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Before You Dress Your Child for the Holidays

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Dressing your child up in shirt and tie, velvet and lace, a snappy vest or a stiff dress, holiday outfits precious and perfect, may be your dream for family outings, but will your child go along? Some kids love dress-up, but others will dig in and refuse to wear anything that's uncomfortable, unusual, or outside the realm of safe fabrics, colors and styles. Instead of putting them down as naughty, be a little nice by accommodating your children's particular clothing preferences for dress-up days like Christmas and Easter.

Be creative with color

If your child doesn't go for formalwear, try to make the casual look a little more festive by choosing holiday colors. Deck your child in red and green for Christmas or pastels for Easter, and she'll look dressed for the occasion no matter what she's wearing. You can go for all one hue or mix and match. For a little extra fun, let your child wear one red sock and one green sock for yuletide activities, or two different Easter-egg colors.

Dress all alike

Matching family outfits can be incredibly corny, but they also have the virtue of making something that wouldn't seem dressed up on its own look like part of a plan. Matching holiday shirts, worn with whatever pants, skirt, sweats, leggings or whatever each individual prefers, may be all it takes to pull your look together. Try sweatshirts, flannel shirts, polar fleece or turtlenecks. You can vary either the style or the color, or vary patterns and solid coordinating colors.

Do some undercover work

See if your child will agree to wear some fancy new duds if he can wear something comforting and familiar underneath. Let her wear her well-worn old leggings under a holiday dress or skirt; put his vest over a favorite long-sleeved T-shirt or sweatshirt. Better happy, comfortable, well-behaved and slighly oddly attired than beautifully put-out and beastly.

When all else fails, accessorize

If your child positively will not wear something other than his same old, same old favorites, try adding a special accessory. For Christmas, that might be a jingle-bell on a cord around the neck, a sprig of holly painted on a cheek, a tinsel "belt," a gift ribbon stuck to a shirt. For Easter, try a bunny pin, a necklace of colorful ribbons in springtime colors, Easter eggs for the face-painting. These add-ons might not last long into the party, but it will make a nice presentation and give a special sheen to an everyday ensemble.

Keep some perspective

Repeat this five times: "Clothing battles are not worth getting into." There will be more important things to fight about this season. Let one of your gifts to your child be the right to look the way he wants to look, dress the way she wants to dress, and feel comfortable and pretty in a unique and special and individualized way. If nothing else, the pictures will make a good story.
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