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Costumes For The Christmas Play

Updated on November 18, 2016
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Christmas is my favorite holiday. I have collected traditions, decorations, and recipes to make it fun and festive. I want to share the joy.

Remember the Mandatory Christmas Pageant?

I remember being in productions of simple Christmas story displays as a small child and the annual Christmas play skits and pageants with my own children. It is a traditional part of the Christmas season.

Christmas play photo

Robes for "Bible" era costumes with a towel or pillowcase held by a band made-do for the shepherds, with similar types of costumes to represent characters of another time and place. How easy it would be now to choose some of the easily available costumes online, or using a simple pattern, sew up some very impressive costumes for the Christmas play.

Besides the usual Nativity play, another well known theme for Christmas is inspired by Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol" and the Christmas Carolers of the Victorian time period. Every year a local church presents a production of "Scrooge", a modern rendition, with its uplifting Christmas message.

...A bit of off-key singing, a few forgotten or miffed lines...some things never change, but making Christmas dress-up as fun as can be with a few well thought out costumes could be a highlight of the season for many to remember.

The Story Of Christmas - Luke 2: 1-20

"It came to pass, in those days..."

Thoughts about Christmas Pageants

Most of us have been in one, seen one, or our children have played parts in re-enactments of the Christmas story.

It is a venerable tradition, dating back (at least) to Medieval Passion, Mystery, and Miracle Plays that educated illiterate people about the important stories of the Bible.

The modern day Pageants are no different, and everyone loves to dress up in their parts. Ranging from simple affairs to very sophisticated plays that have real animals, narrators and complete scenes, they are a beloved tradition. Especially in schools and churches where children have a chance to shine theatrically.

Found on
Found on | Source

  • Christmas Plays bring to life the true meaning of Christmas
  • Like the little drummer boy, a child wishes to offer others his part in making the season special.
  • Grandparents and parents love to see their children shine.
  • The important messages are given lights, action, music and more. It makes wonderful memories.

All Sorts Of Christmas Pageant Costumes - Mary, Joseph, Wise Men, even the Animals!

Outfit the whole cast of the Nativity play.


Thought of a costume exchange? Different churches in the community may be willing to cooperate and share the store of Christmas pageant costumes.

Shop the local thrift store for belts, canes, jewels, and costume materials.

It Is Easy To Be An Angel - With These Feathery Angel Wings

US Toy Child Feather Angel Wings Costume
US Toy Child Feather Angel Wings Costume

Every angel deserves their wings, with white feathers and an angelic look.



No pageant seems complete without an array of angels. Most of the outfit of the earthly representative of these beings is pretty straightforward: a white robe, a simple gold cord at the waist and a makeshift halo.

It is the set of wings that provide the biggest challenge. You don't want them to seem like butterfly or fairy wings, angel wings are much more substantail and normally have the appearance of feathers.

Of course, we make do! But if you have the opportunity to arrange for a nice set of wings... go for it.

Try Wigs and False Beards for a Bible Times Look

Shepherds, Wise Men, and The Innkeeper

Men of Bible times wore beards, you might want to replicate the look for your Christmas play characters.

A set of costumes and props is a great investment for a Church that puts on a Christmas play ( and Easter as well as others) each year.


Of course, you can DIY without too much trouble. We used to use an old child's robe with colorful stripes, a kitchen towel or a pillowcase with tied headband for a headress, etc. The toddler costume created from a pillow case looks cute, too.

A step up is a purchased costume or one sewn for the occasion.

A pair of sandals and this shepherds costume makes a very convincing shepherd boy -cute, too!

Child size Large (12-14) is made of lightweight polyester, the shepherds crook is sold separately, but very affordable. Shepherds Crook Brown listed at a sale price.

Joseph's Colors match Mary

With the addition of a rustic brown coat, the colors for Joseph are often blue and white.
With the addition of a rustic brown coat, the colors for Joseph are often blue and white.

Joseph and Mary

Two main characters in a pageant are Mary and Joseph. Usually dressed in blue robes with white headpieces, their costumes are humble and simple.

Blue is used because of its symbolic identification with things that are heavenly or holy, and also with faithfulness.

Use a brown over-robe coat for Joseph- always very rustic and humble.

Mary Dresses in Blue and White

A Christmas Carol

"For it is good to be children sometimes, and never better than at Christmas, when its mighty Founder was a child Himself."

- Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol

Victorian Carolers

A Dickens' Christmas Carol

Capes and Costumes

At the opposite end of the holiday pageant spectrum is the Victorian extravaganzas. Dressed up in the full skirts of velvet and taffeta, with muffs and bonnets, men in coat tails and top hats, the characters of Dickens come alive for lively plays.

Festive in every way and requiring a professional look in costume and backdrop.

If you have a chance to be in, or better yet, see one of these performance, you can appreciate the efforts that go into such a production. Colorful, and with a heartwarming message.

Christmas Carolers

Christmas Carolers
Christmas Carolers

Full Skirts and Well Trimmed Bonnets

Victorian elegance makes its appearance again in Christmas plays and historial enactments of carolers.
Victorian elegance makes its appearance again in Christmas plays and historial enactments of carolers.

Dickens Era Character Costuming - A Christmas Carol Costumes

Nothing is as festive as Victorian Carolers, and the Dickens era costumes are wonderful.

Admittedly, it takes more fabric, not to mention skill, to create an authentic look.

Can You Throw Together a Knockoff?

I think that would be so difficult that I would answer "no". It isn't like the cute little shepherds with towels as head gear. I am surprised to see how reasonably priced the ready made ones are.

Re-Enactment Societies

One source for patterns, or Victorian style apparel, are sites and groups dedicated to bringing past eras to life in modern times. Check out these as sources for some excellent advice on the details of clothing of the late 1800's.

Christmas Play Costumes

Amazing when You Dress the Part

The story of Christmas comes alive when the actors dress the part. It gives real substance to the idea that these kings from the East, Magi, came in their splendor to give gifts to Jesus.

If a talented seamstress is available, there are some patterns that render impressive outfits, but for many a pre-made set of robes and capes are a better option.

Few characters in a pageant require much in the way of fancy clothing, but the Magi are the exception. Silk like fabric with some metallic trimming give an idea of the prestige of this group.

A Wise Choice For Magi


Sew Your Own - All it takes is a sewing machine, patterns, and material

Christmas may be the time to buy your sewing machine, if you don't have one already.

Costuming For the Talented Seamstress

Why make your own costumes for the Christmas play? You will find it to be a fun, creative experience. The key is to be prepared and leave enough time so it isn't just another addition to the mad, headlong dash into Christmas day.

Pick your crafts, activities, and shopping lists with the view of enjoying the process. This is a time to celebrate the holidays and share the best of ourselves with others. Not a race to see who drops from exhaustion first.

Put the peace and joy back into your holiday, center on the central theme of God's gift to you. That really is the best gift of all.

The Christmas Spirit

What do you think of Christmas plays?

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