My costume consisted of either a tea towel on my head (one of the wise men) or my dressing gown (shepard)

“I’m a swan. Here’s the note about my costume. I need it for Tuesday.”

There is nothing that causes me to experience cold sweats, nightmares or a considerable migraine than the note detailing the costume guidelines for the Christmas play, says LindsayWoods.

From what I can remember of my time in the spotlight (or as far to stage left as possible), my costume consisted of either a tea towel on my head (one of the Wise Men) or my dressing gown (Shepherd). I could lie and say that I did not covet the blue bedsheet and white placemat head garb of Mary herself but alas, I was forever destined to be, ‘Always the bridesmaid, never the bride’. Or in my case, just the Shepherd.

What I do remember, however, is my mother not being overly vexed about kitting me out to sit on a too small chair in order to hear my one garbled line of, ‘Look, the star!’

Nowadays, nativity plays are not common place in many primary schools. Which, I wholeheartedly agree with. It is one great stride in being inclusive and considerate of everyone’s beliefs; children and parents alike. It has, as a result, paved the way for many more ‘imaginative’ productions. With the costumes to match.

I have gotten off relatively lightly; Christmas jumpers with some jaunty antlers in junior classes, a Garda costume (the year it all went a bit ‘Love Hate’ at the North Pole)… all relatively tame and widely available.

Then came the Swan. My child is a micro-manager. If sent home with a note, she will expect me to follow the instructions to the very last letter. She is also fully aware of my incompetence as a DIYer; much to her disgust and despair. She knows the only way she will resemble a long necked, elegant, serene, snow white and often lauded bird is if her mother can purchase it. Any attempt at making such would render her as a mallard with a dose of mange. Not a good look on anyone. The note helpfully suggested to look online. I mean, as a parent today, the internet is pretty much my first port of call. There are days when I spend more time in conversation with Siri than I do with my own husband. I was feeling pretty smug and secure that I would locate a junior version of some concoction to rival those of the offerings in Swan Lake and overnight it. All for less than 20 euro of course.

I’ll just give you a few seconds to compose yourself and wipe the tears of laughter streaming down your face.

The first online costume shop looked promising. With a specific section for ‘Animals and Insects’ and 232 options in relation to same, I was confident. Not a feather, friends. Unless it was in the guise of an owl.

Are you sure there isn’t a part for an owl in the play that you could embody instead? Or a crocodile?

Do you know how many versions there were of that mythical horned beast? Twelve! Twelve different versions of a Unicorn. With light up ears, in a tutu version, as an all in one zip up hooded polyester nightmare! Swan options? Zero.

Instagram, was my last hope. In a way, it has become the modern-day version of the eighties Rolodex… endless contacts at your fingers instantaneously. Within seconds of my desperate plea, my inbox was rammed with suggestions and links to various sites. Therein, lay the rub. In my desperation and sheer rage in punching out my request, I had forgotten the specifics.

"Thank you, but she has to be a white swan.”

“A lovely pattern I’m sure but I don’t have a sewing machine. Or hot glue gun. Or patience.”

“That’s lovely but, she needs a beak and it has to be feathery.”

“Did you mean to send that to me? It looks a bit ‘adult’…”


I tore the wardrobe apart looking for any scrap of white clothing. Then, I remembered that no sane parent features white as an option to clothe their children in. My search yielded some ballet tights and some knickers; neither of which constituted a full ensemble. Suddenly, as if by a Christmas miracle, I thought of the bag of costumes which I had given to my friends’ little girl: which had contained none other than a veritable Swan Lake-esque mask. Some dodgy angel wings later combined with some white leggings and a t-shirt and she was transformed into an ice white vision…with a subtle undertone of mangy mallard. Suddenly, I felt the colour in my cheeks rise…

“Euan, did you get your part in the play yet?”

“Yeah. I’m Gary. You know the ‘Pull like a dog!’ guy…”

Anyone know where I can get an oar?


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