The concept of unusual characters appearing in school nativity plays was made famous by Richard Curtis' 2003 rom-com Love Actually, whose nativity had not one, but two lobsters, an octopus, a spiderman, and glorious amounts of papier maché.
Research released today by Netmums has demonstrated the dearth of biblical characters in our children's Christmas plays.
But children's plays in all their forms are also a source of mirth, so here's a selection of the cute, the witty, and the simply absurd...
1. The mash-up
In searching for a new twist on an old story people will put together almost anything with the story of Jesus' birth, and usually churn out a moral at the end of it.
'The Most Disgruntled Snowman' about a temperamental snowman who becomes 'the happiest snowman ever' upon meeting baby Jesus presents some logistical problems, given that winter in Bethlehem is generally fairly mild and wet.
Alternatively you may prefer a tale that promises to teach children about caring for the poor, using a fusion of Hans Christian Andersen's 'The Little Match Girl' and the biblical nativity... meaning that baby Jesus lands in a victorian fair.
There's also this rather sweet offering from 'Third Havering Scout Group' which manages to combine the minions from Despicable Me, Christmas trees, and a traditional Bethlehem skyline:
2. The fly-on-the-wall documentary
The events recorded in the Gospels have been told from more angles than we can possibly imagine. Including a personal favourite, 'The Fleas' Christmas Story' in which we see all the action through the eyes of the fleas riding on the backs of the camels and donkeys in attendance at the birth of Christ. And if that wasn't enough, the story is transmited by the fleas' mobile phones.
3. The problem of overcrowding
If you've got 100 kids in a play, that's a lot of angels, shepherds and sheep to account for. Some teachers have clearly felt the need to branch out a bit. Which is how we get to things like this:
Other 'padding' characters we've come across include Cloud #2, a Christmas pudding, a barn door, the Sugarplum Fairy and a piece of straw.
4. Getting meta
'Christmas with the Aliens' ends up like one of those pictures where you see the same thing repeated in on itself. The plot goes something like... Aliens land on earth and watch a group of schoolchildren performing their (traditional) nativity play. Presumably it all ends in a wonderful song and dance routine with the Aliens and baby Jesus.
5. The just plain weird
Not strictly a nativity play, but deserving mention for being the most bizarre Christmas story on the market, 'Mr Sparrow's Spectacular Boob: The story of how St Doughnuts School was able to buy new computers' promises to be a 'funny Christmas story about animals, a nativity play and a crazy teacher'.