When I first started organising our church nativity play I used to find costumes a huge challenge, because we have a mixed age group of children in our cast, and the number of children changes every year. One year Mary might be played by a petite 5 year old, and the following year by a tall 9 year old, so the exact same costume would not work! Plus, if we were blessed with the same children continuing to attend, the ENTIRE WARDROBE of outfits would need to be larger, not just a few. For this reason, over the years, we have actually developed a stock of varying sized outfits that will fit several purposes, but these are a few hints and pointers to help those of you that are still working towards that.
CREATING THE BASIC OUTFITS
1) Make T-shaped tunics, without any shaping and which are not meant to fit any person in particular!
Use a drawstring or elasticated neckline so that it will go over a large or small head (Beware that the opening isn’t so large that it won’t stay on a little one’s shoulders).
Make it medium length: too long for the youngest kids, who can then wear it hitched up with a belt around their waist, and too short for older youngsters who can then just wear it as a short tunic over a pair of pants.
2) Make simple waistcoats, once again without any shaping or sleeves: effectively just a square tunic which is divided down the front. It needs no buttons or fastenings of any sort.
See to it that the neckline isn’t too large, so that it will certainly remain on the youngest kid’s shoulders. Maybe, you might even make use of a drawstring or some elastic around the edge of the neckline similar to the tunics.
3) Make robes / capes for the kings in rich looking material like velour or satin, or in bright regal colors. Old drapes are great for the job, as you can thread a piece of cord through the top hem for the child to secure it around their neck like a cape. (CARE: We have actually in some cases discovered these to be so heavy at the back that the kids couldn’t keep the cape around their shoulders, or that they pulled on their neck. It was handy, in this case, to have a small fastener at the front of the cape, a little below the drawstring, or to shape the shoulders of the cape). Alternatively, does anyone have a satin look kimono/dressing-gown? These will be just as successful!
4) Make wings for the angels using large pieces of silver or gold card (or simply spray plain, white card gold or silver).
Position 2 holes on each side of the wing, roughly at the top and bottom of a child’s armpit (if in doubt, make the holes too far apart, as opposed to too close!) Thread loose elastic through the holes and tie together, being generous with the elastic as a youngster needs to have the ability to fit their arm through it.
5) Have lots of pieces of cord to use as belts to hitch up the tunics and hold on the waistcoats as required.
6) Have tinsel to utilize as halos for the angels, and as belts to hitch up the angels tunics.
7) Make simple headdresses making use of little rectangular pieces of cloth (generally teatowels!) and tied around the head with a piece of cord or material or, preferably, thick elastic headbands. Fold the overlap back upwards and tuck behind the elastic to look even more professional and less ‘teatowel-like’!
Do not attempt to make the outfits too perfect or ‘show-like’. The simpleness makes it more unique and cute! Even better, let the little ones make their own crown, halo or animal mask etc for a personal touch.