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 is creeping into 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. 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.
A couple of years ago I found some adorable little elves with friendly faces and a new idea for starting a positive family tradition was born instead- The Kindness Elves! I decided to use these cute little fellows to emphasise kindness and love in the approach to Christmas and hopefully help the kids to develop thoughtfulness and compassion for the world around them in a playful and fun way!
This is how the new tradition works in our home. In the first week or two of December, the Kindness Elves arrive at our home accompanied by a tiny letter that they have written, stating who they are and what they will be doing in our family for the coming weeks. We say that they have come to share the magic of Christmas and have heard that the children have kind and loving hearts, and they want to see them for themselves! They let the children know that they will be putting out little notes each day, either praising them for the kind acts they have witnessed, or suggesting more ways we can help others either at home, school, community groups or in public. The children are encouraged to write back too if they wish.
Here is a simple list of the key points and how we use the Kindness Elves together:
- 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.
- On the last day (Christmas Eve usually for us) the Kindness Elves leave a little goodbye letter, thanking the children for their wonderful stay and sharing so many lovely experiences together. They say that they might pop back throughout the year for birthdays or other special occasions and that they can’t wait to come again next Christmas!
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. There are LOADS of ideas to get you started with this fun, family project!
You can also follow the Kindness Elves on their very own Facebook page where we share lots of the ideas and photos together as a community. These will be a great place to get you started and you can also find me writing about them on Instagram and Twitter in December too, using the hashtag #thekindnesselves
I’d love for you to follow along and share your ideas with us in those places too! I’m always so inspired by the ideas that everyone else shares.
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.
NEW for 2015! Order your own Kindness Elves in their adorable little home with a working mail box! COMING SOON. Read all about them on the blog very soon and get ready to order in the next week or so ready for delivery in the first week of December! I’m so excited for this development of my original idea into a real product and can’t wait for the Kindness revolution to spread around the world! Thanks for all your enthusiasm and support for these little elves over the past few years, it means a lot to me.