Elves and Santa’s Helpers

Christmas is coming and Santa is everywhere.  So, in the spirit of the holiday fairy tale, let’s take a look at Santa’s Elves and how they differ from regular Elves (or Fae).


Santa’s helpers tend to be portrayed as happy, diligent and sometimes hapless factory workers. They are very focused on doing their job, meeting deadlines, and basically getting through life in the same way that any blue-collar worker might. Every aspect of the Santa-elf appearance reflects this very reliable and mundane characteristic.

Warrior or woodland (wild) elves are, in many ways, the polar opposite to Santa’s helpers. While they are civilized and reliable, in their own way, they are not soft, mundane or safe. In essence, wild elves are to Santa’s elves what wolves are to domesticated dogs.

It’s in the Ears

The one thing all elves have in common are pointed ears. It is the single defining costume piece that clearly identifies this character as a member of an elven race.

Warrior elves and elves found in fantasy literature, movies or games have clearly pointed ears, but the length and shape is more suited to the nature of a warrior, princess, wizard, etc. Therefore they tend to be either more or less extreme than holiday season elves.

The Hat

The hat comes in a close second to the ears in terms of defining costume pieces. The hat worn by Santa’s helpers is easily recognizable and very noticeable. It’s also a popular item to wear at holiday season festivities – among children and adults alike.

Santa’s elves are in the habit of wearing long and pointed winter cap. This cap is usually solid red or green, or some form of red and green stripes. The end is always pointed and often tipped with a bell or a pom-pom. Sometimes the end is stylized into a well defined curl or ironed into a crisp point.

Warrior elves and woodland (wild) elves also wear pointed hats, but the style and overall effect is extremely different. The entire costume emphasizes dangerous power, edginess and camouflage. The more common portrayal of the warrior elf includes a long cloak with a large hat that can be pulled over the head for both protection and disguise (read: hiding the face from view).

 The Clothes

While wild elves are frequently portrayed as warriors and masters of the woods, Santa’s helpers are often dressed in outfits that bear a striking similarity to a court jester.  While they are magical creatures, they are clearly domesticated magic. How and why domesticated magic translates into a worker bee dressed as a court jester would make for a fascinating discussion – or a college level paper on costuming, mythology or the sociological aspects of holiday festivities.

Brightly colored tights are a common part of the santa’s helper costume. Sometimes the design is similar to a candy cane and other times it is inspired by the court jester.

Slipper-like shoes with long toes are also a standard feature.

More Santa’s Helper Costumes

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