When the Mudlets’ school announced that the last day of this term was to incorporate a Mad Hatters tea party, my heart sank a little. Knowing the school like I do, I had a feeling that things wouldn’t be quite as simple as that and I was right: ‘Alice in Wonderland‘ themed fancy dress was to feature, as was an Easter Bonnet OR Mad Hatters hat contest!
My first thought was what on earth were we going to do about costumes? We didn’t have anything that we could claim was an ‘Alice‘ related item, even on the most tenuous of interpretations and I really didn’t want to have to pay out for two new costumes, especially in respect of Middle Mudlet, who isn’t really one for playing dress up, unless it’s Halloween or something requiring a Jedi Knight outfit. The girls badgered me constantly about costume options over the next few weeks, wondering what I was going to come up with for them…. which was comical really, as up until Monday of this week, I hadn’t a clue.
Then having reacquainted myself with the characters in the story, I decided that the easiest thing to do was to make them a playing card outfit ….. which, judging from the playground on the morning of the Teaparty, was the general consensus of most of the parents, who had opted to make, rather than buy, a costume. There were a couple of other home made characters (Tweedledee and Tweedledum was popular for pairs of brothers) but it wouldn’t be much of an exaggeration to say that there was very nearly a full deck of cards on the playground. To make the costumes, a pair of cheap white pillowcases were purchased (£1.99 for the pair – that’s $3.91 NZD for you New Zealand readers), along with a bottle of red poster paint (99p which is $1.95 NZD). Holes were cut for the neck and arms and then the girls set about painting the card detail on: I had already drawn the shapes in pencil. In around ten minutes the 8 and 10 of hearts were finished and hanging over the Rayburn to dry – cheap, quick and effective and the girls were thrilled. As for their hats, the girls had huge fun gluing and sticking old party napkins and colourful tissue paper all over them. Cereal boxes were used to make the basic, rigid shape and this was the only part that I helped them with, in so much as I wrapped the cardboard around their heads and then stapled them to size. Before the girls came in from school, I put a plastic cover down over the kitchen floor and then piled the crafting stuff into the middle. With the girls safely out of their uniforms and in old clothes, they set too and before long a pair of totally bonkers looking, bright and cheerful hats had emerged from their imaginations.
“They don’t look much like the Mad Hatters hat,” Little Mudlet stated in a worried tone. “They don’t have to,” I reassured her, “They look completely crazy and that’s what it’s all about, your imagination.” “Yes,” Middle Mudlet said in the knowledgeable tone that she uses when she is about to say something she knows for certain is correct, “Alice in Wonderland is all about Alices’ imagination: it’s the whole point of the story.” Both girls headed off to school that morning, resplendent in their costumes and proudly wearing their hats and I smiled to myself at how wonderful and magical a childs imagination can be if given a free rein and told to ‘go for it’.