World Book Day 2024: easy DIY costume ideas

Plus, cheap World Book Day costumes if you want to win at parenting

World Book Day costumes

by Emma Dodds |
Updated on

Dressing up is so much fun when you're a kid, you can be whoever you want to be. Dressing up as your favourite Roald Dahl or Jacqueline Wilson character seems like a dream come true.

With this in mind, for World Book Day, we want to help you win at parenting with the best World Book Day costumes.

Because, obviously you and your kids absolutely love World Book Day - and all the amazing literary costumes that come with it. But, it can be hard to know where to start with so many ideas out there...

Let's be real, while it's all fun and games for the kids - who get to ditch their uniforms and go to school in fancy dress, the experience can be slightly less fun for you the parents, who have to actually create the costumes.

That's why we've rounded up everything you need to know for World Book Day 2024 and all the costume ideas that come with it.

When is World Book Day 2024?

This year, World Book Day is on Thursday 7 March.

But don't panic, we know it's just around the corner so we've rounded up World Book Day costume ideas - from elaborate constructions to last-minute quick fixes.

CHECK OUT: insanely cute celebrity offspring in previous World Book Day costumes


World Book Day costumes celebrity children

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CREDIT: Instagram/ Denise Van Outen

Denise Van Outen's daugther Betsy

Denise Van Outen got her daughter Betsy into the spirit by dressing her up as J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter. She wrote: "Our little Harry Potter lost a tooth yesterday dude." Are your kids obsessed with J. K. Rowling's best-selling book? Then bag a Harry Potter-inspired costume for a 'spelltacular' day.

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CREDIT: Twitter/ Gemma Bissix

Gemma Bissix's daughter Juliette

Ex-Hollyoaks actor Gemma Bissix got her little toddler Juliette dressed up as a lion from her fave book: "Happy #WorldBookDay Juliette will mostly be Mr Lion she wouldn't wear the mane I made for her so her hair can be the mane!!"We're roaring over how cute this lion onesie for babies is. You won't able to resist it for World Book Day.

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CREDIT: Twitter/ Darren Day

Darren Day's daughter Maddy

West End performer Darren Day dressed his little girl Maddy up as Veruca Salt from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl, writing: "Our Maddy channeling Veruca Salt". We've got the golden ticket to the cutest Veruca Salt outfit. You're welcome.

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CREDIT: nstagram/ Fearne Cotton

Fearne Cotton's son Rex

Fearne Cotton is known for making sure her children's faces are never shown online, and if she does upload one, their faces are always obscured. She shared a rare snap of her son Rex, with the caption: "World book day is like ever other day for Rex. He wears his squid hat. The only fancy dress he'll tolerate".

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CREDIT: Instagram/ Nicola McLean

Nicola McLean's sons Striker and Rocky

Nicola McLean shared this lovely photo of her two boys Striker and Rocky as Odlaw the baddie from Where's Wally and Clark Kent, Superman's down-time alter ego. She captioned it: "So cute #worldbookday #odlaw #clarkkent".Forget Where's Wally, we've found the best Odlaw get-up on Amazon.

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CREDIT: Instagram/ Rio Ferdinand

Rio Ferdinand's children Lorenz, Tate and Tia

Even footballer Rio Ferdinand got his kids in the spirit. He wrote: "My little ones have gone for it this morning!! The make up was on point too!!"

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CREDIT: Instagram/ Geri Horner

Geri Horner's daughter Bluebell

Geri Horner's little girl Bluebell went off to school as the Queen of Hearts from Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll. The Spice Girl captioned the super cute snap: "Bluebell - queen of hearts doing her make up." Are you looking for a wicked good alternative? We can't believe how cheap this Queen of Hearts dress is.

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CREDIT: Instagram/ Jools Oliver

Jamie and Jools Oliver's daughter Petal

Jamie Oliver's wife Jools dressed one of their little girls up as Matilda from the book by Roald Dahl. She's dressed in a school uniform with a pile of books under her arm and a big ole grin on her face. Cute! Jools simply captioned the photo: "Matilda".Help your little one feel like they have superpowers too, with this adorable Matilda costume.

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CREDIT: Twitter/ Kate Garraway

Kate Garraway's children Darcey and William

Good Morning Britain presenter Kate Garraway has shared a snap of her two kids captioned: "Chuffed to bits with my kids last minute costumes for #worldbookday- can u guess who they are meant to be?" But we think we've worked it out...

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CREDIT: Instagram/ Clemmie Hooper

Clemmie Hooper's daughters Anya and Marnie

Midwife Clemmie Hooper become rather famous after her book, How to Grow a Baby and Push It Out: A Guide to Pregnancy and Birth Straight from the Midwife's Mouth, was released. She captioned her pic: "Sophie from the BFG and The Illustrated Mum"

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CREDIT: Instagram/ Coleen Rooney

Wayne and Coleen Rooney's sons Kai and Klay

Coleen Rooney got her two eldest sons Kai and Klay in the spirit by dressing them up as Horrid Henry. She wrote: "World book day 2017.... double trouble!! Horrid Henry x2".Help your little one dress up as their favourite terror with this fun Horrid Henry fancy dress outfit.

The Mouse - The Gruffalo, Julia Donaldson

The Mouse is a very popular idea for children ©Pan Macmillan/ The Gruffalo

"A mouse took a stroll through the deep dark wood..."

If you follow this amazing no-sew DIY tutorial from Channel Mum, everyone who sees your brave little mouse will think that they look good! Alternatively, make your life a bit easier and buy these mouse ears and tail from Amazon for just £4.36. Bargain!

Buy The Gruffalo's Child by Julia Donaldson from Amazon

Thomas The Tank Engine - The Railway Series, Reverend Wilbert Awdry

Don't let the fact that he's a train put you off ©five

"Remember, don't be impatient, Thomas. You can never be as strong and fast as Gordon, but you can be a really useful engine. Don't let the silly trucks tease you."

All you need to do, once you've painted their face, is find a plain blue t-shirt and jeans. Easy! You can even get blue face paint from Amazon for only £4.05.

Buy the Thomas the Tank Engine books from Amazon

Fox - Fantastic Mr Fox, Roald Dahl

The newest version of Fantastic Mr Fox from the 2009 film, voiced by George Clooney ©20th Century Fox Animation

"I think I have this thing where everybody has to think I'm the greatest. And if they aren't completely knocked out and dazzled and slightly intimidated by me, I don't feel good about myself."

Ah, the brilliant fox - of Fantastic Mr Fox fame - is easily recreated at home. Follow the steps in the video below to create a mask, paws and tail, team with an orange or brown t-shirt and leggings / trousers, and you’re done. Make your life a bit easier by getting a fox tail and ears from Amazon for only £6.81.

Not convinced? Try face painting instead! Simple.

Get the Fantastic Mr Fox book by Roald Dahl from Amazon

Pinocchio - Pinocchio, Carlo Collodi

A classic book character, you can't go far wrong with Pinocchio ©Disney / Etsy/ Heavenly Things For You

"Lies, my dear boy, can easily be recognized. There are two kind of them: those with short legs, and those with long noses. Your kind have long noses."

This cute little puppet costume is perfect for boys and girls - and, let's face it, it's too cute not to try out.

If you don't have time to make it from scratch, you can buy a fully fledged Pinocchio costumefrom £20.99 on Amazon.

Buy the Pinocchio book from Amazon

Charlotte - Charlotte’s Web, E. B. White

The heart-wrenching tale of Charlotte is sure to be a hit with kids ©Harper

"You have been my friend. That in itself is a tremendous thing. I wove my webs for you because I liked you. After all, what's a life, anyway? We're born, we live a little while, we die. A spider's life can't help being something of a mess, with all this trapping and eating flies. By helping you, perhaps I was trying to lift up my life a trifle. Heaven knows anyone's life can stand a little of that."

This may be a creepy-crawly, but Charlotte was undoubtedly the hero of her novel - and we bet your little one will LOVE the chance to be a spooky spider all day. Pushed for time? Just take a look at this adorable spider's costume on Amazon for only £12.99.

Buy the Charlotte's Web book by E. B. White from Amazon

ALTERNATIVELY: This could work just as well for the spider from James And The Giant Peach, or Little Miss Muffett, or the big scary eight-legged critters from Harry Potter or The Lord Of The Rings.

Thing 1 / Thing 2 - The Cat In The Hat, Dr Seuss

Perfect for twins, or if you want to pair up with a pal ©Random House

"Would you like to shake hands with Thing 1 and Thing 2?"

Perfect if your little one wants to dress up with their best friend (or if they have a little brother or sister at the same school!). If you don't have time to make your own, take a look at these Thing 1 & Thing 2costumes on Amazon.

Buy The Cat In The Hat by Dr Seuss from Amazon

Mary Poppins - Mary Poppins, P. L. Travers

A mini Mary Poppins would be so adorable! ©Disney / Netmums

"Practically perfect in every way."

As you can see, this one is pretty simple; you need a short sleeved blouse, a red ribbon (for the bow), a hat, a flower, a handbag (we’re sure mummy has one she can borrow!), black tights, school shoes, and a red belt / thick red ribbon to use as a belt. If you'd rather go all out, you can get an ADORABLE little costume from Amazon for £18.99.

Buy the complete Mary Poppins book collection from Amazon

Pooh Bear - Winnie The Pooh, A. A. Milne

A favourite of all generations, Pooh Bear is instantly recognisable ©Disney

"Oh bother!"

This tutorial may be for grown-ups, but it's very easy to adapt for your little one - and what could be cuter than a honey-guzzling Pooh Bear on World Book Day, eh? However, if your little one is allergic to face paint, just one of these Winnie The Pooh masks from Amazon for £4.50.

Get this gorgeous edition of the complete Winnie The Pooh collection from Amazon

The Witch - Room On The Broom, Julia Donaldson

It's easy to be a witch, but picking just one from all of literature is tricky ©Macmillan Children's Books

"The witch had a cat, and a very tall hat, and long ginger hair, which she wore in a plait..."

Arguably one of Julia Donaldson’s best children’s books to date, everyone will recognise your little witch in her cute costume on World Book Day. Thanks for another awesome costume idea, Channel Mum. Don't have time to make one? No problem - get a witch costume from Amazon for only £14.02.

Get Room On The Broom by Julia Donaldson from Amazon

Tinker-Bell - Peter Pan, J. M. Barrie

A super cute fairy with a LOT of sass ©Disney

If you'd rather, you can get a complete Tinkerbell costume from Amazon for £13.89.

Get the Peter Pan book by J. M. Barrie from Amazon

Tiger - The Tiger Who Came To Tea, Judith Kerr

We feel sure that your kids will identify with this greedy guzzle-guts ©Judith Kerr

"...And he drank all the milk, and all the orange juice, and all Daddy's beer, and all the water in the tap..."

We absolutely love reading The Tiger Who Came To Tea to our little ones - and we think it’s a very cool, very stripy, and very simple costume for them to don on World Book Day. If you have even less time, get a black marker pen and create some tiger stripes on a cheap orange t shirt, whip up some ears and have a go at painting their face. Done. If you'd rather, you can get a child's tiger costume from £22.99 on Amazon.

Tiger costume tutorial

Tiger face-painting tutorial

Buy The Tiger Who Came To Tea by Judith Kerr from Amazon

Elmer - Elmer, David McKee

Everyone's favourite patchwork elephant (Credit: Andersen Press) ©Andersen Press

"Why fit in when you were born to stand out?"

Whether you sew an entire outfit, or simply create those iconic ears and trunk, Elmer the patchwork elephant is a seriously cute and colourful option for your little one on World Book Day. Check out an Elmer costume tutorial. If you'd rather, you can get and elephant trunk and tail and just sew patchwork onto it.

Buy Elmer by David McKee from Amazon

The Big Friendly Giant - The BFG, Roald Dahl

The new BFG from Disney's remake last year, voiced by Mark Rylance ©Disney

"The matter with human beans," the BFG went on, "is that they is absolutely refusing to believe in anything unless they is actually seeing it right in front of their own schnozzles.'

Genius - and so simple! Make your ears out of thick paper or paper plates (cut in a half), create a cardboard trumpet, and have your little one don a waistcoat, cut off trousers, a shirt, and sandals. Check out the BFG costume tutorial. If you're not very creative, get a BFG costume from Amazon for £12.88.

ALTERNATIVELY: Sophie from the BFG spends the whole time in her glasses, with a pink nightdress and slippers on. Even easier, eh?

Buy The BFG book by Roald Dahl from Amazon

Angelina - Angelina Ballerina, Katharine Holabird

If your little one loves dancing and has all the ballerina get-up, then why not combine it with little mouse ears? ©Puffin

"At playtime she twirled and spun across the playground so fast that none of the little boys in her class could catch her and they were all very cross."

All you need to do is make your own mouse ears to transform your little girl’s ballerina costume into an Angelina Ballerina costume. Amazing! If you're not sure about making them yourself, you can easily buy this mouse ears and tail combo from Amazon for just £6.18 with free delivery.

Buy the Angelina Ballerina book by Katharine Holabird from Amazon

Caterpillar - The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Eric Carle

Literally everyone read this book at primary school ©Eric Carle/ Penguin Random House

"There once was a very hungry caterpillar..."

It's official; this is absolutely INCREDIBLE. This blog teaches you step-by-step how to make your own caterpillar costume from scratch. What could be better?

Buy The Very Hungry Caterpillar book by Eric Carle from Amazon

The Cowardly Lion - The Wizard Of Oz, L. Frank Baum

Whack out the face paints and a lion onesie and Bob's your uncle ©Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

"'You have plenty of courage, I am sure,' answered Oz. 'All you need is confidence in yourself. There is no living thing that is not afraid when it faces danger. The true courage is in facing danger when you are afraid, and that kind of courage you have in plenty.'"

What child doesn't love the chance to don a mane and roar to their heart's content, eh? This is an easy win for World Book Day, trust us. You can even buy a children's lion onesie from Amazon here.

Get the Young Reader's Edition of The Wizard Of Oz from Amazon

Paddington Bear - Paddington, Michael Bond


"Things are always happening to me. I'm that sort of bear."

N'awww, this is so cute! You just need a floppy red hat, a blue coat, welly boots, a little suitcase, and a handmade luggage label reading "Please look after this bear. Thank you". Alternatively - get your little one a mini Paddington coat and hat from Amazon for £21.99.

Buy the Paddington Little Library series from Amazon

Harry Potter, Hermione Granger, or Ron Weasley - Harry Potter, J. K. Rowling

This generation's Three Musketeers ©Warner Bros

"'Are all your family wizards?' asked Harry, who found Ron just as interesting as Ron found him.

"'Er – yes, I think so,' said Ron. "'I think Mum's got a second cousin who's an accountant, but we never talk about him.'

"'So you must know loads of magic already.'"

Make the robes, stick their school uniform on underneath, and, if you're going for The Boy Who Lived, draw on a lightning bolt scar and add a pair of round cardboard glasses for good measure. You could even buy Harry Potter accessories from Amazon for £8.99 - you don't want to be without the round glasses now, do you?

Buy the entire Harry Potter book collection by J. K. Rowling from Amazon

The Rainbow Fish - The Rainbow Fish, Marcus Pfister

A lesser-known character, but equally as loved ©Marcus Pfister

"The rainbow fish shared his scales left and right. And the more he gave away, the more delighted he became."

One of the most magical stories ever, The Rainbow Fish teaches us that it’s better to share with our friends - making it perfect for little ones to read at school.

What could be more fun than cutting out fish scales from different coloured felts and sticking them to an apron, eh? Make your own Rainbow Fish tutorial here.

You can buy The Rainbow Fish book by Marcus Pfister from Amazon

Max - Where The Wild Things Are, Maurice Sendak

A bit left-field, but Where The Wild Things Are is another favourite ©Maurice Sendak, Harper Publishers

"The wild things cried: 'Please don't go. We'll eat you up. We love you so.'"

We're pretty sure almost every single child has a wild thing inside them, so help your little one unleash theirs with this awesome costume.

Really strapped for time? Bag a white onesie from Primark, buy a pair of white animal ears, and whip up a crown out of gold paper.

Get Where The Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak on Amazon

Willy Wonka - Charlie And The Chocolate Factory, Roald Dahl

The late Gene Wilder in the 1971 film Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory ©Warner Bros

"'Don't argue, my dear child, please don't argue!' cried Mr. Wonka. 'It's such a waste of precious time!'"

You probably have everything you need to make this one at home in your wardrobe, although we reckon you may need to whip up a top hat. You could always just buy this one from Amazon for £8.99, instead.


Buy Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl from Amazon

The White Rabbit - Alice In Wonderland, Lewis Carroll

Alice's sidekick The White Rabbit in Disney's version of the story ©Disney

"Curiouser and curiouser..."

Make the above mask and team with a long-sleeved white t shirt, a waistcoat, trousers or leggings, a cotton wool bunny tail, and a pocket watch. Or, just buy them from Amazon for £8.99.

Not got a pocket watch? Not a problem - make one out of a paper plate and tie to the waistcoat pocket with a bit of ribbon. Easy!

Buy the Disney Alice In Wonderland book from Amazon

Little Miss Sunshine / Mr Strong / Mr Bump - Mr Men / Little Miss series, Roger Hargreaves

Did you collect all the Mr Men and Little Miss books? ©Egmont Publisher

"Good thing I just came along!"

What could be more fun to make than one of these, eh? You can buy a ready t-shirt from Amazon for £8.49.

Buy the collection of Mr Men books by Roger Hargreaves from Amazon

Crocodile - The Enormous Crocodile, Roald Dahl

It's just a genius idea! ©Jonathon Cape & Quentin Blake

"It's luscious, it's super,

"It's muschious, it's duper,

"It's better than rotten old fish.

"You mash it and munch it,

"You chew it and crunch it!

"It's lovely to hear it go squish!"

You'll probably be happy to hear that these crocs are non-sew costumes - and partly made from cereal boxes. Which is, honestly, one of the cleverest things we've seen in ages. Get the full instructions over at Doodle Bug Lady Bug now. Don't fancy getting your hands dirty? No bother - get this kids croc costume from Amazon for £25.36.

Buy The Enormous Crocodile by Roald Dahl from Amazon

Hedwig - Harry Potter, J. K. Rowling

One of Harry's most fiercely loyal friends, his pet owl Hedwig (Credit: Warner Bros) ©Warner Bros

"Harry now carried a large cage that held a beautiful snowy owl, fast asleep with her head under her wing."

Team this face paint design with a fluffy white jumper and black leggings, and you have your own little Hedwig. Get that all important ingredient - white face paint - from Amazon for just £3.97.

And if you're a bit strapped for cash... Here are some easy (and cheap) World Book Day costume tips, ideas and inspiration for busy parents

Recycle and adapt Halloween costumes, wherever you can

After all, a skeleton can easily be transformed into one of the Funnybones characters, a pirate into Captain Hook or Long John Silver, a witch into Mildred Hubble of The Worst Witch franchise, a black cat into Puss In Boots, and plenty more besides.

Use cardboard and foil to make swords and crowns

Your little one (with a raggedy oversized t shirt and tights) can be transformed into King Arthur, or Sir Lancelot, or Prince Charming, or Queen Guinevere, or Brienne of Tarth with just a few snips of those scissors.

Use clothes from their wardrobe

You can easily create a fairytale character or two. A blue pinafore and white apron makes a great Alice In Wonderland or Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz (you'll need red shoes, mind you).

Where's Wally? World Book Day costume idea

EVERYONE has dressed up as Where's Wally at some point in their life (Credit: Walker Books) ©Walker books

On the wardrobe idea, look out for a red-and-white stripy jumper, blue jeans, bobble hat, and glasses. Hello, Where's Wally - we've finally found you!

Use PJs and nightdresses as World Book Day outfits

Just think of Sophie in The BFG, or Wendy, John and Michael in Peter Pan.

Children's costumes for World Book Day using face paint and old clothes

Super easy and super cute - what could go wrong? ©Egmont Publisher

Get creative - a blue face, some bandages, and a blue and white stripy t-shirt is a quick Mr Bump - or adapt it to be The Smurfs.

Use big, fluffy coats

These can be made into a Cruella de Vil or Hagrid costume - alternatively you can get creative with your face paint (and fuzzy monster slippers) for a Gruffalo!

Peter Rabbit characters can be made VERY easily for World Book Day

Did he say the lane, or did he say the fir tree? ©penguin publisher / Beatrix Potter

Brown rabbit ears, a bit of face paint, a blue jacket or cardigan, and brown t-shirt and trousers or leggings makes a very easy Peter Rabbit.

The Boy In The Dress World Book Day costume

Pop your little lad in a dress and pair it with football boots and football socks to pay homage to The Boy In The Dress, by David Walliams.

Stick to props to tell your story

Give your little girl a basket and three teddy bears to be Goldilocks, or give your little boy a big mixing spoon and bowl to be George, from George’s Marvellous Medicine.

Be a Disney princess for World Book Day

There are PLENTY to choose from ©Disney

Most Disney princesses are based on books and fairytales - if your little one has a costume already, have her don it for the day.

Transform into a superhero for World Book Day

Likewise, most superheroes come from comic books - let your little one wear their costume for the day.

Get creative with old clothes and jewellery

Pop your little one in green or brown leggings, an oversized brown t shirt and belt, then slip a cheap costume ring onto a chain and have them wear it round their neck. Yup, it’s a hobbit.

Greek mythology is packed full of great ideas for World Book Day

Zero to hero ©Disney

Whip up a white toga (easy peasy) and have your little one clasp a cardboard shield and sword to be Hercules or Athena, or slip a few plastic snakes into their hair for your own little Medusa.

Playing card costumes ideas for World Book Day

Your kids can easily be transformed into playing cards from in Alice In Wonderland using an old sheet, marker pens, and scissors. Cut a hole in the top and have them wear it like a sandwich board!

Face painting can hold the key to a lot of World Book Day costumes

Find face paint tutorials YouTube for tigers, lions, bears, pigs, dogs, and more to create your own easy-peasy costume.

Famous Five World Book Day costumes and ideas

If there's a larger group of little pals, get them Famous Five-d! ©Hodder & Stoughton Publisher/Enid Blyton

It's quite simple really - combine shorts, wellington boots, a polo neck, and a jersey jumper over the top to complete the outfit.

Scarecrow costumes are so easy for World Book Day

You just need dungarees, checkered shirts and a bit of faceprint; they'll look as if they just stumbled out of The Wizard of Oz!

Matilda costume for World Book Day

Take your inspiration from the smartest little girl in the world ©Jonathon Cape / Quentin Blake

Dress your little girl up in a pinafore dress, have her hold a little bundle of books and you have your very own Matilda.

Pippi Longstocking costume idea for World Book Day

Stripy tights, drawn on freckles and crazy pigtails... What do all these things have in common? Pippi Longstocking, of course.

Transform their school uniform for World Book Day

They could be something from St Trinian’s, Malory Towers, The Naughtiest Girl In The School, or something completely different.

For a Charles Dickens inspired outfit...

Let your kids get a bit grubby for Oliver or Dodger ©Romulus Production

Dirty up their face, stick a flat cap on their head, raggedy up their clothes and you have your very own Artful Dodger, or Oliver Twist!

Use old yellow or grey fluffy jumpers

Team them with face paint or yoghurt pot beaks and it's an easy way to transform your bookworm into a duckling or a chick.

Your kids could easily be Little Bo Peep for World Book Day

Have your little girl wear a dress, make or buy a mob cap, and have her hold a cushion or a toy lamb. Hey presto - you've got Little Bo Peep or Little Miss Muffett, depending on your choices!

Robin Hood World Book Day costume idea

This foxy fox's costume could be interchangeable with Peter Pan ©Disney

Oversized green t-shirts, boots, and leggings... These items can transform your little one into Peter Pan or Robin Hood, depending on how you accessorise.

Fluffy jumpers, animals ears and face paint

It's a surefire route to success; think the Wild Things, the Mad March Hare, the Animals of Farthing Wood, the Beatrix Potter animals, and more.

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