It's nearly Christmas in Encino, California and Patchy the Pirate, president of the SpongeBob SquarePants Fan Club, is deep in preparations for the holiday. With the help of his un-eager assistant, Potty the Parrot, Patchy sets pictures of SpongeBob and Patrick on the mantelpiece, puts up his various SpongeBob-themed ornaments, and bakes Christmas cookies. Patchy also takes time to open a letter from a fan, who asks if SpongeBob likes Christmas as much as he does. Patchy remarks that there was once a time when Christmas in Bikini Bottom was unheard of, and decides to tell the tale.
Outside Sandy's Treedome, SpongeBob is dressed in his karate gear and preparing to take Sandy by surprise. Inside, Sandy is putting up Christmas lights, which SpongeBob mistakes for a fire and tries to put out with sea water. After recovering from the drenching, Sandy is shocked to find out that SpongeBob has never heard of Christmas and tells him all about it.
Later, at the Krusty Krab, SpongeBob passes the story of Christmas on to Patrick, Squidward and Mr. Krabs. Everyone in Bikini Bottom, except Squidward, is excited at the prospect of Santa Claus bearing gifts, and they all, except Squidward, put their Christmas wishes into bottles, which are then shot up to the surface for Santa to receive. In the days leading up to Christmas, the people of Bikini Bottom heartily celebrate, and on Christmas Eve, they stand in front of the large decorated coral tree and sing, eagerly awaiting the arrival of Santa. Squidward, refusing to believe in Christmas, takes no part in any of the mirth.
The people continue to sing until morning, when Santa has failed to arrive. Everyone leaves in bitter disappointment and SpongeBob becomes very depressed. Squidward comes out at last, laughing and scoffing at SpongeBob's humiliation, and even takes a photo to commemorate the occasion. As SpongeBob sadly trudges away, he hands Squidward a present. Squidward, still skeptical, opens it to find a hand-carved driftwood clarinet. Squidward sees clearly how SpongeBob has only been trying to make everyone happy, and how much of a jerk he himself has been in comparison. To atone for his behavior, he dresses up as Santa and presents himself to SpongeBob. This delights and amazes SpongeBob, who thanks "Santa" for bringing Christmas to Bikini Bottom. Squidward replies that it was not he, but rather SpongeBob, who truly brought Christmas to Bikini Bottom. SpongeBob faints from joy, and Gary carries him home.
Squidward prepares to take the costume off, but is approached by a little girl, asking him for a present. SpongeBob suddenly appears beside her, assuring her that Santa will make her wish come true. Out of desperation, Squidward gives the child a wrench from his house, which pleases her greatly. He momentarily feels touched, until a crowd of people arrives expecting gifts as well, coercing him into giving away everything he owns. After sending the ecstatic SpongeBob off once more, Squidward wonders if he's gone insane for the lengths he's gone to in preserving SpongeBob's dream. Squidward then discovers a note on his doorstep, a message from Santa thanking him for his help and commending him for being a "good boy." He looks up in time to see the real Santa Claus riding away in his sleigh. The dumbfounded Squidward remarks, "Yep, I'm insane," and goes back inside, playing his new clarinet.
After finishing his story, Patchy has to deal with Potty perching on his head. However, it turns out the parrot merely laid him a gift of good will, which warms Patchy's heart. Patchy then proceeds to step under the mistletoe, inviting the ladies to come by for a smooch, only for Potty to start swooping after him. With Patchy preoccupied, the narrator rounds things off by wishing a "Good night, and Happy Holidays" to all.
"It's a SpongeBob Christmas!" premiered on Nickelodeon exactly 12 years after this episode aired.
This is the first episode to show Patrick with his one tooth (when he says "just like a genie"). Patrick's single tooth would later appear in more episodes and heavily used in season 5 episodes.
This is the second time Squidward feels guilty about bullying SpongeBob and apologizes to him. The first was in "Fools in April."
This is the third episode where SpongeBob, Patrick, Squidward, Mr. Krabs, Sandy, Plankton, and Gary (the main characters) all appear in the same episode. The first was in "Culture Shock" and the second was in "Sleepy Time."
On the Season Two DVD, Patchy's line at the beginning of the second half of the episode, "It's about time you got back! (Holds up a SpongeBob Christmas decoration) Now I can finish me story! (Scene cuts close to the decoration)," is cut due to there being no commercials on the DVD.
When the fish were sending their letters to Santa, one fish said "I hope he can read Portuguese." However, it is unknown if he was heard speaking that language from Portugal.
In the Brazilian dubbing of this episode, the dialogue "I hope he can read Portuguese" was changed to "I hope he can understand my calligraphy," because Portuguese is the language spoken in Brazil.
The music on the record player that Squidward has while he pretends to play with his clarinet, is the same song he played in "Bubblestand."
The reason Santa didn't come to Bikini Bottom is because the citizens didn't go to sleep on Christmas Eve, and it is said that Santa only comes when people are asleep. However, a later episode "It's a SpongeBob Christmas!" contradicts this fact.
It is rather odd that Squidward had a Santa suit, as Christmas was only introduced the day before. This seems to imply that Squidward made the Santa suit himself.
When Squidward feels guilty for bullying SpongeBob, he says "I feel like a..." and a picture of a donkey appears. This is a subliminal message that Squidward feels like a donkey. A similar instance of this joke being used is in "Fools in April."
Squidward saw Santa on his sleigh at the end, but it should be impossible for Santa to be able to breathe underwater. This could be why Bikini Bottom never heard about Christmas (Except Sandy, since she is a land animal).
And, instead of him singing the opening, a female chorus sings the intro. Also, the logo card was changed to a Christmas title card.
In the Polish dub, the episode's title is "Jakie święta?" translating to "What Christmas?"
In the Croatian dub, the episode name is "Božić, što je to?" translating to "Christmas, what is that?"
In "Jellyfishing" when Squidward came home Patrick yelled "Merry Christmas!" but he did not know what Christmas was until this episode. This seems to suggest that "Jellyfishing" took place after this.
This episode most likely took place before "Sandy's Rocket" since SpongeBob wore a Santa hat to bed in that episode, which indicates that Christmas had already been brought to Bikini Bottom by the time of that episode.
SpongeBob and Patrick don't know Christmas in this episode, however, in "The Secret Box," Patrick hides an embarrassing photo of SpongeBob at a Christmas party. A possible reason for this is that this episode may have took place before "The Secret Box." Also, "The Secret Box" was made and aired after "Christmas Who?"
This episode takes place after "Single Cell Anniversary" because in that episode Plankton did not know how to sing a song while in this episode he already knows how to sing.
This is the last episode where Nancy Suzy Fish is seen with nostrils.
A little girl told SpongeBob that she wanted front teeth for Christmas. This is a reference to the song "All I Want For Christmas is My Two Front Teeth."
The title is a later reduction on the holiday film Santa Who?.
Patchy says "That SpongeBob makes me as jolly as a Roger." This is a reference to the pirate flag called the Jolly Roger.
At the beginning, it was sunset, but when Sandy plugs in her tree, it is suddenly night.
Sandy was seen putting up Christmas lights at the beginning, even though she hibernates in winter. In "Bubble Buddy," Sandy does hibernate during Bikini Bottom's spring, so when it was winter in Bikini Bottom, it was still autumn for Sandy, therefore it was not time for Sandy to hibernate.
It's possible that Sandy didn't want to hibernate through Christmas.
Towards the end of the sequence where Sandy was telling SpongeBob about Christmas, bubbles were shown when she was moving. This is impossible, as they were in the air filled treedome.
A few seconds after Patrick says "Like a Genie," his eyebrows turn red for a split second as he blinks.
When SpongeBob gave Patrick his second sheet of paper, his black shoes are transparent.
The girl who asked for front teeth is crossed eyed in one scene.
During the song, where they are showing Squidward his new decorated house, SpongeBob's house next-door is missing.
When Mr. Krabs gives Plankton the fruitcake, it is sunset in the evening. However, when the fruitcake lands in the trash, it is instantly night.
At first, Patrick was on the coral tree but when it was daytime, he wasn't there anymore. Patrick must've fallen off the tree.
When Squidward (dressed as Santa) was talking to SpongeBob, his eyelids briefly changed color for a split second to a lighter teal.
When SpongeBob said "Where's your reindeer, and your flying machine?" Squidward had two legs instead of four.
Harold's white shirt and shorts turn black in a few scenes.
SpongeBob's tie is invisible in the sequence leading up to the picture being taken, and in the physical picture.
The photograph that Squidward took when SpongeBob was crying due to the fact of Santa not coming has multiple errors, when Squidward holds the photo the background around it is sand instead of snow; in the photo, the background is not the winter sky or snow, it is the typical sky that is seen in the other episodes, even though the coral tree is still visible. SpongeBob's tie is also invisible, possibly from the drooping nose.
Although Santa traditionally has 8 reindeers, (9 counting Rudolph) only 4 are seen or possibly the other four are next to the four seen.