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National Storytelling Week Comments Off on National Storytelling Week

Posted on January 28, 2015 by Fancy Dress Ball

s National Storytelling Week!


This Saturday marks the beginning of the fifteenth National Storytelling Week. From 31st January to 7th February we will be celebrating the most ancient art form of them all. Everyone loves a good story; it’s something we learn to enjoy at a very young age, and which never leaves us.

National Storytelling Week celebrates all sorts of stories; from telling people how your day was, to biographies, to children’s books or even TV dramas. Storytelling is something everyone gets involved with, and is something that enriches every culture and every life.

National Storytelling Week takes part in schools, museums, hospitals, and even care homes each year. If you’d like to hold your own event, you can contact the Society for Storytelling and they will send you a pack.

What sort of storytelling event could you put on?

Grandparent Storytelling

If you have children, get them together with a group of their friends and have grandparents take turns in telling stories about their childhoods and how they were different. Children love hearing about “the olden days” – even the 1980s is “the olden days” these days!

Fancy Dress

Our favourite idea, obviously – have a party and get everyone to dress up as their favourite character from a story.  This gives you a massive scope for costumes, since every single character you can think of is a character from a story – Batman, Wonder Woman, Peter Pan. Fairytales, children’s books, heck, you could throw a Hunger Games party – Hunger Games is a story!

Consequences Party

Invite friends over and play a huge game of consequences. Remember that game from childhood, where you write the first line of a story, then fold over the top and pass it to the next person to add their line. It’s a great way of making up a really creative story and having fun, and can work with all age groups.

Put on a Community Play

The most important part of National Storytelling Week is the storytelling part of it. It’s a great chance to hear stories – both made up and real-life, from those around us. Fancy dress is a great way of immersing ourselves in that story; a community play can be a great way to get to know those around you, as well as learn new skills – and dress up!

Winnie the Pooh Day: January 18th Comments Off on Winnie the Pooh Day: January 18th

Posted on January 14, 2015 by Fancy Dress Ball

Winnie the Pooh Day



AA Milne was born on 18th January, 1882. He grew up to write many books and plays, but is by far best known for that willy nilly silly old bear, Winnie the Pooh.

To celebrate Winnie the Pooh Day, here are 10 things you may not know about the tubby little cubby all stuffed with fluff…

1. Christopher Robin was a real person – AA Milne’s son.

2. Winnie the Pooh was an Alpha Farnell teddy bear Christopher Robin received for his first birthday. Originally named Edward, he was later named after Winnie, a Canadian black bear who had been a military mascot in World War 1 and ended up in London Zoo. “Pooh” came from a swan of the same name.

3. The other characters in the book: Piglet, Eeyore, Kanga and Roo and Tigger were also Christopher Robin’s toys – but Rabbit and Owl were creations of Milne’s imagination.

4. In the original Winnie the Pooh books, the illustrator EH Shepard drew Pooh in the image of his own son’s teddy, Growler.

5. Hundred Acre Wood (where Winnie the Pooh lives) is based on Five Hundred Acre Wood, part of Ashdown Forest  in East Sussex; AA Milne lived on the edge of the forest.

6. There are two Winnie the Pooh books: Winnie the Pooh and The House at Pooh Corner. He didn’t want to write more books because Christopher Robin was growing older, and he felt any further books would be lacking in originality.

7.  As well as the two books, there were poems about the bear in two of his collections of poetry, When We Were Very Young and Now We Are Six.

8. The original Winnie the Pooh did not have a red shirt – that was the invention of an American producer named Stephen Slesinger. Slesinger bought US and Canadian merchandising, television, recording and other trade rights to Winnie the Pooh from AA Milne in 1930, and  in so doing, created the modern licensing industry. Within two years, Winnie the Pooh was worth £50 million a year – and that was before Disney got involved!

9. Winnie the Pooh was originally Winnie-the-Pooh. Disney removed the hyphens when they purchased the rights from Slesinger’s widow in 1961.

10. There are four Winnie the Pooh movies: Winnie the Pooh, The Tigger Movie, Piglet’s Big Movie and Pooh’s Heffalump Movie.

2015: A Look Ahead… Part 2! Comments Off on 2015: A Look Ahead… Part 2!

Posted on January 07, 2015 by Fancy Dress Ball

2015- A Look Ahead (1)

Welcome to the second part of our look ahead to 2015, where we share all of the fantastic fancy dress opportunities going on…


July 1st is Canada Day, Canada’s national day. Dress as a mountie, or another famous Canadian… like… er… Avril Lavigne! The second is World UFO Day, so there is plenty of scope for alien costumes, and then it’s International Tiger Day on the 29th. Rawr!


August is a great month for fancy dress: the 8th is International Cat Day, and if you want to go a little more hardcore, the 10th is World Lion Day! If cats aren’t your thing, the 26th is Dog Day too! If you’re not into dressing as an animal, dust off the Christmas costumes and celebrate Be An Angel Day on the 22nd.


September is Chicken Month! It’s possibly not practical to dress as a chicken all month… but for part of it? If you’re not really feeling the love for the chicken costumes, what about waiting for Teddy Bear Day on the 9th? The 13th is Roald Dahl Day, which is definitely something to look forward to. Of course, everyone knows the 19th is Talk Like a Pirate Day – obviously, you’ll already have that one marked on your calendar. And then, we round off the month of fancy dress fun on the 26th with Lumberjack Day!


As the weather turns colder, the fancy dress outfits become more fun, right? October has plenty of opportunities for bonkers fancy dress outfits, with World Farm Animals Day on the 2nd, and World Animal Day on the 4th. Then we have Mad Hatter Day on the 6th, World Octopus Day on the 8th and a definite favourite: Punk for a Day Day on the 25th! Of course, October is also the fancy dress high-point of the year, with Halloween on the 31st! We always look forward to this one!


November is fairly quiet for fancy dress, aside from the obvious Guy Fawkes Night. The 3rd is Jellyfish Day – that would be a fun costume to put together! And the 10th is Sesame Street Day; which character will you dress as?


December is a fantastic month for fancy dress. Aside from all the festive fancy dress opportunities, there is World Wildlife Conservation Day on the 4th – why not dress as a panda? International Day of the Ninja is on the 5th; the 14th is Monkey Day, and the 21st is International Dalek Remembrance Day. Imagine the fun you could have getting a costume together for that one!


And there we have it: 2015 in a nutshell. We hope you’ll stick around and see what else is going on through the course of the year!




10 Last Minute Fancy Dress Ideas for New Year’s Eve Comments Off on 10 Last Minute Fancy Dress Ideas for New Year’s Eve

Posted on December 31, 2014 by Fancy Dress Ball



That week between Christmas and New Year just sort of disappears, doesn’t it! You spend most of the time trying to figure out what day it is, with New Year’s Eve being some mythical date somewhere in the future… and then before you know it, it’s December 31st, you’re going to a party tonight and you’ve just realised it’s fancy dress!

What can you do?

There’s always the option of doing a Wednesday Addams: “I’m a homicidal maniac; they look just like everybody else” – but frankly, that is a cop out and although you might think it seems really cool… all of your friends who have gone to the effort of putting a costume together will not be so impressed!

Here are a few last-minute ideas to get you through that fancy dress party tonight:

1. Put your pants on outside of your trousers, make a mask from a piece of material, and a cape out of a sheet or duvet cover  – and make up a silly super hero name! Who says you have to be one of the ones the comics have already thought of? Think outside of that box, and be your own superhero!

2. Collect up all the discarded chocolate wrappers from the floor (don’t pretend there aren’t any down there!) and fix them onto your jumper; you can go as a box of chocolates! This one has an added bonus: if there really are no wrappers lying about, you have the perfect excuse to eat what’s left of the Christmas chocolates, in order to make a costume!

3. A toga! Grab a sheet from the airing cupboard, and follow these simple instructions:


4. Raid your wardrobe. Do you have a suit? James Bond! Some leggings, vest tops, bangles, necklaces? Madonna!  A black dress and some safety pins from the sewing kit? Liz Hurley! It’s highly likely that you have the makings of a passable costume in your wardrobe already!

5. Olaf from Frozen. This is easier than it sounds, and super trendy at the moment. Find a white top and trousers. For a girl, you can make a tutu with a piece of elastic and some netting if you like. (if you don’t have any netting to hand, a net curtain will work at a push) On the white top, stick two or three large black dots – you can cut these out of cardboard or similar. Draw sticks on the arms… to be Olaf’s stick arms. You can make a simple Olaf mask from a paper plate, cutting out eye holes and a smile for the mouth. Simple!

6. Be a zombie! This is perhaps the most simple of all. All you need is some old clothes, a bit of make up and some fake blood. Who doesn’t have those things hanging around the house? Tear holes in your old clothes, make them dirty and dusty and apply fake blood liberally. For your make up, you can go as simple or as gorey as possible, depending on the time and resources you have available.

7. The tin man. Everyone has some of that ridiculously wide foil left over from the Christmas turkey! Wrap yourself up in it, and you can be a tin man, a space man, all sorts. You could even pad it out a bit, and go as a pinball – genius!

8. Draw or print off a “decepticon” logo (from Transformers) and wear it over a normal outfit. You’re a robot in disguise! Obviously, this is only to be used as a very last resort as it’s along the lines of Wednesday Addams and a bit of a cop out!

9. If you have blonde hair of around chin length, use gel or hair spray to stick the front of it up on end – and voila, you’re “Something About Mary!”

10. We saved the best for last… go to the shop and buy some balloons. You need lots of either green, purple or red ones. Blow up as many as you can, and tie them to your clothes to form a bunch of grapes. Genius, right?


So there we have it. Ten last-minute fancy dress ideas for New Year.

What have we learned from this? Next time, order your fancy dress costume from Fancy Dress Ball well in advance of the party!

Great DIY Christmas Outfits Comments Off on Great DIY Christmas Outfits

Posted on December 15, 2014 by Fancy Dress Ball

Great DIY Christmas Outfits

Holidays are coming…

Still not got your Christmas outfit sorted? Running out of time and money in the run-up to the Christmas party? Fret not! We have some great suggestions here for how to get your Christmas outfit sorted!


Find some wire pipe cleaners and fashion them into a circle for your halo. You can add fluff/glitter/whatever if you like.  Make another circle of pipe cleaners to fix to your head, and use one straight between the two to make the halo stand just above your head.

For your wings, cut out wing shapes from a piece of cardboard (tip: fold the cardboard in half and draw/cut out the wing shape; then you’ll have two the same size and shape). To make them look more angelic, you can cover them in folded coffee filters (unused!), or white material, tinsel, net curtain, whatever you can get your hands on.

For the main outfit, all you really need is to be dressed in white and/or silver. If you don’t have anything suitably angelic, wear the lightest colours you have, then wear one of your gran’s net curtains as a poncho.

Job done!

Father Christmas/Mrs Christmas

This one might be a little more tricky, if you’re not the sort of person who wears a lot of red. For the men, you want red trousers and a red jacket or jumper. For women, a red skirt with red jacket or jumper. You can possibly get away with wearing black trousers/skirt, but you will need to dress it up more so that people know who you’re supposed to be!

For the beard – cut out your basic beard shape in paper or thin card, and add elastic to attach it to your head… then cover it with cotton wool.

Trim the rest of your outfit in cotton wool – along the bottoms of the trousers or skirt, down seams, along the edges of the jacket or jumper.

Find a red bobble hat (steal one from your son/daughter/brother/sister/niece/nephew if you don’t have one) and trim it with cotton wool, then cover the bobble in cotton wool too.

Christmas Tree

This one is the most fun to do! You’ll need two large sheets of cardboard. Cut them both into a large Christmas tree shape – large enough to go from above your head to your knees, or there abouts.

Paint the entire thing green.

Cut the top triangle shape off the trees. Make a head band from a strip of cardboard and stick the tree tops to either side. This will be your hat and the top of the tree.

Now decorate the entire tree – either with real tinsel and baubles, or amazingly artistic, painted ones. Don’t forget to have a star or angel on the top!

Get two more strips of cardboard to use as shoulder straps, and attach to either side of the top of the main tree. You might want to use a couple more further down, to make the tree more secure on you and less likely to wobble about.

Now all you need is a green top underneath (you can also wrap tinsel around your arms if you like), and brown tights or trousers to be the trunk.

Christmas Present

Again with the cardboard boxes! This one is super easy and requires zero creative spirit. Find yourself a large, square cardboard box. It needs to be reasonably sturdy; removal boxes are good for this.

Cut the top flaps off your box, and turn it upside down. Cut a hole in the bottom large enough to fit your head through comfortably, and a hole in each side for your arms. You might also want to put cardboard shoulder straps inside of the box to make it more secure when you’re wearing it.

Now all you need to do is get some of your favourite wrapping paper, and wrap the present up! Don’t forget to leave the bottom open so that you can get the box on!

Finish your outfit with a ribbon around the box – and a matching one in your hair!

Other great ideas

If you’re not in the mood for a full-on Christmas outfit, you could cover a dress or jacket in those bows you get for presents (you can get massive bags of them in discount shops at this time of year).

Or, if you have an old fake Christmas tree hanging about at home, liberate some of its branches and use them to make yourself a skirt!


Of course, if you’re not feeling the slightest bit crafty, you could just look at our fantastic Christmas fancy dress section and buy yourself a ready-made outfit with minimal effort required!

5 of the Best Children’s Novels Comments Off on 5 of the Best Children’s Novels

Posted on November 10, 2014 by Fancy Dress Ball

Best Children's Novels



November is NaNoWriMo – National Novel Writing Month. People all over the world commit to writing a 50,000 word novel by the end of the month. That’s a lot of words, isn’t it! We love the idea of writers everywhere creating new works, on a plethora of different subjects.

In celebration of NaNoWriMo, here are our 5 favourite children’s novels:

1. Harry Potter

We tried – and failed – to pick a favourite out of the Harry Potter books. With the massive success of the films that became a global sensation, and now the Harry Potter studio tours, it’s easy to forget the story of Harry fighting He Who Shall Not Be Named, whilst undergoing exciting adventures with Hermione, Ron and numerous others, began as a series of children’s novels. And cracking novels they are, too – they were eventually released with more “adult” covers so that people reading them on the Tube wouldn’t look like they were reading a kids’ book!

2. Watership Down

The 1978 film of this has been popular for over 30 years – but as is always the case, the book is so much better! It’s not one for young children, but it’s a timeless classic. Published in 1972, this is one of those fantastic books that really stands the test of time. Would you believe, this was Richard Adams’ first novel too?

3. The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas

This is yet another children’s book that’s just as popular with adults. This is the truly heartbreaking tale of a 9 year old boy named Bruno growing up in World War II Berlin. His family are moved to live at “Out-With” after a visit from “the Fury” and Bruno sets about exploring his new surroundings. Here, he meets a young boy named Shmuel, who lives on the other side of a tall, barbed wire fence. This is another one for older children, given that “Out-With” is actually Auschwitz. It’s truly heartbreaking, but a fantastic read that has sold millions worldwide since its release in 2006.

4. The Hunger Games

This book has also been made into a set of massively successful Hollywood blockbusters, the latest instalment of which is released this week. As we’ve said before though, the book is always better! There are three novels in the Hunger Games franchise, set in the Hunger Games universe where every year, children are chosen to participate in a compulsory annual televised death match. As we’re beginning to see, the sign of a fantastic children’s novel is when it’s picked up by the parents too! The Hunger Games books are a fantastic read, and the movies are bringing them to an even wider audience.  This story ticks all the boxes: romance, fantasy, fighting, rebellion against the authorities. A sure-fire winner with tweens and teens everywhere!

5. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time

This is a brilliant mystery novel – but probably not the type you are familiar with. You might recognise the title from a Sherlock Holmes story… or you might not. It doesn’t really matter if you don’t get the reference – this story is a great read, either way. Another hugely successful and popular first book, this has won a host of awards – and reading just the first chapter will tell you why. This isn’t just a fantastic read; it’s a great way of understanding Autistic Spectrum Disorder. Although the book’s protagonist describes himself as “a mathematician with some behavioural difficulties,” the book jacket refers to Asperger syndrome and high-functioning autism. The best way to help a child understand something like this is to have them read a story from that person’s perspective – and that’s what this book does so well. It doesn’t shove the issue down the reader’s throat, but can help to foster understanding of a condition most adults can’t grasp.


We love reading here at Fancy Dress Ball. Books can be so fantastic for children’s learning and understanding. More importantly though, the characters of children’s books are so much more fun to dress up as! And if there’s one thing we love, it’s fancy dress!

World Animal Day, October 4th Comments Off on World Animal Day, October 4th

Posted on October 01, 2014 by Fancy Dress Ball



October 4th is World Animal Day. 

World Animal Day began in 1931 at a convention of ecologists in Florence. It’s a way of highlighting the plight of endangered species. October 4th is the feast day of St Francis of Assissi, the patron saint of animals. World Animal Day has become a day for paying tribute to all animals, and those who love and respect them.

Every country celebrates World Animal Day in different ways, but it has nothing to do with politics, religion  or nationality. Rather, it is a universal celebration that transcends normal boundaries.

There are all sorts of celebrations going on, but why not have your own? This can be a great opportunity for teaching children about endangered species and how important it can be to protect them – but to have fun as well! There are lots of great ways to celebrate but obviously, the best is to indulge in some fantastic animal fancy dress! Fancy dress is a great way for both children and adults to celebrate, but it can also be educational.

Half of the world’s animals are declining in population and more than a third are probably facing extinction. The first stage in reversing this worrying trend is to learn about these animals, and what threatens them.

Here are some interesting animal facts:

  • The gender of sea turtle eggs is determined by temperature – so global warming will upset the natural gender balance.
  • Houseflies hum in the key of F
  • Ostriches can run faster than horses
  • If you lift a kangaroo’s tail off the ground, it can’t hop
  • No two tigers have the same stripes. Their skin is also stripy!
  • A cat has 32 muscles in each ear!
  • Elephants can smell water from up to 3 miles away.
  • There are one million ants for every human in the world.
  • Oysters are able to change gender depending on which is better for mating.
  • Butterflies can only see the colours red, green and yellow.
  • Giraffes have no vocal chords.
  • A dog’s nose print as unique as a human finger print.
  • Hummingbirds are the only birds that can fly backwards.

Lots of zoos and animal sanctuaries will have events for World Animal Day. There are all sorts of special activities, trails and talks organised all over the world. Why not contact your local animal attraction and see what they have planned?

European Day of Languages Comments Off on European Day of Languages

Posted on September 15, 2014 by Fancy Dress Ball


September 26th is the European Day of Languages. There are over 6000 languages spoken in the world, and behind each one lies a rich and diverse culture. The European Day of Languages aims to celebrate this worldwide diversity, showing people across Europe how important languages are, and how fun and enriching it can be to learn a new one.


Most of us learned French at school; it is the country closest to us, and the 18th most spoken language in the world. Learning French gives children a taste of a language that is not too complicated to learn, and the opportunity to visit our closest European neighbours.  There are many languages in the world that are more widely spoken.

Chinese is the world’s most widely spoken language, with 955 million native speakers – but arguably, if you’re not planning a trip to China any time soon, it might not be of much use to you. Spanish is second most widely spoken, and as well as being the main language of Spain, there are also native speakers in Mexico, Argentina, Bolivia, parts of the United States, Cuba, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico and many more places. Learning Spanish can give you a real advantage in the modern world.

But what if you’re not interested in learning to gain an advantage; what if you’re studying for fun? In that case, why not try Russian (which also involves learning a whole new alphabet), or perhaps Tagalog, the language of the Philippines? Learning a new language can be really interesting and fulfilling as a hobby. Once you’ve learned some of the language, you can visit the country to try out what you’ve learned. You can learn about the culture, about the country’s history and about the people’s day to day lives.

Because their brains are still developing, children are usually better able to pick up new languages – the younger the better! If you have children, why not celebrate European Day of Languages by learning some key words and phrases from different languages? You could make it fun by allowing the child to choose a word, and then look up its meaning in lots of different languages – how many languages can you find?

Here are a few to get you started:

French: Bonjour
German: Hallo
Spanish: Hola
Swedish: Halla
Finnish: Hei
Africaans: Haai
Croatian: Bok
Swahili: Habari

You could learn about the country and maybe dress up in their national dress and cook some of their traditional food. It’s fun for all ages to explore different cultures and languages. Many languages have words that don’t even exist in English, for example the German word schadenfreude, meaning taking pleasure in someone else’s misfortune; or perhaps the Danish word for skimming stones, plimpplampplettere. Looking for these words can be great fun and very enlightening!



Have a Fabulous Alphabet Party, From A to Z! Comments Off on Have a Fabulous Alphabet Party, From A to Z!

Posted on July 28, 2014 by Fancy Dress Ball

Screenshot 2014-07-27 at 20.19.30

Alphabet parties are  all the rage at the moment.

Whether you choose B because your name is Brian, or G because your name is Xavier and  nobody will come dressed as a xylophone,  a letter is a great way to inspire people to use their imaginations and come up with fabulous fancy dress ideas.

Of course, with an alphabet-themed party, everyone will be singing ABC-related songs… this one is our favourite at the moment:

A Grade “A” Party

A is a very popular letter for a party theme – because there are so many great ideas!

Here are a few…

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A-Grade Music

If you’re having an A-themed party, you will need to think of musicians beginning with A. Here are a few:

  • Abba (durr, obviously)
  • ABC (this band are good for ALL alphabet parties!)
  • AC/DC
  • A-Ha
  • Peter Andre (don’t pretend you don’t know any of his songs)

A Zed-Tastic Celebration

You might think there aren’t many costumes beginning with Z… really though, you just have to think a little more creatively.

Why not challenge your guests…

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Zedtabulous Music

Can’t think of any musical acts beginning with Z? Fret not; we have inspiration for you right here!

  • ZZ Top (obviously!)
  • Zero 7
  • The Zombies
  • Frank Zappa (oh yeah!)
  • The Zutons

If you’re planning an alphabet-themed party, don’t forget to check out our website for some great ideas!

If You Go Down To The Woods Today… Comments Off on If You Go Down To The Woods Today…

Posted on June 30, 2014 by Fancy Dress Ball

You’re in for a big surprise!

18th June was International Picnic Day, in the middle of what has been National Picnic Week. Summer is the perfect time for a teddy bears’ picnic party, especially with the lovely weather we’ve had lately! Here’s our guide to the best teddy bears’ picnic ever!

Fisher Price teddy bears picnic

Teddy Bears’ Picnic Food


teddy bear sandwiches

If you’ve a teddy bear biscuit cutter, you don’t need to stick to using it for biscuits! Why not cut up sandwiches into teddy bear shapes too!

Teddy Bears Picnic Car cakes

We love these adorable little teddy bear cars; they look really simple to make as well!

teddy bear picnic paw prints

How fabulous are these! You could make them with Wagon Wheels and white icing. Simple! (just make sure you bring along plenty of baby wipes)

Teddy Bears’ Picnic Costumes

 Of course, the children will want to be in bear costumes


How about trying out this tutorial for face paints? All kids love to have their faces painted and you could easily customise this with different coloured noses etc to keep all of them happy.


Teddy Bears’ Picnic Games

Teddy bears picnic beanbag game

We love this game because it’s so simple to set up, and also something the whole family can join in with.!

pin the bow tie on the teddy bear

Or how about a lovely game of Pin the Bow Tie on the Teddy Bear?

Another great idea is to get one of the adults to dress up in a giant teddy bear costume and play Hunt The Bear in the house or garden – or in the woods if there are some local to you!

teddy bear stories

Of course, at the end of the day before home time, it’s always nice to have a story time to calm everyone down!

Teddy Bears’ Picnic Decorations

The key to decorating for a Teddy Bears’ Picnic is… bears, bears, bears!

teddy bears picnic bunting

We love this cute bunting; it’s easy to make with some sheets of coloured card and a teddy bear biscuit cutter.

Whatever you do for your Teddy Bears’ Picnic, have a beary good time!

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