A New Spin on Elf on the Shelf

Elf on the Shelf. Man oh man, what to say about that darn elf. 

He is mischief with a capital M-I-S-C-H-I-E-F!!!

It’s the elf that stays in your home for the month of December. (Some people even allow him to come back from the North Pole earlier, but don’t ask me why.)

Every night he changes locations around your home and has some kind of crazy antic, usually causing a mess everywhere. And supposedly this elf can see and hear every little thing your child does reporting back to Santa each night at the North Pole so the Big Man can determine if your little one should be on the naughty or nice list.  

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How many of you mamas have driven yourself nuts trying to come up with (and eventually cleaning up) this little elf’s crazy messes?

No judgement here! I too am guilty of getting wrapped up in his antics!

But…it only lasted a year! 

About a week in, I started wondering to myself why in the world I was putting myself through this, especially during the Christmas season?! Like it’s not already crazy enough! And on top of all the Christmas events that happen throughout the month, we have a birthday in our family in December. Apparently, planning birthdays, cleaning my house, organizing and attending all the pre-Christmas functions AND preparing for Christmas just wasn’t enough!

Well…one season was enough for me!

I know, I know…so many families use that silly elf and just love the mischief he or she creates. They post every morning on social media just what that little elf, not on a shelf, got into last night!

And I fall for those every year wondering if I should just give in and give my kids something fun amongst all the chaos and stress this season can sometimes bring.

So, I got to thinking…what is a way my kids could still get a break in the crazy chaotic season but where I was teaching and instilling something that I believed in. 

Don’t get me wrong, Elf on the Shelf can be fun and you can still totally bring the spirit of Christmas to your home with him.

However, for our family, I felt that we weren’t teaching our kids what we wanted them know about Christmas.  

We didn’t want them to think they only had to obey Mom and Dad during December when a stuffed elf could tell Santa and they may not get gifts for Christmas. We wanted them to obey because it’s what God asks them to do. 

We didn’t want to teach them tattling.  After all isn’t that what Elf is essentially doing?

We didn’t want to teach them that it’s acceptable to go into someone else’s home and destroy any part of it. We wanted them to respect everyone’s belongings.

And we especially didn’t want them to learn that Christmas is all about the gifts. We wanted them to understand that Christmas is celebrating the birth of our Savior with people we love and care for and even strangers. As cliche as it sounds, it’s about giving and not receiving.  

Don’t get me wrong! If you use and love Elf on the Shelf, I am absolutely NOT judging you! I have some absolutely amazing mama friends that just love Elf on the Shelf, and it works for them and their family! And I’m definitely not saying anything is wrong with Elf on the Shelf either.  I have other wonderful mama friends that use Elf on the Shelf but in a different way because of their own personal convictions.

I’m talking to the moms that maybe just aren’t sure about Elf on the Shelf and haven’t given him a try yet. Or the moms that have tried him, and it just didn’t work out or maybe forgot to move him one too many times and now your kids know he’s not as magical as you said.  Been there!  Or maybe you have some personal convictions about Elf and want to try something else. 

So, there I was, sitting on my couch, reading and being convicted about doing random acts of kindness, and I wondered how we could incorporate that into a Christmas tradition. As I looked up I glanced at my children’s nativity set sitting on our tv stand.

By the way, this is the set we use: Fisher-Price Little People A Christmas Story I’m not brave enough to buy a real adult one yet.

And I thought, maybe we could use the baby Jesus and a list of random acts of kindness in some way.

So here’s what we do and have done the last three Christmas seasons and my kiddos and I just absolutely LOVE it! And they ask when we get the nativity set out if we’re doing it again this year!

Starting on December 1st and each night until Christmas morning, my husband or I hide baby Jesus with a red heart cut from some simple construction paper.  On the heart is a random act of kindness for the day.

Sometimes this is as simple as helping a sibling do their chores or saying something nice to three people that day. And some days it’s a little more involved like bringing hot chocolate to a friend or loved one or leaving coins on a vending machine.  (Tip: I planned a lot around activities we were already going to do and usually planned a couple days out at a time in case I needed to prepare something, like making sure we had coins for a vending machine.) 

This taught my kiddos…

1. to look (both literally and figuratively) for Jesus in the everyday. 

2. To know Jesus sees them all year long, good and bad, and offers them grace. We still get the gift of Jesus and a few gifts too, because I don’t know of anyone who actually followed through with no gifts because they were naughty one too many times while Elf visited.  

3. That Jesus’ opinion is the only one we need to be concerned with.

4. To love and help others even when they’re too distracted with the Christmas season.

5. To look for others who may need some extra kindness in their lives, and

6. To think of others above and before themselves.

After all, these are the things I want to be instilling for a lifetime, not just for December or their childhood.  I want these ideas to be so engraved on their hearts that they do them naturally all year long. And that may take until they’re 18 anyway, so I might as well make it fun along the way too! 

I hope you all enjoy your holiday season and are taking the time to slow down and enjoy this time with your babies and looking (literally and figuratively) for Jesus in your lives! 

Let me know in the comments what your favorite Christmas family traditions, new or old, are! 

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1 Comment

  1. Wonderful plan! It will really teach the kids to think a little before they act and to follow through each day. Great! It’s something our world needs really badly right now. A great way to teach them about giving, sharing and kindness!

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