Animal Costumes for Children's Christmas Plays

Stephanie M. Kelley
Christmas mouse

The right play costumes can help tell a Christmas story and add to the overall success of the performance. Traditional nativity animals are often used in holiday plays, but animals such as reindeer, penguins, teddy bears, and even mice are also in a variety of Christmas skits. Costumes for all these animals can be homemade or purchased.

Sheep Costumes

Who can resist fluffy little sheep? It's no wonder that these cute little animals are typically highlighted during Christmas plays. Making a sheep costume is quite easy and can be accomplished by almost anyone, even those who don't have a lot of experience.

child in sheep costume

Supplies

  • Long-sleeved white turtleneck
  • White leggings (or sweat pants)
  • White scarf
  • White stocking cap
  • White felt
  • White furry fabric
  • Hot glue gun and glue sticks
  • Embellishment, such as a poinsettia (optional)

Instructions

  1. To create the body of the sheep costume, cut the fabric so that it is the width of the wearer, plus 10 inches on the side (for seam allowance and comfort). Fabric length should be long enough to reach mid-hip on both sides. You should have a large rectangle when it's laid out.
  2. Gently fold the fabric in half. Make sure it's folded so the crease is where the head will be placed.
  3. Cut hole for the head by cutting at the crease through both sides in a wide half-circle shape.
  4. Glue the two sides of the costume together (furry side out). Remember to leave arm holes at the top, so stop about three-quarters of the way up.
  5. To create the hat, simply use the animal ear template (at bottom of article) to create felt ears and use a hot glue gun to attach them to the hat.
  6. Use the scraps of the furry fabric to create cuffs on the turtleneck. Glue them around ends of the sleeves.
  7. Hot glue a poinsettia bloom to the outfit and hat (optional).
  8. Tie the scarf around the child's neck after putting on the costume.

Purchased Options

If you don't want to create the costume yourself, consider purchasing the sheep costume at one of these retailers.

  • HalloweenCostumes.com - For just under $40, you can purchase this child's sheep costume that comes complete with shirt, pants, hood, mitts and shoe covers. Child sizes range from X-Small to X-Large.
  • Party City - If you want to a modern touch to your nativity scene, consider featuring this sweet, little girlie sheep's costume. For $30, your little lamb can be decked out in a frilly white and pink dress, hood with bow, tights and pink booties. This costume is available for sizes 12 - 24M.
  • Fancy Dress for You - This costume is for children age 7 - 9 (size M). This costume is $25 and features a jumpsuit with hood.
DIY donkey costume

Donkey Costumes

Create a donkey costume out of simple material or purchase one for your Christmas play. Create a costume out a grey sweatshirt and beanie and other materials.

Supplies

  • Grey hooded sweatshirt or gray sweatshirt and hat
  • Grey and brown felt
  • White felt, optional
  • Grey craft fur
  • Hot glue gun and glue sticks (or needle and thread)
  • Scissors
  • Grey sweatpants or leggings

Instructions

  1. Cut donkey ear shapes out of the grey felt using the animal ear template at end of article.
  2. If you want to add another color to the ear, simply cut a smaller ear shape out of brown felt and attach it to the interior of the ears.
  3. Cut a strip of the grey craft fur that is a couple inches wide and as long as the the length from the front center seam of hood (or hat) to the back to create a mane.
  4. Use a glue gun to attach the ears and the mane to the hood.
  5. Optional eyes: Cut two ovals out of white felt and two smaller circles out of black felt. Glue the black felt circles into the centers of the white ovals to create eyes. Then use hot glue to attach the eyes to the hood or hat (one on each side, closer to the top and front).
  6. Cut an oval out of the darker gray fabric and glue or sew it onto the front of the sweatshirt.
  7. Cut a long strip of gray felt (about 12 inches long) to create the tail.
  8. Sew or use a hot glue gun to attach a small tear drop shaped piece of craft fur to the end of the tail.
  9. Use a hot glue to attach the tail to the bottom, back seam of shirt.
  10. Wear gray sweatpants or leggings with the hooded sweatshirt or shirt and hat. If desire, you can attach the tail to the pants instead of the shirt.

Purchased Options

If you would rather purchase your donkey costume, pick one up from these retailers.

  • Oriental Trading - This is a plush donkey costume that leaves the wearer's head exposed. The donkey's front is in front of the wearer and the backside is on the wearer's backside. It fits a wide range of sizes and is adjustable. It costs less than $40.
  • Costume Discounters - This costume features a full bodysuit with tail and a hat. The cost is only slightly over $20 and it comes in sizes 8-10 and 12-14.
  • Jet - This costume consists of a fleece jumpsuit with a hood and hand and feet coverings. It's available in toddler and size Small for about $40 or less.

Camel Costumes

DIY camel costume

The lovable humped camel is a must-have for any nativity play. This is an easy, but somewhat time-consuming project, but the finished product is well worth the effort.

Supplies

  • Brown felt
  • Cardboard
  • Google eyes (large, at least 1 inch)
  • Gold ribbon
  • Cotton batting
  • Brown permanent marker
  • Brown belt
  • Fabric glue or hot glue gun and sticks

Instructions

  1. Measure the child's head and then sketch the profile of a camel head on cardboard.
  2. You can cut both sides of the head together to save time.
  3. Attach the brown felt to the cardboard heads and trim.
  4. Glue the two heads together around the top and back edges, leaving the bottom for the head for the wearer's head.
  5. Use the permanent marker to create the outlines and detail. If desired, use the camel ears from the template at the bottom of the article to create a realistic look.
  6. Use glue to attach the ribbon and the eyes in the appropriate places.
  7. Create the vest by folding a rectangular piece of brown felt in half and cutting a hole for the head in the top. Don't worry about arm holes as you'll be cinching the waist with a belt after putting it on.
  8. Take a hand full of the cotton batting and wrap it in brown felt to create the hump. Repeat for the second hump.
  9. Attach the humps to the back of the vest with glue.
  10. Use the belt to cinch the vest around the waist of the child.

When getting dressed, put the vest with humps on first, followed by the belt. Then put the headpiece on. This way you don't have to worry about getting the felt vest over the headpiece.

Purchased Options

Check out the costumes from these retailers if you would like to purchase one rather than creating one on your own.

  • Costume Super Center - This camel costume includes a headpiece and jumpsuit for just over $20. It comes in sizes 8-10 and 12-14.
  • Candy Apple Costumes - For actors who are size 4-6 or 7-9, this costume is perfect. This one piece, plush outfit includes a hood with camel head on the top. It's priced around $35.
  • PureCostumes.com - This costume features two cute humps on the back. The price is just under $60. It comes in size 7-10.

Cow Costumes

No nativity barn scene is complete without a mooing cow. Create a simple cow costume out of basic materials.

DIY cow costume

Supplies

  • Long sleeved white one-piece pajama (or white sweat pants and sweat shirt with hood)
  • White hat (if your outfit does not have a hood)
  • Black fabric paint
  • Black and gold (light brown) felt
  • White felt
  • Hot glue gun and glue sticks

Instructions

  1. Use black fabric paint to make irregularly shaped spots all over the one-piece pajamas. The spots should resemble the spots on a holstein cow.
  2. Cut ears and horn shapes out of the felt and attach them to the hat (or hood) with hot glue. Gather the ends of the horn prior to attaching them for a more authentic look.
  3. Cut a tail out of white felt and attach to the back of the costume with hot glue.

Purchased Options

There are plenty of commercially created costumes to choose from, too.

  • Oriental Trading - This cute cow costume features a full body outfit with a hood for less than $25. This is perfect for children between ages 5 through 10.
  • BlockBuster Costumes - If you would rather have a brown cow, consider this costume that features a full body suit and hat. It comes in sizes 4-6, 8-10, and 12-14. Pick it up for under $40.
  • Online Fancy Dress - This costume will transform the child into a lovable cow, from the hood to the foot covers. It's in size 4-6 for about $16.

Penguin Costumes

Penguins might be featured in your winter Christmas play.

penguin costume

Supplies

  • Long sleeved black, oversized shirt (use an older child's size or adult top)
  • White fabric (felt or another stiff material works well)
  • Needle and white thread (or glue gun and glue sticks)
  • Bow tie
  • Penguin feet boot covers

Instructions

  1. Cut a panel of white felt the full length of the black shirt and wide enough to cover the width. Taper the front so that the shoulders are not covered (see photo).
  2. Sew the panel in place or use a hot glue gun to attach it.
  3. Cut the shirt cuffs so that the child's palms are out and can be covered on top by the black fabric. Sew a quick hem or fold the edges back and glue so the shirt doesn't unravel.
  4. Attach the bow tie (either around the neck or to the front of the costume).
  5. Have the child wear the boot covers to complete the costume.

Purchased Options

If you'd rather purchase the entire penguin costume, visit these retailers.

  • Fantasy Toyland - Your child actor will love this fuzzy penguin costume with an attached hood, sleeves that resemble wings, and shoe covers. It's typically available in both sizes 4-6X and 7-10 for around $17.
  • Oriental Trading - This a two-piece costume that features a face cutout and has attached feet. One size fits most kids for about $10.
  • HalloweenCostumes.com - Give the child this three-piece costume and watch him or her transform into a lovable penguin for about $30. It's available in sizes Small through X-Large.

Reindeer Costumes

Everyone knows that reindeer rule the North Pole. Add some of these iconic animals to your Christmas play. Create a reindeer costume with brown toned clothing and some simple materials. There are no eye holes so this costume works the best for background characters who don't need to move around much.

Reindeer head by mermagblog.com
Reindeer head by mermagblog.com

Supplies

  • Cardboard or heavy duty cardstock
  • Scissors or knife
  • Brown, white, and black paint
  • Brown toned shirt and pants

Instructions

  1. Draw and cut the head of the reindeer costume from the cardboard.
  2. Use paint to add the details as seen in the photo. Paint the entire head brown and add details by adding a lighter brown paint on the bridge of the nose and dots along the nose and neck.
  3. Use white paint to create the antlers and the eye and add a black dot in the center of the eye.
  4. Simply use brown clothing to create the remainder of the costume.

The child should hold the reindeer head once he or she has found the correct place on stage.

Purchased Options

If you would rather purchase a reindeer costume, here are a few options.

  • Shirts.com - This is one of the simplist costumes possible. Simply put this sweatshirt on, pull up the hood, and don brown pants - voila, you have instant costume. It's about $25 and comes in size Small.
  • Walmart - If you are looking for a complete costume, purchase this plush. Simply add a little black face paint to the nose. It's around $30 and comes in XS and XL.
  • HalloweenCostumes.com - Looking for a Rudolph costumes? This reindeer jumpsuit features a red nose! It's available in sizes Small through Large for about $30.

Teddy Bear Costumes

Santa's workshop is not complete without a cute and cuddly teddy bear. Create your own costume with simple materials.

teddy bear costume

Supplies

  • Brown vest and pants (or shorts)
  • Oversized bow tie (in Christmas colors)
  • White, long-sleeved T-shirt or dress shirt
  • White (or brown) tights (long socks can also work)
  • Teddy bear with a head that is larger than the child's head
  • Glue gun and glue sticks
  • Elastic chin strap, optional

Instructions

  1. To create the head of the costume, separate the head from the body of the teddy bear
  2. Leave some stuffing in the head so that it continues to looked "stuffed," but not so stuffed that the stuffing hangs out of the bottom.
  3. Fold the sides of the bear head up and glue on the insides to create a neat seam.
  4. Simply dress the child in the shirt, vest, pants, tie and socks and place the stuffed bear head on top of the child's head. You may need hair pins to secure it. If it is still too heavy, attach an elastic chin strap.

Purchased Options

If you'd prefer, you can purchase a commercial teddy bear costume for your Christmas play.

  • Jet - This costume features a stuffed teddy bear head and a large red bow tie. It's a toddler size 2T for about $35.
  • Walmart - Adorable and furry, this teddy bear costume is unisex and features a round, stuffed tummy. Find it in size 6-8 for approximately $50.
  • Candy Apple Costumes - This costume comes in a variety of sizes from toddler through child's size 14. It's about $35 but you'll need to add your own teddy bear bow tie.

Mouse Costumes

Whether you are putting together a performance of The Night Before Christmas or The Nutcracker, you will need a cute mouse costume.

mouse costume

Supplies

  • Oversized white sweatshirt that extends to child's mid-calf
  • Pink felt
  • White tights, pants, or leggings
  • Headband (plastic)
  • White felt (or craft foam)
  • Pink felt (or craft foam)
  • Hot glue gun and glue sticks (or needle and thread)
  • White yarn

Instructions

  1. Cut the sleeves off of the sweatshirt.
  2. Cut a panel in the pink felt that is about five to eight inches wide (depending on the child's size). The length should run from the neck to the bottom hem of the shirt.
  3. Attach the pink panel to the front of the shirt by sewing it or attaching it with a hot glue gun.
  4. To create the ears, use the template found at the bottom of the article. The outer ear should be created with the white felt of foam and the interior of the ear should be made from the pink.
  5. Hot glue the ears to the headband.
  6. Create a tail by braiding the white yarn. The tail should be at least 12 inches long (length depends on child's size).
  7. Hot glue the tail to the back of the shirt.
  8. Dress the child in the white tights/pants/leggings, shirt, and headband.

Purchased Options

If you'd like to purchase a mouse costume, there are several options.

  • HalloweenCostumes.com - This costume includes a bodysuit with attached mitts, a hood, and shoe covers. It comes in sizes X-Small through 2X-Large for $40.
  • Walmart - This is a pretty little girl's costume features a frilly dress and mouse ears. It's just about $15 and comes in sizes Small, Medium, and Large.
  • Halloween-Mall.com - If you are looking for something for a black mouse costume, this might be the perfect fit. The costume includes a jumpsuit with a tail and hood. You'll get it for about $18 in size 4-6.

Animal Ear Templates

Christmas costumes can be tricky, so use a few animal ear templates to make it easier. It prints using Adobe. Print it at 100%. Cut the templates out and mount them on cardstock or cardboard for durability. Trim as needed.

animal ear template

Tips for Making Animal Costumes

Follow these tips to make putting together your DIY animal Christmas costumes easy.

  • Prepare in advance for future productions by scouting thrift stores and consignment shops for inexpensive animals costumes in children's sizes.
  • For church productions, contact affiliated churches about costumes no longer in use or that they would be willing to lend.
  • For school holiday plays, place notices in the PTO/PTA newsletters asking for volunteers with sewing or crafting skills to help make the costumes. Make sure to do so in plenty of time prior to the play and consider a fundraiser or using organization funds to purchase the materials for the costumes.
  • For an affordable alternative to full costumes, consider simple homemade masks or representations of the animals for the Christmas play. Creating paper plate masks using simple art and craft supplies can help children get involved as well.
  • Use face paint to your advantage by creating whiskers, noses, and other elements to make your actors look authentic.
  • Add costume props for a more authentic look.

Bring Your Holiday Production to Life

Christmas animal costumes will help bring holiday productions to life whether they are simple or elaborate. The costumes are not only fun for the children involved, but can create wonderful memories for families and touch the audience with the joy of the holiday season.

Animal Costumes for Children's Christmas Plays