Create a new tradition for Christmas with the Kindness Elves, an alternative to the popular Elf on the Shelf idea, and place the focus instead on positive, character-building activities for kids. Teaching love, kindness and gratitude with a hope to raise kids who move away from the “entitlement” attitude which pervades our modern generation.
Like me, you will be very familiar with the amazingly popular Elf on the Shelf tradition that has become even more popular in the last few years. There are entire Pinterest boards and eBooks dedicated to the idea and some people really go to town on amazing set-ups each morning for the kids to find. It’s great fun and appeals to my sense of making magic and wonder for our children, and I used to do similar things in my classroom with our puppets and stuffed toys that moved around each night or set up new learning activities for the kids to find each day etc. However, there are a few things that just don’t sit right with me about the Elf which I can’t shake off and which have meant I haven’t adopted it for our family. For one, he is seriously creepy looking! I’ve read accounts of kids that are freaked out about this little elf watching them and can’t get to sleep at night, begging for him to go back to Santa! He is also extremely expensive, which always puts me off.
Most of all, I really dislike the idea that he has been sent by Santa to watch children and to report back on their behaviour to see whether or not they will be good enough to receive presents this year. Present giving is because you love someone, not because they deserve it. Hence why we focus more on the gift of our Saviour at Christmas and His free, undeserved love to us instead.(I know not everyone applies that aspect of the idea so please don’t be offended if you use and love the Elf on the Shelf- that’s not my intention at all.)
Recently I came across these adorable little elves or pixies in a UK/ European store called Tiger. At only £1 each and with such gorgeous attention to detail I couldn’t help but buy them all and thought there must be a way to keep some of the original Elf magic and apply it in a new way.
You could of course use any stuffed animal or even a Christmas tree ornament. Check the ornament sections at supermarkets or £/£ stores. A few people have written to say they are using the angel decoration from the top of the tree- so lovely! Others have told me they found a similar doll ornament in Target’s ornament section (in the US.)
Here are some alternatives I have found. Really, anything will do! Make it special and personal to your family.
So, on December 1st , or thereabouts, these little elves are going to arrive at our home and introduce themselves as the Kindness Elves (they could also be called the Helpful Elves, or anything else along those positive attribute lines! If you are big on Santa they could simply be “Santa’s Little Helpers” which would work perfectly!) They are good elves who love to help and notice kindness in others.
We haven’t yet started obviously, but this is the general outline of what we will be doing with them:
- They will arrive in our home and have been sent to share some love and magic at Christmas time
- They will only be sharing kind ideas and noticing things that are lovely. There will be no focus on negativity, but they will still be lots of fun and silliness too!
- They will be moved somewhere different each morning, sometimes in funny situations and positions, often next to an item that we need for that day’s kindness activity e.g. inside a mixing bowl ready to bake some cookies as a gift
- They will be holding little suggestions for acts of kindness, love or helpfulness that we can do together that day for e.g. “Let’s collect some of your toys and give them away to the children’s hospital”, “let’s make some cookies for the neighbours”, “shall we visit an elderly friend/ relative?” etc
- When they see the children doing kind and lovely things, they will leave a little note for them to find in the morning e.g. “Oh I loved it when I saw you sharing your new book with your little sister” or “you were very kind to help your Mummy load the dishwasher!” etc
- Some mornings they may wake up to find the elves have lined up their shoes, tidied their coats, got the breakfast things ready or fixed a broken toy etc. Modelling direct ways to be kind and helpful as a prompt for the children in the day.
* Update for 2014* Follow The Kindness Elves on their very own Facebook page where we shared lots of the ideas and photos that we used last year. These will be a great place to get you started!
I’m sure you will have hundreds of your own ideas for how to implement this and no doubt they will be even better, so please come and share your photos and ideas there too! On Instagram and twitter the hashtag I will be using is #kindnesselves . Use it too so we can find each other!
I’m hoping this will be a very valuable tool in helping them learn and focus on the positive attributes that we try and teach them in everyday life. As a Christian family we very much teach them those all important words that Jesus left us: “there are these 3 things that remain, faith, hope and love, but the greatest of these is LOVE”. And also “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind…and you shall love your neighbour as yourself.” Ever since their birth we said we wanted (more than academic achievement or future careers) for our kids to be full of love for people around them. Less entitlement and “I want”, and more thinking about others and how we can serve them and help them in the small things as well as the big. This is something we are still working on in ourselves too, by the grace of God!
I can’t wait to get started on this and I hope you will do it with us!
*Update for 2014* Here is a list of 25 Ideas of things to do with the Kindness Elves based on what we did last year. I hope these will help kickstart your plans for this year! Click the link above or image below to go to the list.
[I have added some Amazon affiliate links to try and help find some elf alternatives!]