Free dress day, mufti, casual Friday, uniform-free day, dress down day: whatever you call it, it is a tried and true fundraiser at schools across Australia.

The concept is so brilliantly simple: kids leave their uniform at home and wear their casual clothes to school in exchange for a gold coin donation, which is then collected and put towards fundraising projects.

Why mess with something so elegantly simple?

One reason is that when you break with tradition you suddenly get everyone’s attention, and this is a great way to increase awareness for a particular cause or project you are trying to promote. The other reason is that kids get bored.

Here are some quirky alternatives to both the ‘free dress’ and the ‘gold coin’ elements:

Alternative ideas for free dress

  1. Twin Day – come dressed the same as your best mate
  2. Future career day – kids dress up as what they want to be when they grow up
  3. Rainbow day – each class has to wear a single colour
  4. Wacky hair day – spike it, gel it, twist it with pipe cleaners, colour it or clip it
  5. Hideous hat day – for schools who don’t want kids messing with their hair
  6. Pyjama day – save time by sending kids to school in their PJs
  7. Dad’s shirt day – even better if it’s loud and Hawaiian
  8. Mismatched sock day – subtle fun
  9. Halloween day – why should kids only wear their awesome costumes once a year?
  10. Pirates and princesses – even better if the boys come as princesses and the girls as pirates

Alternative ideas to gold coin donations:

This is an easy way to collect donations for your next school fete, and it will reduce the pressure on parents who often feel burdened to constantly have their hand in their pocket prior to major school events:

  1. A box or tin of non-perishable food for a hamper or food drive.
  2. A filled jar for tombola such as lollies, stationery, seeds and gardening gloves, blocks or Lego, pretty cupcake cases, ribbons and lace.
  3. A block of chocolate for a chocolate wheel, hamper or chocolate toss game.
  4. Small toys for lucky dip.
  5. A second hand toy or book for the white elephant stall.
  6. A bag of wrapped lollies or lollypops to be used in hampers or as prizes for games.
  7. Ingredients that can be made into cookies or fruit cakes.
  8. A bottle of something (bubble bath, olive oil, passata etc) for hampers or a bottle stall.
  9. Seeds, pots, gloves, plant cuttings or other gardening supplies for a plant stall.

By asking each year group to bring something different you will find you have suddenly collected lots of donations for your next fete without much effort.

Do you have any other ideas to add to these lists? Please share in the comments below.

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  • Very cool alternative ideas, great


  • My school does most of those days, and I find it pretty painful.


  • Some brilliant ideas here, great way to have ideas to take to school at the begging of the year.


  • One year a kindergarten ran a few raffles. Parents contributed small non perishable food items for the Xmas one. There was packets of jelly and things like that donated. Some were ingenious and managed to get businesses, supermarkets, chemists etc. to donate items. They ended up having 3 baskets one Xmas. They sold more tickets becuase there was mopre prizes available. Some businesses will donate small samples, not full size normal packs. They are very popular with people as some of them are ideal to take in peoples cars, on overnight trips, holidays etc. I got some small tubes of toothpaste that way. I didn’t have to carry as much weight by using samples of various items.


  • great ideas but i think wacky hair day would work at my kid’s school. no colours but temporary hair spray sounds like the solution!


  • I like future career day as it is such a positive day too!


  • There are so many great ideas here. Thank you


  • My daughter is a school teacher and her school has done many of the suggested alternatives. Wacky hair day is always a real hoot and future career day is always fascinating .


  • some great ideas here :) It would be nice to see schools encourage children to think a little out of the box when it comes to free dress day


  • there are some great ideas here – my kids have done some of these things at their schools


  • These are great fundraising ideas, agreed. But spare a thought for the financially disadvantaged parents with 3-4 kids…..how would they cope with sone of these dress up days?


  • I would add a “Bring your favourite game to school” day. :-)


  • Like the alternatives to free dress – some sound like easy fun – takes some of the dilemmas of free dress away too


  • Lke hs


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