The nature of Christmas costumes differs slightly from one theatrical community to the next. Although the costumes of actors and actresses in the Nativity scene remain just about the same everywhere, not all Christmas costumes conform to an expected style. Costumes that relate to one or more cultural traditions can create differences in the costuming of varied Christmas programs.
If for example the planners of a Christmas program want to incorporate information about Advent, the season before Christmas, then they might choose to highlight the Swedish Christmas traditions. The Swedes incorporate in their Christmas celebration a girl who wears an Advent wreath on her head. An emphasis on Advent could require that one of the Christmas costumes include such a wreath-shaped headdress.
A re-enactment of the song "Good King Wenceslas" would not demand the wearing of such a sophisticated Christmas dress. The king though would want to wear a crown. In addition, because the song is about a charitable act performed on St. Stephens Day, it might be appropriate to have a horse depicted onstage. In that case a horse outfit would be one of the Christmas costumes.
A Christmas program at an elementary school might incorporate one or more popular children's stories. Some Christmas stories, such as the one that starts "'Twas the night before Christmas..." do not require a lot of special Christmas costumes. Other Christmas stories could present more of a challenge.
Some Christmas stories, as indicated above, create a need for Christmas costumes that depict various animals. A story about The Grinch for example would lead to a demand for such a costume. Of course The Grinch had no set Christmas dress, so the creator of a Grinch costume would have some leeway as to the character's desired appearance on stage.
A survey of children's books might uncover yet other animal stories that could add to the interest or uniqueness of a Christmas program. A story about Rudolph could lead to a need for some four-legged Christmas costumes. And it is possible that a Christmas program might include an actor wearing a polar bear costume.
Such a costume might be necessary if one were to depict the Christmas story about Santa's lost hat. In that story the hat is eventually found on the head of a local polar bear. Still a clever use of poetry could dissolve the need for any white and hairy Christmas costumes. The search for the polar bear could begin with this clue: "The polar bear is hard to sight; you have to look for white on white."
If a director had his actors following that clue, then the polar bear could be depicted as a huge white blob with a red hat on top. If the director chose to go by that route, then one of the Christmas costumes could be designed around a large white sheet. The depiction of a children's book in that fashion would arouse greater interest in that same book. If a short poem were used as a clue, then that too could help strengthen the vocabulary of the young children watching the performance.