themed dress-ups. Others prefer something more dramatic, such as face-masks and full-body suits. Children’s imaginations allow them to transform glasses into a scuba mask, a pillow-case into a flying cape and a tie into a bandage over a wound.

An added bonus is that children playing with dress-ups together start dressing each other. They engage the other children in their own fantasies, they practice tying knots, threading ties and doing buttons.

When I’m in op shops (thrift stores), I browse the racks of out-dated fashions, searching for something that my kids can use in their imaginary games. Because I have girls, my eye is always caught by sequins and feathers. But I have learned from experience that feathers are not nearly as easy to clean up as sequins (it looked like a red chicken was plucked in my living room after the tug-of-war was finished), so I will walk past any future feather boas.

David + Brioni, 3yo, July 2010
Brioni is wearing a blue painting smock, silk pyjamas, a ski mask, 3D glasses, a bike helmet, plus white gloves — all at the top of the ladder at our roof-height! Crazy...

Calista, 2yo, July 2010
Necklaces are worn at random times.

Brioni, 3yo, + Aisha, 5yo, July 2010
Aisha must have been a ballet dancer (look at the pointed toe) and Brioni — well, I'm not sure.

Aisha, 5yo, + Brioni, 3yo, July 2010
Two lovely dancers.

Giving children open access to play clothes means that they sometimes look over-dressed or under-dressed. The results can certainly be hilarious!

Have you got a collection of dress-ups? What items do your kids like to pull out?