It’s the holidays again and that means one thing -- SantaCon 2014 is here! People from all over the country will converge on the streets of New York City in their best St. Nick outfit to raise money for charity. Obviously, despite the fun, this event sparks the same question from the masses each year: “Where do I get a Santa Claus outfit?!”

For those unfamiliar, SantaCon is an annual gathering of folks dressed up as Kris Kringle from head to toe. People gather in full costume and parade from location-to-location as disclosed by the event’s coordinators in real time. Those who participate are asked to donate $10 that will go to a worthy charity.

This year’s event will happen Dec. 13, starting at 10 a.m. ET, which leaves those who want to join in the fun just under a week to get their hands on a jaw dropping Santa costume. After all, the event specifically warns against being that person who thinks it’s OK to show up in just jeans and a store-bought Santa hat. So to help you go big or go home this year, let’s examine what makes up a Santa costume.

Essentials include: A red and white coat, red pants, black boots, Santa hat, a white beard and, of course, a big fat belly.

Non-essentials include: White gloves, glasses, red cheeks and a bag of toys.

Although the event is only a day, it’s in your best interest to just buy a costume outright rather than hassle with trying to rent. After all, who doesn’t want to be the person with a Santa suit in their closet all year? Believe it or not, finding a Santa suit to purchase is easier than one would expect. Popular retail outlets like Party City, Walgreens, Amazon and Walmart have a surprisngly wide selection of costumes available to order online. Unfortunately, this means you won’t be able to try on your holiday garb before the big day. That in mind, most costumes come in a “one size fits most” anyway.  

While it may be of comfort to shop at a store with a trusted name, the Santa suit business extends beyond the reach of big-brand stores. Sites like Santa Suit Express, Costume Super Center and Costume Discounters all offer suits for relatively cheap. However, it’s difficult to hold these niche sites to any quality control.

The real thing to focus on when purchasing a Santa costume is how authentic you want it to look. Take, for example, Party City. On its website, the party retailer offers suits anywhere from $40 to $550. The difference is a matter of quality. Sure anyone can throw on a white beard and a red coat, but if you want to give the children you pass by the real authentic North Pole experience, you’ll have to drop a few extra bucks.

Finally, make sure you double check before making your online purchase. It’s important to know what accessories are included in the costume bundle. You don’t want to break the bank on a costume only to find out the day of SantaCon it doesn’t include a beard and wig. More to that point, those just looking for solo Santa accessories can find them at Santa Suit Express